Could you take us through a day of your life from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other?
I've always had a studio in my home. I've never had an outside studio, apart from a very brief moment in my life a couple of years ago, where I did have a studio over the other side of the city. So I have to be quite strict about having a routine, really, because otherwise, you don't ever get any separation from your work and your private life. It's just so easy just to keep working and working and working. And I certainly did that in my early 20s. I was absolutely consumed by making music and creating music. And I guess I had less responsibilities in some way and just relentless ambition as a young person in music desperate to give up a part time job to be able to do this professionally.
But now I'm quite strict about my schedule. So I'll get up in the morning. I'm quite an early morning person, really, I'm usually up and about by seven. And then I will hang out with my dogs, I've got two small dogs who are just brilliant and bring me a lot of joy. And so I will let them out, have a coffee in the morning and then I'll be at my desk by about 10am. So before that I'll maybe briefly look at my phone and might see what emails there are or if any email is urgent. And then I will be at my desk ready to make music for the day by 10am. Sometimes that gets disrupted by press and having to do promo and interviews like this, which can be frustrating sometimes - it's not my favorite thing to do in the world. But it's part of the job. And also one thing I do certainly struggle with sometimes is the expectation and the demand of having to do so much social media as an artist these days. If you want to do good social media and to engage properly with your audience and your fans, it takes a long time to create that content and to create good stuff and that really is a full time job. So that's certainly something I continue to kind of reevaluate all the time: How much time can I realistically dedicate to meet the creative side of what I'm doing?
So I start work at 10 and I will usually try and take the dogs for a walk every day at four o'clock which gives me a little break. Get out into some nature and walk around for you know, an hour, get some vitamin D which is super important to me, just get drinking a little bit of sunshine, and then I'll come back to my desk for a couple of hours or a few hours. I will not continue late into the night anymore, unless there is a very hard deadline that I'm working towards, in which case I obviously will. But no, generally, I try to schedule my work day like somebody else who was just doing a normal kind of job. It helps me to stay focused and productive.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you? Where did the ideas come from? How were they transformed in your mind? What did you start with?
One piece of music of my own that I am very proud of, is a song called "Wicked", featuring Eliza Legzdina. For me, that really sums up my creative process.
When I'm making a new song, I always aspire to create a banging piece of music that's gonna make people dance without using too many musical elements. I want to make the most filthy, outrageously banging tune, but not have 150 tracks in my session. I really felt like I achieved that with "Wicked". I had programmed this and I had written that baseline, and I put the whole thing together as an instrument. And I was like: Yes, this is really working. And it did really work as an instrumental. But then I met Eliza, who came in to my studio in South London for about an hour, maybe an hour and a half. And she just wrote some kind of extended verses back to back and her voice was perfect for the track, had the right amount of edge and kind of sass and had a unique quality to it, which I loved. And always with my music, when I'm producing a new song for myself, I'm trying to capture a personality. So when Eliza came in, she banged down a few verses back to back, we had a coffee and then we said goodbye. She really wasn't in my studio for very long. She went home.
And then I spent the next few hours chopping up those vocals that she left me, sculpting and crafting the hooks out of it, which then became the finished song. By the evening of that day, by 6pm or something I kind of had it finished. I love tracks that come together that quickly. It's usually a really good sign for me if I if a song comes together quickly, it's a it's you've made the right, strong decisions from day one you're not doubting yourself. That definitely sums up my creative process.
What are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative? What is it like for you? What supports his ideal state of mind? And what are distractions? What are the strategies to enter the state of mind more easily?
I don't listen to a lot of other music when I'm making music. You know, I listen to a lot of new music when I have shows booked in because obviously, as a DJ, I want to play new music and I want to support thos new producers and those great new tracks. In that case, I do dedicate a portion of my week, maybe one day a week, to just going through a load of promos and choosing a load of new music to play in my DJ sets. But other than that, I'm not a person that listens to music a lot at all. I'll quite happily do a long car journey without listening to music. Same if I'm sat down in the evening. I don't put music on in the background to eat dinner or anything like that, because I make music all day every day. And to develop my own sound and my own kind of creativity, I don't generally like the distraction of listening to other people's music.
I will reference other people's mixes, though. For sure if there's a track that I've played in a DJ set that just for whatever reason works really well in terms sonically as a mix, and where it sits, when it comes out of a PA, I will tend to reference some of those tracks to listen to how they've been put together. But that's from a technical perspective, I'm not listening to them creatively like to be inspired by them. But certainly on a technical level, I'm listening to the way they've been mixed, to see if I can get a few little tips and tricks and, and kind of put the some of those lessons into my own music.
I suppose an ideal state of mind is one that's not anxious. It's not thinking of comparing yourself to others. It's one that's just solely focused on yourself and great decisions and allowing yourself to go with where the music takes you really.
How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in that regard?
Well, I don't really play live, I DJ. I used to play live more when I was making pop music. And I always thought when I stopped doing that, that I would miss that kind of euphoria of stepping out on a stage and singing the music you've written and seeing people sing it back to you. But actually, when I started DJing, I realized that it's a very, very similar feeling. I'm able to make songs in my studio in the afternoon, bounce them out, put them on my USB stick here, and then play those songs for a crowd in the evening. And it's kind of the same feeling.
How do you see the relationship between the sound aspects of music and the composition aspects?
Sound is all compositional. As I mentioned before, I try to use very little musical aspects in my songs, my main focus is a banging groove and a relationship between the baseline and the beat. Other than a vocal, a lot of the time, there's not a lot of music going on. Around it I use effects and some sound design. But I don't really see that as different - sound is sound, you're using it in a certain way, it's part of your composition.
Our sense of hearing shares, intriguing connections to other senses. from your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps?
People talk about synesthesia a lot, don't they? I don't think I have synaesthesia or anything like that. But I certainly have a very visual connection to music. When I'm making music, when I'm building a track or a session, I'm visualizing where to put those sounds. When I'm composing, in terms of building a mix, I really do visualize that. And also in the session, it does look like you're building Lego, especially if you colour them in stupid colours, like I tend to. It's like you're building little scenes on your computer or laptop.
I mentioned before that I if I wasn't doing music, I would be doing art. It's always been a great love of mine. Especially when I was making more pop music, I would be writing the song and at the same time, I'd already be thinking about the music video. And I'd be thinking about the character who's singing the song. I've never necessarily been a confessional songwriter, I've always drawn on other people's drama, and experiences and storylines from films and books, and things like that inspired by other people's stories, basically, to kind of create characters. It was me stepping into other characters, and being able to channel that through the music I was making. Now, the music I'm making, I really don't do that as much I'm not thinking as visually in terms of a narrative at all. But I am certainly thinking visually in terms of a technical build of the mix. For sure I visualize where I want to put my base and where I want my beat to sit and then all the other elements around that.
Art can be a purpose in its own right. But it can also directly feed back into everyday life take on social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
Truly, with the music I make now, and probably the music I've always made, my main aim was just to bring people some joy. I wanted my music to connect with as many people as it possibly can reach. And if they find joy in that or, or the desire to dance or if it brings them a little moment or kind of happiness or connects some memory for them to the music, I've created a soundtrack to some of their memories. That's an amazing feeling and that is one of the main reasons that drives me to continue making music. I definitely don't approach my music with a cool angle at all. I'm making fun dumb shit to make people dance and laugh and bring them joy.