Straight lean, Helix, patron. There are a lot of planetary and mathematical puns one can apply to Georgia-based producer Beau Thigpen, known under his moniker Helix. Such as, no wonder he likes loops, or, his tracks are like smooth space curves, or, something about how many parsecs he’s away from Berlin. “I mean, I’m Helix?” is his own take on the introduction. “Not much to say, I’m just a shithead who makes trax a lot and that’s about the whole thing.” Helix produces pretty good trax at that; half a year ago his first release “Pavement”, a raw and dazzling sounding seven minutes track on a techno tip, came out on a limited split 12” through the Belgium label Other Heights. “I posted my music to the “Dub Techno” group on Facebook, and got a message from this guy named Jorn, who ran the label. He put me out on a CD compilation, and then released Pavement on a 12”, and that was the only self-promotion I’ve ever done.” More recently his tracks were picked up by a few noted DJs from the United Kingdom and his music justly got more attention, as well as leading to more releases. One on the Glasgow imprint All Caps (“Stacks Riddim”), another EP on Other Heights, a collaboration with San Fransisco bound producer Simple on Ilian Tape and “Drum Track”, soon to be a much sought after white label release on London-based label.
Where his music is a constant throb of artfully assembled monotony, perfect for late at night in the club, his tracks aren’t necessarily constructed with the dance floor in mind. “Really, it’s just wherever they end up, I just make the trax. I open up Renoise and half of the time I start compressing a 4×4 kick drum and looping it. No matter what, it starts out with drum loops. The only track where I sat down with some kind of idea in mind was “Stacks Riddim”, but my only idea was to just have kick drums with alternating pitches, that’s it. I usually throw a track together in about four or five hours, and then I just let it sit for a week. Fine tune it, let it sit for another week and when I’m fully satisfied with a track I’ll send it to my music buddies.”
“Stacks Riddim”, a series of different percussive loops that flow and evolve from one to the other with a sense of giddy exhilaration, has been making noise and grabbing attention through Boiler Room rips and mixtapes. It perfectly demonstrates his love of loops, rocking out as it does with its primal kicks and fills. “I love loops so much, Jeff Mills is just a crazy DJ and I have this big thing I love about loops. If you find the perfect groove you can loop it for 10 minutes and easily sell 500 records. My favourite example of a track who does this is G’s “Monoitus”. Gez Varley is one of my favorite techno producers of all time, because of his extensive work with loops.”
The influence of others has grown just as much as his how comfortable he is with his medium. “I mean, I just started learning more and more about production. So definitely technique, but I’ve heard more music so I’m getting more inspirations or whatever so I have more shit I can draw from as far as sounds and styles that I like. Some of the same ideas, just better execution now.”
Despite the singular focus of his loop-driven sound, his influences vary far more wildly than the driven intensity of his tracks might suggest. And it’s certainly not the only kind of sounds that keep him going. “I started out listening to a fuckton of “classic rock” or whatever that is, and a bunch of dirty south rap. I’m not sure when I started listening to electronic music, but it was really cheesed out progressive trance or whatever. I started getting into grime in 2006, after finding “Fix Up Look Sharp” by Dizzee Rascal, shit was fire! I found Rinse looking through radio streams and I was all about Ruff Sqwad, Wiley, Jammer – basically a who’s who of grime in ‘06 and ‘07. I always had respect for Spooky too. Spooky’s shows always just had so much hood energy, and he took Doctor P’s “Sweet Shop” – possibly the shittiest dubstep tune ever made – and made it into a grime banger. All the grime shows on Rinse started disappearing for this “dubstep” stuff, which I just thought was grime instrumentals. I started getting more and more into dubstep around that time. When it comes to techno, I listen to a lot of Basic Channel and Jeff Mills.” While Helix listens to a lot of electronic music, he states the music he listens to must be a 1:1 ratio between electronic music. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge hip-hop head but my favorite form of hip-hop is hood raps – basically just awful US radio rap.”
Not sticking to aforementioned ratio however, Helix’s hundred minutes long Truancy Volume takes you on a trip of a little bit of everything; from 90’s German techno to some more recent house sounds, gradually building up to the second half where he carefully mixes in some dubstep and grime classics all the while keeping the techno vibes going. “There’s a lot of tracks that you’ve probably heard before, some tracks of mine that nobody has heard before, some shit nobody will ever have but me. The perfect setting to listen to this mixtape would be in a club… Promoters, holla at me. But for real though, just bump it in your whip, play it on your phone in the back of the bus or just play it off of laptop speakers in your classroom. It doesn’t matter, just as long as you play it and enjoy it.”
Truancy Volume 33: Helix
“Shouts to Bake, Mattron, Roy Fishell, Bok Bok, Contakt, the entire city of Atlanta, Ivan Feign, Simple, Jorn from Other Heights, my girlfriend and my roommates.”
9 thoughts on “Truancy Volume 33: Helix”
Big up Helix!!! Jump on this.
Yes yes! Big tings man!
man… i’ve listened to this set a number of times now — serious business. awesome job helix.
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