Silkie ~ Big Up Mix + Interview

Silkie’s third full-length Fractals which was just released via Distal’s label Anarchostar, has been playing over and over at the HQ – it incorporates everything we love so much about Silkie, but presents it in a fresh experimental manner, which is still one of Silkie’s main-staying superpowers. So we called up Silkie to chat about the album’s process, what’s new in the pipe, and how Silkie became an MC…

Easy, Silkie! What you been up to today?

I’ve just been working on a track with Joss Ryan, a producer from Walthamstow with a release on Skratcha’s label – he’s a good producer. He came round to my house yesterday, and today I’ve just been working on the track that we done yesterday.

Studio sessions, nice. You must be excited about releasing Fractals?

Yeh, it’s more like I’m relieved than excited. It’s been going on forever.

Are these older tunes then?

Nah, more just the process – the album started last year from conception to release – so it’s basically been a year. I guess that’s how it usually works. For my last two albums it also took about a year. You wouldn’t think so, but from the beginning to the end it usually takes quite a long time.

So what are you getting up to when you’re not making music and touring?

Usually I’m just at home watching Netflix and doing visual stuff – a lot of time I’m watching documentaries.

Yeah, I’ve heard that you’re into your documentaries. What are your favourite documentaries? Have you got any decent recommendations? I usually stick to the Vice stuff.

Yeah, I watch a lot of the Vice News stuff – their investigative reporting is good. Documentaries – it’s hard to say because I watch so many, I don’t think I really have a favourite. The obvious thing to say is something like Planet Earth or some other Attenborough, but I’m usually searching for new documentaries. I wouldn’t watch any of them again, once I’ve watched them I’ve watched them. It’s not like a film where you’d go back and watch it again, unless I watched it a really long time ago.

Truth. Did you catch the ISIS shit that Vice was doing before it was a thing? That guy going round in the car with the ISIS boys – that access was crazy.

Yeah, Vice stepped it up. They started off doing some really cool stuff, but since then they’ve branched it out. Now they have Vice News, it seems like they focus more on that. But they’ve done some cool investigative stuff. Did you ever catch the one about cannibals in Liberia? That one was crazy.

I’m not sure actually, usually a bit out of it when I’m watching them. Rings a bell though, but I can’t remember the specifics.

They basically run around naked because they believe that the bullets won’t go through them and they eat the hearts of their enemies. I don’t think you’d forget it so you probably haven’t seen that one.

Everything is in place for the label though: I’ve got two tracks of mine that are ready to go, and Quest has got some tracks ready to go as well.

Yeah, you’re right, that’s not really something you forget. Will have to reach that after this interview is over. Moving away from documentaries – you’ve expressed interest in launching a label of your own. How’s that coming along?

I was meant to launch the label around this time, but the album got pushed back from April to July, so it was one of those things where I planned to drop the label two months after the album, but since the album got pushed back the label had to be pushed too. Obviously, I don’t want to release the album and then release other tunes straight away. You have to give the album some time to do its own thing. Everything is in place for the label though: I’ve got two tracks of mine that are ready to go, and Quest has got some tracks ready to go as well. We’re keeping it mainly in house, mainly Anti-Social, although there are obviously possibilities for people who are affiliated to release stuff on the label as well. But really, it’s just so that we have a regular outlet, so we don’t have to rely on anyone, so that we can release stuff that we make straight away.

Is there going to be a vinyl component? Or are you sticking to digital?

We’re definitely going to be releasing on vinyl, but it will probably be limited vinyl, unless there’s a repress or something – we’ll probably just start with about 300 for every release. But every release will be on vinyl.

Exciting times. You mentioned Quest there, a man who you often play b2b with, presumably because you feed so well off each other in a musical sense. Does your relationship with him extend past music? Are you the godfather to his kids?

Haha, well he hasn’t got any kids. But yeah, we’re best friends – I talk to him basically every day. The funny thing is we only really link up when we go out to play music. Usually on a day to day basis we’ll probably moan to each other about music, but we don’t do much music – we’re just mates.

