A Moment of Clarity
It’s that time of the night when everyone’s united, hands are in the air, girls turn to each other and mouth ‘OMG’ as their favourite bass anthem transports them to a higher level of consciousness or a special portal of their past. Some close their eyes and savour the uplifting chords while allowing the sweet vocal samples to drip like nectar rain.
Then on the other hand there’s your typical set by Clarity.
Take ‘Sombre’ off the new Horo comp, Scope: let’s put it to Clarity himself:
… if this tune was a physical place, what would it look like?
Maybe some sort of abandoned factory building at two in the morning.
In winter. Somewhere you wouldn’t want to hang around for that long.
F*ck yeah. So are you ALWAYS on a crushingly brutalist linear tangent, style-wise? Is your world a permacold stainless steel deep space airlock?
Music is music and I enjoy making it so I don’t think it matters what style it is. I used to get a bit fed up with writing moody music all the time but I write a lot of other stuff on the side in my spare time now. I think the fact that the music does sound foreboding is part of why I like it though. It’s just like watching films: you get a buzz off a soundtrack if it sounds like something bad is about to happen for example, so I think that’s really similar. A lot of the music I carry around with me to listen to is downtempo, ambient stuff, techno, hip hop, so I’m not purely into darker music.
The film aspect runs deep with you yes?
I’m studying film in Bristol at the moment and it’s a big influence over my music so I have a lot of time for them. I’m really in to dystopian films, science fictions, psychological horrors and thrillers, that sort of thing, films that get you thinking as well. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dredd, Bladerunner, The Shining & Moon are a few favourites and I love the soundtracks on all of them.
Back to your work for Scope – easily one of the most ambitious compilations of recent times – what did you want to assert, to put out there?
Presha (label boss) told me that he was planning the Scope LP a while back. It’s a Horo release which means a certain mindset… and it gave me an open slate to do something a bit more hypnotic and trippy to my usual stuff I guess. I think Horo is the perfect platform to do that on. It’s something you can space out to at home and enjoy playing until the end as well as playing it out in a club if you wanted to as it’s not necessarily a ‘dance floor’ tune. I’m pretty pleased with it as it’s the first tune I’ve made where I’ve used sounds that I’ve recorded around Bristol myself.
It’s sort of a lead up to my album on Samurai Music too as I’ve been using a lot of recorded sounds in that so there will be similar vibes.
How do you personally regard the Scope album?
Scope is my favourite LP this year just because there’s so much variety and originality on there. It shows what the Samurai Horo series is about too; people often mistake it as a D&B label but it’s more all about experimenting with different tempos and having the freedom to do something you wouldn’t really be able to do on some other labels. A lot of the tunes on there don’t really fit into any genre.
Also, I think one of the best things about Scope is the thought that’s been put in to how it’s presented, visually and aurally. There was a lot of effort put into the artwork, vinyl and the arrangement of the music and it’s paid off. There’s a lot of great names on there and some that people wouldn’t have heard of before.
Back to you: your sound in general is massive and needs a big whomping PA. Not sure if ‘whomping’ is a word. Either way, do you produce with that in mind?
It’s a weird one for me because I’ve only ever produced on headphones so I’ve never really had the chance to check how my tunes sound on speakers before I play them out. A lot of people think that if you have nicer studio monitors then the better your mix downs can be, but I’ve always thought if you get a tune sounding really nice on headphones or not so good speakers then it’s got to sound good on a system. So yeah I make sure I spend a lot of time on my mixdowns so that they sound punchy when played on a bigger system. It’s always good to test your music out and come back to it at a later stage if something doesn’t stand out in the mix as well.
The headphones thing is going to surprise some. What’s something else about you people may not know?
I’m colour blind.
I wanted to talk about DJing as I think your music must be some of the most intensely fun music to play out: switching about the layers and tectonic plates of sound, it’s got to feel a bit godlike.
Well I always try and find tunes that work with each other well in a mix. I’m not a massive fan of busy mixes so I don’t tend to mix noisy tunes with other noisy tunes, it’s nice to hear both bits of music clearly. Using tracks that have the same key bassline for example. I don’t pick and mix randomly that often unless I’m running out of music ha ha.
Here’s a wildcard: what if someone booked you to play in the morning? Sunshine. People about. Not the deep recesses of night.
I’ve always thought if someone books you then they’re booking you to play your style and your music, but the crowd’s reaction does matter and it is an important part of being a DJ so you have to take that into consideration and bounce off the crowd.
I don’t think I’d ever be in the scenario of playing at 10am but… then if I was it would probably be an afterparty so I don’t think much would change!
How do you DJ? CDs or… ?
I think it’s all up to personal preference. I can see why people use laptops and it is easier for some DJs. If I had a massive selection of music Serato or something similar would make more sense because you can put a lot more music on that than you can with a CD. It’s less time consuming because you don’t have to burn CDs all the time and it’s easier to access when playing.
I started learning to mix on them and it’s the method I feel most comfortable with so I think I will stick to them for now.
Any names right now that are delivering?
Homemade Weapons, Ruffhouse, Indigo, Ena, Felix K, Overlook and Fis.
To wrap up what’s a tune of yours of which you’re most proud? Apart from this recent Horo excursion, you also released on labels such as Exit, Horizons… it’s a mighty list.
‘Fractured b/w Off The Cuff’ on Exit Records. I was pretty chuffed with the reaction to this release and it got me out there a bit more.
I think they’re my most original tunes and they sort of helped me find my sound.