The Legend

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The Short Version

Original Recipe is two guys: Steve Mason, and Dean Williams. We’ve been been working together since 1996.

Steve is American, Dean is Canadian. We only lived in the same town together for about a year, in 2001, in Toronto. However, we congregate at least once a year to write music, and the process is really the heart of what we do.

Typically, we start out by going to local record shops, preferably ones that have $1.00 bins, and look for the most ridiculous albums we can find (e.g., “Let’s Have A Pizza Party!”, by the Gaylords). Afterwards, we take them back to the “studio”, listen to them, drink a little too much, and sample them.

It’s a common misconception that “sample artists” will lift entire riffs or melodies. We tend to sample single tones, chords, one-hits, drum fills, and other things that we can then use to construct our own melodies and rhythms with. But it’s the process of listening to the music on record (which most of the time is terrible) that influences, and in fact enables, our compositions.

After listening to these records, we usually throw them as hard as we can into the wall or floor, mostly because the music is so bad that we can’t stand to hear it any more: “the record should never be allowed to disgrace the air of reality ever again.” After a typical writing session, we’ll have literally dozens of records strewn about on the floor, some of them stuck in the walls, hidden in the fridge, or boiled into amorphous blobs on the stove.

Lately, however, most of our work has been written more organically, using live instrumentation whenever possible. In fact, many of the new tracks on Nigiri Please were written with only one or two “hero” samples which were used only as a foundation.

The Long Version

Steve Mason and Dean Williams met as teenagers in the mid 1990′s, both being part of what at the time was referred to as the “demoscene”. Steve was living at the time in Elkhart, Indiana, meeting Dean during a somewhat spontaneous trip North to Oakville, Ontario, Canada, a suburb of Toronto. Although familiar with each other’s work through mutual friends within the burgeoning online electronic music community, the two had never spoken, but were surprised to find that they shared many similar life experiences, including an enthusiasm for LSD, Pink Floyd, bursts of static and general pandemonium. Over the first weekend of their having met, they cranked out the guitar-heavy downtempo track “Slow Motion Cowboy” for a netlabel named Chill Productions, and on Steve’s departure, swore to attempt to keep working despite the seemingly vast distance between them. Working initially over dial-up lines, sharing samples, musical ideas, and heated arguments, they utilized, by today’s standards, the laughably primitive technologies of ScreamTracker, and then graduating to FastTracker II. Sampling, more by necessity than design, became a central weapon in their musical arsenals, allowing them to bring tradional instrumentation into their work, as well as playing a large part in the mastery of creating unique textures, utilizing the most unmanagable found sounds, and adding a warmth, quirkiness and startlingly human quality to a medium that at the time celebrated the abandonment of all things organic.

Over painfully long periods of time, they were able to coax unwilling technology into burbling forth the songs collected on 1999′s “Milky Beats Anthology”. The synergy the two found working together was hard to recreate elsewhere, and led to the two aiming to meet up in various cities across North America for marathon composition, recording and production sessions, sometimes stretching over two weeks, during which time the two would work in shifts; one sleeping while the other worked until he simply no longer could.

Increasing tensions over two differing views on, of all things, the placement of kick drums in a 4/4 pattern (nerds!) culminated in a short-lived parting of ways in 1999, a year that saw the release of Dean’s first record under the monikker “QuasiMojo” on Cleveland’s Casa De Toad records, followed by a 10″ and second full-length on Germany’s Mira Records.

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Fig 1a. Gangsta Years #1. N 7th Williamsburg circa 1999.

Steve, meanwhile, took residence in Williamsburg, Brooklyn – at the time, a sleepy burrough of New York occupied largely by Polish families. In the hope of patching things up, Steve and Dean met in Brooklyn, working again in their exhausting shift-sleeping style, and were able to quickly write and record two songs.

Both rejuvenated by the experience, Steve was eventually coerced into moving to Toronto, Canada, where while working full-time as a graphic designer, he and Dean prepared to play their first show, sharing the stage with trance ultra-wanker DJ Tiesto at Toronto’s The Docks.

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Original Recipe playing the “chill-out” tent for ultra-wanker, DJ Tiesto.

Moving away from working with computers, during this period Steve and Dean spent considerable (perhaps ill-advised) sums of money amassing hardware for signal generation, processing, recording and the like. Working with a young developer, Dean and Steve were able to access their equipment with an all-to-familiar front-end, via zTracker. Much time was lost dialing in presets, accidentally overwriting days worth of work, developing backaches hoisting SKB racks stuffed with kit, and in general, longing for the days of CRT monitors and beige towers.

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Toronto 2001, after an unfortunate amount of whiskey

Steve’s residence in Toronto was short-lived, and despite living in the same city for the first time, they only managed to write one complete song during the years of 2001-2002. Sheepishly, the duo returned to their roots, mixing tradional instrumentation and sample-smithing on a next-generation form of tracking software named Renoise. Drawn to the modular nature of the tool, the ability of maintaining relationships with the developers, and the benefit of having input in the design and implementation of features, the tool has remained a staple in their studio since.

After moving back to New York, and from there, to Santa Fe, New Mexico, Dean visited again, this time for a week, during which time the two wrote and recorded the first four songs of what would turn out to be Noisette, their second full-length. Shortly after Dean’s visit to Santa Fe, in fact the day after Dean returned to Toronto, Steve picked up and moved to San Francisco, California, where he currently resides. Dean and Steve have since been travelling back and forth between Toronto and San Francisco with some regularity, playing shows and, well, still shift sleeping, and over the last year completed Noisette, their newest full-length album.

Noisette was be released in the summer of 2006 on VinylRepublik Records, a Canadian label who contacted Dean and Steve shortly after their completion of the record in March, 2006.

In 2010, a 7″ was released on VinylRepublik called “Hank Manicotti”, which featured some hand-painted cover art by the talented Sara Witty. It is also available on iTunes, or in the streaming platform of your choice, pal. In 2013, the long-delayed, oft-reworked, finally mastered ‘Nigiri, Please’ was released, to much acclaim from our moms, who maintain that not only are we talented, but also quite handsome and quite a catch, ladies!