Interview: Mark Dobson of Ambassadeurs
Mark Dobson is the genius behind the electronic music of Ambassadeurs. Coming from Brighton, UK, Ambassadeurs brings a style of music that is about the detail and mixture of sounds more than anything else. SHEI had the opportunity to sit down with Mark before his show with Odesza and Hayden James at the Blind Pig.
I know you come from the UK, could you tell us more about how you got into creating music?
Uhhh, sure sure. So I used to play in bands when I was in high school...kind of like rock/indie kind of stuff. I started recording what we were doing and ended up producing it. I got into focusing on production and rather than playing live.
Growing up, what were some of your favorite artists?
Smashing Pumpkins was definitely one of them. There were loads of band stuff and old stuff- I listened to loads of Led Zeppelin. I got more into hip hop and listened to A Tribe Called Quest and Dr. Dre, and yeah-- those were the main things, but there was loads of other stuff.
Did you pull inspiration from these artists when you started writing your own music?
Yeah definitely! Everything I’ve listened to I’ve been influenced by. You take what you like out of everything you hear and it all kind of comes togethers.
So, I did my homework and I know that you started off on Soundcloud. Could you tell us more about that?
Yeah, so I was just making stuff at home and putting it on Soundcloud and people starting paying more attention to it and posting it on blogs. That drove me to do more of that and I just fell into it really. And it ended up getting bigger, and I quit my job as a chef to focus on music. Soundcloud is still a big part of what I do.
On SoundCloud you recently posted a remix of Odesza's song Say My Name. Is that something you did while touring with them?
No, that was before the tour. They wanted me and Hayden to do some remixes before the tour. They had loads of remixes though, like ten or twelve.
Yeah, I've heard the remixes, but I really liked yours! So, I know your music has a lot of electronic beats, where did you get your inspiration from?
Umm, I kind of just pulled lots of little bits from everything- there was no one artist that I was like, "I want to write that sort of music." Everytime I ended up doing that I was like "No this sounds too similar to that artist". So, I would take it back and put more influences from other stuff and try to make it a bit more unique. I didn't want to write songs and put obvious hooks and stuff over it- I sort of want to hide the hooks and have more details for you to focus on.
You really have to listen closely to figure out what is happening.
I know your older work was a lot more hip-hop and R&B focused, but now you're into electronic music. What made you switch over?
I think the hip-hop thing got a little stale- I kind of explored it as much as I could and I didn't really find most of the music that was coming out that inspiring. I think it was more that the techno and electronic side of it was about the production and pushing forward new ideas.
This is something I noticed, but with Come a Little Closer EP you had a lot more vocals, but with Trouble you moved away from vocals. Why did you shift away?
I just kind of wanted to move away from being song based and focus on just producing and making things interesting without a vocalist carrying the production.
So, what's been your favorite city so far in the tour?
New York has been great! We played in Brooklyn and.... where was the other place... Williamsburg!
Well today you'll have to add Ann Arbor to that list!
Which of your songs do you think best represents who you are?
Ahh, that's a tricky one. There's a remix of Young Wonder which I did which is probably my favorite. I don't know, I just really like that one- I just really like playing it and that's kind of what I would like to do more of I think.
So, should we be expecting any new albums from Ambassadeurs soon?
Yeah in the new year! My album is coming out in then! I've been working on it for a long time so it's got bits from all my different styles but it'll all come together. It's more eclectic in style.
Do you have a name for the album?
No, not yet. That's the bit I always think about last.
So, the EDM movement is growing a lot more on college campuses. Do you have any advice for students that want to go into producing their own electronic music?
Umm, I guess try and do something different. There's a lot of people doing the same thing and it's quite easy to copy someone else's style. Try and develop your own style and your own identity.
To listen to more of Ambassadeurs, check out his SoundCloud.