Friday, 23 July 2010
INTERVIEW: Blawan [Hessle Audio]
This week marks another milestone for us: our 50th installment in the Sonic Router mix series. A tidy number and a goal we’ve achieved that, when we started, we never really knew we had. Without looking back at the past 18 months with glossy eyes, patting ourselves on the back, high five-ing all of our separate achievements since we first unleashed Rekordah’s 20 minute plus beat tape, we’re focusing all our attention on the future. And whilst we're more than aware this is a poignant moment for our humble blogspot, we’re still more than content to always be looking for the next thing... that next producer whose tunes make us hustle to educate our friends, familiars and the wider internet at large.
One such dude we felt compelled to push, is Blawan. The Hessle Audio backed producer – his debut 12” on the label ‘Fram’ b/w ‘Iddy’ was released recently – has a strong and rugged approach to his drum lines; a similarity he shares with label mate Joe and to a lesser extent - given this player’s more dancefloor centric wanderings of late, Ramadanman. Making tonal wanderings simply from his selected percussion he booms out bass stabs on ‘Iddy’ rollocking through the beat’s progression with whispered layers of phrase and machine hum atmospherics plucked straight from the bows of dystopian warships and the winding lead synth on ‘Fram’ could have been taken straight out of Kode 9’s ‘Black Sun’ era. It’s simply the way he cracks out his drum loops that grabbed our attention, subtle snaps of snare drum piquing through the top end perfectly.
We caught up with the South Yorkshireman between train journeys, giving him the opportunity to further introduce himself and his music ahead of his forthcoming date at fabric for the Hessle Audio takeover...
Sonic Router: Can you provide those who may not know you with a bit of background info?
Blawan: For starters I am not Ben UFO despite the kind rumors. My name is Jamie, I am a DJ/Producer originally from the cultural melting pot that is Barnsley and I recently had my debut release on Hessle Audio.
Outside of music who are you? What do you do on the daily?
On the daily, I drink a lot of tea, don't finish tunes, delete ones that I have finished and get easily distracted...
How did you first get into making music? What was it that infected you to do so?
Like a lot of people, school really got me into music. I went to a pretty rough school that thanks to Labour's deprived schools policy had mint facilities, so I started playing drums at the age of 10. I first got into making electronic music on a dodgy version of Fruity Loops when I was 15 but didn't really get serious about making tunes until I was about 18. Prior to the Hessle Audio release I had a pretty random musical background. I used to drum in a couple of bands playing like post-punk stuff as well as making dance tunes, and just muddled it along until now.
What’s your production set up like? What’s your favourite bit of kit in the studio?
My set-up is pretty simple, I run Ableton Live, midi controllers and some decent monitors… oh and some nice flat response headphones and that's really it. My favorite bit of kit has to be my Ozone 4 plugin; it’s a sweet all rounder.
Where do you take inspiration from when making music? And how did you get into this current flux of dubstep?
Erm, that's a hard question, I've always found it hard to pin point what inspires me to make a tune and to be honest I still don't really know. I think trying to keep my mind occupied when making a tune helps, as I find makings tunes when am bored rarely has a decent outcome or it ends up turning out as some weird jacking house thing.
I got into dubstep around late 2004/5. Before this, mates from Sheffield used to send me their badly recorded vinyl rips of Big Apple releases and old garage tunes and things just carried on down the usual routes from there really. I've also always had a passion for house music and think that's had a big impact on me musically. The tune that really pushed me to think I wasn't just making some weird garage type music was Pangaea's ‘You & I’ (HES006). The vibe caught me perfectly, it's still easily my favorite tune to date.
How would you describe your sound? You’ve got this proper tough percussion going on that drives everything… is the rhythm a main focus for you when making tunes?
Honestly, if I could just make drum loops for a living I would. Percussion is definitely something I focus a lot of my attention on when producing. Other elements of my tunes are always considered but are subtle enough to make sure they don't take away purpose from the rhythm and percussive melodies. The outcome of that in a tune is something minimal, but I fought my last battles with complex synth arrangements a long time ago and bare rhythms win hands down for me each and every.
Your first couple of releases are out now on Hessle and Folkwood respectively. How did you link the releases?
My debut with Hessle was a pretty surreal affair, I had a few tunes that had been sitting around and one day, I just said ‘Fuck it. I’ll send these to Untold.’ I did that then within about 2 hours I got a phone call off David (Ramadanman) saying Jack sent him the tunes and the guys liked them and want to put something out. A simple but crazy outcome and I can't tell you how lucky I feel to be in the Hessle camp. Oh and I still haven't bought Jack a drink yet to thank him.
The folkwood thing really was something that happened a while ago, a group of friends at Uni got hold of some cash to press up some music. They asked me to submit a track so I did. The tune is kinda old now, but it’s nice to get bits out there when you can. Big up Ste Shine on that one! Oh and you guys for the kind words about it…
What other projects have you got in the pipeline? What’s happening with you in the rest of 2010? Gigs, releases, personal growth etc?
2010 has been an amazing year already; I am just focusing on putting out tunes I am happy with, when I can so theres no rush. Hopefully DJing as many gigs as I can because that's what really gets me making more music. There are a couple of things in the pipeline that should be surfacing soon, so watch this space.
Any words of wisdom for our readers?
Yes, it needs to be strong with one sugar and milk. Secondly, catch me at Fabric on the 20th August, for the Hessle Audio takeover.
DOWNLOAD: Blawan – Sonic Router Mix
1. Titus 12 - Step Up (Mosca Remix) [Unreleased]
2. Afefe Iku - Bodydrummin' (S63 Refix) [Silver Label]
3. Ludacris vs Joe - How Low Claptrap (DJ Orgasmic Bootleg) [Unreleased]
4. Wookie - Weird Science [Manchu]
5. Randomer - Be Electric [Unreleased]
6. Mistamen - Lengthy Riddim [Bass Tourist]
7. DJ Faz - Believe [Locked On]
8. Menta - Sounds Of Da Future [Sounds Of Da Future]
9. Unknown - Unknown [Unreleased]
10. Untold - Angry Hat [Unreleased]
11. Commix - How You Gonna Feel (Pangaea Remix) [Unreleased]
12. Unknown – Unknown [Unreleased]
13. Ramadamman - Fall Short [Swamp81]
14. Blawan - Potchla Vee [Unreleased]
15. Oris Jay - Trippin (2010 Dub) [Gusto]
16. Untold - Come Follow We [Unreleased]
Catch Blawan at the Hessle Audio Room 3 takeover at fabric on 20th August alongside 2562, Ramadanman, Ben UFO and Pangaea - Addison Groove performs live in Room One on the same night alongside the first ever live set from Hessle affiliate Cosmin TRG. You can also catch Blawan taking to the airwaves of the newly FM licensed Rinse FM on 12th August on the Hessle Audio show from 12-2am.