Since two weeks ago, and via the vast keenness of the people behind Ghostly International, we’ve had the pleasure of ruminating with a masterfully crafted debut LP, “A Constant Moth“. The LP comes by way of Chester Anand, who dons the Lord Raja pseudonym for only the second time. The full length arrives not exactly on the heels of the New York producer’s previous effort, seeing as the Rubies EP has been out since April of last year. Even though aspects of his current music lend a sense of continuity in style, in many cases with A Constant Moth, Raja is heard pitching change-ups that demonstrate how his production may have evolved for good.
As with Rubies, the album brims with an enveloping lushness that serves as either the backdrop or an anterior interest to his meticulous beat work. It doesn’t take long for the listener to learn that it’s still Raja’s beat orientation upon which he builds and crafts, with opener “Yelleo E” encasing a salvo of Chicago-indebted freneticism, a rhythmic allusion we haven’t heard from him before. Beside his experimentation with footwork, what’s more profound on A Constant Moth is Raja’s focus on the micro; this might sound like an ambiguous quality, but the producer’s ability to coalesce a plethora of granular textures track by track is what makes the album such an engaging listen without being over-produced. From the Jeremiah Jae-featuring “Van Go”—the rapper a usually low-key spitter from the West Coast who tapped Lord Raja for a beat on a mixtape this year—to second-half groover “De Lia Lu Lu”, the producer’s formula becomes astounding textural volume contained within more or less steady beat framework. In this respect, “Skyre” is a clear standout, a track in which meticulous drum programming seems in an attempt to bustle through a melody which stays just this side of melancholic (skyre means to shine bright or conspicuously in Scottish dialect). “Throw Them Out (System)”, meanwhile, is the most overtly Mid-West-geared track on the record—but, like other tracks, it might have your mind dancing more than your body.
A Constant Moth was released on December 2 on Ghostly International.
Words by Michael Scala, 17 December 2014. Leave a comment
We’ve been fans of WANDA GROUP for some time, loving both his singular brand of field recordings and musique concrète and his unique mode of communication. Across social networks and even into email, every word he types is released into the digital world fully capped for maximum impact. It’s not a gimmick though, as one can see from careful reading of his curious observations: he just looks at the world differently. We’ve been waiting some time to do something with him, and he’s gifted us with a long-form piece, “IN ONE EAR AND THEN SHOVED IN THE BOOT OF A CAR”. To accompany this piece he answered some of our questions by email, covering his work this year, recording work for film and how his latest venture was inspired by his cats.
Hey there Louis, I hope you’re keeping well. How are you right now? “HELLO, AIDAN/TRUANTS ETC. NOT BAD, MATE. NOT BAD. JUST SITTING ON THE SOFA/SETTEE WITH MOYA. SHE IS ON HER IPAD AND I AM ON MY LAPTOP. SHE IS ORDERING A REPLACEMENT BOILER FOR HER UNCLE.”
What have you been up to lately? “WELL, SIR. RIGHT… HERE WE GO. LAST TWO MONTHS HAVE BEEN BUSY AS I HAVE BEEN DOING MORE SHOWS THAN USUAL, WHICH IS GREAT. HAD A LOT OF LOVELY TIMES BUT I SEE THAT YOU HAVE MENTIONED THIS IN A QUESTION FURTHER DOWN, SO I WILL SHUT UP ABOUT THAT FOR NOW. OKAY. IN MY LIFE I HAVE BEEN SORT OF TRYING TO BOOK STUFF UP FOR ME AND MOYA’S TRIP TO VIETNAM. I SAW THAT YOU HAD RECENTLY BEEN ? (QUESTION WITHIN AN EMAIL INTERVIEW (NICE WORK, LOU)).
“I HAVE BEEN WORKING ON MUSIC AND ALSO DOING SOME SORT OF WRITTEN WORK FOR NORMAN RECORDS. NOTHING WILD OR THAT INTERESTING BUT IT PAYS SOME MONEY WHEN I AIN’T GETTING NONE. I HAVE MOVED AWAY FROM CARE WORK FOR A WHILE. DID IT FOR 10 YEARS AND IT KIND OF HURT MY HEART AND BRAIN, SO I HAVE STOPPED. HOPEFULLY I WILL GET THE ENERGY BACK INSIDE TO DO IT AGAIN BUT FOR NOW I AM JUST TRYING TO SURVIVE OFF THIS. WE WILL SEE.
