We meet the Aussie beatsmith whose new album features the likes of Recloose, Danielle Moore, Steve Spacek and Mark De Clive-Lowe
not one but two full-length albums in 2015, and with another having
just dropped on BBE Records, Australian producer Inkswel must surely
be one of the most prolific producers on the planet right now.
based in Amsterdam, the self-confessed B-boy is equally busy as a DJ,
playing at venues across Europe every weekend alongside the likes of
DJ Spinna, Red Rack’em and Soul Clap, artists who’ve become
friends and collaborators. His 2014 breakout EP Cloud Eaters with Virgo Four’s Merwyn Sanders is already something of a modern
classic, and highly sought-after by vinyl collectors.
Inkswel’s new album Unity 4 Utopia features collaborations with Steve
Spacek, Recloose, Danielle Moore (Crazy P), Lay-Far and Mark De
Clive-Lowe, among others, making it a very exciting prospect for
lovers of futuristic soulful sounds. Happily,
the hard-working beat-botherer found a moment to answer a few of our
questions on the eve of the LP’s release.
you start out DJing or producing?
got into both around the same time. I was heavily into hip-hop
and beats culture as a kid - my upbringing in this was based around
cassettes and obsession over rappers and DJs in my early teens.
Instead of getting into sports like most other kids, I pursued
hip-hop, buying my first turntable, beat machine, DJ mixer
and never looking back."
were your first DJ and production heroes?
Tang and Pete Rock shaped my taste early on. As I grew into my teens, I branched out listening to a lot of other music. I was lucky
enough to catch the start of the backpacker era with artists like Mos
Def, Hi Tek, DJ Premier etc. I think Hi Tek was a big
influence on me around then and this made me discover other producers
like J DIlla and Spinna, which made me love and appreciate the
production aesthetic of things more than the other elements."
there a thriving scene in Australia when you started out?
really. Back then - we're talking late 90s - the hip-hop scene was in
its infancy and I hadn’t really traversed into house or club music
then. But there were some great underground artists in my hometown of
Adelaide, such as Quro and Mostyn, Social Change, Finger Licking Good
and DJ HMC.
my teenage years, the hip-hop scene became huge in Australia and it's
grown ever since, but pre-adulthood I kinda broke out of this vibe
and moved more into club music: breaks, funk, soul, boogie, disco and
house. The early 2000s really opened my eyes: hearing early broken
beat sounds and modern funk and soul stuff made me think outside the
prompted you to move to Europe?
been living all over the place for years - London, Amsterdam,
Melbourne, Adelaide. It's cliched but the saying "It ain't where
you’re from, it’s where you’re at" applies. Location means
little realistically except for the influence on the physical. I
moved here in the physical for my family, to expand our horizons and
do you find the music scene in Amsterdam?
but expansive and very unified. You have great teams doing
great things there, from Rush Hour to Paradiso to Kindred Spirits to
Dekmental to Future is Now! to Redlight Radio. Amsterdam is actually
a very small place, but the buzz there is great. It's a beautiful
city backed by some very creative people."
"I opened for Virgo Four at their first Melbourne concert. We met at the party and got along really well and exchanged contacts, then a few months later we got talking about doing a project. Then the Cloud Eaters EP was born, which was the biggest seller on my label Hot Shot and has some great reworks from Gifted & Blessed and Linkwood. These tracks were later re-released on BBE for the Superfoods trilogy to great praise!"
did you connect with BBE Records?
connection with BBE comes about via my independent label Hot
Shot Sounds. They contacted me initially to license some of
our material on a compilation called GI Disco, put together by Jazzanova’s manager Daniel Best. This formed an
early relationship that then expanded into what we have today. I'm
happy to be part of a very dedicated and loving team."
As a DJ, what are some of your favourite venues to play and why?
to answer that... so many great places and cities with different
vibes! I'm a huge fan of Denis Simachev in Moscow, which is booked
and run by DJ Orange and the Low Budget crew. It's an amazing
mini-club with great service, a great soundsystem and always a great
vibe! Second, I have a soft spot for Paradiso in Amsterdam, a great
place with a rich musical history. More recently I've been loving
spots in Berlin such as Prince Charles, Chalet, About Blank and
Renate - all amazing places!"
you still buy a lot of records, or are you a digital guy these days?
a vinyl junkie through and through - I still buy records almost
daily. Digital has its place for sure, but in real DJ culture there
needs to be a balance. That’s what really separates DJs and
selectors in my opinion!"
You've been involved in some fantastic collaborations. Do you make tracks
with vocalists in mind, or do you finish beats and then
target choice singers?
come at this from all angles. Sometimes the collaboration is already
arranged and we just go in straight up, other times there's finished
tracks and I get vocalists to add their sprinkles on the final
product. Always with the hope of making something great. I'm extremely proud of the work I have done with
others, and to me this is the whole point in being an active part of
the music industry. Without collaboration I don’t really see the
Superfoods album series was an inspired concept. Are you a
chef yourself? Do you see a connection between cooking and
used to cook full-time - I think a lot of DJs and producers have
worked in kitchens at some point. Maybe the hours attract the
creative? I no longer do this, but I love a good meal and I
think sometimes music pairs perfectly with food. My homies Soul Clap
are a good example of this, they're about to release a cookbook put
together by DJs!"\
4 Utopia is the new
album. Tell us
a concept album, mirroring my early sentiments about the importance
of collaboration. I really wanted an outlet to showcase all styles
musically and vocally from all the artists I work with, and somehow
make sense of it into a cohesive project, and thus Unity 4 Utopia
was born. I'm super-happy to finally have the project out and look
forward to following it up with a similar concept!"
4 Utopia is out now on BBE