InsideInfo requires little introduction. Cementing his place as one of the most talented and forward-thinking craftsmen in the game with a career spanning over 10 years, his debut album on Viper was bound to be a real statement, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
The self-titled LP is everything you’d hope for in a debut album: Personal, powerful and true to his sound. Flaunting the diverse stylistic range he’s become so renowned for, the album is truly a journey into his creative mind from start to finish. And what a journey it is. We caught up with the man himself to find out more…
Paul, we meet again. In case you didn’t notice, I just swivelled in my chair to face you like a proper Bond villain. All I’m missing now is a hairless cat. What’s missing from your life this very moment?
Routine… but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Good answer! On to the album – Wow. Quite the sonic memoir, isn’t it? Massive big ups mate! Took about 2 years to piece together, right?
Roughly, yes. I had a couple of sketches kicking around beforehand, but I would say from concept to finished product it was 2 years.
When working on tunes over such a long period of time, is there a danger of becoming almost too focused on the arrangement of certain tracks and never feeling like they’re truly finished? I know if I look at words for too long they start making less and less sense…
Absolutely, you start to lose the original buzz and excitement for a track if you keep it going for so long. The problem is that sometimes ideas take a lot of work to get to the point of being a representation of what was actually intended, and that can be a frustrating process of multiple failures before you actually hit the nail on the head, which takes time. Sometimes you just gotta throw in the towel!
I’ve always wondered when an artist makes an album self-titled, is that because of the personal nature of the album? Or because it’s easier than thinking of a snappy title that doesn’t make you cringe 10 years down the line? 😉
Bit of both really! The title just totally felt right for my debut… Now I’ve gotta spend the next few years thinking of a title for the next one because I can’t get away with that anymore!
On that note, have you ever regretted a track name ?
Can’t say I have, although my work in progress titles tend to contain the word “arse” at some point in the development stage.
Looking forward to an Arse VIP 😉 So did you turn to anyone in particular for advice when approaching the debut album concept, or was it a case of finding your own feet and figuring out how to deal with it yourself?
I spent probably more time thinking about it than I did actually writing anything. I had set things I wanted to achieve; styles, emotions etc. and just worked though it.
To be honest it just ended up evolving naturally, some of the concepts and ideas didn’t end up on the final product but that’s just how things evolve. I really just wanted it to be a proper musical album, not just a bunch of bangers. I had some great advice from Calyx along the way though, and my friend Matthew who did the artwork came round and we often chatted about the whole process. He was the catalyst to start the track “Lost You”.
Oooft, that tune and the way it progresses is quite emotional for me.. Seriously cinematic soundscapes. There’s an epic energy behind it… judging by the title this one is an emotional one for you as well?
Yeah, that’s a very personal track. It’s about losing someone close. It’s the most experimental thing on the album but one of my favourites for sure.
Did the album process throw you into somewhat of a creative rabbit hole? I’m picturing you locked away in darkness for months on end like a mad scientist, minimal human contact, rare showers…
Honestly writing the album has turned me into a full on recluse with poor social skills, pale skin and a hatred for the human race…. No wait… It’s Facebook that’s done that! I’m pretty reclusive anyway at the best of times, but during the album writing it was constantly whirring around in my head no matter what I was doing. Like a voice in the back of your head dictating your life. I’m probably my most happiest down that creative rabbit hole, that’s where the magic happens!
No doubt! How do you fill the void after such a mammoth project has been completed? Is there a sense of relief there? Feet up, champagne flowing, confetti falling from the skies… or are you wandering the streets somewhat lost, speaking to strangers at bus stops just to keep yourself busy?
Very much the latter… It was quite a strange feeling finishing it up. But since it’s been finished i’ve been gathering and making new sounds and learning a bunch of new gear. I’ve been working the same way for quite a while so wanted to check out some new ways of working and have a nice fresh start…
Good strategy! Such a diversity of styles on the album, it feels like you’ve truly done your sound justice because for me, your approach to production really is unpredictable. Does that come naturally or is it a really conscious effort on your part?
I guess I get more inspired when unexpected things happen. That sort of stems from my raving days of hearing crazy new sounds and ideas when I used to go out clubbing, it got me all excited. I want to translate that to my work so people have similar experiences when they hear it out.
Job well done there! Let’s chat about the artwork for the album – concept behind it?
My good friend Matthew is an incredible painter. He popped round every so often while I was writing it and made notes, took photos, sketched ideas and built it up over time. The painting is of some organic life inside a machine. I wanted the album to feature both organic and synthetic elements fighting each other so the art kinda represents that.
My mum is a painter and I grew up with hundreds of paintings hanging off all the walls in the house. Before I started writing music I used to paint and love art. It was actually the label’s idea to have me standing in front of it so it all fell together nicely.
That it certainly did! Revenants is a heavy little beast. Takes me back to my metal days! Quite keen on pushing someone over when it drops tbh… Was that the intention? Unleash it at an event and watch the chaos unfold?
Yes absolutely. I’ve always wanted a tune that had the energy of a metal track and my good friend Tim is amazing guitarist so he popped round and laid down the parts, then Scott Kennedy came on board and gave it that raw vocal edge it needed. Really pleased how that one came out.
I’ve got a lot of love for Time Will Tell. Such a hypnotic, driving number. The way it progresses is mesmerising. Where do you think your fascination with the concept of time comes from? Did that play a big part in forming the concept of the album as well?
Time is just such a great concept to latch onto and incorperate into a song. That song has musical elements and sounds in it made up of things that were really important from my past. I sampled a lot of old records and things that I grew up listening to and then mashed them into obscurity to create textures for a lot of the songs. Tasha wrote all the lyrics and delivered a great performance on that one.
2 Minds has to be one of my favourite tracks on the album. My face seems to have a violent reaction as soon as that distorted vocal creeps its way in. Is there a story behind it?
Yeah, I was stuck at a crossroads with a big life decision so the track evolved around that concept. The vocal sounding thing is actually a heavily distorted version of the main bass harmonic. I love it when sounds talk to you 🙂
Same! That track certainly has a lot to say… Num Num is mesmerising as well. Loving the exotic influences in there. Aref Durvesh is a prolific tabla artist – how did the link with Aref come about?
Aref is a fucking living legend, such a nice dude. My Manager Asad knows him and suggested we work together. It was such a huge highlight for me, the guy is a genius.
Now we know this album is super personal in a lot of ways, influenced by past experiences, etc. How do you convey those personal experiences into your music?
I start by gathering sounds of things relating to what I want to convey, listening to tunes that inspire the same feelings. I guess your personality and who you are are defined by your past experiences so it just comes with putting your personality into your tracks. Thats really important to me.
What have you been listening to in your own spare time then? After 2 years working on a D&B album do you get an urge to listen to the most obscure music not connected to D&B at all?
I spend most of the time listening to all kinds of odd music, rarely related to d&b at all. In fact I very rarely, if at all, sit and listen to just drum and bass. But always checking in to see what’s new and inspiring me in the scene.
What’s the last track that made your face react as though you’d just bitten into a lemon?
This new Calyx and Teebee thing called Conquest. It’s fucking brutal…
So where to from here Paul? What’s on the agenda for the rest of the year?
A lot of gigging, which is great! I love playing out. Then obviously developing new material and keeping the ball rolling. I’ve just done a remix for Maxim from the Prodigy which is super exciting. I’m going to be giving away some free music as a big thanks to everyone for the album support at some point soon as well, keep an eye out for that…
Our eyes are peeled! Any final shouts?
Shouts to everyone supporting the album and everyone involved in creating it and putting it out there! x
InsideInfo’s self-titled LP is out now on Viper, get it here.