By Judd Spicer, California Business Journal.
He’s not a figment of your audial imagination. Rather, the singular sounds of L.A.-based DJ and electronic music producer Figment are very real, not mention impressively-burgeoning.
Despite having relocated from Europe to Los Angeles less than two years ago – and doing so with no traditional musical training, nor any contacts in the entertainment industry – Figment’s unique approach to creation has fast found him an in-demand presence on the club scene.
“A few years ago, I read an interview with my favorite music producer, Gesaffelstein, in which he says that the way he makes music is more mathematical,” Figment recalls. “And, I’d always been more of a math and science person, quantitative in my thinking.”
Though he had long dreamt of making music, his lack of formal training had instilled an inner beat that he simply hadn’t been born with the musical gene.
“That article just crystalized everything for me,” he says. “After reading that, I decided to drop everything and move to California. I just decided it was something I had to do.”
Despite his dearth of industry insiders, coupled with neither friends nor family in SoCal, it took but a matter of months for Figment to start turning ears with his sounds.
“I realized pretty fast that the culture here is very creative; just being around people who are inspiring, who create and cement their own creative visions,” he reflects. “I knew soon after arriving that this was the place for me.”
Last spring, major L.A.-based festival, event and club promotions company, Insomniac, gave Figment his first show opportunity.
“It was just a few months after getting to Los Angeles that I got booked to play a night club, Exchange in downtown L.A. that used to be the L.A. Stock Exchange,” he says. “It all happened pretty quickly.”
Sharing his musical vision with a mass of people for the first time? “I can’t lie: I was a little nervous my first time performing for a real crowd,” Figment candors. “I’ll admit, that, for sure, I was freaking out a bit before I went on. But after playing a few of my productions, it only took about 10-minutes before I realized the crowd was loving it, and that was great feedback and energy. After that, I just settled in and went by instinct.”
In the months’ ensuing, his instincts have seen him become a presence across some of the city’s biggest clubs, including return gigs at Exchange, along with the Academy in Hollywood. It’s Figment’s unique take on the genre to which he attributes his growing success.
“I tackle the sound creation process in a very individual way; it’s not the way most producers make music from what I’ve seen from other collaborations and getting in the studio with other people.”
His process, applying mathematical principles with how sound works, further involves a cache of unique tools, including the rare Evol Audio Fucifier, along with tones coming from nature.
“The creative process is the part that I love the most,” he says. “I have my home studio full of rare analog synthesizers and processing equipment; it’s a collection I’ve built over the past few years, with stuff that can be hard to get your hands on.”
Implementing natural elements in his sounds involves acquiring recordings from his brother, who lives amid the African Tanzania wilderness for half the year. “He makes recordings of everything from jungle animals to crickets and monkeys, and he sends those to me,” Figment says. “And I put those in my tracks to give it more of a natural vibe. When making something just on a computer – people can tell, there’s no human element, and it can sound sterile or artificial.”
Said elements are an extension of Figment’s own unique upbringing. “These natural sounds gives my music a tribal vibe, and it connects with my own childhood,” he says. “I grew up in Spain and then lived in tropical environments from Indonesia and I spent three months living with a tribe in the Amazon during my teens.”
Furthering his presence and reach, in late January of 2020, Figment debuted his “Not Figment Podcast” (notfigment.com), an hour-long program he is releasing twice-a-month. In concert with Figment’s own music, the podcast playlist includes songs curated from his own massive library, namely electronic music from the 1990s and early 2000s.
“When I perform in a night club setting, its late-night atmosphere, and people are expecting a certain type of music. My inspirations are a lot wider than nighttime dance music and I wanted to showcase that,” he says. “There are so many producers from the history of dance music who impacted the greats of today, and many of them have gone unrecognized. So, the podcast is my way of acknowledging those who came before me, artists who have an impact on the music I make today.”
The budding L.A. presence further acknowledges that the music business is more than chords, computer and keys. “Whether they recognize it or not, artists have always been entrepreneurs; you’re starting something from scratch and trying to connect with people,” Figment says. “For me, the podcast is an opportunity to connect with people more deeply, to understand my inspirations.”
And as for musicians as moguls? “Outside of creating art, entrepreneurship is one of the most creative things you can do,” Figment says. “You see these entertainment moguls: They’re still serving the art form at the end of the day; they may be business men and women, and they may have these collaborations or acquisitions in the billions of dollars. But what that’s doing is still making the art available to more people, along with pushing forward their creative visions to the ears and the minds of more people.”
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