How has 2014 been for you? “THE MAIN THING IS MOVING UP NORTH (AS YOU MENTION IN THE QUESTION BELOW THIS QUESTION). I LIVED IN BRIGHTON FOR AROUND FOUR YEARS. IT WAS NICE. BEING NEAR THE OCEAN AND BEING NEAR MY FRIENDS (WE ALL SORT OF MOVED DOWN THERE TOGETHER). SO YES. I NOW LIVE IN HUDDERSFIELD WITH MOYA AND HER TWO CATS. LIFE IS NICE, MAN. IT IS WEIRD BEING UP HERE AND NOT KNOWING ANYONE BUT THAT’S OKAY. I KNOW MOYA AND THAT IS ENOUGH. I ALSO GET ON WITH HER FRIENDS. THEY ARE ALL LOVELY. THIS IS QUITE BORING, I AM SORRY. YOU ASKED, THOUGH, MATE. ALSO PLAYING LOADS OF SHOWS (SORT OF LOADS OF SHOWS. NOT MASSIVE AMOUNTS BUT THAT’S OKAY). I KEEP SAYING ‘THAT’S OKAY’ A LOT. SORRY, MATE.”
You moved up north, how has that worked out? “IT HAS WORKED OUT NICE, SIR. LIKE I SAID, IT’S WEIRD BEING AWAY FROM EVERYONE YOU KNOW BUT AGAIN, I HAVE MOYA AND I HAVE THE CATS.”
Can you tell me about Cat Sounds, your podcast with Moya? What brought that about? “MOYA BASICALLY SAW ME MAKING ALL THIS CRAP MUSIC AND SHE IS REAL-TIME INTO MUSIC. LIKE SERIOUSLY. SHE KNOWS FUCKIN’ TONS ABOUT THE STUFF. MORE THAN ME. SHE LISTENS AND BUYS RECORDS, TAPES AND ANYTHING SHE LISTENS TO AND LIKES. IT’S REALLY LOVELY TO SEE SOMEONE REALLY FUCKIN’ PUTTING THEIR MONEY DOWN FOR SHIT THEY LIKE. SHE ALSO CONTACTS THE ARTIST DIRECTLY (WHEN SHE CAN) AND GIVES THEM THE MONEY. BANGS THAT SHIT THROUGH PAYPAL AND ZOOM.
“SO RIGHT. SHE WANTED TO DO A RADIO SHOW. I SAID OKAY AND THEN NOTHING HAPPENED. THEN TWO WEEKS AGO, I HAD A COUPLE OF DRINKS AND WE WAS RELAXING AND I JUST STARTED SETTING THE STUFF UP. IT’S VERY BASIC. A MIXER, TWO TAPE DECKS, MICROPHONE AND THEN WE JUST WENT FOR IT. I SAID ‘RIGHT. COME ON THEN. IT’S READY’. WE TOOK A COUPLE OF TAKES TO GET GOING BUT AFTER ABOUT THREE FALSE STARTS WE WAS AWAY. LIVE AND ON FIRE. (SORRY I HAD TO PAUSE THERE. ONE OF OUR CATS LIKES US TO THROW THIS LITTLE DRUM PAD THING AND HE CHASES AFTER IT. HE JUST BROUGHT IT TO ME SO I HAD TO GET THAT SHIT SORTED. DONE NOW. HANG ON. HE IS BACK. ONE SECOND.) OKAY. SO WE JUST STARTED DOING THIS THING. COUPLE OF DRINKS AND THEN IT HAPPENED. WE SORT OF HAVE THE OUTLINE THAT IT’S JUST OVER AN HOUR AND WE HAVE FIVE MINUTES EACH. SO I CHOOSE SOMETHING AND THEN AS THAT IS GOING ON SHE IS LOOKING THROUGH HER TAPES AND LISTENING AND THEN SHE PUTS SOMETHING ON. IT ALL KIND OF WORKS LIKE THAT. NICE AND LIVE, THOUGH. I REALLY ENJOY IT.”
