Work Experience: Stray
This week we’ve asked Stray, and his selection speaks volumes; did you know he was a fan of jazz when he couldn’t even grow whiskers on his chin? Or that his new track Pursuit with Halogenix is a concept-based composition?
First, though; WHY the devil has it taken him so long to release Pursuit? Out this week on Warm Communications, it’s been floating around for well over two years now.
“It was one of the first tracks I made since I decided to work under the name Stray,” he explains. “It’s really really old! I had it on mixes about two years ago and there was always a keen demand for it. It almost got released quite a few times but never quite happened. I guess I changed my mind when Warm called up and requested it. I thought ‘you know what? There’s no point in this hanging around on my hard drive!’ A lot of people have requested it whenever I’ve played it so it’s good to finally release it….”
Not before he’s touched it up and brought it bang up to date, of course, ensuring those rattling drum flourishes shine with crisp impact and the bass drones louder, deeper and more hypnotically than ever before. He’s also been wise to include a killer bedfellow Poison. Written with his regular partner in grime Halogenix, it’s a tripped out slice of darkness laced with experimental rhythms and devised with a narrative in mind.
“I had the idea for the track growing in my mind. I Halogenix I wanted to make a track with this time signature but comes back round at the end of the bar with a load of shakers. It is 4/4, and it’s technically mixable, but I’d say wait for the second drop to mix it out. I’m really happy with how we realised it. I came up with a little story along the way about a guy getting poisoned and going to hospital and thinking he’s woken up and going on rampage. But then he actually does wake up and is still in the hospital. We didn’t have that idea to begin with but it developed with the track. It’s just a bit of fun really.”
Just a bit of fun… like all good collabo’s should be. Like minded souls inspiring each other, creating something that neither could do on their own. Stray agrees…
“You need to share very similar ideas and musical desires and ideas and tastes,” he says. “Or at least have them overlapping. I’ve found with both Halogenix and Sabre that we share certain ideas and inspirations that made us work together. I don’t think you could ever have a collaboration with someone whose music you don’t like or admire. Actually, Sabre was a dream collaboration for a long time and now we’re friends, so you never know…”
If any of his dream collaborations below come true, remember where you read them first… The Pursuit/Poison is out now on Warm Communications. Listen and download here.
“I had to have a hip-hop MC in here because one of my first loves was hip-hop. I love UK stuff, but if I’m honest my real love is for underground US hip-hop. MF Doom is someone I’ve wanted to collaborate with for a long time; he makes his own beats, and his lazy-sounding rhymes fit them perfectly. They’re so simple. They’re not quantised, you can hear how he’s put them together and the samples are always fascinating. I’d love to sit with him and go through his record collection and dig out some crazy old German psyc rock album like he’s used in the past. I wouldn’t join him on the mic, that’s not what I do, but I’d love to sit down, watch how he does things and then make a track with him!”
“I got hooked on this guy when I was 11! If you’re fortunate enough to be into him there’s so much material and different aliases and albums and projects to enjoy; he’s hugely prolific! He’s influenced my work so much. I can thank my older brother for this tip-off, I’d say he’s my first proper musical love. My brother is responsible for a lot of my tastes; thanks to him I was into jazz when I was 10! He gave me some Luke Vibert to try and I was hooked.
When I listen to some of the early music I made before becoming Stray, it sounds a little too close to him. So close I’d never release it! He does what he does and doesn’t let anything affect him; he takes the stuff he loves and interprets it in the way he hears it. His use of samples is really cheeky and fun and he seems like a really straight up guy from what I can tell in interviews; he’s got his family, he smokes all day but isn’t negatively affected by it and he just seems very relaxed about everything. I’d love to make a track with him.”
“Another massive influence. His choice of harmony and that specific sound and approach to melody. Everything. I was obsessed with Radiohead for a long, long time and really let them affect me. It also seems like he’s got a great ethos and would be good fun and interesting to spend time with and learn from. Plus I had to pick someone who would just never, ever work with someone like me! It’s a mad idea! I know his DJ sets include tracks from people who aren’t a million miles away from me but I’m not holding my breath. Maybe it wouldn’t be nice to collaborate with him? Maybe it would ruin that idea you have in your head? I like the distance between the artist and the fan, especially when you know his music has touched so many people and got them through hard times. That relationship is already very complex. Perhaps meeting him would completely ruin that?”