Over the past decade Soul Intent has had releases on some of the most esteemed labels in underground music, including Commercial Suicide, Samurai Music & 31 Records. His own imprint Lossless Music will play host to his debut LP ‘Delusions of Grandeur’ forthcoming the end of May. The LP is testament not only to the diversity of Soul Intent’s musical palette, but his vast production knowledge. Including collaborations with long time affiliate Chris Gittins, Chromatic and jazz vocalist Sue Mae, the long awaited solo release explores all sides of the drum and bass spectrum.
From the techy, sinister undertones of ‘The Future’ and ‘Test Fire’; where waves of pulsing synths are met with militant, steppy drums and menacing undertones, to the beautiful vocal arrangements and piano melodies of ‘Nearly There’ and ‘Almost’, showcasing the softer, more delicate side to the album. ‘Too Funky’ and ‘Thou Shall Not Die’ provide the perfect blend of attack with their crushing sub bass, breaks and pulsing leads, while ‘Heart Chord’ and ‘Into the Unknown’ float between dulcet vocals rolling bass and melancholy licks. ‘Cry For You’ particularly caught my attention; a gritty, unforgiving rhythm wrapped around soulful, sparse vocals that loop around crunchy, synths, breaks and thundering bass. ‘Delusions of Grandeur’ reflects Soul Intent’s expert use of sound design within his production; his attention to detail is second to none, and when listening to this LP start to finish you become encased in a musical journey spanning ten years. We had the pleasure of having a few words with the man himself, on the album and the journey behind it, the label and what’s next.
You must be beyond excited now that everything is coming to fruition? How long has the album been in the making, and how did you find the experience?
Yes it’s all very exciting, especially as the finished vinyl copies are due to arrive any day now! It’s without doubt the biggest project I’ve ever done and to be doing through my own label just adds to the fun …..and the stress.
I started thinking about an EP to celebrate 10 years of Soul Intent in early 2016. I had a couple of tracks which I thought could be a good start for a 4 tracker. Then when I was catching up with Leon Chromatic in Nottingham one weekend I mentioned the idea of doing a EP and Leon said “Well if you’re going to do an EP you might as well do a LP!”At first I laughed at him, then I thought about it, then I thought about it some more, and it started to seem more and more like a good idea plus now I have my own label I even have a outlet for it so it wouldn’t be a case of getting an album together and then trying to sell it to label.
Once I’d got about 6 tracks down I thought “Right, I think this is actually going to happen so I’d better start thinking about the artwork”. Having recently(ish) set-up Dope Plates as a sub-label for Lossless I was very familiar with Julian “ArtJaz” and his work. Julian designed the Dope Plates logo which got nothing but love since the label went live. Julian is basically a legend, he’s an amazing artist AND one of the members of old skool rave act Genaside II (if you’ve never heard of Genaside II get on youtube and search for “Narra Mine”). I sent Julian a photo of myself and asked him to draw it …still not really knowing what I was going to do with it.
Luckily around this time I met Ben (one of the co-owners of Repertoire) at Rupture and he stupidly mentioned he was a bit of a designer in his spare time, so before he knew it I’d signed him up as my designer. To be fair he’s done a brilliant job, so now I seriously owe him now some drinks. I think he wants to come over and check the studio one so you never know there might be a collaboration brewing!
The rest of the tracks for the album came together pretty quickly. I had a really productive period so I made sure I made the most of it and I reached 10 tracks within the timeframe I set myself, with the goal of releasing the LP in the first half of this year…which I did…just!
The hardest part of the whole process is the promotion, without doubt. Being a very small independent label without a marketing budget or lots of industry connections getting exposure has been a bit of a battle. Part of the reason for self-releasing the album was to turn it into a bit of a brand awareness exercise, so hopefully we’re picking up a few more fans with this project but its so so tough guessing exposure as they’re so many good releases fighting for peoples attention.
You had the pleasure of working with various artists on the album; do you enjoy the creative process of working with other people?
I enjoy seeing how other people work and picking up tips that I can take back to my own studio but whenever I get in the studio with people we normally end up chatting instead of working, or we end up in the pub. Though I have had some very productive sessions with Chromatic and Tango.
