Young Creators Project spotlight: Ruler of Program
Each day this week, we’re spotlighting the homegrown budding talent sourced via KCRW’s Young Creators Project, a community arts mentorship platform celebrating the creative work of SoCal residents under 21.
Ruler of Program is the solo project of 14 year old Nathan Horowitz, who began his electronic journey with an audio production class at Beverly Vista Middle School. Taking inspiration from sources like The Beatles, Marc Rebillet, and Bill Wurtz, his wavy instrumental tracks put a spotlight on anything but the speaker, letting the melody take its place.
Horowitz uses a BOSS RC-505 Loop Station, an M-Audio-Keystation 61 MK3, and a laptop running various DAWs to sculpt a variety of sound. While most of his recordings are meticulously worked and mixed with programs, Horowitz favors a loop station for his improvised live performances to achieve what he describes as his “optimal flow.”
Horowitz joins Morning Becomes Eclectic co-host Anthony Valadez to discuss recording gear, finding the groove, and how he copes with self-criticism.
The following has been edited and condensed for clarity.
KCRW: One thing that stood out about your submission video for “Lose It” was watching you create your music in real time. Is it mostly an improvised process?
Ruler Of Program: For that specific video, I planned the song out. But when I was on the keyboard, that was all improvised. The synth melody and everything else was planned. I do a lot of improv stuff in my downtime when I'm recording videos for my YouTube channel, and other stuff.
On your website, you write that “I make music to distract myself from reality.” What makes you want to distract yourself from reality?
I'm making [music] because I like doing it. And when I'm making it, I [do] distract myself from reality. I kind of go into my own zone, and I don't really care about what else is going on. Sometimes I dance around, sometimes I just sit and like… get into the groove, you know?
What goes through your head, in terms of your creative process?
When I'm making a groove, at the beginning of it, I think to myself, what do I want to add next, what would sound good? Then when it's finished, what's [usually] going through my head is like, “Oh man, this groove slaps!”
What do you want listeners to take away from your music after listening or watching you in action?
It's all about the music, you know? It's not really ever about anything else. I’m critical to myself in real life, but when I'm making a groove, all of that kind of goes away. If I make a mistake, I just delete and redo it. It's not about if there are mistakes there. If there's anything that's slightly off, it's just about the groove.
How do you, as a 14 year-old, deal with self criticism? How do you overpower that?
There are other things that I do where I'm a little bit more critical of myself. But in my music, I find myself re-listening to a lot of my songs [later on], and sometimes I find mistakes. I try not to let it take over my mind. But sometimes it does. Maybe I tense up for a second, but then I remind myself that, first of all, maybe nobody’s gonna notice. Secondly, it doesn't matter. The track itself is good anyway.
More: Today’s Top Tune: Ruler of Program – “Lose It”
What’s another song of yours that people should check out?
There is a track on my Spotify from my latest album called “Calming Environment.” I like this one because it's one of my only tracks that came out exactly as I wanted it to. There weren't any flubs or anything, and nothing really was distracting me in this track when I listened to this one again. There's no lyrics, there's nothing else, just the way that the music moves me. It gets a little bit emotional for me.
More: YCP Spotlight: Taty
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