Mystery man Clive From Accounts has just dropped the ‘Cooking The Books’ EP on Dirt Crew Recordings
Not much is known about mysterious UK producer Clive From Accounts. His productions sound like the work of an established artist, but his background and history in the industry remain murky at best. What we do know is that in his current guise, he makes smart, highly danceable deep house – sometimes retro, sometimes future-facing, but always managing to put a fresh sheen on a genre that'a all too often plagued by a deluge of sound-alike productions.
He’s had tracks featured on a couple of compilations and released two strong EPs, 2018’s Uno and 2020’s The Trouble With Clive, which he's just followed up with a superb four-tracker on Dirt Crew Recordings called Cooking The Books. In the wake of the latter, we managed to hook up an interview through a third-party intermediary, who insisted it could only go ahead if we could guarantee complete anonymity.
This entire conversation was, therefore, conducted with both Clive and myself wearing balaclavas…
How are you, first of all, and how has your lockdown been going?
“I'm good, thanks. I’ve been in lockdown for years, so it feels splendid to have dragged my other half into my grubby routine.”
For people who don’t know who you are or what you do, please introduce yourself.
“Hello strangers, my name’s Clive and I make music to varying degrees of competency. I could also do your tax return, but you probably wouldn’t be very happy with it.”
Bearing in mind your secret identity, are you able to tell us a bit about your journey/background in the music industry?
“That would be telling, wouldn’t it?”
Can you at least tell us where you’re from and/or where you live?
“I was born in Archway, London and currently reside in Finsbury Park, London so the sum total of my life journey currently stands at about two miles. Not very exotic, although I did live in Leeds for a bit.”
Do you think where you live has affected how your music sounds? If so, how?
“The UK does seem to have a pretty special relationship with music, electronic music in particular. It probably has a lot to do with multiculturalism and the fact the weather means people are forced indoors and maybe into their heads a bit more, imagining other, sunnier worlds. There were loads of record shops, venues and pirate radio stations around when I was growing up, so a lot of diverse influences have crept in.”
So, about this secret identity – what advantages does it have?
“Do you mean because my surname isn’t actually From Accounts? Busted. Well yes, it is nice to be anonymous sometimes – otherwise I imagine I wouldn’t be able to walk down the street without being harassed by one of my 400 Instagram followers.”
And are there any disadvantages?
“There’s no way to prove to Maureen from HR that this is really me.”
There’s a tradition in dance music of producers who choose to keep their identity either hidden or secret – Daft Punk’s masks, Claptone, Deadmau5, all the various alter-egos and pseudonyms etc. Why do you think this is?
“Don’t get me started on Daft Punk, we’ve been in a bitter legal dispute for years over those helmets. I can’t prove it but the Clivotron 3000 Multipurpose Cycle-Visor definitely came first! It’s good of them to finally step down and admit defeat.
“But to answer your question, it’s probably quite liberating to break free from yourself and embody something else. It could be a source of inspiration and maybe you’d end up making different artistic decisions.”
Do you make music under any other aliases?
“Nope. Not yet, anyway.”
Turning to the music itself, you’ve not released much, but what’s come out has had a good reception. So how would you describe your sound?
“That’s a tricky one. I get bored quite easily, so I try to keep things fresh every time I make music. I’m sure there are common threads, but nothing too obvious.. For better or worse I don’t lock myself into specific sub-genres or production techniques.”
Music writers love genres, but some artists get annoyed when they get pigeonholed…
“Pigeonhole away… file me under 'fiscal funk'.”
Can you tell us some of the musical influences on your production style?
“I’m sure everyone says this, but there are far too many to mention. Some of the main pillars I’d say are 90s drum & bass, deep funk 45s, acid house, electro, golden era hip-hop, disco, dub, jazz, experimental electronica from the 40s onwards… and anything exotic, cosmic or weird that finds its way to me!”
Are there particular tunes or artists that you admire whose sound you aim for in your productions?
“There are a ton of artists I admire, and would be honoured to be mentioned in the same breath as, but I’m not really interested in sounding like anyone else. I’m sure I do, sometimes, but it doesn’t happen consciously.”
And are there other broader, non-musical influences that affect your music?
“My majestic pen collection is a constant source of inspiration.”
Okay! Turning to your new EP… what was your aim with it and did you achieve it?
“There wasn’t an overarching concept behind this one, just three individual ideas that hopefully complement each other. I’m happy with the outcome. It’s especially nice to hear/see them together in the minimix video.”
Talk us through the three individual ideas, then…
“Toucan: I liked the idea of frantic tropical percussion mixed with lazy, drunken synths. As we said in the press release, it's 'a bit like taking Night Nurse and going on safari'. I put a Matrix 1000 through a Korg MS-20 filter to get the pad sound I was after.
“Gravitate: This one sounds quite dream-like to me, a mosaic of dusty old records swimming around with some modular drums and subs.
“Altar: For Altar I wanted to move away from the computer as much as possible. I sequenced everything with external hardware and used purely analog synthesis: my Clive-built DIY 808 and Pulsar 23 for the drums, and quite a few other bits and bobs for the rest (ie, I can’t remember). Everything being analog gives an organic quality where you can push the repetition and things still sound alive.
"Toucan [Dan Only Remix]: I got Dan to answer this one himself! He says, 'I decided to focus on the pads in Toucan and used that as a starting point. From the jump I knew that I wanted the rhythmic elements to draw on UKG/2-step elements, and that ended up dictating the remainder of the tune. If my memory serves me right, the gear used was an MPC 2000XL for drums, a Nord Lead 2X for bass sounds, a Roland SH-101 for the lead, and I resampled the pads into an Ensoniq ASR10 for some extra texture'.”
What other plans does Clive From Accounts have for the rest of the year?
“I have a big, exciting release coming in the autumn. Not sure how much I can say but it’s on a favourite label of mine based out of New York. Can’t wait to share more on that!”
Sum up the career of Clive From Accounts to date in one sentence?
“50 shades of beige… from Excel to cowbell.”
Words: Harold Heath
The Cooking The Books EP is out now on Dirt Crew Recordings – buy it here.