Why cats? “I THINK IT WAS AS BASIC AS THE FACT THAT WE HAVE TWO CATS AND WE LOOK AFTER THIS OTHER STRAY CAT, SO IT MUST HAVE BEEN ON MY DRUNK MIND. I GUESS THE CATS WERE WALKING AROUND US WHILE WE WAS DOING IT. IT’S ALL DONE ON THE FLOOR AND I GUESS THEY WAS WALKING AND LOOKING AT THE TAPE DECK MOVING AROUND. IN THE FIRST SHOW I JUST CALL IT ‘CAT SHOW’. I FORGOT BY THE END OF IT AND CALLED IT ‘CAT SOUNDS’. AGAIN, MATE. I WAS JUST DRUNK, I THINK. I JUST BOUGHT A NEW MICROPHONE. THE ONE I USE AT THE MOMENT AIN’T SO GOOD FOR OUR VOCALS. IT’S EITHER WAY TOO LOUD OR JUST SHIT. SO WE HAVE THIS SORT OF SEMI-DECENT ONE. WELL IT’S 12 QUID. SO I GUESS IT’S ALSO SHIT. YOU CAN TURN IT ON AND OFF, THOUGH.”
You’ve been exceptionally busy this year, but largely under the radar – mixes and long-form works, tracks for compilations (ie Life Between Screens), putting out stuff on your own Bandcamp page – do you ever stop? What’s your approach to work? “I DIDN’T REALLY MEAN TO BE UNDER THE RADAR. ALONG WITH ALL MY OTHER STUFF I HAVE PUT OUT ON BANDCAMP, I HAVE FINISHED TWO MORE LPS. LIKE MOST THINGS, THOUGH, IT TAKES A WHILE TO GET IT PRESSED AND ALL THAT. SO ONE OF THEM IS TAKING LONGER THAN I THOUGHT. SHOULD BE OUT SOON, MAYBE. THE OTHER IS NOT GOING TO COME OUT UNTIL NEXT YEAR. I DON’T EVER STOP. NO. I HAVEN’T STOPPED SINCE I WAS ABOUT 14. WHEN I STARTED REALLY GETTING INTO IT ALL. I AM 30 IN 14 DAYS, SO I GUESS I AM DOING OKAY. MY APPROACH IS JUST THAT I MAKE THE STUFF. I STILL LOVE IT AND REALLY JUST LOVE GETTING INSIDE IT ALL. YOU START SOMETHING AND THEN IT TURNS INTO A RECORD, IT COULD ONLY BE A COUPLE OF SECONDS AFTER ABOUT FOUR HOURS WORK. IT COULD BE FOUR HOURS OF MUSIC AFTER FOUR HOURS. IT’S GREAT. I KEEPS MY BRAIN MOVING. YOU JUST GET LOST IN IT.”
You provided the soundtrack to Symirroretry, a conceptual film about skateboarding (or so I gather from the film’s website). How did you get involved with that project? “ANDREW CONTACTED ME. HE BASICALLY SHOWED ME SOME CLIPS OF THE FILM HE WAS WORKING ON. HE HAD EDITED IT ALL TO MY MUSIC. STUFF THAT HAD PREVIOUSLY COME OUT ON RECORD OR OTHER LITTLE RELEASES. I LOVED IT. THE BOY HAS AN EYE. REALLY. AN EYE AND AN EAR AND A GUT. I SAID COURSE YOU CAN USE MY MUSIC. I THEN SAID: ‘LOOK, SIR. WHY NOT HAVE SOMETHING TOTALLY NEW. HOW ABOUT I MAKE A WHOLE NEW SOUNDTRACK FOR YOU FILM ?’ HE SAID ‘YES, SIR’. SO I GOT TO WORK. GOING THROUGH OLD IDEAS AND BRAND NEW THINGS. I NEVER GOT TO SEE THE FILM WHILE I WAS WORKING. IT WAS ALL DONE FROM HIM SENDING ME EMAILS ABOUT CERTAIN CUTS AND IMAGES. I WOULD THEN WORK ON SOMETHING AND SEND IT OVER. HE WOULD GIVE ME FEEDBACK AND IT WOULD GO FROM THERE. IT’S A LOVELY THING. REALLY FUCKIN’ LOVELY. NOT MY SHIT BUT THE FILM, I MEAN.”