Internet colabs seem to work ok as long as neither person loses interest half way through. That had happened a few times, whether its me losing interest in the tune or the other person. I always keep the projects files though, as you never know when those old idea’s might suddenly turn into something special.
Who would your ideal collaboration be with?
Tough question, there’s so many amazingly talented people out there. Being a old skool Prodigy fan Liam Howlett comes to mind. Just for fanboy reasons to be honest.
Burial is another obvious person. The way he goes about his productions is very special, he gets such a immersive vibe in this tracks. I’d love to just sit there quietly and watch him work. Amy Winehouse would be another one. I got her first album on promo when I was a student. This CD arrived in the post and I didn’t have a clue who she was but when I put the album on it instantly blew me away. Her voice and attitude was so unique and effortless.
I recently watched the documentary about her and it really annoyed me how she was let down by the people closest to her. I remember seeing her at Glastonbury in 2005 shortly after that first album came out. She just looked like a normal girl, before all the tattoo’s and extreme weight loss.
Talk me through your own creative process, what’s a studio day in the life of Soul Intent?
Make a coffee, fire up the computer and listen to some clips in the ideas folder trying to find something I’m in the mood for working on. I make a point of always bouncing a clip of each idea now and I usually give tracks rubbish working titles like “sunday ruff thing” which bare no relevance to the track and I end up losing forgetting what things are called and being unable to track down ideas which I’m convinced would be amazing once finished. Though sometimes an idea can sound amazing my mind but when I finally remember what is called and load it up it turns out to be shit haha.
I don’t always start of with a break or specific element. I just find a nice sound and build on that. I don’t really have a set process for writing music, which is why it probably takes me so long to finish tunes but hopefully they don’t all sound like they’re out the same mould.
I’m still terrible at referencing my tracks, even after all these years. I convince myself the track is sounding good rather than wacking it on a USB stick and trying to mix it with something I know is mastered well. Still doing school boy errors even after all these years! Maybe one day I’ll actually learn.
Do u ever get writers block, and if so what’s your go-to thing to do to get out of it?
I’ve been in a bit of a unproductive period since the album to be honest. I think I burnt myself out putting in so many hours to try and get it done on the deadline I gave myself. It’s never a bad thing to take a break though, whether it’s a week, or month. Let you ears rest and maybe listen to a load music thats far removed from the genre you music. Also, it should always be fun so if you’re not enjoying it just turn the computer off and go do something else.
What’s your favourite track on the LP and why?
I’m proud of all of the tracks but I think ‘Nearly There’ stands out. Some people might think its a bit of a cope out having it on the album as the original version actually features on LOSS005 ‘The Late Night Sleaze’ EP which came out in late 2015. I think its one of the most musically accomplished tracks I’ve ever produced and when I got Sula Mae’s vocal over the top it gave me serious goosebumps. She’s an amazing vocalist and I’m so happy she was up for working with me.
I think as producers we all want to write something that might crossover into new audiences. I think ‘Nearly There’ has that potential but even if everyone else hates it I’m personally very proud of that track.
You’ve been successfully running Lossless Music for 4 years now, what’s in store for the label in 2017?
A few bits actually. DOPE003 is due mid July and will feature a mash up between myself and Acid Lab plus an absolute killer from a mystery artist from north London called Pepsi Slammer.
Exkursions second vinyl adventure is due early September and features a new artist to our camp but who has previously released some stunning music of Blocks and Escher’s Narratives imprint. There’s also a 140BPM thing from me under my Odyssia alias.
Then probably mid November time Versus Volume Three will come out . It features myself, Paragon, Acid Lab and a guy called Transient who’s part of the Haunted Science crew and puts on events in Amsterdam. He got me over last year and sent me this track, one of the first he’s finished and its really cool. A bit different to what I normally would go for but a good tune is a good tune.
Finally, who should we be keeping our eye on this year production wise?
Well I can’t give too much away just yet but there’s going to be an artist album coming out on Dope Plates in early 2018 (and its not me!!). Other producers catching my attention include Sicknote from GHOST, Phase, Forest Road West, a guy called Scape who I randomly found on soundcloud, Djinn, Overlook, SB81 (who’s been killing it for ages as Nolige and now SB81) plus many more …so much good music out there right now.
Anyone who thinks they’ve got music suitable for Lossless, Dope Plates or Exkursions should send download links firstname.lastname@example.org