05th April 12
SR Mix #127: KingThing [Infrasonics]
Posted in Sonic Router Mixes - by Oli Marlow
I can’t be the only one suffering from too much choice syndrome. I’ve found myself having a lot of self pitying conversations recently about how it’s really hard to latch onto something that you like at the moment, in this cloying climate of internet fuelled over exposure. I mean, how many times have you listened to the same collection of music in the past week? How many times have you listened to the same album? There was a time when you positively sessioned an album, when you absolutely cained ‘Enter The 36 Chambers’ to the point where you knew most of the verses from memory. I miss that and even more, I miss the anticipation of a follow up, of the next album.
It’s got to the point where artists are actually embracing that slapdash approach and producing considerably different music on each new release. Someone like Mosca springs to mind; though the dude fully seems able to tame garage, house, techno or weird stuttering pseudo hip hop – something he’s proved it over the course of a run of superbly stylistic releases. It leaves his material unpredictable and constantly engaging whether you end up scoring your vinyl copy through overuse or not. And whilst that unpredictability works for Mosca, it can be a detriment to other producers who fail to really find their feet in a style before leaving it behind and deviating to something different embracing the attention deficit.
But this is where a good label can come into its own, offering backing for an artist to wander in whatever direction takes them and making sure to present it properly. Similarly their own tastes can help guide listeners into the minds of new producers who share some of the same traits as artists you already have a passing interest in. That just happened with KingThing, a name long in the periphery of the unfortunately guarded future garage movement and his dalliance with Spatial’s Infrasonics label. Infrasonics began with secretive 10”s of Spatial’s own music but morphed later to house split 12”s from people like Ike Release, Hot City, Jamie Grind and the enigmatic mancunian, xxxy. Their latest single features 2 cuts from the aforementioned Grind and two from KingThing, aka Olly Stork.
Breaking out into harder dancefloor territory his two contributions are in themselves pretty varied, ‘Waking Up’ is more electro driven by acidic leadlines and a sampled refrain but it’s overpowered a little by the strength of ‘Cold Diss’, a track that utilizes the Addison Groove approach on Footcrab: i.e. shattering a vocal sample into pieces and then stabbing at you constantly in a manner that becomes incredibly hard to ignore. ‘Cold Diss’ is underpinned by the type of bouncing shard melodies that Spatial’s mastered on his own releases (particularly the stand out ‘100402’ from INFRA004) and it fits on the label, in the context of Grind’s music on this split release and it’ll ultimately help Stork shake off some of the stigma attached to the future garage tag.
With his Night Audio label fresh of the back of a Milyoo 12” and his fully fleshed bumpierInfrasonics excursions out now, we caught up with Stork to present SR Mix #127…
Let’s start with an introduction. Who are you? Where are you? How did you come to be there? What made you want to make music in the first place?
I’m Olly, I’m a 27 year old from Chester (born and raised), although I did live in Leeds for a few years before ultimately being drawn back here for a number of reasons. I’ve played various instruments since I was a kid, so music is pretty much ingrained into my pysche.
What are you using to make it? Can you describe your ‘studio’?
Ableton 8 is my poison (although I started out on Reason & Logic), and I use a MicroKorg XL, Zero SL MK2, Focusrite Saffire, & some battered old Alesis monitors with a Mackie sub. So a little bit of pseudo-hardware. I also have Propellerhead’s Record, but I rarely use it.
How did you get into electronic music in the first place?
Well, I’d drifted in and out of bands all my life but a lot of my mates were always (and still are) into techno and electro – people like Surgeon, Sven Vath, Juan Atkins, Dave Clarke, 808 State, Dave The Drummer, Radioactive Man, Ed DMX, Rob Acid, Ceephax Acid Crew – and that kind of hooked me in when I was about 17 and encouraged me to buy some decks. Through that, I briefly flirted with d&b, which wasn’t really for me if I’m honest, and then got quite into people like Si Begg, Point B, and some of the nu school breakz on Botchit & Scraper, all that kind of stuff. The natural progression then was learning how to make these crazy sounds, and I was hooked from the off for sure. I later got into garage and house, but I’m definitely welcoming the influx of more techno/electro-esque beats that have been popping up over the last 12 months.
You’re from Chester right? But you studied in Leeds? How do you find the cities in comparison to each other? Where do you go out, if indeed you do go out to nights?
It’s no comparison; it’s like comparing a morgue to Berghain or something. Maybe that’s a bit harsh, it’s a lovely city but there’s not a great deal going on music wise. The one benefit of that though is that people had to get off their arse and make something happen – which they did – and not just in a club sense. It was very much a free party culture. I spent a good deal of late my teens/early twenties raving away in forests/abandoned military buildings to gnarly techno, which is where I really started getting hooked into the power of electronic music I guess. It’s a completely different kettle of fish to clubbing. Especially clubbing in Leeds – Leeds is literally a haven if you like any form of dance music, and when I was living there the whole dubstep thing was really starting to just kick off, so it was fun, no doubt. But there’s a trendy/fashion side to UK clubbing that sits slightly uneasily with me, especially in Leeds (I found) but I think that’s more a reflection of the sheer volume of students that are there more than the city itself, which I guess would be similar in any student-centric city. It doesn’t seem to be like that as much when you go and play a show in Europe, but that might be a “grass is always greener” moment.
