Monday, 29 June 2009
INTERVIEW: EFA [Pollen]
After receiving our first ever exclusive mix from Rekordah and the ensuing banter and file exchanges that followed, I suddenly got all excited by the thought of the Pollen collective and what they were pushing. Whilst Rekordah’s beats were bordering on the ridiculous and completely un-quantizable end of the hip hop spectrum there was this whole super-pitched skwee influenced music fleeing from the headphone port by people like Brackles and Shortstuff.
EFA got in touch shortly after my initial interest spike, plying his label wares and offering his skilled hands and connections to showcase a few of his label’s and his friends unreleased material. Taking him up on the offer was decidedly fruitful as his complex mix of Brackles’ ‘LHC’ and Untold’s ‘Anaconda’ will undoubtedly prove. Oh... and he was kind (and patient) enough to answer some questions for us too. Soak it up and learn something.
Sonic Router: Can you provide those who may not know you with a bit of background info?
EFA: I’ve been DJ’ing various types of music including Jungle, House, Hip-Hop & Dubstep for last 11 years around my hometown of Nottingham and where I’ve recently flung my hat in Bristol. I used to be in an electronic band called Sounds of Science with my schoolmate Curtis Whitefinger who now plays guitar music and I dabble in production when I get chance.
Outside of music who are you? What do you do on the daily?
I’m Daz and to earn a crust I fix computers. I enjoy good beer, good food, country walks & trying to be ethical. I’m also addicted to chilli, love the way it smells, tastes…
How did you first get into recording music? What was it that infected you to do produce?
As a kid I showed a passing interest in the keyboard & guitar so ended up with a couple of them. I fell in love with Jungle at an early age and after getting a copy of Octamed for the Amiga started to dabble in beatmaking. It wasn’t until I was in a band playing keyboard for a bit that I started to take it seriously eventually starting a production partnership.
What’s the big idea behind the EFA moniker?
The big idea was to start a band with my old production partner in Nottingham called “Essential Fatty Acid” - we were gonna do Dub & Funk live with some added electronics. Alas this never happened so I teefed the name to DJ & Produce under – I’d previously used my initials Dr. G.
Whats your production set up like? Has it changed a lot since day dot?
I first started making beats properly in 1998 on a Roland MC303 I borrowed off a guy I used to produce with after showing signs I could do something with it. It was a great learning tool as you had synthesis, effects & midi all in 1 box and all you had to go on was your ears, no meters etc.
After the battery died losing the 30 or so tracks I’d done, the band split up and it was returned to its rightful owner, I didn’t get a computer until about 2005 when I built my own purely for music under the guidance of a friend (It was this which got me into the work I do as well). I then scoured the internet looking for the software that would suit me best and opted for Cakewalks Project 5 and later Sonar which you could rewire the former into.
After bashing out some reasonable sounding beats including a remix of Luke Vibert for a Future Music competition (which was actually won by Aphex Twin after he entered for a laugh and they passed the prize to the runner up) I decided to switch up to Cubase SX3 as it was far easier to use VST’s. Staples include Battery 2, Absynth (anything Native Instruments' good TBH) & Novation Bass Station – I also have a Novation KS Rack synth that I’m currently working into my set up. I monitor on Yamaha MSP5’s with a Tapco SW10 Sub and midi with a battered Edirol PCR 50 that’s too complicated for me to use its advance features.
You’ve been running Pollen the club night for quite some time. Can you give us a brief history?
The 1st time I played Dubstep in a club was at a night called Misst who made me their resident. As the night grew I started to see a divide between the bangers & the deeper, broken stuff which I wanted to push more of. I started Pollen in August 07 at a little out of town venue called Moog in Nottingham which used to host Electronica events until it was sold to some people who used it as more of a Disco/House party bar (legend has it Aphex Twin once played there!).
It’s a great space and I really wanted to bring some modern inventive sounds back and thought it could work there. Aside from the Dubstep I had been listening to a lot of Dub, Electronica and the forward thinking Hip-Hop of Madlib, Dilla, Prefuse 73 & Dabrye etc so I wanted the night to start off with that and move in to the 140 beats. We launched with Geiom headlining and had Gravious, Kion, Hizatron & Russian Linesman play the night amongst others. I pretty much did everything including lugging a Sub into the venue and causing a few noise complaints but it was good experience, I even managed to broadcast a few of them on streamizm.com.
