Clarity: Knocking on Hell’s Gate
Literally hours before one of the most indescribably good lineups EVER converged at Plan B in Brixton, it was time to chat once again with one of the key people of the night: Clarity, to talk about the Hell’s Gate ep and snatch a glimpse of the new album which drops in November.
Why ‘Hell’s Gate’?
‘Hell’s Gate’ was chosen for the ep mainly because of the lyrics but also because it suits the mood of the tune. I think the lyrics definitely have that sort of menacing feel and attitude. With the artwork and vinyl being red it ties it all together nicely too.
More about artwork later. What’s in your mind visually when you yourself think of this tune? This is real ‘mental image’ territory…
I always get an image of T-Man (vocalist) stood in front of the gates to hell with fire blazing around him and a mic in his hand ha ha.
I listen to you & I’m always reminded of cool metallic percussion recorded in the outdoors on grey day in Hackney or late afternoon near a dock. Big concrete lots, vacant carparks. Distant sounds. So I have to ask what was in your mind when you recorded ‘Engineering’, as an example?
‘Engineering’ came together pretty quickly.
Jason (Overlook) basically sent over a project and some samples to mess around with and then I took it from there. His stuff has always been full of brooding atmosphere and is very filmic. I use a lot of recorded and organic sounds too so both of our sounds work really well together. The original project that Jason did was really easy to work with so the tune wrote itself in a way because of the progressiveness. It was nice to work on a tune this way and look at it as more of a journey rather than something for the dance floor.
You touch on the schism here: the listening journey vs the dancefloor. So any spots you’ve played where it really comes together?
I’ve only been twice but SunAndBass is one of my favourite places I’ve played vibe-wise: the reaction and friendliness from the crowd is something you rarely get elsewhere. Other than that London is always fun and I think the music I play will always feel at home there. Belgium is always a great party as well, the crowd are always up for it and the scene is very healthy over there at the moment.
What is happening for the big night at Plan B then?
Yeah I’m excited for it! It’s the launch party for my debut album Infinite for Samurai Music (dropping November) and also for Ena’s album which is coming out on Samurai Horo. I’m really pleased with the line-up that’s been put together and it seems like a lot of people playing are making music especially for the night which is what it’s all about.
There’s gonna be a lot of different styles played so it should be a special one, it’s a shame you can’t be in two rooms at the same time!
(note: the event was off the hook)
You mention artwork & aesthetics above, something that Samurai really delivers, can you tell us if it will extend to Infinite?
Yeah, the album will come out on coloured marble vinyl as well which will go in hand with the artwork. If you follow Samurai you will know that thought and effort is always put into the presentation of a record, but more will be revealed soon!
The tracklist for Infinite looks really interesting, I’ve had a peek: a title at will, what is ‘Malformation’?
Yeah I’m really pleased with how Infinite turned out and it’s great to get Indigo, Ena and Skeptical on there too as they’re some of my favourite producers at the moment. I guess I called that one ‘Malformation’ because of its structure; it’s completely different to everything else on the LP in terms of its rhythm and beat. It’s hard to describe without you hearing it but you will see when the album surfaces!
What happened in the months that Infinite took shape?
Generally a lot of planning in terms of which tunes would go on the album and which ones wouldn’t. I worked with Geoff Presha closely throughout the whole process on trying to pick the tunes that would make the album flow as a whole, rather than just choosing a selection of tracks. Deciding on a title for the LP was a big part as well. I actually made a tune called ‘Infinite’ early on which isn’t on the LP but that title suited the way the LP was going so we kept it.
Choosing the artwork was a big part as well because I obviously wanted it to suit the tunes, so a lot of time was spent flicking through websites trying to draw up some inspiration and ideas for images. There were many long nights doing mix downs and pre-masters as well but it all came together fairly naturally in the end.
What artists influence you, speaking of fave producers?
I’ve always been influenced by older music but I feel it’s important to keep up to date with recent stuff coming out so you can bring in some new ideas and keep your music moving forward. A small example of artists I’m really liking at the moment include; Abdulla Rashim, Samuel Kerridge, Cassegrain and The Haxan Cloak.
I love how their music progresses and can pretty much put you under hypnosis. I’ll always be inspired by older artists though, early drum and bass especially, and I try and get that into my music. To be honest all styles and tempos of music inspire me, anything from film to art too.
I’m currently doing sound design for film at university so that’s always inspiring as well. It’s helpful to take a different look at sound and then apply that when I’m writing music.
Hell’s Gate ep