Loom first appeared on our radar in May 2014 with the frantic ‘Mazed‘, his contribution to the Boxed Vol. 2 compilation. Later that year we got his debut EP, Grade. Its strong melodic sensibilities made it a perfect fit for Gobstopper, the instrumental grime label (and Hyponik label of the year) run by fellow producer Mr. Mitch.
2015 saw him continuing his momentum, contributing to Blacklink Sound and Astral Black label compilations and turning in a wicked Kate Bush edit for Gobstopper. He also appeared on Rinse and NTS, as well as Boxed’s epic four-hour Boiler Room takeover.
Now, Loom is gearing up for the release of his second EP, European Heartache. It’s a real step up in terms of focus and creativity, one that sees him honing his melodic talents even further and experimenting with track structures and new textures.
Loom describes his sound as “cold war grime”, but that only gets at part of what makes this release so special. Surprisingly lush in places, these five tracks are saturated with longing and emptiness. Also it doesn’t hurt that a couple of them are absolute weapons in the rave.
Below, stream the first track to be let loose from the EP, ‘Nylon’ (via Boiler Room), and dig into his thoughts on everything from Ipswich grime to Bowie and hyperrealism.
Tell us about the music that you were listening to growing up. When did you come across grime for the first time?
Growing up I listened to my dad’s music mainly. Britpop, lovers rock, ska, that sort of stuff. Still rate a lot of it now. I came across grime when I was 13 or 14, listening to radio in Ipswich. There was a surprisingly large scene here back then. We had record shops, Ipswich Community Radio, a few clubs that put on grime raves, it was really cool.
When did you start producing?
When I was 16 – laptop for my birthday, cracked copy of Fruity Loops. Classic producer intro.
What’s the essence of grime that’s so appealing to you, and what’s the most important thing you carry through to your own productions?
The playful aesthetics, the mad synths, the rhythms. It’s rebellious, it’s this generation’s music. I want to carry all this into my work, there’s not a lot I can even do about it either, it’s so ingrained in everything I do.
Tell us about how you work. What’s your setup like? When are you most productive?
Laptop, speakers, couple of Swedish synths. Might get some modular stuff soon, pricey though. I’m most productive when I don’t have a lot of time, so that I feel pressure to finish stuff. Like weekday evenings I’m loads more productive than the weekend. Too much time isn’t great for creativity.
European Heartache might be my favourite Gobstopper release yet. Did you mean for it to come out just before Valentine’s Day or was that a happy accident?
Thanks! That was an accident, it was supposed to come out in November but a few things caused the delay. We wanted to make sure the release was done correctly. No rushed thing.
Structurally I find your tunes are really unique. Lots of them rely on these sudden shifts or pivots – almost the opposite of that “build to the drop” mentality which can get so predictable.
Good! That’s sick, I love that stuff, I like the rush and adrenaline you get from those kind of dynamic changes. I don’t want my stuff to send you to sleep. It’s more fun!
You’ve mentioned that the EP’s core theme is a struggle with identity. Does each track explore a different facet of this?
Nah, like I wasn’t thinking of this explicitly whilst making the EP. I felt there was a theme developing as I was making the work, but it wasn’t until the end of the process that it clicked what it was. A few things in my life had led me to creating this EP, some people close to me dealing with these questions, and this was the best way of me dealing with it.
You once described ‘Rain Falls Hard Here’ as “the theme song for any dead-end town you want to leave.” Could anything on European Heartache be described as a theme song?
I always imagined ‘Ultraviolet Love Scene’ being played in a small room with violet lights, two people having just met, doing whatever. This is the most cinematic track by far. I can’t help being there when I hear it.
After Grade, was your next release always going to be on Gobstopper? It feels like the perfect home for your melodic impulses.
Yeah, of course, I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for Mr. Mitch’s belief. Gobstopper will always be the most important label for me.
Have you considered working with any vocalists? I liked that track you did with Luke Benjamin last year. But might you do one with an MC?
Yeah, I’d like to, it’d be interesting. There’s a decent group of MCs coming up at the minute, and they’re fearless, so one might wanna do something. It would be pretty strange though. Maybe I’ll start MCing.
Let’s talk about the artwork. How did you link up with Thomas Traum? I saw he’s done a lot of stuff for Numbers before. For me the image seems to illustrate that contrast between the light and dark sides of your music.
I’d been a fan of his work for a minute, especially the work he’s done for Numbers. I asked the label first to get in contact with him, then we began exchanging emails. I sent him loads of images I’d collected making the EP and he came up with the concept, it was a really cool process.
What is it about hyperrealism that appeals to you? It seems to be an important visual style for a bunch of producers and labels working in a similar vein.
Hyperrealism has a physical presence, but you know it’s not real, it’s hard for your mind to process. I like to think my sounds have a physical presence, colours and shapes.
Which producers should we be keeping an eye on in 2016?
Corrrrr loads of cool people. All the Nervous Horizon people, Martel Ferdan, Fallow, Grizzle, Tarquin, Venetia, Le Dom, Doline, Tsunga and Jexxa.
Finally – and I’m asking everyone this – favourite Bowie song?
I’m a big Bowie fan. The Berlin stuff is so sick, Low is probably one of my favourite albums. Favourite song would probably be ‘Sound & Vision’.
Main image: Vicky Grout
Words: Cosmo Godfree