Broken Soul: The sound of Redeyes at his most inspired
Redeyes has delivered nothing short of a masterpiece on The North Quarter with the Broken Soul LP – his third studio album, and his first full-length project on Lenzman’s soulful imprint.
12 slices of pure, unadulterated brilliance, these are the sounds of an artist comfortable to experiment with his sound, and comfortable to showcase other facets of his musical psyche.
The LP sees him flexing hip-hop, soul and deep jazz flavours, also weaving his signature D&B magic and recruiting some of Manchester’s finest along the way, including DRS, Tyler Daley, Abnormal Sleepz and more.
Broken Soul is an album full of contrasts, intricately balanced and executed with style and finesse. This is Redeyes getting deep. This is Redeyes at his most inspired.
He took us through the album track by track, so sit back and press play – this is the story behind Broken Soul…
This one was built around the vocal, which has an obscure jazz gospel feel to it. I knew from the beginning that this would be the intro to the album. I wrote this tune when I had some difficult times emotionally and I believe that you can really feel that in the track. There are also so many different sounds layered on this one, I just love creating tunes in this way – when you add multiples elements that come from different sources and other style of music and they just fit together perfectly and create something new.
The Hurt ft. DRS
DRS… I still feel blessed to have collaborated on a tune with him. What he’s doing with Calibre and what he’s done with Mist:ical in the past is what I like the most in this music. When he sings or raps, it’s just made for this music. He’s got reggae, soul, dub and rap in his bones… I really liked the instrumental of this tune, because it’s got all my jazz and soul influences in there, but he certainly brought it to another level.
Toast ft. Milano Constantine
Before Milano sent back the vocals, this track was pretty simple. It was just the main soul loop running with some hi-hats – it was pretty chilled. Milano is from New York (affiliated with DITC), and you can feel it in his voice, it’s rough. When I had those vocals back, I knew I had to add some banging drums. So at the beginning it was a simply modern soul cut and it turns out to be more a Premo-inspired beat (Moment of Truth period).
I love the idea of working at different tempos, because when I do hip-hop it’s more often a half-time D&B tempo. So I just played with this slow rock break from the 70s around 65/70 bpm and I added sounds and played some keys over the top to create what they used to call “abstract hip-hop” back in the day. Like DJ Krush or DJ Cam used to do in the mid/late 90s. Also DJ Rockid added some killer cuts to complete the interlude.
Awaken is pretty simple – I wanted to have something melancholic, which could also work on a dancefloor. So it got some rolling drums balanced with some mellow keys. I also love the extra 80s guitar sound in the background, which gave the track a more moody tone. Lenzman and I also had a few conversations and experimented with some vocals on it. We found some samples that worked but we finally decided it sounded fine without them. Sometimes the simplest and original ideas are the best!
After producing drum and bass for almost 15 years, I now have enough confidence in myself and my capacity to write within other music genres. I used to do this with my band Trilogy some years ago, but it’s really in the last couple of years that I really enjoy what I’m making within other tempos. Music like hip-hop, soul or house… This one came together naturally… in a few hours actually! I definitely can’t finish a tune in a few hours, but all the elements and ideas were there.
I remember chatting with FD and Lenzman on a train from Bristol to London about these things. FD is probably the most informed about house music at TNQ I think. He gave me some advice to make it sound more like a proper house tune… but in the end (although his advice was great) I just wanted to have this tune sound like a Redeyes 120 bpm vibe, instead of making fit more within the house formula.
Oooo Laaah ft. KinKai
I’ve been making a lot of hip-hop in the last year or so. I really like it as it requires a really different approach to D&B – even if it’s usually the same vibe and the same kinds of sounds. So it was logical that there would be some hip-hop beats on this album. I was really proud to have somebody like Hus Kingpin on the Blueprints EP last year. Making beats is one thing, but having the opportunity to work with great rappers is another.
Thankfully Lenzman is a good friend of Konny Kon from Children of Zeus, and Konny has really good connections and knowledge of the UK hip-hop scene. So Konny introduced us to KinKai (you should check his stuff if you haven’t already!). We sent him a bunch of beats and he came back with this “BootCampClik” vibe over a beat. The vocal was fire but I wasn’t really into my beat… it was maybe a bit too hard for me. So I tried some other beats I had, and it magically worked with this one I had written just the day before. In the end this tune has got this “Labcabincalifornia” vibe that I like so much. It’s definitely one of my favourites from the album.
Late Night Jam ft. Tyler Daley
Late Night Jam is definitely an ode to the soulful drum and bass of the early 2000s… The years of the first Soul:ution series, especially those Marcus and Marky collabs: peak-time liquid-funk business. And when you’ve got the chance to have Tyler Daley on your track, you know he’s going to bring the tune to another level. He’s a diamond.
Digital Diamonds ft. Juga-Naut
I think this is Lenzman’s favorite hip hop beat i’ve made (I think it might even be his favourite track on the LP). We were looking for some rappers and Lenzman had been listening a lot to Juga-Naut at the time, after seeing Konny raving about him on social media. And he was right, he’s a beast on the mic. We really loved what he was doing, so we were blessed that he liked this beat and delivered such great vocals.
Fool Of Me
When listening to this tune it always reminds me of the early Fabio years at BBC Radio One – when he was playing Calibre dubs, when liquid funk was getting a bit fancy… The Swerve days. It’s a really deep tune, I still can feel the emotions that I had when I was writing it … it’s a really personal one.
Blessed ft. Abnormal Sleepz & HMD
When you send a beat to a vocalist – even when you’re as lucky as I am with regards to the talent I’ve worked with – you never know how the tune will sound in the end. I was really happy with this beat; it was really soulful, it had this Redeyes vibe but in a 85 bpm format… But when they sent back the vocals, I literally felt in love with it. Manchester’s got so much talent, it’s crazy. I’ve also got some beats for Abnormal Sleepz’s NQ project, and what I’ve heard so far is so good. He (they) is (are) the future.
Back In My Soul (Encore)
I actually wrote “Back in My Soul” in 2007 and it never got signed. Lenzman re-discovered it when doing a mix last year and it was one of his favourites – so he said he would like to have it on the LP. After spending hours opening “untitled” or “dnbrollerpianosoul” Reason files, I never found the project. So I wrote it again from scratch, hoping I would remember where I got the sounds from… I also love the message in the vocal. Music is eternal, forever, but we got to respect all those who put the work in you know? One day you might get the fame, but the next your record can end in a cave, unknown. This is also why I love crate digging, finding obscure bands and getting a loop, chopping it, giving their sounds a new form, keeping it in the circle of life.
The Broken Soul LP is out now on The North Quarter – get it here