I noticed that as well as the familiar sound of WANDA’s field recording, there were bright, shimmering synth lines throughout this piece. What was your approach to the score? Was it much different to how you would normally operate? “AS I SAID ABOVE. IT WAS JUST BOTH OF US TESTING STUFF OUT. HE HAS A GREAT MIND FOR SUCH A YOUNG GEEZER. REALLY PUTTING EVERYTHING HE HAD INTO THIS. I WAS JUST IN FOR THE RIDE. I MADE THE STUFF AND HE SAID ‘YES’ OR ‘NAH, MATE’. THE CD WE RELEASED FROM THE SOUNDTRACK IS A COLLAGE OF ALL THE STUFF I MADE FOR THE FILM. SOME STUFF DOESN’T APPEAR IN THE FILM BUT IT HELPED HIM WITH THE EDITING PROCESS. SORT OF BEHIND THE SCENES PIECES. SOME STUFF IN THE FILM AIN’T ON THE SOUNDTRACK, AS HE USED SOME STUFF THAT HAD BEEN RELEASED BEFORE. OLD STUFF THAT I JUST LOST OR DIDN’T HAVE ANY MORE. I GUESS IT WAS DIFFERENT IN THE SENSE THAT I HAD SOMEONE TELLING ME TO CHANGE CERTAIN THINGS. IT’S ALWAYS BEEN UP TO ME WHETHER TO CHANGE ANYTHING OR NOT. IT WAS NICE TO HAVE SOMEONE STOP ME CRAWLING SLOWLY UP MY OWN ARSEHOLE.”
Meds, the label that put out the soundtrack, have only done three releases so far – a four-CD retrospective set of tracks spanning more than a decade, a cassette tape of electronically produced meditation drones and the Symirroretry CD, all in very limited quantities. How did it end up with them? “TOM, WHO RUNS THE LABEL, IS A LEEDS LAD. I MET HIM THROUGH MOYA. WE GOT TALKING ABOUT DOING SOMETHING FOR HIS LOVELY LABEL AND I SAID ABOUT THE SOUNDTRACK. IT WAS THAT EASY. SO SMOOTH. I GOT THE MUSIC ALL MADE UP. THEN IT WAS DONE. REALLY FUCKIN’ LOVELY. THEY ARE GOING TO BE DOING SOME VERY FUCKIN’ BEAUTIFUL STUFF.”
You played a load of shows this year, from Unsound to fellow Truant Tayyab’s living room. Do any shows stand out, for good or bad reasons? “UNSOUND WAS GREAT. I DIDN’T THINK ANYONE WOULD BE THERE FOR MY SET BUT I WENT OUT FOR A FAG AND THEN I COME BACK AND BANG. ABOUT 10,000 PEOPLE ARE STANDING THERE. ALL WAITING. I HAD TO GO TO THE BAR AND GET A QUICK PINT. MY LEGS WHERE SHAKING. I WENT WELL, THOUGH. BAD SHOWS? WELL. I DUNNO. I HAVE HAD SOME SOUND ISSUES. SOMETIMES ITS MY FAULT BECAUSE OF MY SHIT LAPTOP. SOMETIMES THE SOUND JUST DOESN’T COME THROUGH THE MONITORS. AGAIN, I SHOULD TELL THEM TO TURN IT UP BUT I GET KIND OF LOST IN MY OWN LITTLE PROCESS AND FORGET. THE OPAL TAPES TOUR WE JUST DID WAS GREAT. STEPHEN [Bishop, Opal Tapes boss who records/performs as Basic House], JIMMY [Billingham, aka HOLOVR], KAREN [Gwyer] AND PATRICIA. ALL BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE. MY FAVOURITE SHOW WAS ONE IN BRISTOL. IN AN OLD CINEMA. IT WAS SO LOUD. CLEAR AND LOUD. TWO SUBS (THANKS TO DEAN BLUNT). THE WHOLE ROOM WAS SHAKING. OLD CHAIRS SORT OF SQUEAKING AND SCREAMING AROUND THE ROOM. IT WAS LIKE ANOTHER INSTRUMENT. SO GOOD. EVEN A BAD SHOW IS FUN, THOUGH. YOU CAN ALWAYS TAKE SOMETHING NEW AWAY FROM IT. I CALLED EVERYONE ‘A BUNCH OF CUNTS’ AT A SHOW IN LONDON A COUPLE OF MONTHS BACK, THOUGH. NOBODY NEEDS THAT. PEOPLE SHOULD SHUT UP SOMETIMES.”
