It’s been floating around on Blackdown’s blog/twitter for a couple of weeks now but the Keysound Rinse FM Christmas show really is a special one. Full of stone cold killer tunes with guest sets from Gerv LV, Logos & Visionist plus fresh young blood in the form of Wen & E.m.m.a, it’s a suitable reminder of what makes them one of most forward thinking labels around. Essential listening.
Good to see Keysound continuing the quality output after a very strong 2011 with releases from LV, Sully and Damu that all shone out. The Kowton Vs Dusk EP does exactly what it says on the tin, with it’s two sides split between label owner Dusk and Bristol based producer, Kowton. Dusk’s contribution ‘Fraction’ is his first foray into solo production, and the results are very positive. Ominous interweaving synths and a towering sub bass are met by some stunning drum programming which skitters across the stereo spectrum, subtly evolving and expanding across it’s five and a half minutes. Kowton’s remix is not so much a remix as a rework, stripping the percussion back and straightening the tune out slightly in the process. It’s not a bad rework, though perhaps a little superfluous.
On the flip, Kowton’s original ‘Looking At You’ is the standout cut. He’s been creating some great, distinctive house music for awhile now and LAY continues this pedigree. Heavily swung and featuring a cheeky Beyonce sample, it skips along on a bed of rumbling subs and repetitive detuned chord stabs, creating a nice groove in the process. It’s subtle yet effective and I’ve found myself playing it out in a lot of recent sets.
Rinse has been killing it with their mix series lately (Ben UFO 16 is an absolute stormer and if you haven’t heard it then go out and buy it!) and number 17 is no exception, as Butterz label bosses Elijah and Skilliam take to the decks to represent the best of Grime over the past year. Featuring choice cuts from the likes of Royal T, Swindle, S-X and Faze Miyake, you’re not going to find a better overview of the instrumental side of Grime in 2011 than this.
The guys have done a really interesting (if you’re me…) blog post about the track choices which you can read here and Martin Clark has also done a really good indepth interview with them both for his Blackdown Soundboy blog.
01. Royal-T - Orangeade VIP 02. D.O.K - East Coast 03. Swindle - Pineapple 04. P Money & Blacks - Boo You feat Slickman 05. Faze Miyake - Blackberry 06. Wiley - It’s Wiley (Royal-T Remix) 07. Mr Mitch - Centre Court 08. Rossi B & Luca - Lost in Limehouse 09. P Jam - Arizona Skyz 10. Terror Danjah - Full Attention feat Ruby Lee Ryder 11. Royal T - Royal Rumble 12. Spooky - Spartan (Terror Danjah Remix) 13. Teddy - Community Links 14. Swindle feat Terror Danjah, Rude Kid & Wizzy Wow - Tag 15. Bok Bok - Silo Pass 16. Royal T & Terror Danjah - Music Box 17. Trim - I Am (Preditah Remix) 18. Faze Miyake - Take Off 19. Swindle & Silkie - Unlimited 20. Treble Clef - Ghetto Kyote 21. S-X - Woooo (DJ Q Remix) 22. Royal T - Music Please (TRC Remix) 23. Terror Danjah - Air Bubble (Starkey Remix) 24. Starkey & P Money - Numb 25. TRC - Into Sync 26. Starkey & Trim - This Ain’t Me 27. Swindle - Mood Swings VIP
This Friday 21st October sees Loose Synths back at CAMP in East London to celebrate our first birthday. To mark the occasion we’ve put together an amazing line-up featuring Sully (a.k.a Jack Stevens) in the headline slot.
Fresh off the back of releasing his debut album ‘Carrier’ whose blend of 2-Step, Garage and Juke has garnered praise from critics and DJs alike, we recently caught up with Jack to find out a bit more about the album and see what he’s got in store for us.
First up congratulations on the new album, it’s good to see it getting the props it deserves. How are you feeling about it all at the moment?
Thanks, yeah I’m made up! I really wasn’t sure how it would go down, as I explored some new avenues and it’s really liberating to see positivity around them, as well as interesting to hear the criticism. What’s cool is there are a lot of different opinions: that people have picked out different tracks as favourites; that people have different angles; and that what doesn’t work for some people is actually a highlight for others. So I feel like I’ve done the release justice, each direction seems to have hit home with different people and I couldn’t wish for any more than that.
How did you start out making tunes?
I had played guitar and bass with mates since my early teens, but the first time I actually saw electronic music being made was with a DOS program called Impulse Tracker. A mate of mine got it off his brother and was making ridiculous but brilliant Dutch hardcore with it. This was around 2000; I’d been introduced to a load of rave music around the same time so it was inevitable I had a go. I was just doodling for years really, trying all sorts. I suppose things aren’t much different now! The only difference is I finish the doodles now. I’ve actually started using tracker software again, it’s really nostalgic going back to it, remembering that buzz of a new bit of the world opening up.
What’s your production set up like?
Basic! It’s a laptop, turntable and some MIDI keyboards for hammering stuff out. I do love hardware, old analogue synths and all that, and every now and then get gear hungry and cave in but once I’ve worked out what the piece is all about I can usually get the same vibe with some software. The flow of the set up is what matters, for me that’s having everything in once place and being able to jam out ideas live.
Have you got a favourite synth or thing that seems to make its way into all your tracks?
808 kicks (before I’d even heard any juke or footwork) have been thoroughly rinsed. They just smack it and at the same time fit in almost any context. Even if I use other bass sounds, they’re usually tweaked out of that same thump.
