Every so often in electronic music a brand new name jumps to the forefront of the scene, lighting up a genre with a fresh sound and a secretive persona that sets the internet ablaze with theories as to who’s behind it. From Burial’s media aversion to Aphex Twin’s name hopping, the formula of great quality music combined with a sense of the unknown is one that is guaranteed to have an unresistable pull. After the series of minimal, mysterious press releases that were the beginning of Narratives Music, a label that’s become buy on sight for many due to it’s forward thinking ethos, exceptional attention to detail and quality over quantity approach, it makes sense that the latest of these esoteric alias’ to hit the d&b scene be released through them.
Fusing futuristic, space age atmospherics with a strong retro influence, Rhyming in Fives debut Hindsight EP plays like a three track statement of intent from a producer looking to flex and bend the boundaries of the 170 tempo as much as possible. From the uplifting, emotive synths and steadily soaring bass of Hindsight to the playful groove of With You underneath Hana’s tranquil vocals, it blends strong eighties pop influences with a pulsating funk and unorthodox structuring for a sound that’s unlike any other on Narratives, and for precisely that reason fit’s perfectly on the label. Finished off by the ethereal abstraction of the ambient All’s Well, where contemplative pads end the release with a sense of inner peace, it’s an EP that refuses to be defined by it’s tempo and to those outside of the d&b scene would probably be unrecognizable. With such a high quality call to arms, we figured to drop Rhyming in Fives a few questions to see what more we could ween out of d&b’s latest tight lipped enigma. Check out the video for Hindsight below and then see what he had to say.
Easy, I’m just going to get this one right out in the open straight away, any chance you’re going to give us a clue as to who you are?
Hey, no – at least not yet anyway.
Not even something cryptic?
My lips are sealed (and that isn’t something cryptic).
Ok fair enough, so why the name ‘Rhyming in Fives’, and why the need for an alias in general?
This is a really boring answer but I can’t really remember how it came about. But I like it, more than I like my other names that’s for sure.
Well I created this alias for a number of reasons, firstly the Rhyming in Fives style is so different from everything I’ve done previously, so I didn’t particularly want to start putting it out under my other name. Secondly, quite frankly I wanted a fresh start. I’d begun to get frustrated with what I was writing and couldn’t really see where I was going with it. One of the most important things for me when writing music is write what you enjoy – and I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I haven’t pulled the plug on my previous alias, but I’m not missing it. I’ll go back at some point I’m sure but right now this is a welcome break. The idea of having no history and previous material for people to compare with was also something that appealed.
There’s been a spate of aliases and secretive personas in electronic music over the past few years, why do you think this is?
I think it’s exciting for people, for the artist knowing they’re doing something that’s secretive and unknown – and the listeners having that air of mystery around the music.
It’s good to have different projects to work on too, whether it be under an alias or not working with different styles is important. The beauty of an alias is the ability to categorise your material in a more defined way. If producers want to start making House, or Drum & Bass or whatever, but don’t want to have it all under the same name they can do easily. I think a good example of this is Marcus Intalex and his Trevino alias, if people want to listen to/go see him play House music they know to look for Trevino, and if they’re only interested in his Drum & Bass, they can just keep up with the M.I stuff.
Good point, it puts the filters in the hands of the listener which is nice. So what message would you give to those trying to work out who you are?
Don’t worry about it too much.
Your Hindsight Ep is being released through Narratives Music on October 7th. How would you describe it’s sound? What did you set out to achieve with the three tracks?
It has a retro vibe I guess, but I wanted to try and create something new too. All the tracks are very melodic, no wobbles or angry mid range sounds. Hindsight and All’s Well are both very inspired by soundtracks and film/art so they’re both atmospheric.
The tracks have very different feelings; with Hindsight I wanted the structure and vibe to really paint an image of a journey. With You is a really happy, up beat one so I guess that one I just wanted to get people to smile. But then All’s Well brings the EP to a close and that one really slows things down, I hope the listener can just stick some headphones on and get relaxed. I guess in a way it kind of describes a night out, getting up to wherever you’re going, having a good time then the journey back when everyone’s tired.
You can hear a strong retro, Depeche Mode-esque, influence. What other artists would you say have influenced its style?
I’m influenced hugely by film soundtracks, I love Cliff Martinez’s work on films such as Drive, Only God Forgives, Contagion and Solaris. Clint Mansell’s work and also Jeremy Schmidt’s Beyond the Black Rainbow soundtrack is great too. Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack of course. Producers such as Kuedo, Com Truise and College have had an influence too.
It seems like 170 music that’s structured with the touch of a songwriter as opposed to the rigidly structured DJ tools we’ve become to used to, would you say that’s a fair comment based on your approach to it? Did you set out to make dance floor music, armchair music or both?
Yeah for sure. I didn’t want to make the typical dancefloor style track, but I wanted to try and bridge the gap between something that could just be enjoyed at home and something that could work on the dancefloor too. I think Hindsight achieves that, as does With You.
So what thoughts or feelings would you like the listener to encounter during the course of the EP?
Feelings wise, it’s a bit of a mixed bunch but; excitement, happiness, a pinch of sadness. It would be interesting to hear back from people!
I’m really feeling With You which features the vocals of Hana, how did that come about, was the track produced with her vocals in mind?
Hana has been one of my best friends for years now, I’ve always loved her voice and we’ve talked about working together on music for a long time, but stylistically the right track never came up I guess. Although I wasn’t exactly sure what, I knew when writing With You I wanted to include a vocal element. After sending it over to Hana she came back with some lyrics, and we had a few sessions recording some different styles and melodies finally coming to what you hear on there now. It was great being able to work in the same room and be able to try ideas then and there – which is one of the drawbacks of Internet collaborations.
At the moment this is the only track she’s worked on – but there’s a lot more we’re intending to work on together, and hopefully you’ll be able to hear more from her soon.
The final tune All’s Well is an ambient piece draped in cinematic pads, what purpose do you feel it serves on the release? Is it somewhat a statement of intent?
I guess it really brings the EP to a close, as I said earlier all three tracks are very different emotionally, this one being very calm and pensive. I think it works perfectly as a final track, especially as Hindsight and With You have a lot more energy, whereas All’s Well brings the pace right down.
When producing a track like that, what tends to be the starting point and how does it come together structurally?
Normally with this sort of track I’ll start with the pad or the bass and everything else builds around those elements. It’s great creating a track like this, especially in terms of structure as there’s no breakdown, it just all about the build and having elements introduced and taken away when it feels natural.
Narratives Music has this knack of finding the original, with every release sounding nothing like what came before it, where do you see the label going from here?
Onwards and upwards!
What’s your favourite of the Narratives releases so far?
That’s a difficult one, and it’s really close as I genuinely love all of them, but I think 002 gets that spot. Shiver is such a beautiful bit of music, and ASC’s Heartshaped remix is fantastic.
Good choice! So finally, what else is planned for Rhyming in Fives?
I’ve been working on a lot of new material, the new music I’ve been making is all very similar stylistically to what you hear on this EP. There are some Hindsight style ones, more vocal ones and also some ambient, film score style things. Hopefully you’ll be hearing more soon.
Cheers! Any last words?
Hope you enjoy listening to the EP! I’m on Facebook as Rhyming in Fives, look me up and share the love. And thanks for the great questions, you always ask good ones!
Pleasure, and thanks! Preorder the Hindsight Ep from Surus here.