FIVE QUESTIONS FOR DOGSBODY SOUNDS
Michael Johnson AKA Dogsbody Sounds, is a creative sound designer and musician based in Liverpool. Combining his years of experience as a musician, sound designer working , with his sonic explorations into the world of modular effects and experimental recording techniques, he has created a sound which is unlike anything else out there. In 2020 he released an album under 4Track All-Stars titled "5123" which was the result of years of experiments and some improvised sessions at his home in Austin, Texas. Most recently, he collaborated with the Sonixinema team to release a sample library titled Saxophone Explorations. It features a range of abstract saxophone textures combined with experimental modular effects.
Give us a brief history of yourself - what inspired you at a young age and how did you get into music and sound?
DB: My passion for music came from my dad. During the 70's and early 80's my dad was a radio and club DJ around Liverpool. He was also an electronics engineer which meant the house was full of old electronics and audio gear when I was growing up. By the time I was old enough to start learning music my dad had moved into working full time in electronics to support me, my mum and my four sisters, but he never lost his passion for music which he past on to me. He still collected records and always hoarded all this old audio gear. Some broken, some just about working and some of it in working order. So as a kid I grew up surrounded by this chaos of old reel to reel tape machines, four track cassette recorders, digital recorders, mixers etc. Along with thousands and thousands of records in different formats.
There's a room in the house filled with his records and audio gear, I spent most of my youth in this room, creating sounds, creating bad music and just experimenting with sound. I was a sponge absorbing all this amazing music as a kid, in a time before the internet and Spotify existed. To have access to all these records was like having a living physical Spotify in your house, which I was super lucky to have.
When I left school I went on to study Music Technology at college where I met like minded musical friends and started a journey of playing guitar and singing in bands for 10 years. During this time I was always the person in the bands fiddling around trying to make weird sounds or making microphones and making sure we always recorded rehearsals and had time to experiment, I didn't enjoy performing live, I was always wanting to record new stuff and create, I was far more interested in the production side of music and finding out how things worked and how artists got the sound on their records rather than gigging and rehearsing to play the same songs over and over. When I was in my mid twenties and life and circumstance started plucking away band members one by one I was left wondering what I was going to do with my life. I was on this creative journey for the long haul but never thought I was strong enough to do it my own before, so I decided to go back into education and studied my undergraduate in Audio Production at SAE and then straight after that I did my Masters in Sound Design at the National Film and Television School. I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship from BAFTA during my time at the NFTS and even spent four months working as a sound designer at Intel in San Francisco after I finished. After this I moved back home to Liverpool and began working freelance doing sound for film and television, which I still do today as well as music and experimental sound design. I've been fortunate enough to have worked on two features with cinematic releases so far and for companies like Netflix. The future for Dogsbody Sounds is looking bright, creative and exciting. I'm planning on releasing Sound FX libraries and music with Dogsbody as well as more sample libraries with Sonixinema in the future.
Since you grew up around all of this, how did you find implementing this sort of gear into your own creations?
DB: It was a pretty natural progression, I've always been drawn to analogue sounds from my childhood, making strange sounds and creating sounds that don't sound over polished or sound lo-fi is something I love doing.
How did you find the process of creating your own samples for your new sample pack - was it different to recording your own music?
DB: I loved the process, it took me back to my childhood, I had so much fun. I wanted to capture the full sound of the instrument so I used a lot of microphones for such a small instrument, setting them up at different distances then mixing the different microphones together to get a full bodied sound, I even used contact microphones to get a super detailed and up close sound. Then I put these recordings through various forms of tape. Using three Reel to Reel Recorders, VHS, two Cassette Recorders and a Dictaphone.
With my own music I usually experiment with tape but not to the extent that I did with Electric Organ. It's definitely something I'm going to carry forward and do a lot more with my own music as well as future sample libraries. I think just making my own instruments in Kontakt using tape processed sounds for myself and my own music is something I will be doing a lot more. It's a way of making something really unique sounding and once it's in Kontakt it really opens up what you can do to the sound creatively and the sounds become so much more flexible.
Do you have any ideas for future community libraries that you'd like to explore?
DB: Yes I have a few ideas that I'm excited to put into motion, one is an experimental genre based instrument that I'm planning on building and sampling but will take some time to put together. Another is a library of various toy instruments which I plan on putting through tape and FX pedals to get something original, but the next instrument I have in the pipeline which is currently on its way from Japan is a TaishoGoto Harp, also known as the Nagoya Harp. It was created by Gorō Morita in Nagoya Japan in 1912 and was popular in the Taisho era. It's almost like a small acoustic guitar, it's a long hollow box with strings and typewriter keys that when pressed, produce the notes. It can be plucked, bowed, hammered or strummed. As well as capturing its unique sound I plan on seeing what other sounds I can get out of it. With it also having a pickup the DI can be used with guitar pedals and other plug ins as well as using an Ebow. So there will be a lot of experimenting to do with this instrument to get as many great sounds as possible and create a really unique sample library.
Tell us about a piece of music that you love that you think our readers should check out
DB: As my next release will likely be the TaishoGoto Harp, you should check out a track called Bohai Dreams by Toby Darling, it's not a well known composition but it's a beautiful track. You can find it on YouTube, he performs a version of it using the TaishoGoto Harp and acoustic guitar and it's beautiful, go check it out. Also one of the main influences on me sampling the Electric Chord Organ was my love for Daniel Johnston, I'm sure most people are familiar with his music but if not go check his music out.
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