I’m probably more at home dancing to ‘One Night in Hackney’ in a field but maybe it’s a nostalgia thing more than anything else?! I love Leeds though, that’s for sure. If I do fancy a night out Manchester & Liverpool are only 45 minutes away from Chester. Saying all that, Alexander Nut is playing in Chester this very weekend, so maybe I’ll shut up.
You’ve worked with labels like Fortified, Car Crash Set and Frijsfo and you state that your ethos is to constantly evolve your sound so people won’t expect the same thing twice. Is each tune session different then? Do you listen to a lot of different types of music? Do you think that desire to do something wildly different comes from being over exposed to a lot of different musics?
Yeah, for sure – how can you not be trying different things at the moment with the huge variety of sounds that are on offer? There is something for every mood. I think me saying that is just a (probably unnecessarily) pompous way of me trying to say “I don’t know what hell I’m trying to do here”. My attention span is pretty short when it comes to music so I’m usually feeling something completely different from one week to the next. That can work against me from a tune making point of view though, as I’ll start a session and then come back to it 10 days later and decide it just doesn’t fit with what I want to put out, so I end up trashing a lot of stuff. And I’ve got to try and stop doing that, cause if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from making tunes, it’s that what you think is your worst beat, somebody else might think is your best. I’m fairly new to house and that’s a whole ocean of sound that I haven’t even scratched the surface of yet, and over the last 6 months or so I’ve been getting into Italo Disco.
In terms of approaching a session, it’s usually based around a beat, bassline, melody, or vocal chop. Sometimes I work from the beginning and then sometimes I work from the middle, but it’s generally one of those elements that underpins the direction. Occasionally it feels a bit like fumbling around in the dark if I’m honest, but that does lead to some interesting results. Sometimes at least!
You’re one half of the team behind Night Audio who just put out an EP from Milyoo. Whats the motivation behind the label? Seems like it started as a vehicle for your own work, has that focus changed at all?
Well the initial impetus was a uni project we had to do, and me and Rob (Submerse) had been talking about starting a label for a while so that was the perfect opportunity to get it going. We put out the first release, which went down really well, and ditto for the second one too, so that urged us to carry on. After the El-B release though we decided to cool it off for a bit, as it seemed like the music that was out there was rapidly mutating, and we didn’t want to get pigeon holed as just a garage label. You can hear that change in direction with the Milyoo release, it’s definitely different to anything we’ve previously put out. We’ve been sitting on those tunes for nearly 2 years and they still sound as fresh today as they did when we first got them. We’re just grateful people actually buy any of the releases in the first place; it means a lot and obviously allows us to continue!
You’re releasing on Infrasonics on a split 12” with Jamie Grind. Can you give readers an idea of what they can expect from the two tracks you have on there?
They are definitely two of the hardest tracks I’ve put out, and you can certainly hear influences from my techno/electro days in there. I’m just happy Matt (Spatial) liked them, as I’d been a big fan of Infrasonics since the Ike Release vs Hot City split. I think I’ve played ‘No More’ in pretty much every set I’ve ever played, never fails to destroy the dance!
Do you think they compliment what Jamie does?
It’s definitely a juxtaposition vibe-wise, but yeah they definitely complement each other. Jamie’s Fortified EP was one of the strongest they put out so I’m happy to be on a record with him. They are much more melodic than the tunes on my side but still primed for the floor, and so far it seems to have gone down well.
What else have you got coming up?
I’ve got EP’s coming out on Well Rounded – which I’m very excited about – Neon Bounty and Parisian label B.Yrself. I went over and partied with them late last year, they are really nice guys. I’ve just started a collaboration with Geiom and I’m finishing off a long-time one with Blackmass Plastics. I’m about to launch my own imprint called Silhouettes, first release is from a guy called Plot Twist and is really synth heavy loveliness which I’m looking forward to getting off the ground. He also helped with the label design, and designed the Night Audio artwork.
Plus myself, Submerse, and Resketch recently started a new digi-only imprint to run alongside Night Audio called No District, with the next release being from Resketch himself. Next few gigs are London, Glasgow, and Cologne. And gotta keep on top of Night Audio of course, and somehow find the energy for my day job. The plan is to move to Berlin or Bristol as soon as possible, hopefully the former but either way it’ll be good.
Tell us a bit about the mix…
It’s just a bunch of tunes that I’m feeling at the moment and some new bits from me. I’m loving GoldFFinch & Maelstrom at the moment, and there’s a new one from Locked Groove in there that is coming out on Turbo. Also a tune by Daily who I’m glad to see getting some deserved attention.
Traditionally we ask mixers for some wise words. Do you have any wordly wisdom for our readers?
Don’t hate, appreciate!
DOWNLOAD: KingThing – Sonic Router Mix #127
KingThing – Inside of Me (dub)
NKC – The Pyramids
GoldFFinch – Funky Steppa
Maelstrom – Pool Chicks
Worthy – Shy Look
Daily – Kick Some
Kill Frenzy – Booty Clap
KingThing – Oxytocin (dub)
Eliphino – I Played
KingThing – Cold Diss (Infrasonics)
Mele – Starlight Express
Locked Groove – Structure (forthcoming Turbo Recordings)
KingThing – Serenade (dub)