LA-Based Producer Amtrac Finds Inspiration Back Home in KentuckyEXPAND
Courtesy of Amtrac

LA-Based Producer Amtrac Finds Inspiration Back Home in Kentucky

It sounds echo-y over the phone because Caleb Cornett is speaking to New Times from an empty house in his hometown of Morehead, Kentucky. Tired of the distractions of living in downtown Los Angeles, he's renting his childhood friend's house to finish his new, still-untitled album.

"I'm just vibing out and being as loud as I want to, basically," he says. "I kind of felt like I needed to clear my head and just finish it. I kept putting things off, and it wasn't getting done, so I decided to go home for two weeks and hash out everything I need to do. It's been a good trip so far."

He's been overly productive in Kentucky if anything. With too much material for the album, he's in the process of "trimming fat" for the final cut, and it hasn't been easy deciding which tracks are expendable ahead of mixing and mastering. "I'm attached to so much of the work," he says, "but so much of it's got to go. It's too much. I'd have enough for like, two CDs."

Cornett is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and DJ/producer better known by his stage name Amtrac. He's about a decade into a genre-bending, boundary-pushing career as a funky force in dance music. He's remixed songs for such music industry notables as Zhu, Two Door Cinema Club, and Ellie Goulding and released a host of singles, EPs, and one full-length album, 2011's Came Along.

"It's been way too long since my last album," he says. "I've released tons of singles and stuff, but nothing as special as this is to me." 

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Amtrac is playing a DJ set at Floyd on Friday, July 6. Though his main claim to fame is making dance records, his forthcoming album stylistically leans toward indie-rock and features only a couple of tracks that will translate easily to a nightclub setting. In fact, Cornett never intended to be a DJ in the first place.

"On my first album, I sang on a couple of songs and played keyboards live," he says. "I grew up playing in an indie post-rock band. I was making music coming from that background, not any kind of club atmosphere. There was definitely none of that around me at the time." 

As a fan of rock music, he was drawn to electronic acts with crossover appeal such as the Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, and the Prodigy. "I went to a Prodigy show in Washington, D.C., and it changed my life," he says. "I never knew things could be that loud or sound that good."

Cornett subsequently got into sampling records by taking cues from notorious album-plunderers the Avalanches and eventually remixing songs for other artists. He doesn't do much sampling or remixing anymore, however. He used '80s-sounding synthesizers and arpeggiators to create songs from scratch for the new album.

"I want to spend more time making things," he says, "rather than grabbing them from somewhere else."

The new Amtrac record doesn't have a release date yet, but Cornett expects to drop it this year. Stay tuned.

Amtrac. 10 p.m., Friday, July 6, Floyd Miami, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; 786-618-9447; floydmiami.com. Tickets cost $15 to $20 via ticketfly.com.

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