By Shane Budini for Electronic Music Australia 22.09.2022
Australian musical journeyman Richard Lawson has made a stop at every creative station it seems. His transcendence through the gambit of popular genres is to be acknowledged as an unassuming Australian music legend. All the way from 70’s Rock/Punk through to Folk, across to Electronica then back around to Ambient/Classical, Richard’s made his mark. We sat down for a chat with the ARIA nominated Composer, Teacher, former Drummer for the Lime Spiders and all-round top bloke to get some insight into his inspirations, influences and processes.
Drummer in a Punk band to Cubase programming Electronica artist, how and when did this interest in Electronic music come about?
I was into Electronic music back in the 70s when my Dad, who was a pretty cool dude, brought Kraftwerk Autobahn home and said I should listen to it. I got on really well with my Dad musically and I was buying records from the age of six years old. I loved Autobahn and remember being in the Blue Mountains in the forests around that time and just loving the whole vibe of them. I suppose it was their melodies too that I loved, very memorable and being intrigued by how they got nature sounds from computers. This was way before I played music or played in bands.
How has the landscape of creating and performing Electronic music changed during your musical career?
I think it's come full circle and gone back on itself. When I first started playing it was Duos with keyboards and no computers then it became really computerised and now it's going back to more organic electronics if that's possible. I went to see Nils Frahm at Vivid in Sydney and he didn't have a computer, only about 10 keyboards including 2 Roland Juno 106s. He operated them all live. I suppose having that live element is good for the punters and I know my electronic stuff worked best when we incorporated live drums like the Presets or Cut Copy.
When it comes to making Electronic music, what's your process? Do you have a favourite DAW? Are you ‘hands-on’ Synth or Plugins?
I'm using Cubase 7.5 and about to upgrade to 12 with NO DONGLE. Keyboard wise I use a Korg X50. It's got 700 voices which is fine once you start mucking around with the sounds. I also have a vintage Roland Juno 106 which I love for arpeggios and frequency attacks. I also do a lot of field recordings and audio sampling of my own drumming, guitar and piano.
How would your process compare with what other Electronic music artists are doing these days?
I don't really have much of an idea what other electronic musos do nowadays. I can tell by their sounds sometimes they are using voices from their software. I think that mostly they are all a bit more advanced and up to speed with the technological side of it. I'm a bit old school and tend to concentrate on the song itself and whether it has good melody/harmony and whether it has a groove or not. I'm about to do something with a classical quartet and am scoring some old electronic works for them to play. I have to convert all the sounds into strings, get the right octave for the instrument and then score it using the cubase scoring function, a big learning curve.
All time favourite Electronic Artist/Track? Go.
That's a really hard call, there's so much great music out there, so I'll cheat and say 3.
The Orb/Adventures beyond the Ultraworld,
Chemical Brothers/Surrender album
What would be your advice to anyone aspiring to a career in music?
Get in there and get going. Listen to advice, don't think you know it all. Never give up!!! Take a long break if need be. I've taken two long breaks from music, one lasted five years. I'm enjoying it now more than ever and am probably just as successful as when I was in my twenties. MOST IMPORTANTLY, what David Bowie said..."Never play to the gallery"!!
Where and when can we see Richard Dawson perform live?
I'm performing in NSW mostly at present and am in the middle of a tour till the recording with the classical happens then I'm going out again.
23/09/2022 Roth’s Wine Bar Mudgee 7.30pm
24/09/2022 Flavours of Mudgee w Kings of Congo 4.00pm
25/09/2022 Bootleggers Bar Katoomba 6.00pm
01/10/2022 Tuross Head Country Club 6.30pm
03/10/2022 Dromedary Hotel Tilba 1.00pm
22/10/2022 Merimbula RSL 8.00pm
Richard’s latest single is ‘Firefly”. Be sure to check it out here and connect with Richard through the links below: