Brian Wayne Transeau (born October 4, 1971, in Rockville, Maryland) is an American music producer, composer, audio technician, singer and songwriter better known by his stage name, BT. He is an artist in the electronic genre. BT has produced and written for artists such as Peter Gabriel, ‘N_Sync, Sting, Blake Lewis, Tori Amos and Tiesto. As a film composer he has worked on films such as The Fast and the Furious and Monster.
BT is known for using a technique he calls the stutter edit. This technique consists of taking a micro fragment of sound and then repeating it rhythmically. BT was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for his song Somnambulist. This song was recognized as using the largest number of vocal edits in a song (6,178 edits.)
In 2009, he launched his software company Sonik Architects with the company’s first product for iPhone, named Sonifi.
In 2010, BT was nominated for a Grammy Award for his studio album These Hopeful Machines under the category “Best Electronic/Dance Album”.
At an early age, BT studied music at the Washington Conservatory of Music. He went on to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
In the early 1990s, BT moved back to Maryland and began collaborating with friends Ali “Dubfire” and Sharam of Deep Dish. BT’s productions were not yet popular in the US, and he had no idea that he had become popular across the Atlantic, where UK DJs like Sasha and Paul Oakenfold were regularly spinning his music for crowds. Sasha bought BT a ticket to London, where BT witnessed his own success—several thousand clubbers responded enthusiastically when Sasha played his song. He was soon signed to Oakenfold’s record label, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers. BT’s songs “A Moment of Truth” and “Relativity” became hits in the UK, and it was during this time in that BT met Tori Amos.
In the early years of BT’s career (roughly 1995-2000), he became a pioneering artist in the trance genre. Despite the fact that he is not truly a DJ, and does not claim to be one, BT has often appeared on the lists of the world’s top DJs. In 2006, he ranked 73rd on DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJ list. In 2005, he ranked 82nd, up from 92 in 2004. Additional rankings were 83rd in 2003 and 76 in 2001. More recently, in DJ Times, BT was ranked as America’s second best DJ, as voted by fans.
BT has said of his musical background, “I’m not the traditional type of dance music artist. I’m not a DJ. I come from a classical music background. I attended the Berklee College of Music, and I played in punk bands.”
A sensation in the UK that spawned multiple top 20 singles, BT’s 1994 album Ima defined a genre of music that has come to be known as progressive house and or trance. With its theme of nature and technology it spawned a vernacular which other electronic music artists continue to pull from more than 15 years later. Another prized collaboration with singer/songwriter Tori Amos, “Blue Skies,” was subsequently released and helped the album gain notice in America. The title, “Ima” (“?”), is the Japanese word for “now.”
ESCM, or Electric Sky Church Music, was inspired by the music of produce James Lumb, another Washington D. C. native, who performed under the psuedonym electric sky church. This album featured more complex melodies and more traditional harmonies along with a heavier use of vocals. The tone of the album is darker and less whimsical than Ima. The album, as a whole, is much more diverse than BT’s debut album. The LP was a hit in Britain, Australia, and Japan.
The biggest hit from ESCM was “Flaming June,” a collaboration with German trance meister Paul Van Dyk. Van Dyk and BT would collaborate on a number of works including the unreleased “Namastai” as well as Van Dyk’s remix of BT’s “Blue Skies” and “Remember.” “Remember” featured Jan Johnston on vocals. BT and Van Dyk also remixed the Van Dyk classic “Forbidden Fruit.” This album spawned numerous chart singles as well as 2 US billboard dance #1 songs.
Movement in Still Life
BT released his 1999 album Movement in Still Life and continued his previous experimentation outside of the trance genre. The album, his third, features a strong element of nu skool breaks, a genre he helped define with the popular “Hip-Hop Phenomenon,” in collaboration with Tsunami One aka Adam Freeland. The strong hip-hop influences on “Madskillz-Mic Chekka” and “Love on Haight Street” combined with memorable vocals created a body of work that is continually referenced in pop and electronic music culture today. The album hits a spectrum of genre-work. “Smartbomb” is a mix of funky, heavy riffs from both synthesizers and guitars woven over a hip-hop break and includes a lyric sample from “Love on Haight Street”. “Shame” and “Satellite” lean toward an alt-rock sound, while “Godspeed” and “Dreaming” fall into classic trance ranks. “Running Down the Way Up”, a collaboration with fellow electronic act Hybrid, features sultry vocals heavily edited into a progressive breakbeat track. “Never Gonna Come Back Down” (featuring vocals by Mike Doughty) was BT’s first radio hit in America and propelled the sales of the album to over 300,000 Sound Scanned copies in the US.
The original versions of many tracks that were to be released on the follow up to Movement in Still Life were stolen from BT’s studio during a burglary around Christmas of 2001. $75,000 worth of equipment was stolen. The 11 lost tracks included collaborations with Sarah McLachlan and Peter Gabriel which were never duplicated.
The album that replaced the lost tracks was Emotional Technology, released in 2003. It featured more vocal tracks than BT’s previous fare, including six with vocals by BT himself. Emotional Technology was BT’s least experimental album to date, and many consider it the “poppiest” of all of his work. The biggest single from the album, Somnambulist, draws heavily from the breakbeats and new wave dance of New Order and Depeche Mode, whom BT has cited as major influences. The rest of the album fairly escapes genre labeling, from the dark guitar work of Circles, to The Only Constant is Change which is reminiscent of Satellite, the album blends genres and changes genres in mid-track. The single “Somnabulist” holds the Guinness World Record for most vocal edits in a single track, with 6,178 in the album version.
BT’s fifth studio album, This Binary Universe, released in 2006, is his second studio album released in 5.1 surround sound, the first being the soundtrack to the motion picture Monster.
The album features a mix of many genres, including jazz, breakbeats, and classical music. Three songs feature a full 110-piece orchestra. BT has said that the album has a lullaby-like quality, inspired by his daughter, Kaia, who sat on his lap throughout most of the song writing process. Animated videos were created to accompany each song. The videos are included in a DVD packaged along with the CD.
Keyboard Magazine declared of the album, “In a hundred years, it could well be studied as the first major electronic work of the new millennium.”
Unlike his last two albums, which featured vocals on almost every track, this album contains none. The tracks also change genres constantly throughout. A good example is “The Antikythera Mechanism”, which starts off almost lullaby-like, complete with a piano, acoustic guitars and reversed beats. Halfway through the track, the song explodes with a 110-piece orchestra, followed by a section of breakbeats and ending with the de-construction of the orchestra.
Through the months of November and December 2006, BT toured the album with Thomas Dolby opening. This three-piece band set featured many instruments created by BT himself, as well as introduced his live Stutter Edit plug-in that was to be released in 2007. The concert also featured a live slideshow of images from the online website DeviantArt as a backdrop.
The Stutter Edit as well as Break Tweaker are both software plug-ins created by BT’s company, “Sonik Architects” which will be made available in 2010.
These Hopeful Machines
BT’s sixth studio album, These Hopeful Machines, was released on February 2, 2010. The album featured guest vocalists/collaborators Kirsty Hawkshaw, Jes Brieden, Rob Dickinson of Catherine Wheel and Charlotte Martin. Early official remixes were made by Armin van Buuren, and Chicane.
- Paul van Dyk – “Namistai” and “Flaming June”
- GTB (Guy Oldhams, Taylor, & Brian Transeau)
- Tori Amos – “Blue Skies” on ima (#1 on Billboard Dance Chart)
- Tsunami One (Adam Freeland and Kevin Beber) – Hip Hop Phenomenon (1999)
- Mike Doughty – “Never Gonna Come Back Down” on Movement In Still Life
- Guru – “Knowledge of Self” on Emotional Technology
- Richard Butler – “Shineaway” on The Jackal and 10 Years In The Life
- NSync – Co-wrote and produced “Pop,” the first single from NSync’s album Celebrity
- Britney Spears – “Before the Goodbye” and “I Run Away,” on the international version of her album Britney
- JC Chasez – “Somnambulist” and “Force Of Gravity” on Emotional Technology
- Rose McGowan – “Superfabulous” on Emotional Technology
- David Bowie – “(She Can) Do That” on Stealth
- The Roots – “Tao of the Machine” on Blade II as well as on Need for Speed: Most Wanted
- Peter Gabriel – music for the Millennium Dome New Year’s Eve project in 1999, released as OVO
- Billie Ray Martin – produced several tracks and remixes for Deadline For My Memories
- Tiësto – “Love Comes Again” and “Break My Fall”, in exchange Tiësto remixed “Force of Gravity”
- Armin van Buuren – “These Silent Hearts”, in exchange Armin van Buuren remixed “Every Other Way”
BT has written his own software called BreakTweaker for his latest album. He was intending to release it in 2007 under his software company, Sonik Architects. He plans to then come out with a line of tools and plugins specifically aimed at musicians and DJs, including his signature stutter edit. He has a team of developers now working on delivering a feature-complete product leaving him free to focus on higher level architecture and development.
