Student Shatter Hands Wins CDR's Dimension Sounds Contest

We interview Electronic Music Production & Performance Bachelor student Johan, aka Shatter Hands, about his success in CDR's 2016 music production competition.

It’s been a busy few months for Johan, aka Shatter Hands. Not only did he finish his Electronic Music Production & Performance Bachelor here at Catalyst, but he also won CDR’s 2016 Dimension Sounds contest.

For those of you unfamiliar with Dimension Sounds, it is the brainchild of Tony Nwachukwu who also helped found CDR. According to him, the 3-year old project is a take on CDR’s focus to “create opportunities for artists and producers to extend their creative vocabulary”.

Sound Dimensions gets people from all over the world to submit an incredible range of local sounds in the form of field recordings. “We’ve had wild frogs from remote Japanese forests, bells from Finland’s city centre as well as sounds of protest recorded during the G8 summit” says Tony. They compile these collections and then invite producers to create tracks based on a theme.

This year’s theme: the circadian flow of the music dynamics at festivals. In other words, one time of day/night that has a special feeling, and a piece that describes it. To our wonderful delight, our graduate Shatter Hands stole the show.

Take a listen to the track which Tony said brought “a refreshing, standout production aesthetic to this year’s Dimension Sounds” below, and scroll down for our interview with Shatter Hands.

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We heard you are one big fan of CDR and wanted to ask how you first heard about them. Have you participated in many of their events?

Yes I have. I started going to CDR when they first started doing events at Culturebox in Copenhagen. And I kept going every time they were happening in Copenhagen. I also attended and played at the last one they ever did which was (if I remember correctly) at Plastic People in London.


Is this your first time winning?

Yes it is. I participated in the competition once before with a track called Knifin’ Around and made it to the final 14. That piece was included on the release they did back in 2013.


What has kept you coming back for more?

The concept basically, and the social aspect of it. I like hearing my work in progress on big systems and I like how CDR brings producers and musicians together in a setting where you can hang out and talk about what is being played, etc.


For the Dimension Sounds project, you had to submit a track that reflected a particular moment in time – what was the moment you chose and how did you come to choose it?

I did the track first, and then I thought of which setting I would like to hear it in afterwards. I chose night because I think the track I did reflects night times the most. It is bass heavy, dense and highly energetic. Those characteristics don’t really fit a morning, day or evening mood that well.


Did you use any of your own field recordings for the track?

Yeah, you had to, I used five different ones.


How long were you working on this?

I took a break from writing my dissertation and completed the track in seven hours on the submission date. It was submitted 20 minutes before the deadline.


Was the process for making this piece different or similar in any ways to how you produce your own work?

I always tend to use field recordings in a lot of my music, so it was only natural for me to work with them, and there was a lot of good ones in the folder provided for us. I also tend to work better under pressure and with an eminent deadline, so doing this track on the submission date was a much needed kick in my ass. I also like the aspect of competition within music. I’ve been participating in a lot of beat battles over the years and competing usually makes me think outside the box and get creative.