When I moved to Bristol in Feb 08 all aspects of the Dubstep sound were covered so continuing the night as it was seemed pointless. After a meeting with Luke [Rekordah] at a PB Wolf show we decided to start a night focusing on the ever growing continuum of experimental beats and agreed on launching this under the Pollen brand. We did a Lone Album launch to test the water and then our 1st Pollen proper with Mike Slott headlining in November. We’ve since had Actress, Bullion, Lukid, Clause Four, Metske & Slugabed play and will be celebrating our 1st birthday on August 29th with a big lineup at The Croft, Bristol so watch this space!
How did Pollen evolve into a label?
I was being sent so many amazing unsigned tracks that I played at Pollen [Notts] and on radio and Brackles had given me a CD of ‘Broken Harp’ and another Shortstuff bit. I had an idea for the artwork after a workmate sent me some of his photography so it was just a case of working out the logistics. I just felt that what I was doing with the night could translate into a label.
I had moved to Bristol by the time I had my 1st P&D offer for the label in March 08 and then the Geiomix came along from out of nowhere a few months later. After some good advice from Geiom I released the record through a different distributor and despite some manufacturing issues & delays we got it out this April.
What are you plans for it? Got any new releases coming up you wanna shout about?
Well since Luke was involved in the night it made sense to have him on board with the label too, especially as I was interested in his beats. We will be putting out our 1st 7” as soon as possible with Rekordah’s ‘Bedroom Suite’ B/W ‘Burger Sauce’ and the next 12” is going to be XXXY – ‘Rain’ B/W a Jack Sparrow Remix. The plan is to put out equal measures of forward thinking Dancefloor & Hip-Hop beats, expect stuff from the likes of Slugabed, Gravious & Ekelon in the near future.
You’ve even got a Pollen show on Dubstep.fm, what’s it like playing out over the airwaves? What sounds are you pushing out to the masses?
It’s a good place to test new music and have instant feedback in the chat and the infrastructure they have in place is amazing, they can accommodate hundreds of listeners at a very high resolution. I try to have as many guests as possible and turn it into a sociable thing, these days I push new and old music starting with the Hip-Hop and into Dubstep and the fringes of what that’s become along with Dark Garage and some UK Funky. I tend to do the shows less these days but there will always be one in the works.
Tell us a little about the mix you have done for us, what tracks just had to be in there?
I wanted to showcase a few forthcoming Pollen bits, the rest is just new & old stuff I’m feeling chosen mostly on the fly which is how I prefer to do most of my DJ sets.
What is the thing that is most exciting you at the moment in the bass music scene?
The inventive use of beats and the slowing of the 140 tempo are producing some amazing music at the moment from the likes of Peverelist, the Hessle crew, Brackles, Shortstuff and many others. I was a little reluctant towards the UK Funky movement at 1st but have started to see its potential for producing both inventive music and chart crossover’s.
The Wigflex boys up in Notts are set to clean up this year crossing Techno & Bass together to devastating effect with a dash of Skweee, watch out for the next Wigflex EP and a Hizatron release on Berkane Sol! The Bristol based Purple Trinity continues to push the boundaries of production and is set to go into orbit this year. Hopefully Rustie will continue to churn out the likes of his Kapsize release which I still cannot take out my bag!
When is the next Pollen night and who’s playing?
The lineup for the 1st birthday is still in the work’s... however I am involved in a thing called Focus @ The Tube, Bristol promoting forward thinking, innovative dance music in all its forms.
Have you got anything else you want to tell us, words of wisdom for our readers?
Don’t watch too much TV and avoid comments sections of news stories and You Tube, they’ll just lower your opinion of humanity!
DOWNLOAD: EFA - Sonic Router Mix
Mike Slott - Home - EFA's I'm At Home Re-edit feat. Andreya Triana
Slugabed - Once a Philosopher (Forthcoming Pollen)
Rekordah - Bedroom Suite (Forthcoming Pollen)
Hyetal - PRS - Peverelist Remix (Forthcoming RDCTN)
Shortstuff - Stuff (Forthcoming Ramp)
Geiom & Spamchop - Cave Rave (Berkane Sol - White)
EFA & SOBR - Wet Queef (Dub)
NB Funky - Rhythm Box (Its Funky)
Lil SIlva - Funky Pulse (White)
Jammin - Tonka - Menta Remix (Bingo)
Roni Size & Reprazent - Dirty Beats - Wookie Remix (Talkin Loud)
Unknown - Unknown (Dub)
XXXY - Rain - Jack Sparrow Remix (Forthcoming Pollen)
Apathesis - Hindsight (Dub)
Geiom - No More Tears (Berkane Sol)
Brackles - LHC (Forthcoming Planet Mu)
Untold - Anaconda (Hessle Audio)
Ekelon - Fiesta Del Foc - F Remix (Forthcoming Pollen)
Mount Kimbie - Maybes (Hot Flush)