Of course I have to ask you about the piece you’ve shared with us, “IN ONE EAR AND THEN SHOVED IN THE BOOT OF A CAR”. You described it as “ALL MY OWN STUFF MERGED AND SPAT AROUND. FIELD RECORDINGS ETC”, but would you be able to elaborate on that? “I GUESS. RIGHT. IT’S JUST NEW THINGS I HAVE BEEN WORKING ON THAT NEVER REALLY FOUND THEIR WAY ON TO A RECORD OR A RELEASE. THIS IS ALL A LIVE EDIT OF THAT STUFF. ME JUST GOING FOR IT. LIKE A NEW LIVE RECORD, I GUESS. THE MAIN BULK OF IT (THE BORING PART) IS FROM DEN HAAG. IN MY HOTEL ROOM. MICROPHONE OUT OF THE WINDOW. THAT THEN JUST BECOMES WHAT IT IS. YOU GO FROM THE SOUND INTO JUST BEING WITH ME IN THE LIVING, I THINK. THAT SOUND THEN OVERLAPS WITH A RECORDING OF ME IN OUR BEDROOM BACK HOME.”
The sound of a piano jumps out at one point, where was that recorded? “YEAH THAT IS FROM THE RECORDING OF OUR BEDROOM. I GUESS I WENT DOWNSTAIRS AT ONE POINT AND PLAYED THE LITTLE PIANO THAT WE HAVE. I MEAN, I PROBABLY DID IT ON PURPOSE. WHO KNOWS.”
“IN ONE EAR” has some more melody in it, just hints here and there. Can we expect a trance opera from you in the near future? “MAYBE NOT A TRANCE OPERA. REALLY WORKING ON GETTING INTO DIGITAL RECORDING. HAVE NEVER DONE THAT BEFORE. DIGITAL RECORDING IN THE SENSE OF FIELD RECORDING. I HAVE ONLY EVER RECORDED WITH TAPES. I AM LOOKING AT GETTING A NICE DIGITAL RECORDER FOR VIETNAM. SO I THINK, IF I GET THAT, I WILL MAKE CLEANER SHIT. THAT THEN BECOMES THE NEW THING. NEVER BEEN USED TO IT ALL SO CLEAN. SO USED TO HAVING TAPE HISS AND ROT ALL OVER MY STUFF. SO THAT COULD BE VERY EXCITING. PEOPLE MIGHT HATE IT BUT THAT’S ALL GOOD.”
What does 2015 hold for Louis/WANDA/HERS/UMBRO G/CAT SOUNDS? “MORE MUSIC, SIR. JUST THE SAME. EITHER STUFF PUT OUT ON OTHER LABELS. IF NOT THEN JUST ON BANDCAMP. GOING TO START DOING CDR RUNS LIKE I USED TO WHEN I WAS YOUNGER. SORT OF 50 COPIES. LIKE I DID WITH EARTH INSIDER. I NEED TO GET INTO OIL PAINTING. BEEN MEANING TO DO IT FOR A WHILE. I HAVE ALL THE GEAR AND I JUST NEED TO SIT DOWN AND FUCKIN’ DO THAT. DO MORE WRITING, GO ON TRIPS. DO MORE SHOWS. KEEP DOING CAT SOUNDS. I WANT TO MAKE THE SHOW ALL OVER THE PLACE. LIKE A REAL IMPROV THING. JUST TALKING AND THEN SILENCE OR SOMETHING FALLING OVER. LOADS OF DEAD AIR AND WEIRD SPACE. I AIN’T SURE MOYA IS UP FOR THAT, THOUGH. I AM JUST GONNA KEEP DOING WHAT I HAVE BEEN DOING, SIR. MAKING THE SHIT AND THEN MOVING ON.
