tipkin - Was there a particular moment for you guys when you just decided to go for it and start making music together? Or did you come to it gradually?
Jez - We met around 2007 on the London underground house scene – at a legendary night club some people may have heard of called Wiggle run by Fabric resident Terry Francis, Nathan Coles and Eddie Richards. Having both grown up in South London, we were both regulars and had a lot of similar mutual friends so after bumping into each other countless times we soon discovered a shared love for music production; me more house and techno at the time and Mel was also singing on various records for well-known house DJ Asad Rizvi so it made sense to try and work on something together. We never really had a set agenda as we both like and listen to all kinds of music, from dark electronic stuff through to techno, indie rock, folk, blues and disco/funk/soul but we both agreed that it had to be electronic with a large soulful element, utilising traditional song structures. We felt that this was an avenue with the most scope to be explored…
We’ve both always been heavily into trip hop and bands of the late 90′s like Tricky, Lamb, Morcheeba and Massive Attack but felt that scene died an early death in the UK after achieving so much, so we wanted to try and almost take that baton and run with it, incorporating more club grooves as well as jazz influences into our live shows especially. We pulled together lots of initial demo recordings with various other musicians including Colin Webster on saxophone and flute who now tours the world with Anthony Joseph and The Spasm Band and took the project live throughout the UK between 2007-2008, playing at venues including The Dogstar in Brixton, The Big Chill Bar in Kings X, Cargo in Shoreditch, Audio in Brighton, The Magnet in Liverpool and Timbuktu in Bristol. It was good fun and we developed a strong fan base but the electronic scene was suffering and we became a bit dis-illusioned with how live dance music was stagnating in the UK so took a break for a few years. I went on to produce with various other people and Mel moved over to Barcelona but we recently got back together and decided to focus on creating a more refined, electronic set of songs which have resulted in an album’s worth of material.
t. - How would you describe your music to someone who hasn't heard it before?
Mel - I would say it is electronic song based music, inspired by a variety of genres, including electronica, blues, soul, trip-hop, dub-step and early 80's electronic pop.
t. - What is trip-hop to you? It's heartwarming for me to see that projects like yours are trying to revitalize it, but do you think people still care? Do you feel like the level of interest to trip-hop is different in the UK from the rest of the world?
J. - I think people definitely do still care about trip hop! The genre may be considered a ‘has been’ sound by many of the snobby music press in the UK as passing trends come and go so quickly, but we know it still has a huge following worldwide with bands like Massive Attack, Lamb and Tricky being just as popular and relevant now as they were in the 90’s. In fact, I’d say Trip Hop’s even more relevant now than ever before! It didn’t progress as much as it could have in my opinion. Trip hop was always a very reflective, relaxing, introspective but future thinking sound and with the world in such an awful state, people have so much on their minds and like to relax when they go home so I think the genre caters so well for the times we live in now – especially in album format. In the US, France, Eastern Europe and Russia it’s huge and new acts like James Blake, Jamie Woon, Mount Kimbie have very trip hoppy sounds which are proving massively popular at the moment.
We’re not consciously trying to revitalize trip hop as such but merely progressing that basic formula, updating it and taking it a new direction with many of our other influences mixed in.
M. - To me trip hop is simply another musical genre and there are good and bad examples of it, but at it's best it encompasses many elements that I enjoy in music, fat beats, heavy bass, interesting electronics and vocals, often at a slower tempo than most electronic music which for me allows a lot of the sounds to breath, you get time to listen to them. I think the only thing that people care about is the quality of the music and whether they like it. There are obviously fashionable trends, but judging by the response of many of our fans on our Facebook Fan Page, people still enjoy listening to that type of sound, and we have fans from all over the world, including the U.K.
t. - Is it hard to get noticed on the electronic scene in the UK? How do you keep up with all the new sub-genres and trends that are popping up faster than mushrooms after the rain?
J. - The UK is so multi-cultural and overflowing with such a huge array of creative and talented people all trying to create something new and musically different that it’s always going to be competitive and tough to invent a unique sound. But whilst we try to keep a close eye on many of the different and revolving scenes, we avoid letting ourselves get swept away by one in particular and first and foremost, produce what we like. You have to be true to yourself musically or you won’t be happy with all of your hard work. For me, it’s personal soul food. If other people connect with it, great but ultimately it should be more of a personal discovery than anything else! We hope people into trip hop, dubstep, soul, jazz, electronic club music, indie and even pop like or at least understand our music.
Soundcloud is a great resource for networking and discovering new music as is Facebook and Twitter and I’m a regular listener of Gilles Peterson and Benji B’s shows on Radio 1 who play everything from abstract jazz through to dubstep, house, soul and hip hop so I’m always discovering new music that way but I think having grown up in London and being exposed to so many different people, cultures, sounds and scenes from an early age, it makes you open your mind and ears to anything new and at least give it a chance. The quality will stay with you. London was a great place to grow up in musically and we’re only just starting to appreciate that now
t. - You seem to cover lots of stylistic ground in your music. Are you trying to reach a wider audience or just cannot keep yourself within genre boundaries?
M. - I think genre boundaries are made to be broken, no one really sticks within them which is why there are all these crazy 'post-blues-hard-step-rave-dub-core' mind-bending genre names. There is so much music to listen to in the world, but I'm more interested in listening to music i enjoy, rather than listening to a specific kind, so I guess that's why I'm interested in making music that isn't restricted by these boundaries.
t. - How do you make things work with Jez living in London and Mel in Barcelona? Do you travel a lot or is it more of an internet partnership at the moment?
M. - It works really well actually. We send tracks over to one another constantly and I think it's probably a successful working method because we worked so closely in the past together, know and understand each other already, and both have studios at home. We both develop new stuff separately and then send a rough track to the other. Then if the other one is inspired by it then we decide to develop the track together. What's great is that where as before when we were making music our recording period was restricted by paying for studio time and I had to perform vocally at a specific time and within a specific time boundary but now I can wake up at whatever time of the day or night, have an idea and record it… and can work on things when I feel inspired to, rather than when we have studio access and can all make it there... Jez came over to Barcelona to finish and mix the tracks and that was great, especially at that point in the process when you have to start being so anal about everything and constantly make minute adjustments.
t. - Can you talk a bit about your upcoming album? Why should trippin' the rift readers listen to it?
J. - Ooooh now that would be telling
M. - They should listen to it because we think they will enjoy it!! If they like Trip Hop then they will find elements in the music that they enjoy, and they may be interested in how we've attempted to fuse elements of this sound with other genres.
t. - Are there any tour plans? What else is planned for 2011?
J. and M. - At the moment our focus is on finishing other new batch of songs for release which should be by the end of February if not sooner but sure, we’d both like to play some gigs this year to support our music so watch this space! Sign up to our Facebook Fan Page for all upcoming news, fresh music and free DJ mixes from us.
Don't know about you, but I'm very curious about their upcoming album. Here's a little taste of Ink Project's sound, available for free download:
Ink Project - Flicker FREE DOWNLOAD