Mako: The Narrator
‘Well there’s a story behind it… ‘
Mako‘s just dropped The Narrator on Headz, full of twists, full of awareness and insights into music, full of diamond-hard beats, stabs, impulses and samples that swoop past you. Fittingly for such a title there’s some depth to the discussion cover a lot of these things and more. Romance too.
The Narrator is a really potent journey, it feels like you have really immersed yourself in aspect of creativity in this… and the title track is an example. It’s the ‘unstable’ energy in this that grabs you…
Well there’s a story behind it. I woke up one morning finding myself getting a crazy urge to write a tune for Goldie. It was like the universe was pushing me along on a cosmic wave through a tunnel of light with the destination being Metalheadz.
I made the beats, bass and intro pads up and got them flowing nicely and then it felt I had enough of a tune, sent it to Goldie and he rang me up straight away and told me he loved it. He then told me he was playing at a 20 years of Metalheadz history sessions in London that evening and said he really wanted to play it. The problem was that it was a history of Metalheadz night and the tune didn’t have any classic Headz sounds in.
So he hooked me up some flavours and gave me free reign to sample what I wanted and we came up with the final tune together. I guess both mine and Goldie’s personalities have been unstable in the past so maybe that came through in the aggression of the music.
The title interesting, it seems to be about someone or that you had someone in mind, a narrator… is it you?
Well there’s a story there too. I had a mad crush on a girl in 2013 and she loved Blocks and Eschers’ label ‘Narratives’. Escher had approached me at Fabric and asked if I wanted to do a 12″ so I was keen to sort something. Primarily to impress this girl.
I sent them this thing called ‘Do You Feel The Same?’, a tune that eventually came out on Warm Communications.
Blocks rang me about it and said he loved it and wanted it for Narratives. I was hype because the plan was coming together. Then two days later Escher told me the tune didn’t quite suit Narratives so I was a little sad. I used it as motivation to produce more music so the idea was to make a tune so sick that it had to be signed to ‘Narratives’. I called the demo project ‘The Narrator’.
This was the project I used when I woke up that morning to make a tune for Goldie as often I go to preset up sessions to save time. Me and Escher have got a sick tune on the go at the moment anyway so it’s all worked out for the best.
And it proves you should do things just to impress girls.
The track with Fields is phenomenal and I can remember first hearing Fields’ name and loving the style back then from the first second…now this. When did you come to work together? I feel there’s a story here? Damn! This tune is monstrous.
Well me and Fields have known each other a long time and he was one of a handful of people who knew how hard I was working and how much I had shut myself away from the world to hone my craft. He came to me with a loop he’d done which I loved and he wanted me to give it the treatment and finish it.
I ended up going mad on it and spent about a week doing loads of edits, an intro, a middle breakdown and a bongo amen filled second drop. I sent it to Goldie after they had signed ‘The Narrator’and they told me they wanted it as well.
It always goes down well in the raves!
Back to the ‘The Narrator’ title I can’t help but feel there is a running theme throughout all of this ep… there’s always mysticism around you and your work.
Well maybe there’s mysticism, but I feel the EP reflects more the hard work and dedication to something one believes in. I went from listening to music about eight hours a day to making music eight hours a day.
I felt at the time, purposely distancing myself from new music would help shape my production to a style that came from my experiences and influences… early Dillinja/Photek/Jonnny L/Optical rather than be too affected from what was going on at the time.
On to ‘Candle In the Cage’, I felt it was about travel and discovery. Without sounding wet.
Interesting you got that from the tune. I do love ‘journey music’ and self discovery more so than many other things so its great you’ve picked up on that. I’m not sure how it relates the tune in particular though but the subconscious vibes are coming through.
‘Warrior Pose’: have you roadtested this? It must deliver in a big way live. And I love that ‘origin of life’ sample: almost self-mocking.
The first roadtest was up in Leeds when I gave it to Fields to play. I really enjoyed hearing it on a loud system and was satisfied with the the mixdown potential so I ended up going back in the tune one more time, added some more detail with the vocal sample and some extra drums.
The sample is all about science and its fallibility, or more accurately, people blindly following it like they do religion. I say don’t follow. Accept that what you believe in may not hold true. It’s fun trying to constantly disprove things, which is ultimately the true scientific method.
Actually where did life start? Asteroids, dying stars… or a simple Narrator we don’t know yet?
Well life may not have started, it may have always been, and accordingly, it may have no end. What we call life could be something entirely different to what we think it is.
I note the strong breaks, and the attention to beats on this ep. Sometimes it must be tempting to just isolate those: to strip it all down to just beats and perhaps bass. Does this appeal? It would create a totally different piece of art.
It does appeal just to have beats and bass. But mixdowns have changed to incorporate new media like the telephone and laptop. A lot of newer producers use a lot of mid-rangey noises to keep things exciting.
It’s hard to not fall into that way of thinking even though I love sub bass and always want to squeeze as much as I can into a mix.
I’m experimenting with a more strip-backed approach at the moment though.
What’s a tune any genre where beats are on fire?
Photek’s drum grooves on ‘The Rain’ get me juiced up every time. Konflict had some great beats and percussion too. Break is currently – and has been for years – a great example of how to do things.
Back to Fields’ involvement, there is always an aura of collaboration and involvement of others with your world, so who are producers near you that you bounce ideas off/relate to/get inspired by etc?
It’s no exaggeration to say I owe everything to others. From my early tentative beginnings on Pro Tools with my friend Calum over ten years ago I’ve always been learning off my friends. My mate Sine gave me a copy of Logic 5.5 at the same time I started writing tunes with Mute – Ben Fields and Andy Villem.
I owe a lot to Andy in the early days as he showed me how to mixdown which I realised was one of the most important skills to learn.
Fields taught me a lot about drums, from everything to hi hat grooves to snare and sub bass balance. Andyskopes showed me the beauty of smashing drums together, Mikal showed me how to make up a break and balance things and Hydro reinforced the idea of how powerful sampling can be whilst retaining attention to detail. After all these years I got to a point where I was fairly happy.
Then along came DLR who changed the game for me again. He gave me this push and the extra 10 percent I needed.
To wrap it, I feel like it’s super busy right now in your world in general and you’re hectic?
Yeah, the missions are mounting up.
As it stands I’ve got another 12″for Samurai to finish, first one comes out early October; a remix for Dispatch to finish, a remix for Metalheadz to start, another Mako EP for Dispatch to mixdown and an experimental 12″ for Warm Communications to do.
There are also unfinished beats with Xtrah, Villem, Throwing Snow, Break, Hydro and Om Unit to get done too. But most importantly, the album I’m doing with DLR for Metalheadz needs finishing off and organising/consolidating/mixing down/artwork and so forth.
We want it to be special so we’re taking our time over it.
So yeah, things are busy!
Will we find you on the road with this ep soon?
Yeah, playing in Bristol for a Utopia Music v Symmetry charity night on the 9th October, more details of that soon but it’s shaping up to be massive. But my next gig is in London on the 16th of September.
Shouts to all loved ones and the Utopia musical family, on the earth and off it. Thanks to Khan for linking the interview and Goldie for sorting out my Ep. Also big ups to EvilRoger from Discogs for being my first (maybe second) official hater. More to come!