In addition to his “BT Stutter” edit, BT’s signature sound is also achieved by means of a method of sound manipulation called granular synthesis, where sounds are broken apart into tiny pieces and rearranged to create very chaotic and wild soundscapes. BT is one of the direct pioneers of time correction techniques. Time correction is a method by which a producer takes a series of samples with random occurrence (such as rain) and time corrects each individual hit according to a rhythmic and mathematical grid, much like the BT stutter. The result is that the seemingly random pulses take on a rhythmic form as well as a developing pattern, but retain their chaotic and unpredictable character.
Transeau has developed his own method of time-correcting which he calls “nano-correcting,” which is correcting any note shorter than a 64th note (he often edits to the 1,024th and 2,048th notes). He is writing a book on stutter editing and time correcting and has included a chapter on nano-correcting.
Sonik Architects also released a portable remixing application for iPhone and iPod Touch called Sonifi.
BT has a daughter, Kaia Nui Transeau.
In early 2007 approximately $150,000 worth of recording equipment was stolen from his private home recording studio. BT confirmed through his Myspace page that he would give a reward for information leading to return of the equipment.
On January 11, 2008, ABC news reported that BT’s daughter, had been abducted by her mother during a planned visit. The mother was arrested, but charges were withdrawn and the matter was settled in family court.
BT began scoring films in 1999 with Go. Since then he has scored over ten films, including Stealth and The Fast and the Furious. In addition, he produced the score for the 2001 film Zoolander, but had his name removed from the project. His tracks for the film were finished by composer David Arnold. He also produced the score for the 2003 film Monster, earning him particular acclaim.
Transeau has scored the video games Die Hard Trilogy 2: Viva Las Vegas (2000), Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions (2002) and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 (2004).
BT has ventured into television, creating the scores for the TV series Kevin Hill in 2004 and for Tommy Lee Goes To College for NBC in 2005. He executive-produced the Tommy Lee series, the idea for which he developed and sold to NBC.
Film appearances and scores
- Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) – “Anomaly – Calling Your Name” (under the pseudonym Libra Presents Taylor)
- The Jackal (1997) – “Shineaway” (with Richard Butler)
- Go (1999) – Complete score, “Believer”
- Better Living Through Circuitry (1999)
- American Pie (1999) – “Anomaly – Calling Your Name” again
- Under Suspicion (2000) – Complete score
- Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) – “Never Gonna Come Back Down”
- Driven (2001) – Score, “Satellite”
- Double Take (2001) – “Movement In Still Life”
- Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) – “The Revolution”
- The Fast and the Furious (2001) – Complete score, “Nocturnal Transmission”
- 3000 Miles to Graceland (2001) – “Smartbomb”
- Zoolander (2001) – (removed his name, uncredited), “Madskillz-Mic Chekka (Remix)”
- Sweet November (2001) – “Shame (Ben Grosse Remix)”
- Valentine (2001) – “Smartbomb (BT Mix)”
- Half Past Dead (2002) – “Smartbomb”
- Blade II (2002) – “Tao Of The Machine” (with The Roots)
- The Core (2003) – “Sunblind”
- Monster (2004) – Complete score
- Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! (2004) – “Superfabulous (Scott Humphrey Radio Mix)”
- The Underclassman (2005) – Complete score
- Stealth (2005) – Complete score, “She Can (Do That)” (with David Bowie)
- Domino (2005) – “P A R I S”
- Look (2006) – Complete score (although some of the songs were performed and/or co-written by actor Giuseppe Andrews)
