Ones to watch: Agrippa

For those in the right circles, Agrippa’s name is one you may have been hearing for the past couple of years. Having been championed countless times by the whole Swamp 81 crew as well as Madam X and Peverelist, Agrippa has been working away being the scenes on his productions resulting in a 12” on Orson’s label Version made up of two tracks: ‘Mygraine Urgraine’ and ‘Harbour Run’.

He has had collaborative releases on Silas and Snare’s Brotherhood Sound System and Birmingham based Circular Jaw, and now his debut solo record is on the horizon.

We caught up with him to find out more about his productions and his upcoming plans for the year.

What is the most defining memory you have that has sent you in the direction you are heading in as an artist?

That’s a really interesting question, and I’ve definitely thought about this quite a lot without necessarily recognising it. One of the main ones that stands out is actually a friend of mine, who I used to DJ a lot with as a teenager and now makes banging club tracks (Crimzon) sent me Paleman’s release on Fulcrum – All Good, the evening of a set. I had previously been straddled either side of UK techno kind of stuff, as I made a lot of dubstep c. 2009 and got into house/disco DJing about 3 or 4 years after. So to find this space with elements of both was a big moment for me. I think also early Swamp 81 parties taught me about the, excuse the cliché, ‘journey’ a set/tune can take. Loefah, in particular had this cool structure to his sets back then. Just constant drum-machine madness for 10-15 minutes, then a euphoric breakdown that just lifts everyone in the place, before plummeting back in for more. So hearing old Pearson Sound tunes at raves like their nights at heaven were a big pivotal moment in terms of ‘championing’ those types of breakdowns.

Around this time I was obsessed with Paleman’s first Boiler Room (and still am), as for me this was the first time I’d seen someone just bounce loads of recent WIPs and smash them all out. In particular, I think this showed how personal and almost vulnerable sets can feel for the performer, as an almost interactive critique of their most current stuff. I’ve tried to do the same myself since.

Where do you get inspiration from when producing, be that other artists or elsewhere?

Inspiration for tunes tends to come from what’s going on in my life. I’m still a student, and a lot of my heavier stuff tends to just be a reflection of anxiety surrounding that. Thinking about the future etc. I’ve also been quite a big fan of various dorky things like Tolkien and Dune for a while, so take quite a lot of inspiration from more descriptive parts of certain books. Sometimes I’ll just sit down and try to emulate how a particular imaginary setting feels when I’m reading about it. Other times, if there’s been quite a stressful event in my life, I’ll use a project as more or less a diary of what went down and how I feel.

A lot of my forthcoming stuff this year is of this final category, so feeling a tad nervous about how those will be received! In terms of other artists, there are obviously some large names who tend to push me along in terms of what seems achievable. Pearson sound, Objekt, Mumdance, etc. I take possibly most of my lead from guys in my circle, however, Henry Greenleaf has always had me in awe with what he can do and I’m still scrabbling to keep up.

Do you have any interesting work-flow techniques to produce your tracks?

Not so much, however sometimes if I’m struggling to get a perc pattern down for a certain part I’ll chuck the WIP on a stick and play around with it. Often I’ll deliberately play it offset to something similar by an 8th or something, and it kinda helps show me what’s missing or over-present, or at least helps me foster some new ideas.

What characterises your music amongst the other left-field, rhythmically complex techno we are hearing more and more of?

Good question. You’re right, there’s loads of people killing it at the moment. I’d say I often try to be a bit more unashamed/unreserved with melody. Other guys can arrange such nice perc that almost sings. I maybe have a bit less faith and tend to resource to a cheesy lead line or two a bit more often. Call Me would be a good example of this, I think. That said, something I’ve learned quite slowly is getting across more atmosphere and spooky, low-passed stuff.

Do you feel as if you are part of a network of producers, and if so, who are they?

Oh definitely. Luckily I’ve kinda landed spanning a couple of different networks. Myself, Henry Greenleaf and Meta are very close and have our label launching this year. Also the other Circular Jaw guys; Nuvaman, Foxmind, Yak, Yilan and I share stuff a lot 🙂 I’ve learned a lot from Paleman and Lamont’s advice on sketches, which has been massive for me in developing my sound a lot in the last year or so.

You briefly mentioned the new label you are about start up with some of your peers, can you tell us anything about it?

Yup, can’t wait to get the tunes out there. Fundamentally it’s a new platform for myself, Henry Greenleaf and Meta to get some more vinyl out there. We’re sitting on 100s of tunes and I feel like there’s definitely an appetite for some of it. We’ve all been quite sparse in our release schedule in starting out, and I know the goal is to be getting a lot more out. Henry’s an incredible artist and has done an amazing job with the visuals and the concept, so can’t wait for everyone to see it – we’ve got quite a cool idea for the format of the radio show, which will be starting at the same time. Should be more info in the next few months.

What do you have planned sets and release-wise for the rest of 2018?

Set-wise, a lot of stuff’s being planned for the summer which I’m very excited about, as I’m finishing up my Master’s and working at the moment. In the meantime, I’ll be appearing on the Version BCR show next month in line with the new release. Release-wise my debut 12″ lands in April on Version. I’m finally making my full Circular Jaw debut (shouts to Sam, Matt and Andy) later this year, and I have something coming out under Jakwob’s wicked supervision. The new label will obviously be the right home for some of my stuff soon too.

Mygraine Urgraine is out April 20  on Version.

Preorder here.

NEXT: Listen back to Hyponik on Reprezent Radio with Agrippa

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