Concealed Identity: Revealed
Concealed Identity has discretely readied a new release for Narratives, a lone figure emerging from the mist. Plus, well, it’s midwinter too and the all-pervading alchemy is sending out the right signals. A convergence, into which it was time to get spellbound.
Could you take us into the world of Concealed Identity and tell us more, for people new to you? Your taste, ethos, outlook…
My name is James and I am currently residing in Essex, England. I’ve been releasing tunes under the name Concealed Identity since 2010, and I’ve had releases so far on Tribe12, Rawganics, and Vampire Records.
What’s your outlook in art?
Taste-wise, I suppose I really like music that gets you involved emotionally and that can paint a picture in your mind. I strongly believe that tune titles as well as the music itself help the listener paint that picture.
There’s a wonderfully warm vibe to ‘Levanter’, like walking into an place that’s unfamiliar to you but you feel at home, even if it’s in a place you’ve never been before and is 1000s of miles away, so what inspired?
Thank you! It’s funny you’ve described it like that, because that’s pretty much exactly how I wanted the tune to feel. Levanter is basically the word used to describe a wind that blows across the Mediterranean – more specifically the Straits of Gibraltar.
It’s referenced quite a lot in a book I was given many moons ago called The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.
Also my parents live in that region of Spain, so I feel a strong connection to that place. I wanted the strings to kind of mimic the warmth of the ‘Levanter’, I hope I achieved that in some way!
Knocked out by the ‘assemblage’ of this tune if that’s the right word: the great array of sounds, the construct… plus the synth is to die for. So did the tune and choice of sounds come about organically?
Yeah definitely – it was actually quite an easy (and quick) tune to write because all the elements just seem to come together naturally. I find some tunes can take months to get right, or mutate into various different forms.
‘Levanter’ wasn’t like that at all – again I think it comes from having some sort of emotional content in the tune, I always find those ones easier to write.
You are known for slamming production, or eg tunes such as ‘Trouble’, ‘Undertow’ and ‘Kuniyoshi’ so do you have a big studio or a small set up or… ? Staggering sounds.
Well, I’m almost embarrassed at my non-professional set up to be honest haha! All I use is a laptop, a DAW, a Scarlett Solo soundcard and a pair of Beyerdynamic DT770 headphones… I don’t even have monitors, which I know is a production no-no, but unfortunately I have neither the space nor the money to get any.
But, at the same time, I’m happy to have it this simple – it wouldn’t help me to have banks of keyboards and equipment, and I personally like to believe that ‘less is more’.
Back in the day, artists such as Goldie, Photek and Source Direct used next to nothing equipment-wise, especially compared to today. I really believe their equipment limitations enabled them to push the envelope with what they had, and that’s partly what makes their music so timeless – excuse the pun – and amazing. Not that I can compare myself to those artists of course but I like that philosophy in terms of keeping things basic.
It’s a big event when something appears on Narratives… why do you think that is?
I wouldn’t be lying if I said that Narratives was one of my favourite labels even before I was approached by them… to be honest, I couldn’t quite believe it when Phil Blocks got in touch with me!
As a label, it seems to me to be about quality over quantity – you always had to wait a while between each release, but you knew the wait would be worth it! I also think it’s a label that is more than just about the music – I believe that when Goldie was asked to describe Narratives, he said “This is art”.
As the name of the label suggests, the music aspires to tell stories or paint pictures; to inspire sonically – and that is one of the reasons why I think the label really stands out.
I love the lovely trashy guitar on ‘Calavera’ and, well… everything about it. Can you lead us through what inspired it?
I grew up listening to thrash metal – I also played guitar in a couple of bands in my youth – so I always enjoy adding guitar elements to a tune. I still listen to and love a lot of guitar-based music – what always drew me to both heavy rock/metal and D&B was the pure energy that drove the music.
I wanted to try and capture that in ‘Calavera’. I also love tunes which juxtapose heaviness/anger with beauty/sadness – for example ‘Quadrant 6’ by Dom & Optical.
The drums and bass in ‘Calavera’ are pretty heavy, but I hope the horns and other fx both contrast and compliment the heaviness.
The tune was actually originally called something else, but I had a chat with Phil Blocks and we both felt that the original title didn’t quite fit the mood. I thought the tune sounded like some sort of futuristic spaghetti western, and Phil said it reminded him of Day of the Dead!
I did a bit of researching, and the name ‘Calavera’ came up and it seemed to fit perfectly. That then went on to influence and inspire the artwork too…
What in D&B sets you on fire?
To be honest with you, I don’t really follow a huge amount of D&B. I rarely go out these days due to work and family commitments, but there are certain podcasts/shows that I really try not to miss. Doc Scott’s Future Beats show is always firing and inspirational – I’ve even been lucky enough to have him play some of my tunes, which is a huge honour!
I also really enjoy the Metalheadz, Samurai, Inception Audio and Cylon podcasts as they always seem to play the freshest beats
And so who are your allies in the music?
Well, like I said before, I’m a virtual recluse haha! Through things like facebook though, I’ve met a lot of fantastic people who are making some great music. In terms of allies and people who have supported me, I would definitely include Phil (Blocks) and Will (Escher), Doc Scott, Loxy, Jason (Overlook), Geoff (Presha), Dean & Jahdai (Rawganics), Jack (Tribe12), Phil Aslett (Vampire Records), James (Red Army), Andre (Homemade Weapons), Graeme (Enorme), John (Epilleptech), Matt (Kred), Tom (Paragon), Mike (Antagonist), Akinsa, Shiken Hanzo, Clima, Ben (Chimera), Seb (Eusebeia), Brandon (Metaphysic Audio), Forgotten Soul.. there are more, so apologies to anyone who I’ve missed off this list!
The artwork on this is great: name some visual things that inspire… films, videos, paintings?
Well I try to read a lot of books, if that can be regarded as a visual thing! I’m a bit of a conspiracy theorist at heart, and enjoy stuff about the paranormal/UFOs etc, so any books on those subjects I’m normally quick to pick up on.
As for film/videos, I have two young kids, so usually tv time is taken up watching Pingu and the Bubble Guppies ha ha! When I do get a chance to watch stuff, I enjoy documentaries – I’m currently watching Making A Murderer which is incredible so far
Do you have any ‘wtf?’ tunes as are so amazing?
I’ve got to say, every time I hear ‘Razor’ by Blocks & Escher, my mind is just completely blown. I love tunes like that… ones that make me think ‘How the hell did they come up with that?!’
I actually still think that about Photek’s ‘Ni Ten Ichi Ryu’: an incredible piece of art in my opinion
Thanks, any shouts?
I’d just like to say a big shout to my wife & kids and also to Blocks and Escher, and everyone else that knows me, and that has and continues to support me in what I do.