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Amtrac Talks Upcoming Album and Kentucky Roots, Premieres New Single 'Hold On'
Find out why Kaskade, Axwell & Ingrosso and Alesso can't get enough of the Louisville producer.
Caleb Cornett doesn’t have much of a taste for the club life. He’d rather hang out in his backyard, tend his garden with his live-in girlfriend, or have good conversation with friends over a home-cooked meal. He sometimes thinks about moving to Miami or Los Angeles, but he’s just not ready to leave Kentucky, not when he’s worked so hard to build a life so comfortable.
“It’s such a huge record, something that’s a worldwide success, but I’m here in Kentucky doing it back where I grew up,” Cornett says. “It felt kind of cool, just the email we got that ‘yeah, we really want Amtrac to remix this,’ it just felt crazy.”
Cornett may always be of small town heart, but Amtrac has become international. The past five years have been a steady build for the producer’s career. In 2011, he dropped his debut album Came Along. In 2013, he played arenas with Kaskade as the official opener on the Atmosphere tour. Today, he’s being tapped for remixes from the biggest names in dance music, and he gets to do it his way without playing into the “fake” stuff.
“I think it’s easier for me to concentrate on what I want to do, the sound I want to portray, and what I want to put out,” he says. “It’s nice to come home from a tour or a week on the road and [go right] back to grilling in the backyard, having friends over.”
Time spent wandering the world teaches a man to appreciate the little things, but it’s also incredibly motivating. His last year of travels sparked his latest single “Hold On,” primed to be his biggest original released on Mark Knight’s Toolroom Records.
“It’s inspired by travel and relationships,” Cornett says. “With the vocal being ‘come to me when I call your name,’ ‘you’re not here,’ ‘I need your love,’ it’s talking about people who have long distance relationships, in a sense. The feel of the song as well comes from traveling, seeing different sounds from all over the world coming together.”
“Hold On” is upbeat and catchy, a feel-good house tune in the vein of Duke Dumont and Bicep with heaping piles of soulful groove complemented by snippets of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing.”
“I really like those old vocal samples,” he says. “The process in which they were recorded, there’s literally no digital processing. It’s all done with reel-to-reel analog on tape, and you can really tell that in the recording. It sounds so crisp and pure, Motown a cappellas especially. They’re so much fun to work with.”
Cornett is applying that rich vocal concept to his second album, which he claims is just about ready for release, hopefully before the end of 2015. He’s teamed up with a bunch of live singers -- collaborating mostly over email, of course -- and after years of back and forth experimentation, he thinks he’s settled on the right sound.
“This one is definitely a bit more upbeat than Came Along, but it will have some more spacey stuff on there, too,” he says. “Some people put out records that sound like singles one after another and nothing fades together. I always like the art of an album, when you listen to it from start to finish and it takes you somewhere, ups and downs. That’s the most difficult part to align.”
A proper follow up LP on the back of what he hopes is more success from “Hold On” probably means more time on the road, but that’s all part of the game. Until then, he’ll be hanging back, eating his girlfriend’s fresh-made garden salsa and pushing himself to find new ways to get kids jumping in clubs far away.
“I don’t really like to get too comfortable or feel like I’ve like done it,” he says. “Hopefully, I’ll just always keep going.”