“THANK YOU, AIDAN/TRUANTS. GO EASY, MATE.”
Words by Aidan Hanratty, 16 December 2014. Leave a comment
This year, the extent of grime’s cross-pollination with other genres, styles and cultures has been center of the spotlight for many. We’ve heard it take on things as near as its similarly-youthful London sibling dubstep, reach as far out to Jersey club and stretch to abstract experimentalism. Curiously, it shares a sonic hallmark with ballroom in the form of Dat Oven’s “Icy Lake”, as rediscovered and covered in a Night Slugs/Fade to Mind short film. A key point in flirtations between the two would be MikeQ’s involvement with Fade to Mind back in 2012 – one of the more tangible moments where grime and ballroom scenes were exposed to each other on a release that featured Kevin Jz Prodigy.
Considered a legendary vogue performer and commentator, Kevin JourdanZion Prodigy, also known as Kevin Deshields, isn’t someone we’d really expected to find on Crazylegs. The Bristolian clubnight/label/party institution celebrated its sixth birthday this year with a spate of takeover dates and various releases (a recent highlight would be Bloom’s Hydraulics). It also saw the debut for some – Gage is a music guy who surfaced with “Telo” in February on some stuttering pulsation grime tip, later featuring in our Functions of the Now series. His beat for “Bad Bitch” also channels the tonal aesthetic of a steel factory, this time with sirens whirring back and forth like backmasked blue shift. Squelchy zaps and airy claps are littered between kicks with complete disregard for regularity- Deshields’ vocal extravaganza carries the rhythm through in an explosive, galvanizing fashion that’s sure to stop anyone in their tracks. But for a single breakdown, “Bad Bitch” is a barrage of pure energy, some sort of forty-five hit ultimate combo of concussions and flourishes. Effects stemming from the ways in which cultures can spread through the filter of other genres (and their gatekeepers and fans) remains to be seen, though the interesting thing about “Bad Bitch” is the lack of compromise from both parties; despite being a collaboration, it seems like the vocal does its own thing as does the instrumental, both blazing onwards side-by-side. It’d be jarring if it wasn’t perfectly in-step, resonating to devastating effect.
“Bad Bitch”. One track release, verses only. It can speak for itself, let’s get it.
“Bad Bitch” is out today in digital format on Crazylegs.
Words by Tayyab Amin, 10 December 2014. Leave a comment
Since forming in 2011, NTS radio has quite rapidly carved itself a host of talented presenters and artists to become one of London’s go-to stations for new and old music from across the globe. One particular artist who automatically springs to mind when mentioning NTS is London native Nabihah Iqbal, better known as Throwing Shade. Having been with the station for just over a year, she’s quickly rose to prominence as a DJ and presenter due to her broad musical knowledge and informative exploration of cultures. She’s just as confident doing a mix on the sounds of Muslim Jazz as she is basing entire shows on the theme of the Surbahar (bass sitar). With a growing fan base from her now bi-weekly radio shows alone, it also helps that her own productions have been sought after for releases by the likes of Kassem Mosse and The Kelly Twins for their own respected labels. Along with delivering our 107th Truancy Volume, we caught up with Throwing Shade for a brief chat about NTS, working on composing music for the Tate and how to find some of the more eclectic sounds on her shows.
