You have just launched your own label, Solar Body, what is your mission? What can people expect from the label?
First and foremost, I started the label so I could increase the number of records I was releasing. I find it frustrating to have to wait so long to release music with other labels. It’s not their fault; distribution delays, pressing plants, label release schedules, etc. mean it can take 6-12 months before a record is released. I discovered that at that time I was already a bit tired of music, or I feel I can offer something better. So, having my own digital footprint, I can make a track that I like and I’m already able to release it in a few months when I still have a connection with it. In terms of the label’s sound production, I wanted to display the full spectrum of my influences. I want it to explore all aspects of the hardcore continuum while remaining hand-in-hand with ambient and ethereal atmospheres – it’s the Otik sound I’ve been trying to solidify for the past few years. I only plan to release my own music on Solar Body as is, but I’m open to more advanced ideas.
You’ve had a number of releases on Keysound, Intergraded, Shall Not Fade, Club Qu… what’s your process in the studio? How do you think your sound has changed in recent years?
My process in the studio has remained relatively the same over the past 10 years, but I think my goals have changed. I always start with the drums first, I try not to make the rhythm too generic and a bit more off-road, and as much as the melody should be catchy, so should the drum pattern. Once I’m happy with that, I spend a few minutes (or hours) playing melodies over it or finding the perfect sample or pad from a movie score or VST, then I build around that. About five years ago my goal was to do something as eye-catching and serious as possible – but since then I’ve started to explore my spirituality and learn to tap into my inspirations without copying them. Now I am channeling my own life experiences into sound and the pieces first come together more tightly and it has evolved into something deeper. The way I know something is working in the studio is if I lose myself in a trance while the track is looping, or even nicely in place. Sometimes I start thinking about something that happened or is happening in my life. I don’t meditate as often as I should, but nowadays producing is the closest thing I can describe to that feeling.
Your recent album “Psyops” married breaks/jungle and more woozy atmospheric ambient sounds, do you think it’s a common thing for you to balance? does it reflect both sides of your personality?
My favorite music is the one that touches you deeply and makes you feel strong emotions like nostalgia, sadness or faith. Music that can make you transcend or feel enlightened for even a moment. But I also like firecrackers! I like heavy drums and punchy bass. I guess the vibe reflects a side of me as I’m a bit of a dreamer and consider myself relatively spiritual. I meditate when I can, I am very interested in esoteric philosophies and the mysteries of God and the universe. But most of the time I’m a pretty light and basic person, I’m not this deep, reclusive character. I’m a pretty private person, I guess; I don’t really share my daily life on social media, but if you know me well and I’m not in the studio or at the gym, then I gossip a lot of bullshit and make loads of stupid jokes, do the party quite often, care too much about my appearance, and listen to an unhealthy amount of SoundCloud rapping. What some might say, I suppose, are quite material qualities and far removed from spirituality or enlightenment; two of the kinds of energies that I try to inject into music these days. But since deciding to balance every side of myself in creating my music, it seems to make a lot more sense to me than ever. When I hear my earlier catalog, I feel like there was something missing in all of this. It’s only been a few years since the music seems complete.
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You are originally from Bristol and now based in London. How do you think the two cities compare? What impact did they both have on your production?
I’ve lived in London for almost 11 years now, and only return to Bristol a few times a year at most to see my family. So it’s hard to say that Bristol had as much of an effect on my music as London. a, but I would definitely say that my bass and heavy side is influenced by my hometown. Most of my Jamaican family members live there and I grew up around a lot of reggae. Bristol’s bass scene is also an entity in its own right, and many of my favorite labels, such as Livity Sound and Timedance, stem from it. The dubstep scene in the early 2010s was very vibrant in Bristol when I was also in my late teens, and I completely immersed myself in it, so it definitely had an impact on my music.
What are some of your early musical influences? Do you remember the first time you got into electronic music?
I get asked this question a lot and I always answer with Burial, which some might find a bit evasive because who in this scene isn’t inspired by him? But to be honest, he’s not my only inspiration, he’s just the biggest one I guess. I discovered it in 2011 but before that I was into James Blake, Radiohead, Kendrick, early The Weeknd (I stopped listening after The Trilogy), Clams Casino, Jamie xx and The Streets. After Burial, I started to be heavily inspired by artists like Mount Kimbie, XXYYXX, Floating Points, Sully, Caribou, Altrice and Djrum. I also remember being told my stepdad and mom were loosely friends with some members of Massive Attack and Portishead before they grew up, I don’t know how close or how close they were how true those statements were, but it always stuck in my head and I loved their music from a young age.