My career as an MC never really got started – I was an MC for a couple months, because one of my decks wasn’t working and I was waiting on the needle to come for the other deck, so I started MCing on one deck.

Sounds about right. So you started your musical career off as an MC. Do you still get round to hopping on the mic?
When I’m really really drunk, but I won’t be spitting any bars, I’ll just be saying stuff like ‘big up’. My career as an MC never really got started – I was an MC for a couple months, because one of my decks wasn’t working and I was waiting on the needle to come for the other deck, so I started MCing on one deck. It was never an aspiration of mine to become an MC. But if I have a certain track I will MC in my head to kind of get what kind of vibe it’s on, but I won’t be laying down any bars anytime soon, so don’t hold your breath for that one.

Gutting, but each to his own. I saw your GetDarker set, which had CrazyD on the last ten minutes. Do you generally like working with MCs? Are you looking to collab with any in the future?

I started off doing grime, so I was used to having MCs on my sets when I was DJing, even though it’d be really annoying because they’d be really loud and I couldn’t hear. I had some grime releases with MCs on it, so I’m used to that and am always interested in that. But with me, a lot of the things I do happen naturally, so the MCs were always people I knew – one of my MCs was my brother, so that’s how natural that was. I’ve never really sourced any one out – maybe in the future I’ll be more pro-active about it, but usually I’m pretty lazy when it comes to connections, I just end up doing stuff with the people that are around.

I started off doing grime, so I was used to having MCs on my sets when I was DJing, even though it’d be really annoying because they’d be really loud and I couldn’t hear.

That spontaneous tip, that’s a way of life no doubt. You’ve said in the past that you don’t actively seek out new music, that you kind of just stumble across new tunes. What have you been stumbling across lately? What sounds and artists are on your radar right now?

As I said before, Joss Ryan – I’ve known about him for a while but he has some good stuff that he’s been playing me. Other than that it’s hard to say, because I don’t really listen to anyone in particular – I just hear different bits of music come from different directions. I don’t usually look up the person. I don’t know why but I’m not that interested in who made it. If you just follow one artist you might be missing out on loads of other good music.

For those that couldn’t reach, how was the last System event?

System was amazing, it’s good to have something that brings people together again, because there’s been quite a long period in London where the scene has been spread. Since DMZ hasn’t been regular anymore and has only been doing birthdays, there hasn’t been a night that brings all the heads together. A lot of respect for Vivek for putting a night on while the scene’s been having a dry spell.

No doubt, sounds like a serious night. What other shows have stood out for you recently?

I had a really good show at this night called Give It Dub in Nijmegen, Holland. Really good turnout, lots of heads and the people behind it were really solid. It was me, the Bug and Flowdan – it was crazy.

Which shows are you looking forward to? I know you’re playing a bunch of sets at Outlook. Is that always a highlight of the year?

Outlook is a highlight in two ways: it’s a highlight to play into a big crowd, a crowd that really wants to be there. If you just end up going to a night out, you can just be dragged along by your friends. If you’re going to Croatia you really want to be there – most people there are from countries other than Croatia, so it’s not like people just turn up, it’s people that really want to listen to the music. Then obviously, loads of friends from the music industry are there and we usually always stay somewhere close together, so it’s a good time to catch up – a little annual reunion.

I don’t really listen to anyone in particular – I just hear different bits of music come from different directions. I don’t usually look up the person. I don’t know why but I’m not that interested in who made it. If you just follow one artist you might be missing out on loads of other good music.

Do you generally prefer playing festivals to clubs, then?

It depends on the festival and the club. Overall though, if I had to pick where I play every week, it would be in a club, mainly because, sometimes, at a festival, you can feel quite distant from the crowd – you can have that feeling that you’re not totally connected, you can’t hear the crowd. That’s really important, that you can hear the crowd and feel like you’re a part of it, not just like you can be a hologram or doing radio. When you’re in a club and you’re up close you feel like you’re part of the crowd.

Are there any madness stories you’re willing to share from Outlooks past?