Hey Nabihah, thanks again doing this mix for us! Just want to start by congratulating you on the new bi-weekly slot on NTS. Can we talk about how you first came to be on the station and any great memories or particular shows that have stood out for you now that you’re a seasoned presenter? “I started presenting my own monthly show on NTS in May 2013. Before that I went in as a guest on Thristian’s Global Roots show and it just so happened that the station manager was tuned in at the time. He really liked what I was doing and called up as soon as we went off air to offer me my own show! And that’s how it happened. Now, the radio show is one of my favourite things that I do. I have to put in a lot of time, researching the shows and putting them together, but I really love it. Recently, the shows that have stood out for me the most are the ‘Muslim Jazz’ Specials Part 1 and 2. Most of the music I play on these shows are by African-American jazz musicians who converted to Islam between the 1940s-70s. Part 1 has been my most popular show to date (nearly 3,000 listens on Mixcloud) and it feels amazing that so many people are tuning in and responding positively.”
You’ve been working with the Tate recently, having been commissioned to compose a piece of music as an audio response to the work of James Richards, and then also asked to do a live performance as part of BP Loud Tate. Did you find working on music in response to someone else’s work a completely different approach to your usual production methods, especially if you might not have heard of the artist before? “Yes, this project was a big challenge! I’d never made music in that way before – it was like making art about art. Very meta, but I enjoyed the process a lot. I went to look at ‘Rosebud’, James Richards’ work in the Turner exhibition, two or three times. I had to really think through the ideas that he was trying to convey through his artwork, and how I was going to do the same through my music. His work was a video piece and it already had a soundtrack to it, which I think made my task even harder as I didn’t want to be too influenced by it. The track which I composed is called “Touch” and it’s probably the most experimental thing I’ve made but I think I still managed to retain my signature ‘Throwing Shade’ sound in it. I wanted to explore ideas of censorship, and what constitutes something being ‘sexually explicit’, as Richards does in his work. So I sampled lots of sounds from internet pornography – the idea was to take the sounds out of their context and to see if they still held an ‘explicit’ or ‘arousing’ value. I also contrasted ‘harsh’ and ‘tender’ sounds within the track, as I felt that James Richards’ work was very much fixated on the juxtaposition between these two themes.”
From an outsider’s perspective it feels like your career as a DJ/Presenter as well as a producer have both had a natural rise together from early 2013, but I was keen to ask when exactly your interest in producing and DJing came about. Do you remember any particular records that inspired you to start producing or was it something that happened gradually? “Well, music has always been my favourite thing in the world and I’ve been playing instruments since I was very young – the guitar, piano, flute, and sitar. I remember getting interested in music production whilst I was still at school, so I enrolled in a course to learn more about it when I was 16 or 17. I’ve been making my own music from about that age I think. It’s gone through lots of different phases (I was even in a noise band at one point), but as Throwing Shade I’ve been producing since around 2012. I started DJing properly in 2010-11 I think.”
People have their usual and go-to outlets for buying new music such as Phonica, Idle Hands etc but for people interested in discovering and gaining a greater knowledge in the more eclectic music you play on your NTS shows, how would you recommend going about it? The music you’ve been playing in your ‘Muslim Jazz’ specials is a prime example. “I think Youtube is a really amazing way of discovering weird and wonderful music. If there’s a track you like, then you just take a stab at the ‘suggested videos’ and keep going and going. You’ll probably stumble across some interesting stuff. People also tell me that they find my NTS shows act as really good starting points for finding out about more music. I try and make the shows informative, and talk about the music I play, so that if someone is listening and hear something which grabs their attention, they can go and look it up, and try and find more like it. And then of course, just sifting through record shops, or crates in a market, and picking out stuff that might look like it could be a winner. My favourite record shops in London for this are El Dica, Sounds of the Universe, Zen Records and Honest Jon’s.”
I wanted to ask about the record on Happy Skull and how the Bristol link-up might have come about. Was the choice of going more dance-floor orientated with the tracks a conscious effort for the label? “The guys from Happy Skull just got in touch with me after hearing my Mystic Places release on Ominira and asked if I’d be up for doing a release with them. We met up when they came to London and got on well, and it all worked out from there. I don’t think having the more ‘dance-floor friendly’ tracks on the release was an especially conscious decision given the label. I was just working on those tracks at the time, setting myself the challenge of producing something more upbeat. I sent a bunch of tracks over to the Happy Skull guys and “Chancer” and “Blanx” were the ones that stood out the most to them. I was quite nervous about how they would be received as they are markedly a step away from the tracks on 19 Jewels, but they got a really positive reaction which felt good!”
