Thelem Artikal compilation interview and exclusive mix
As the Artikal Compilation drops it was time to catch up with Thelem to talk about the album and his approach to music in general. He also gave us a stunning mix, below. Check it out… tracklist is at end. You can check the whole album while you’re there.
DB: Thelem! I love the vibe in your music, I get caught by it, an example would be ‘Haunted Harmonics’… that’s a vibe I could listen to all day and night.
T: Thanks man, much appreciated!
DB: So speaking of day and night when’s the best time for you to produce?
T: I find I always work best early in the mornings, it seems to be the most productive time for me. When I work on music I’m usually up around 7am, and on the beats by around 8am. For some reason this works best for me, it’s also my most creative time period.
DB: Do you have a dedicated place where you work, a studio as such? Feels like you can get straight to the vibe quickly, so it must be a good place.
T: My ‘studio’ is just at home in my bedroom. It’s not the best for sound in terms of the acoustics etc. but I’ve worked in it for so many years I have got used to it and know what to listen out for in mixes etc. It may not be the best, but I find I can vibe out well here.
DB: Is there a surefire way you can get straight into the heat of creating music, without messing around with parameters and settings too much?
T: To be honest it takes me quite a long time to really get a tune going and get in the flow of things. It tends to vary from tune to tune but sometimes I get straight into the heat of a tune by creating some synth sounds that I really like beforehand. I sometimes have a session where I sit on some synths and make sounds/patches for hours until I come up with something I like. This normally sparks inspiration for a track, I find from this I can get deep into the tune a lot quicker.
When I’m starting with drums and percussion this usually slows down the procedure a little, I find I will tweak and process a drum loop for hours on end instead of getting down to the actual tune writing. I guess it’s all about finding a balance.
DB: When it comes to beats, who are some people that really turned your head and made you KNOW that this was what you had to do?
T: Oh tough question, I guess in terms of mixdowns Icicle really turned my head, I loved the sound of his 140 bits and how they kicked so hard, sadly I’m no way near his level of engineering but it was a real eye opener analysing, studying and listening to his tunes on my monitors.
When I first started production Loefah was a producer that really got me into it all. I loved the minimalism of his tunes and how it all worked so well together. It taught me that not all tunes had to have a lot going on to be interesting and keep people engaged.
Recently, artists like Eprom and others involved in this future up-tempo style have really opened my eyes to some amazing music. They have taken inspiration from so many areas of music and have turned it into something unique. This is something I am trying to take note of and work on, I feel it has definitely helped progress my tunes as a whole so far, it has given my tunes a twist compared to what they used to be like.
Also in dubstep, artists like TMSV, Commodo, J:Kenzo, EshOne, Sleeper and Gantz… plus too many others to mention. They’ve all really been pushing things lately. It’s great to see how these artists and others can be so free with their music and not go by templates, and just make good music no matter what vibe or style. I think this has become really important to me lately and is really inspiring.
DB: ‘Foul Play’ from you is on this wicked compilation from Artikal, I love this, reminds me of London, clubs, 4am, ’nuff said! What’s behind the tune?
T: Thanks man! Well like I mentioned above this tune idea was actually initiated from making the lead/bass sound off a synth session I had. I was messing around making some basses and came up with this sound. I felt it had a real gritty/grimey feel and it went from there. I wanted a similar vibe to ‘Haunted Harmonics’ without it sounding the same and rolled it out.
At the moment I seem to have an obsession with arps, I love them ha ha, so had to throw some arp licks in there for good measure!
DB: … and could you tell us about this Artikal compilation? One of the best comps around, it really is.
T: Yeah for sure man: Jay and the gang have put so much hard work into the compilation project, and it really shows. I think the final product is sick and I’m really happy to be a part of it and have some tunes featured on there. One of the things that I think really stands out about the Artikal compilation is the diversity of tunes featured on it all under the ‘Dubstep’ umbrella. It shows that in a BPM/genre there is a lot of variety and still so much fresh music being made, pushing the scene forward.
DB: The compilation is on vinyl, dubstep is a movement with dubs and vinyl as its roots, how do you feel about the medium or are you mostly digital?
T: Sadly my world seems to have become more digital orientated, I only play out with CDs, but I still love and respect vinyl and the culture behind it. I have quite a large collection of vinyl from back in the day but I haven’t bought new music on vinyl in quite a while. At this current time I save more of my money for new production equipment/toys instead of vinyls.
However, I love having that physical copy of your own releases. It’s something that I feel you have at the end of a project that you can cherish and look back on in the future. It shows all the hard work that went into those tunes/releases.
DB: I note that T-Man appears with you on some tunes, and I know he also has worked with the likes of Clarity; do you work together a lot? He’s bang on.
T: Yeah for sure, T-man is proper sick and in my opinion still really underrated. We have got some more tunes in the pipeline and are currently working on another 140 tune for my album project. I still haven’t got the chance to do a set with him, which is something I would love to do!
DB: Can you let us know more about your involvement with the debut Artikal North American Tour?
T: I’ve been lucky enough to be invited on this 14 date Artikal tour alongside J:Kenzo, Sleeper and EshOne, which I’m really buzzing about. It starts on the 30th of October, and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a while now. It’s going to be a whole new experience in terms of doing a tour with so many back-to-back dates: my previous tours in North America haven’t been as large as this one and I’m really excited and honoured to be a part of it!
DB: One more tune: ‘Petrichor’. What inspired the flow of this? So many layers and inspired noises! There’s all sorts going on, and it all works.
T: Yeah ha ha, I still don’t know what really inspired this tune but I am happy with the end result. I was making some weird textures and sounds and decided to try and use them in an actual tune, and this was the outcome. When making it, the tune actually flowed pretty naturally and pieced together well, which I was surprised about to be honest.
J:Kenzo Ft. Collinjah – Straight Defeat
Plastician – Aqua Riddim
Biome – First Century
Skeptical – Scavenger
Plastician – The Lift
Faze Miyake – Tenchu
Proxima – Trapped
Thelem ft. T-man – Bring Me Down (Vip)
Thelem – Foul Play
Faze Miyake – Reptile
Thelem – Haunted Harmonics
Dark0 – Ghost Mode