I often think you can spot one of your tunes even though they might vary genre wise; the snippets of melody, warm synths and often a sense of emotion that seems to come through. Is that sense something that you consider to be important?
I don’t think you can really connect with a tune without it. Sure you can feel a tune, get energised by it, but a track without any emotion doesn’t resonate quite the same. When I make a tune it’s nearly always inspired by a memory or a feeling from a certain time and place and there’s always going to be some kind of emotion attached to that, so when I’m trying to capture the vibe a little bit of that feeling must creep through.
What are your thoughts on the labelling that surrounds electronic music at the moment? I’m guessing you are not going to be describing yourself as a future garage producer anytime soon…
Haha! Yeah, even the newer term ‘Bass Music’ makes me cringe a bit. The thing is a lot of the most interesting producers are the most slippery, finding their own spaces; but you need words to map them out, to contextualise them, otherwise their position is kind of meaningless. So yeah, labels are a necessary evil.
The new album is out on Keysound. How did you get involved with Martin (Blackdown) and the label? I can remember reading an old producing thread on Dubstep Forum where he was giving advice regarding producers sending out demos and he mentioned that he tries to give a lot of feedback where possible. Did he have a guiding role in the album?
When I did Rinse, Martin told me him and Dusk listen to everything they get sent for the show. It’s gigabytes of tunes every fortnight! How they manage that I’ll never know but it says a lot about their dedication. And it means a lot to me that, among all that, they chose to give me a platform. But when it came to the album, it was very hands off really. I did have some long chats with Martin about albums in general, about his experience with the last Dusk+Blackdown LP and how I saw Carrier coming together, which helped a lot but I generally just tinkered away as usual. Sometimes I would send over a work in progress and Martin would make some suggestions, he ‘got’ what I was doing with everything though, so things worked out nicely.
What drew you to an album as opposed to releasing, say, a series of EP’s? Was there a conscious decision from you to make an album?
In truth it was something I was persuaded to do, several people had suggested I make an LP and Martin kept with the idea ‘til I agreed! It was definitely the right move though, I would never have tried things like the footwork tunes we just mentioned outside of an album, it gave me a space away from a dance to just explore really, to forget about making people move and just playing with rhythms and atmospheres in their own right. I think the second half of Carrier divided opinion a lot more than my other tunes but I’m happy with that and feel more confident in experimenting as a result.
A lot has been said about the album being in ‘two parts’ split between 2-Step/Garage and then Footwork. The Chicago sound has permeated into the UK underground in the past 12 months, with various producers referencing/drawing influence from it. Is there anything in particular that drew you to start experimenting with it?
It was the weirdness and the rawness, I hadn’t heard anything that head turning in years; it was like hearing dubstep for the first time. So many familiar elements combined into this freak of a sound, it just seemed like the perfect chance to get out of my box and try something new. I loved how those hammering drums could be offset with really haunting, cinematic overlays too, I got really into writing these mini scores for imaginary movie scenes and then mixing in those drums.
What have you got in store for Loose Synths? DJ’ing out is something relatively new for you right?
It’s not something I’ve done a lot of, I’ve always spent my time making tracks as opposed to working out how I’m going to play them, but I have played out from time to time and it’s always fun so I’ve decided to do more of it. I usually play a whole load of 2-step, some half-step of the funkier variety, plenty of my own tunes, some oldies and some fresh dubs too. Looking forward to it!
Are there any producers/records that stand out for you at the moment?
The Kuedo album, Severance is amazing. The word epic is overused but that album deserves it. Seriously epic! And in a similar vein, Desto has been doing some great stuff with Dirty South-style 808s and wicked synth work. I’m just about to check out the forthcoming Damu album, which I’m buzzed about; again the guys a Don with synths and melodies, the Ridin EP was a corker so I’m sure the full length is gonna kill it.
What have you got in store for the next few months? Down time for awhile or have you got more releases coming up?
I have a bit of an archive track coming out on 2nd Drop soon, a remix of 23hz & Numaestro’s Zumo and have got another remix in the works I’m quite excited about, it’s my first crack at a proper vocal and I’m having fun with that. I’ve been quite obsessed with Old School Jungle recently so have been throwing some tracks together in a vintage fashion. Will be fun dropping those when I get a chance.
On a final note, I read an interview recently where you mention having had a job as a chef. Any favourite recipes?
Anything with plenty chilli and garlic. I love curries but can only really do a green Thai one. My best concoction is a spicy tomato pasta sauce, simple but tasty.
As labels go, Keysound are absolutely on fire this year, having already released LV’s ‘Routes’ and Sully’s debut LP ‘Carrier’ both of which deserve to be in any best of 2011 list. They are now set to put out Damu’s debut album ‘Unity’ which is shaping up to be another essential long player if the previews are anything to go by. One particular highlight is the RnB tinged ‘Breathless’ which is choc full of beautiful swirling synth lines and a heart tugging vocal sample. Get to know!
Released at the end of October. Pre order yourselves a copy here
Jamie XX has spoken in depth to Martin Clark about his much hyped Gil Scott-Heron remix album which is due out at the end of Feb. If like us, you are fans of both artists, then head over to Blackdown to read the interview which gives a fascinating insight into the background for the project and how it came to be.
All downloadable content found on the blog has been used with the artists prior permission. If you find something on here that you haven't given consent for then please don't hesitate to email and it will be removed!