John Beltran is an electronic musician hailing from Lansing, Michigan. For the better part of two decades, John has been releasing tracks tinged with deep ambient and balearic influences that have all melded together to give him a futuristic, but earthy sound. He began to elevate to prominence after his debut album Earth and Nightfall garnered attention and praise in the Detroit Techno scene.
A multi-faceted musician, there aren’t many genres that he isn’t willing to explore and it’s because of this, that he is such a beloved producer and contributor to the electronic pantheon.
Here, John talks about his influences, his latest release Everything At Once, and his previous works.
Prox: How has the culture and environment of Michigan contributed to your overall sound? What was the club scene like in the Lansing and Detroit Metro area when you were coming up?
John: Well there was no “club scene” in Lansing growing up. I did go to teen nights where they played New Wave, Post Punk, and good Pop Music though. I got into clubbing in Detroit after High School. Both inspired me. I wouldn’t trade being a teen in Lansing for anything. It’s where I caught the music bug. It was safe and some what cool in a way. I call it a John Hughes town. Total suburb vibe like you’d see in the films Pretty in Pink or Sixteen Candles. John Hughes is from East Lansing actually. Detroit is where I got on track to want to make music.
Prox: Was it difficult to transition out of the sound of classic Detroit Techno into more ambient and contemporary stylings?
John: Not really. I was tired of the clubs and loud sound systems. I was in to some odd stuff at the time too. Some New Age and piano music. Enya, Kitaro, Julio Iglesias, Yanni, Deep Forest. I went real soft for a minute. I eventually got back into Detroit Techno with a twist though. I started to incorporate those New Age influences into my techno of the mid 90’s. Most listeners didn’t identify that. They just thought it was my sound when I dropped my LP Earth and Nightfall until I explained the roots of it in interviews. Suffice to say they were surprised that Yanni was an influence!
Prox: Did you ever worry about alienating your fanbase when you started to create more filmesque tracks?
John: I don’t think I’ve ever really worried about that stuff. If you look at my catalog, I’ve done four on the floor techno, house, acid jazz, ambient, intelligent techno, Brazilian Dance stuff, Christmas remixes and post rock stuff. I do what I feel like doing. That’s the only way I know how.
Prox: What is the significance of the title for your latest release “Everything At Once”?
John: Musically the LP covers a few different styles so that was obvious to me when naming it. My life changed exponentially in the period that I wrote the album. I was going through a break up. My 5 year old son was in the middle of that so it was kind of a whole crashing down type of thing in my life. In the end it was all for the best and my son is super happy and things are great for all involved.
Prox: One of my favorite albums from your entire catalogue was “The Cry” under the Placid Angles moniker. Have you ever considered revisiting this project or that 90’s sound?
John: It’s funny to me how much that LP is admired. To me it’s my poorest “sounding” production. I think got a few emotive moments right on that album but no I don’t plan to revisit that sound in the near future. It’s crazy what a different place I was then as well as the equipment I used was so much less awesome.
Prox: I really enjoy some of your breakbeat and drum & bass tracks like Anna, Eden, and Soul Sketching. Did you ever think about making a full length project in this style?
John: Now that’s a sound I’d be interested in revisiting.
Prox: What are some of your favorite tracks from your catalogue?
John: Yeah a few that i actually like to listen to. Here’s my Top Ten:
Het Leven is Mooi
Hurry Home the Trees Are Finally Green
It Was All Beautiful
Morning at the Window
Prox: Who are some of your favorite artists, business people, or creatives?
John: Woody Allen, Jackson Pollock, Paul Simon, Sting, Roger Federer, Michigan Football.
Prox: Favorite Hobbies?
John: Love going to the lakes in Michigan in the summer. Playing tennis on a 70 degree day. Listening to good older music with friends and a beer in the summer inside with the windows open or outside under the stars.
Prox: Tips for aspiring artists?
John: Do many things and different styles of music to keep life interesting.
Prox: Final Thoughts?
John: You got me thinking about making a Drum and Bass album ;)
You can learn about more about John and follow him, here.
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