- Catch and Release (2007) – Complete score
- Pixar presents Cars: Tokyo Mater (2008) – Complete score
Video game appearances and scores
- Die Hard Trilogy 2: Viva Las Vegas (1999) – Complete score
- ESPN Winter X Games Snowboarding (2000) – “Smartbomb”
- FreQuency (2001) – “Smartbomb”
- SSX Tricky (2001) – “Smartbomb (Plump’s Vocal Mix)” and “Hip Hop Phenomenon” (with Tsunami One)
- Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec (2001) – “Madskillz-Mic Chekka”
- FIFA 2002 (2001) – “Never Gonna Come Back Down (Hybrids Echoplex Dub Mix)”
- Wipeout Fusion (2002) – “Smartbomb (Plump DJs Remix)”
- ATV Offroad Fury 2 (2002) – “The Revolution”
- Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions (2002) – Complete score
- Need for Speed: Underground (2003) – “Kimosabe” (with Wildchild)
- Amplitude (2003) – “Kimosabe” (with Wildchild)
- Dance Dance Revolution Extreme (2004) – “Simply Being Loved (Somnambulist)”
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 (2004) – Complete score (Now available on iTunes)
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005) – “Tao of the Machine (Scott Humprhey’s Remix)” (with The Roots)
- XGRA: Extreme-G Racing Association – “Dreaming”, “Godspeed”, “Never Gonna Come Back Down”, “Mercury & Solace”, “Running Down the Way Up”, “Smart Bomb”, and “Mad Skillz”.
- Burnout Revenge (2005) – The Doors – “Break On Through (BT Mix)” (Credited as BT vs. The Doors)
- Alpha Protocol (2009)
Main article: BT discography
- Ima (1995)
- ESCM (1997)
- Movement in Still Life (1999)
- Emotional Technology (2003)
- This Binary Universe (2006)
- These Hopeful Machines (2010)
Singles and EPs
- “Oneday” (1992) (vocals by Fawn (musician))
- “The Moment of Truth” (1995) (As Brian Transeau)
- “Relativity” (1995) (As Brian Transeau)
- “Loving You More” (1996) (vocals by Vincent Covello (musician))
- “Embracing the Sunshine” (1996)
- “Blue Skies” (1996) (vocals by Tori Amos)
- “Love, Peace and Grease” (1997)
- “Flaming June” (1997)
- “Remember” (1997) (vocals by Jan Johnston)
- “Godspeed” #54 UK (1998)
- “Mercury and Solace” #38 UK (1999) (vocals by Jan Johnston)
- “Dreaming” (2000) (vocals by Kirsty Hawkshaw)
- “Smartbomb” (2000) (vocals by Rasco)
- “Never Gonna Come Back Down” (2000) (vocals by Mike Doughty)
- “Shame” (2001) (vocals by BT)
- “Somnambulist (Simply Being Loved)” (2003) (vocals by BT and JC Chasez)
- The Technology EP (2004)
- “Human Technology EP” (2005)
- “Force of Gravity” (2005) (vocals by BT and JC Chasez)
- “The Rose of Jericho” (9 June 2009)
- “Every Other Way” (22 December 2009) (vocals by JES and BT)
- “Suddenly” (12 January 2010)
- R&R (Rare & Remixed) (2001) – A two disc mix album showcasing BT’s remix work, rare songs from his early career and previously unreleased tracks, most notably “Sunblind”.
- Still Life In Motion (2001) – A collection of remixes and edits of songs off of Movement in Still Life.
- 10 Years In the Life (2002) – Disc 1 is a collection of rare songs, remixes and edits of Transeau’s songs, showcasing Transeau’s progression as an artist over the span of a decade. It notably includes his very first track ever recorded, “The Moment Of Truth”. Disc 2 is a mix album and features remixes and rare tracks done by BT, including remixes of Madonna, DJ Rap, The Crystal Method and Deep Dish. Most of the rare tracks by BT are under the names of his many aliases. The booklet that comes with the CD features stories by BT about the making of each track on both discs, as well as a series of comments about his early career, remixing, scoring films and producing music in general.
Aliases and Pseudonyms
- Elastic Chakra
- Elastic Reality
- Two Phat Cunts (with Sasha)
Awards and nominations
- 2007 America’s 2nd Best DJ
- 2008 Nominated America’s Best DJ
- 2009 DJ Mag Top 100: DJ #120 of the world