Tell us about the mix you’ve done for us – how representative of your DJing style is it? “Very representative! When I DJ in clubs I just like playing stuff that will make people dance. I like mixing tracks that you wouldn’t necessarily think of putting together, but that actually work really well. I like to move through different genres because I always find that it’s much more interesting that way, rather than just sticking to techno, or trap or whatever. There’s too much good stuff out there.”
With 2014 soon coming to a close can you sum up your experience of the year in a short sentence. “It’s been happy, amazing, and exciting, and I can’t wait to see what will happen in 2015 – just gotta keep working hard!”
A.G. Cook – Beautiful
Brackles – Palos Y Piedras
Throwing Shade – Britney Britney
Ana Caprix – I’m That Kind Of Grrl
Rihanna – Rude Boy (Nike 7UP Remix)
Nu Birth – Anytime
Santigold – You’ll Find A Way (Switch & Sinden Mix)
Dubbel Dutch – No Futuro
Dizzee Rascal – I Luv U
3 Of A Kind – Babycakes
Loom – RGB
Throwing Shade – Real Bad
C Powers – Phoenix Down
Danny L Harle – In My Dreams
Lockah – Unrealable
Destiny’s Child – Say My Name (Acapella)
Sophie – Nothing More To Say
Art Crime – Running Nowhere
Throwing Shade – Chancer
Oni Ayhun – OAR003 – B
Tears For Fears – Everbody Wants To Rule The World
Photo Credit – Meike Lindstrom
Words by Riccardo Villella, 10 December 2014. Leave a comment
Lily is a Bristol-based producer whose sporadic work over the past three years has captured our attention by virtue of its off-kilter brilliance. They first came to our attention on the Don’t Be Afraid offshoot Spargel Trax, the oddly affecting “Dollen Haze” standing out on the first volume of that sadly short-lived series, and “Tiwa” popping up a year later on Vol. 3. Lily then appeared on Idle Hands with the euphoric Trumpets At Dawn, before continuing on a Bristolian path with the really rather superb Modern Malaise tape early this year on No Corner (which was subsequently reissued on vinyl as part of that label’s expansive From The Reels collection). Going full circle, Lily has returned to Don’t Be Afraid, or at least its DBA Dubs arm, with a 10″ of infernal noise.
“Memory Jacket” is an odd track. To return to No Corner, one might mistake this track for the work of El Kid or Vessel. Following the trajectory of this artist, however, it’s clear how they’ve ended up here. Further and further into the Bristol minefield, their sound has been full of twisted intrigue, and the nightmare stomp of “Memory Jacket” is the logical end result. A growling, penetrating lead bass line is the centre piece of the track, surrounded by rolling kick fills on different levels and a pained series of eerie vocal oohs. Industrial rattles and hints of themes judder through without making a full impression, never lasting more than a brief moment. A lengthy outro then takes the track home just as it seemed to get going, leaving listeners confounded and dissatisfied. Even more intriguing, if that were possible, is a remix from Madteo, no stranger to bizarre territory. In this case, the remix is bizarre in its palpable difference to the source material. Where the original evoked sinister visions of figures lurking in shadows, this is an uplifting house jam by comparison. Just as the original ended with 40 seconds of haze and fuzz, this one kicks off with almost two minutes of introductory beatlessness, which preface the track’s swagger with syncopated pads before fading in irrepressible kicks and claps. It’s not without its curios, however. Whirrs and clanks keep it grounded in weirdness, a constant throb of bass almost an incessant irritant as muted vocal snaps lend further prurience. Its seven-plus minutes simply fly by in joyous rapture. Going back to this sub-label’s first entry, it’s important to note that the manifesto remains unchanged – these cuts are indeed all crucial. Worlds apart, they work on their own and any other damn terms.
Lily – Memory Jacket is forthcoming on DBA Dubs
Words by Aidan Hanratty, 05 December 2014. Leave a comment