Kerri Chandler’s hefty kick drum. Todd Edwards’ vocal cut ups. Coki’s snarling sub bass. These elements are sonic signatures for the producers that created them – components of their celebrated sounds that can be recognised from a mile off. The last couple of years have seen a new musical motif start to reach towards that pantheon of timeless sounds, in the shape of Chris Pell aka. Murlo’s effervescent synth melodies. An illustrator by day, Pell cut his teeth in music as a DJ – playing everything from Soca to Garage, before he began to sculpt his distinct style across releases for Glacial Sound and Unknown To The Unknown. Serving as the gloss over 2-Step and UKG indebted rhythmic foundations, his colourful synths have helped to separate his club constructions from the pack – making him one of the most exciting producers to emerge in the so called second wave of instrumental Grime. With his latest EP, ‘Into Mist’ out on Rinse 2nd November, Pell looks set to cement his status as both an innovator of sounds and destroyer of dancefloors – with four wildly creative tracks that make a mockery of genre conventions.
Having been through 199 editions of our Hyp Mix series up until now, we wanted someone who brought a forward facing outlook on the musical sensibilities that got the set started over four years ago to mark our 200th mix. With a sound that begins at the Hardcore continuum but travels across the world and through texture, tempos and moods to create something completely unique, Pell was the obvious choice. Listen to his selection of multi- genre bangers with new cuts from himself and his talented friends expertly blended together, before checking out our interview with him below – touching on everything from ancient history meets 3D acid trip video to those synths.
Gachapan Records – Ghetto College Riddim Instrumental
Murlo ft. Gemma Dunleavy – Jasmine
Murlo – Trey Fix
Ellie Goulding – Burn (Dubbel Dutch Remix)
Sinjin Hawke – What about us
E-40 – Red Cup (instrumental)
Drippin – Silver Cloak (Sudanim Remix)
Lady Saw – Tear Up
QQ – Find It
Ishawna – Restraining Order
Marcy Chin / Timberlee – No Means No (Anti-Rape Song)
Ward 21 – Spot The J
Sasco Music – D Stress Riddim (instrumental)
Murlo & Deadboy – ???
Sudanim – Pleasure Flood (Murlo Fix)
Murlo – Death Rattle
Mr Mitch – Padded
Murlo – Spring
Gizo – Makofa Aba (instrumental)
DJ Spoko – Angels and Demons
Champion x Mele – Get Down
Sudanim – In Essence
??? – ???
Deadboy & Murlo – Ride With You
Inkke – Fuk Dat
Fraxinus – Off Ends
Murlo – Dripstone (The Chase Scene)
Yung4Eva – Down 4 U
Kid D – Ghetto Queen
Inkke – SOSN
Incipe – Gully Valentino
Murlo – Last Dance (Gundam Refix)
Cyphr – Have Faith (D’Angel & G Whizz Vocal Blend)
The video you made for ‘Into Mist’ is mental (in a good way!). The statue theme seems to have been continued on from a couple of your previous videos – can you tell us a little more about the meaning behind the video?
Yeah the first animation I made a few years back was based on lost artefacts and I focused on busts for that, I was sculpting them on the computer and I was hooked making them. There is a loose narrative with the video; a lot of classical sculptures told a parable so I played on that idea, but the video is mostly an exercise in me trying to show how I saw the track as opposed to a conceptual thing though.
How was it made?
I sculpted everything using Blender and Mudbox and composited it within Cinema 4D.
Rinse are releasing the new EP – how did that relationship come about?
Rinse approached me about ‘Into Mist’ and I was into the idea of releasing it along with 3 or 4 other tunes I’d been sitting on since Christmas, sent them off and they were up for it! Pretty straight forward.
Do you find it easy to exercise your artistic freedom visually as well as musically when you work with a label like Rinse? Creating artwork as well the music must double your work load…
Yeah I mean I actually asked them if it was cool for me to handle everything early on with Rinse. Generally I’m a lot more confident with the visual side than I am with writing music just because I’ve been drawing and that for so long. Rinse have been wicked with giving me the freedom though, I did the video in about a month and rendered everything using render farms so it took half the time it would usually if I was working on a personal project. It is a lot of work but I’m now at that point where I feel like the music isn’t finished unless I have a visual reference to show as well.
You were DJ’ing before you started producing. Some of your music seems geared to the club, some not so. Do you aim for a specific listening environment when you compose?
Sometimes. Generally I know where I’m going with a track from the first hour I’m working on it – coming from DJing, to making club edits and then finally making music you can listen in the bath. Everyone gets into making music their own personal way, for me it was just a long process from not knowing what the hell I was doing and pissing about on Fruity Loops to being able to sit down and write stuff using just a Piano VST.
Has the music you play in your DJ sets developed a lot over the last couple of years?
Kind of, I mean I play new music, but the genres havent changed a lot, I still play like old Bassline, Garage and Funky stuff. I’ve picked up new genres over the past couple of years, like Afro-Pop for example. I’m lucky to have DJ’s like the HDD and Swing Ting guys who expose me to the new bits I miss.
Your sound seems to have become more Grime recently – do you think that has been inspired by the instrumentals being produced by your UK peers?
Yeah I mean I think the past year has made me focus more on that side and I guess spending a lot of time in clubs that have been playing it has affected me. I’ve been referencing Grime in tunes for the past few years but I wouldn’t ever call myself just a Grime producer, I know it’s a popular word at the moment especially with online publications but I’d say my stuff is anchored just as much in Bassline and Funky and Dancehall as much as it is in Grime.
It’s rare for a producer to have such an identifiable sound – but it really is possible to identify a Murlo track pretty easily. Has it been a conscious effort to develop a particularly unique sound?
That’s a big compliment! I’m a massive Sticky fan and when I starting making music I always looked up to how he’s managed to carve his own path. I mean I generally have a sound palette I enjoy hearing in music I like and I stick to it in my own music. I think the key is to not worry what this person or that person is up to and just enjoy yourself.
Do you have plans to work with other vocalists like you did with Novelist? On your remixes artists like Trim and Ashanti sound really good over your productions…
Yeah I’ve been working on a series of instrumentals that I’m hopefully going to get vocalled over the next few months. Ive actually got a .txt document on my desktop of like 20 people I ‘m going to try and work with.
You were doing some Bassline stuff under the alias Sharda – will you be using that alias further?
Maybe! I don’t plan the stuff I do under that alias, I just find it all fun, I think if I start releasing as that moniker and taking bookings it’ll just complicate things. I’ll probably give everything away at some point but its fun having few cheeky dubs at the moment.
You’ve spoken in the past about musical influences from Caribbean Soca and Dancehall to African Pop and House – have you been to any of these places? Where would you visit first for a musical holiday?
I haven’t been fortunate enough to travel as far reaching as Jamaica or Trinidad & Tobago, but I have a long list of places I really want to visit! Hopefully in the not too distant future I can visit Nigeria. At the moment I’m trying to sort out travelling to America and see it properly.
And finaly, a quick word about the idea behind the mix and how it was put together?
The mix has a lot of new bits im playing out in clubs at the moment, I thought i’d inject some slower tempos and the bashier side to productions im feeling aswell. Theres some brand new bits from Sudanim, Mr Mitch and Inkke aswell a couple of collabs from me and Deadboy!
‘Into Mist’ is out now on Rinse. Buy it here.