I’ll have to take the PG approach, haha. A couple Outlooks in a row, G Double became G Triple, because he was doing triple shots. We were getting off the boat at the third Outlook and we couldn’t find G Double. He was later found lying face down in a ditch somewhere. That was a running joke.

Turning to Fractals, are there any strong themes running throughout? What’s the story behind it?

It’s a mixture between the stuff I was making at the time, and myself and Distal coming together. Throughout the years I’ve got loads of different styles that I make. The stuff that comes out depends on the label it’s coming out on. My stuff on Deep Medi is Mala’s interpretation of me, and the stuff coming out on Distal’s label is his interpretation of me. I gave him a bunch of tracks I was working on – at that time, when you’re making a beat, you’re not thinking of a concept behind an album, it’s more like “I need to finish this tune”. That’s the hardest part. It got built as a concept from the material. I think most people are like that: they’re probably lying to you if they tell you they came up with it from the beginning, sitting like Buddha or something.

So what was the actual process behind you two linking up, you being based in London and Distal out in the States?

We were talking on Skype and I was sending him some tracks and he was responding to them. I’d try send him some similar stuff to the tracks he was responding to, as well as some curveballs – we were feeding off each other. The reason I was sending him tracks is because he sent me his album, the first release on Anarchostar. I’ve known him for a while, I met him out when I was doing my first tour of America, and then we’ve also had a release together on Sounds of the Cosmos, Tom Middleton’s label. It wasn’t just out of the blue. As I sent him more and more he said he wanted to put it out on his label.

Are you still getting that US tour together in August?

Yeah! The tour starts August 12th and I should be out there till the 31st.

Is it East Coast or are you reaching West as well?

Yeah, I’ll be out in both East and West, I’m also hitting the South, doing a show in Atlanta. That’s where Distal’s from, so that’s actually my first stop, playing with Distal and catching up. It’s funny, because we’re doing this album together and we haven’t even seen each other since my last tour. That’s the thing with technology these days, you can do that.

What’s happening with the Fractals artwork?

That’s by Freshcore, part of the BullyBass crew out in Cordoba, Argentina. I played for him three times now – he’s the guy who brought me out to Argentina. He always does crazy stuff for the flyers, similar to the Fractals artwork. He’s done a couple portraits of me now – on my last tour there was a picture of me holding a keyboard whilst riding a unicorn – he’s a really high guy, you can tell from his artwork. He brought Distal out as well, and so Distal got him to do the artwork for the first release on Anarchostar. It then made sense to continue that for the second release. We gave him the music and he came up with the idea. Lots of three-way Skype calls.

Definitely a nice touch having that multi-media aspect to it. So Fractals has just dropped, but knowing your incredible work ethic there’s presumably some other project that you’re currently working on. Any clues as to what’s on the horizon, apart from the label?

What I want to do is concentrate on the label. My next release will be on my new label, Anti-Social Records. Obviously I still have affiliations with Deep Medi and I’ll probably want to do something again with Distal in the future. But the whole idea behind the label is to maximize my work ethic rather than having to wait my turn on a label.

It’s nice to be in control. Moving away slightly – what’s your favourite book?

Biff and Chip – that was probably the last book I read. That was some good stuff. Some crazy artwork. They were on to something.

Is there anyone you want to big up?

I’ve given up on bigging up people. Big up no one.

Buy “Fractals” 

Tracklist:

Silkie – Cascada (Anarchostar)
Silkie – Untitled (Dub)
Silkie – Fellow Yellow (Dub)
Joker – Boss Mode (Kapsize)
Silkie – Entrapment (Anarchostar)
Silkie vs K-man – Untitled (Dub)
Silkie – Untitled (Dub)
Silkie – Jahman (Dub)
Silkie – Arcada (Archostar)
Silkie – Mattaz (Deep Medi)
Silkie – Escape Route (Anarchostar)
Silkie – Computer Sound (Dub)
Silkie – Majik (Anarchostar)
Silkie – Swank (Anarchostar)
Silkie – Sonicboom (Dub)
Silkie – Ring Mod (Dub)

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