Thefft is one of those producers that continues to waft some much needed stimulus into the, at times, formulaic world of modern dance music. With his animated character mirroring his hyperactive, and very much individual, approach to drum programming; his early material has been championed by the likes of Loefah, Zed Bias and Mary Anne Hobbs.
Throughout 2012 he released singles ‘Name Shame’ and ‘Focus What’ on Embassy and Mad Tech, and more recently the ‘Distronet’ EP on Damu‘s Fulcrum label. As 4×4 fever continues to sweep the nation, Jack Robertson’s berserk strain of broken house music is keeping those dancefloors second guessing. When he’s not finishing off his third year at Goldsmith’s Uni, he’ll be releasing more of the good stuff this year; keep your eye out for a collaboration with aforementioned Mr Bias.
His friend Paleman is another undeniable breakthrough talent. Since his debut ‘All Good’ EP, also on Fulcrum, he has found his way onto the elite roster of Swamp81, with two tracks with Zed Bias, notably ‘Furrball’, producing highlights in recent sets from all the Swamp stable and more.
His instantly recognizable style of heavily sampled, booty-shaking bass refuses to sit under any genre tag. He continues to exploit his jazz drumming expertise into complex drum rhythms capable of serious club effect, prompting Loefah, Jan Francis and Katie Thiebaud to invite him onto new label School Records for a release later this year.
They discuss incoporating jazz into live performances, ‘Furrball’, Mongolian throat singing, and ‘the perfect balance of weird and bounce’.
Thefft interviewing Paleman:
You recently came down to London to go to university, how are you finding London after moving down from Manchester?
Good stuff generally, London is massive so takes getting used to. The vibe here is great though, I feel inspired here.
The jazz course at Trinity is pretty intense, I go to Goldsmiths and we hear about the intensity of it all the time. Has being at Trinity for jazz drumming made you think about incorporating more live elements to your production? Maybe live performance in the future?
It’s something a lot of people ask me about, at some point I might look into it, but I quite like the idea of my electronic music being slightly separated from playing live, obviously the influence is completely present but I can write beats I’d never be able to physically play so anything live would have to be very stripped back and working out how to do that would take me a while.
You thinking of collaborating with any other jazz musicians on the course?
Hmmm… I’ve got a couple of mates I could milk for jazzy licks and samples but I’ve not used them yet – haha. I’ve been getting my flat mate (a classical pianist) into writing beats though so maybe a collab in the future.
For myself, I sometimes feel that I get over saturated and only listen to electronic music. Do you listen to much other than electronic music? If so, who’s your favourite non-electronic artist?
Ah yeah, I do find myself mostly listening to electronic stuff but I like a lot of jazz too. I still lean towards minimal and stripped back even within jazz, people like Ahmad Jamal, Bobo Stenson, Bill Evans. Outside of jazz and electronic stuff I’m pretty out of the loop, I listen to Nick Drake a bit, a bit of Mars Volta too.
You’ve got a record coming out with Zed Bias on Swamp 81 in the near future. I was at Dimensions festival when Chunky had the entire crowd sit down waiting for it to go off, I think I even showed you the video – must be pretty cool?
Yeah I saw that, madness! It’s really cool, Zed’s a sick guy, I’m really proud to be working with him and the reception for ‘Furrball’ has been overwhelming, man.
This is a pretty common question, but how’d you get the name Paleman? You have trouble tanning?
Pans Labyrinth – apparently the old eye hands man (if you’ve seen it you’ll know) is called Paleman. I’m pretty pale though aswell, been working on the computer tan.
I know you’ve shown me some of your early dubstep work, something I think a lot of producers around our age have. How long have you been producing?
I was dabbling in production from about age 15, so I guess 5 years, but I only found out about proper eq’ing, compression etc. around 2 years ago
If you could collaborate with one other electronic producer, who would it be?
There’s too many – I’d really like to write a beat with Dusky.
Lastly, if you could own one exotic pet, what would it be and why? What would you name it?
A massive grizzly bear for the garden, but a friendly stoner bear who I could chill with… Archibold.
Paleman interviewing Thefft:
Yoo Thefft! What you up to?
I’m currently sitting in a lecture waiting to do a presentation. It’s raining outside and I have coffee breath. Looking forward to flying back to the USA in a few days for Christmas. Got a new puppy I’ve never met chilling there called Winston, and I’m gonna call him “WIINNNSSTAAHHHNNNN”.
You’re finishing uni this year right? What are your plans for after you graduate? Will you stay in London?
Yeah man… I’m planning on staying in London, if I can get a steady income rolling. I have plans to spend a year in NYC, but after I turn 21, because being unable to legally drink is getting old (no pun intended).
You asked me a similar question but it’s a great one so imma fire it straight back. Outside of electronic music, are there any artists you particularly enjoy?
I listen to loads of hip-hop. But it’s tough to say anymore because most music is generally electronic music. My man Lars from Connecticut has been making really lovely hip-hop tunes as Color Plus for a while and he’s been collaborating with some sick MC’s like Chef the Chef and Sidewalk Kal. I ended my recent Boiler Room set with one of their tunes and everyone was loving it. I’m not very good at finding new music in other areas of music. New Years resolution I think…
So you’ve had a sick year in terms of releases, each one has smashed it, Fulcrum, MadTech, Embassy – to name a few! What are your plans for 2013? Will you release as much? Are there any labels you’re dying to work with?
Not going to be releasing as much. Wasn’t really my plan to have 3 releases out within a few weeks of each other, but delays and other commitments helped that to happen. Really happy with the things that came out though, but I’m gonna be slowing things down a bit next year release wise. There’s going to be a few more remixes coming and mostly working on a vocal EP. I really want to work with Ninja Tune. Feel like they are the perfect balance of weird and bounce… if that makes sense?
2013 is looking mad, there are countless numbers of young producers set to blow up next year. Where do you see 2013’s sound going? Any predictions? Will we all be into Mongolian throat singing this time next year?
I get sent a lot of stuff nowadays that is becoming extremely watered down. People seem to be reverting to either this Disclosure-esque house music or the Blawan-esque dark techno. The only problem with this is everything sounds so bloody similar. I am hoping that more artists like yourself, South London Ordnance, Bobby Champs, etc. will pop up because you all have a distinguishable sound. You can hear it and tell who it is immediately. I don’t know if I told you but actually all my new material will be all Mongolian throat singing, beat you to it.
Your tunes are pretty diverse in terms of feel, I remember a lot of the beats I first heard from you were hanging a bit lower around 117 BPM? Are you planning on dropping or upping the tempo again soon? Are there any genres or styles that you’re anxious to work into your sound?
I think I shall Paley my boy, I think I shall. I don’t want to go faster because I tend to go a bit mental when I go above 130. I’d like to dip slower to 90 and shuffle it up. I already love working with jazzy vibes and messing with syncopation so I think going that low would be fun. I think I’m most concerned with adding vocals at the moment.
It’s the end of 2012, any records left a big mark on you this year?
It’s only just come out but that new Burial on Hyperdub has absolutely blown me away. I absolutely love it.
So Jack – would you rather make one new law of your choice or get rid of any 1 law of your choice?
I suppose I’d be doing both. I would make smoking allowed in clubs again. Way too many people spending their entire night in the smoking area talking about stupid shit and taking too many drugs. Go and dance.
Words: Josh Thomas