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Musical Roots: 5 Steps With Cera Alba

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For the uninitiated Cera Alba is the London based artist that burst into the public consciousness of the scene back in 2011 with a string of well received releases on some of the hottest labels of the time including Hot Creations, Illusion Recordings, Alive Recordings, Composite Records, Domino Effect, Hot Waves, Lost My Dog and Save You Records to name but a few.

Shaped by his childhood in Newcastle where he was exposed by his father to a world of different genres such as classical, jazz and rock and a trip to Ibiza back in 2007, Cera’s productions continue to win plaudits for the painstaking amount of detail that goes in making them what they are and we’re pleased to say it’s a trait he seems to be looking to keep. With his Renegade Nightclub EP out now on Resonance Records backed by Russ Yallop & Jack Fell Down remixes and a new collaborative effort with Jonny Cade about to land on Lost My Dog on 9th December we thought the time was right to invite Cera to look back on the events in his life that shaped him as the artist he is today. 

Musical Roots

Music has always been an important part of my life. I think it’s probably an important part of many people’s lives. For me it’s in part thanks to my family, my dad for example used to play me classical music when I was very young. Symphonies from composers like Mozart, Beethoven and Vagner. He also played the piano regularly which must have had some effect as a young boy. My mum also had her own musical tastes which influenced me, she was more about Motown and 90’s pop than classical. I remember when I was young I accidentally damaged her Tina Turner cassette, an all-time low for my 10th year on the planet. Of course the music I grew up with in the early years was 90’s pop and dance. I had an old Hitachi stereo I used to tape the top 40 on a Sunday night. Back then it was all about the initial stages of the UK dance scene, artists like Inner City, Adamski and The Shamen all breaking into the charts.

Entering into my teens and my family had moved to Nottingham after my parents found work there. I followed all the usual pop trends an 80’s born teenager followed at the time. US inspired R’n’B, UK Garage and main stream Balearic dance music. Growing up in Nottingham definitely influenced the more urban side of my musical spectrum. The place was hugely diverse and had what I call more of an ‘inner city’ feel then Newcastle. At the age of 15 UK Garage was at the height of its popularity and was soaring in the pop charts alongside the mainstream US hip hop. As I got older I started to find myself listening to the more dance influenced pop music, I started to buy the early Ministry Of Sound and later the Hed Kandi compilations. Of course neither of these really satisfied what I was looking for in electronic music. It was the early 2000’s and the internet in those days wasn’t as readily available as it is now so finding the more niche sounds was more difficult. It took a trip north to attend university to really open my mind to the real underground musical trends.

University

University for most students is a whirlwind of new friends and experiences along with some bits of education here and there. Of course some experiences are good and some are bad but they all definitely help to mould a young person and their future. I look back fondly on my time in Leeds, I found some of my best friends their and it shaped my musical experiences. I first arrived at university back in 2004 and my dream at the time was to work in film, I enrolled at the Film Studies BA course at Leeds Trinity & All Saints University. However the course was not practical enough and I had no desire to write detailed journals on film. I changed courses and joined the ranks at Leeds Met, I decision which has directly influenced my life. I chose to study Animation BSc, perhaps on unusual choice looking back now but it gave the opportunity to work on the production side of film. It was the exposure to using software to edit and manipulate media which really excited me, specifically on the post-production side. During my second and third years I found myself regularly becoming the video and audio editor for the group projects I was involved in. This is when I first started to produce my own music. Using Cubase I created a basic rhythm track to play over a factory assembly line scene for our 3d animation project. It was definitely this initial exposure to create music using a computer which led me to start experimenting with music production.

This is one side of university which inspired me to look into the technical side of producing music. Of course wanting to produce music or even just wanting to be creative is only the first step towards finding what music you want to make. For me university was the first real introduction to underground music. Not just house music but all sorts of niche music genres like breaks, drum & bass, grime and ambient electronic. The best part about university is that it brings young people from all round the country to live in one place, all who have different backgrounds and experiences. In my second year of university I lived with someone who is still now one of my best friends today. Bond Ma actually helped introduce me to underground house music. At the time I was a member of Fabric First and regularly received the monthly CD. This was exciting at the time I had no idea what to expect, especially as it split between Fabric and Fabric Live which are both very different. But it was when Bond gave me a CD with a selection of tracks that I really started to find the music I was looking for. I think one track was Bugz In The Attic, another may have been Hardsoul. However it was a track further down the playlist which got my really excited. The track was Kerri Chandler – Bar-A-Thym and the first time I heard it I knew how important it was. I listened to it constantly for a long time. The dark ghostly sound of that gliding chord just caught me in a way no music had ever before. 

Continued on page 2

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