Mad Piper is the psytrance project of Finnish producer Peter Lehto; An up-and-coming artist who currently lives in Cape Town, and is signed to Nexus Media. His music incorporates powerful basslines mixed with melodic leads and fresh production. Taking the widely popular South African sound, over the years he has managed to craft and perfect his own unique blend. Now ready to take the scene by storm, his debut set at Zone Festival last year was just the beginning, as he’s back for Jungala Festival 2012 this weekend!
– The following questions were compiled on behalf of Psymedia by Evan Greenblo
Psymedia: Howzit Peter! It’s a pleasure to finally chat with you, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. Tell me a little bit about yourself – growing up in Finland and living in South Africa for the past ten years.
Mad Piper: Howdie guys, thanks for the interview! Wow, it’s 10 years since I moved to Cape Town, and I must say it has gone by too fast and is quite a blur. I grew up in Helsinki, which is quite different to the Cape Town psytrance scene. However, I was introduced to Finnish Forest parties by my brother in the late 90’s, the parties have a different style of trance referred to as “Suomi Soundi”, a type of Goa infused “Sami” sound. After the army I had enough of the cold winter and relocated to Cape Town, I went to the 2003 Easter Vortex and haven’t looked back.
Psymedia: How did you come up with the name Mad Piper? Any story behind that?
Mad Piper: Hahaha the Mad Piper… My friend Charl actually came up with the name years before I started producing, it’s a nickname that caught on and most of my friends call me “Piper” or “Pipes” nowadays. Coincidence, I found out years later that my Grandmother came from the English Piper Family.
Psymedia: Your debut live set was last November at Zone Festival 2011 but I’m well aware that your Mad Piper Demos have been exchanging hands for the last couple of years. I think a lot of musicians can appreciate you taking the time and dedication to find your own sound and make your own beats…
Mad Piper: My tracks have been in the arsenal of few select DJs for a few years, but Zone Festival 2011 was my debut Live set. I was stoked to play along some of the big names in the industry, Menog, Twisted System and Headroom to name a few.
I’ve been told I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I took my time learning how to produce music and never really wanted to DJ. I always thought DJing was a very mechanical process when producing was creative and artistic.
Psymedia: Did you never have the urge to put production aside and start performing earlier on in your career?
Mad Piper: There were times when I “thought I was ready”, but I was lucky to have friends such as Rabdom L, Slug, Xatrix and sHiFt that I could learn from and play demos to. Over the years I honed my style and production quality, l wanted to play my own music rather than DJ others. Needless to say it didn’t happen over night, I spent years in my room making sounds and learning how to use sequencers.
Psymedia: Living in South Africa and attending parties over the couple years I’m sure you’ve made all the right friends in the industry as well. You’ve definitely gained respect by signing to Nexus Media, playing Revolution New Year’s Eve Festival in Johannesburg, being invited back to another PsynOpticz Production party (Jungala Festival 2012), as well as featuring on a couple compilations and mixes…
Mad Piper: Over the years and going to parties religiously I have made lots of friends in the industry. It’s been great living in Cape Town, especially as the city is blessed with an array of talented producers and top quality festivals. I’ve been a huge fan of the Nexus Media and Timecode sound since I started producing, so I was over the moon when I signed with Nexus Media.
Psymedia: I’m sure learning production beforehand was only beneficial towards your live performances. Do you think that makes things a little easier?
Mad Piper: The Mad Piper live set incorporates my own tracks mixed with a few vs. tracks and a couple of remixes I recently finished. I’m especially happy with a vs I did with Delirant and a remix of a classic Bio Genesis track. I also use a few soft synths, drum pads and a controller to add some dynamic to my live set.
Psymedia: When DJs perform, their track selection slightly differs according to the acts before and after. Obviously as a live act, playing your own tunes, you don’t have that versatility so you’re kinda left up to the organizers for a fitting slot. When do you prefer playing?
Mad Piper: Correct, it’s up to the organizer to choose the lineup times, however, my music is quite versatile and I can play in a variety of time slots. My favorite time to play would definitely be in the morning just as the sun has risen, I feel that time suits my style of music best. Hard driving basslines mixed with melancholy melodies and the crowd is a little more “awake”
Psymedia: Would you say you’re more comfortable at home making beats or performing live?
Mad Piper: Good question. Both are quite different beasts to tame. I’d say I’m more comfortable playing in front of a crowd as I get to watch the reactions of punters when they enjoy a tune I made. However, without the time spent in the studio crafting those tracks the live performance wouldn’t happen, it’s kinda like which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Psymedia: What resources did you use to learn production? Were there any local guys you were fortunate enough to learn from? I believe you attended AFDA – do you believe this was beneficial towards your music career at all?
Mad Piper: AFDA was great for missing class when I was recovering from parties… that 80% attendance was a bitch, but I bribed someone… I’m kidding, I did learn basic sound principles such as compression and recording live sound however I majored in Editing and graduated in 2008.
I was lucky enough to skip the first year at AFDA as I had done a diploma in Multimedia at City Varsity before. I always had a passion for combining psytrance music and editing, I used to film and make little psytrance videos for artists such as Twisted System, sHiFt, and Pitch Hikers. AFDA has some great courses and teachers for technical disciplines such as Editing, Sound Design, Cinematography and Visual effects. As I said I majored in Editing with Sound as my minor and really enjoyed my time at AFDA, I learned quite a bit about Live sound recording, compression and scoring. The sound course I did at AFDA has been the only formal education I have had in Sound, the rest I kinda picked up along the way.
Psymedia: Now I’ve asked way too many guys about this, but as a ‘new guy’ the internet surely must’ve played a huge role in getting your tracks out there before performing in front of crowds..
Mad Piper: Yes, the internet and websites like SoundCloud and Facebook gave me a chance to spread my music locally and on a global level. When I first started uploading tracks I would give them away for free download just to get some publicity and people interested. I worked really well.
Psymedia: Recently you’ve collaborated with other Capetonian artists such as Deliriant and Critical Mass. What has it been like working alongside other local producers?
Mad Piper: It’s great working with other artists as you get to bounce ideas and often tend to be quite experimental with new sounds. Working with Deliriant and Critical Mass has been very educational and productive, both of the vs tracks were sold quickly after I previewed them on SoundCloud and the response from fans has been great.
Psymedia: Can we expect some regular performances throughout the winter and next season?
Mad Piper: Jungala Festival 2012 is going to be the end of the outdoor season for me, however, I do have a few indoor gigs lined up for the winter months. Most recently I’ll be playing in Stellenbosch at the Full Moon Event – Casbah on the 11th of May along side Deliriant, Bruce and Dirty Motion.
Psymedia: Any upcoming releases you want peeps to know about? I believe your versus track with Deliriant – ‘From the Void’ is coming out soon on Kaos Krew, correct?
Mad Piper: Correct! ‘From the Void‘ will be released on Kaos Krew at the end of May (me thinks). I also have a few other tracks being released on MMD and a debut album coming out on neXus Media later on in the year.
Psymedia: Thanks so much for taking the time to do an interview Peter. You have any last words? Can’t wait to check your set out at Jungala Festival 2012!
Mad Piper: It’s a pleasure. Thanks for the interview. You can catch me on Sunday morning opening for the main international Orca! I must say I’m really honoured to be part of such a great festival and amazing lineup, I’ve got a wicked set ready for Jungala. See you on the dance floor!
- Mad Piper on Facebook
- Mad Piper on Soundcloud