Who is behind bass music's latest anonymous producer alias?
2015 Nov 16
Mysterious Jalapeno Records artist AOTOA has been causing a stir of late, but as we discover, he hasn't just come out of nowhere
To break through as a new producer in
2015, your list of skills needs to be longer and more laudable than
an Apprentice contestantâ€™s CV. Social media strategist, marketing
mastermind, web design ninja and a voice that bellows louder than the
millions of other hopeful and established artists in your chosen
genre. Actually making exciting, forward-thinking music helps, too.
This is why AOTOA stood out like a sore
thumb when his debut album Seconds dropped on Jalapeno last
month. His fuzzy, scratchy, bassy melting pot of garage, breakbeat
and slo-mo toxic tech certainly ticked the 'exciting, forward-thinking
music' box. But there were no crude gimmicks, no big vocal
collaborations, follow-for-download campaign or crass bootleg of a
chart hitâ€¦ none of the tactics that many new artists resort to gain
attention. Intrigued, we searched for more information, only to find
that every blog thatâ€™s supported his music and every magazine
review heâ€™s had since he emerged with a ravishing Amen-addled take
on Ephemerals' You Made Us Change in October 2014 contains the words
â€˜mysteriousâ€™, â€˜shadowyâ€™ and â€˜anonymousâ€™.
The only thing that adds up here is the
quality of his music. We hunted him down to unravel the mysteryâ€¦
I donâ€™t think youâ€™re as fresh as
the internet seems to thinkâ€¦
"Ha ha, the gig is up! I have been
producing for a long time. Before AOTOA I was making tunes as Flevans
on Tru Thoughts."
Interesting! I'm well aware of Flevans.
So whatâ€™s the story there?
"Flevans started off as a very summery,
sample-based stuff with a lot of soul and funk. Because the AOTOA
stuff is so different we thought weâ€™d start with a clean plate.
Starting fresh in a different musical environment to the one Flevans
started off in has been enlightening. When Flevans started everything
was vinyl-based and people would pick up my 12â€s because they were
on Tru Thoughts. Now thereâ€™s so much more emphasis on social media
and so many more people making music. But now feels like a good time
to let people know. Itâ€™s been a long path coming from Flevans and
getting to this sound."
Can you plot that path a little?
"When I signed to Tru Thoughts, I was
using a doddery old computer and recording on a four-track. I didnâ€™t
have many skills! I always felt like I was playing catch-up and
didnâ€™t have the advantage of being on top of my game. Flevans was
basically me learning on how to make music. When the last album came
out I thought, â€˜I want to take things in a different direction nowâ€™.
That direction wasnâ€™t really Tru Thoughts, so I took some time out
and found I wrote my favourite music while not signed to a label.
There were no expectations; I had that time to play around with ideas
and new material before I got signed."
Artists often mellow with age, but
youâ€™ve gone the other wayâ€¦
"I have! But Iâ€™ve always enjoyed DJing
this type of stuff and Iâ€™ve always enjoyed the more musical take on
music built for clubs. I wanted to cover the contemporary electronic
bases but also have something that can be listened to at home."
Ninety-five per cent of this type of music is brilliantly produced
and works well in a club but doesnâ€™t make the jump into other
environments. A good album of this style of music only comes around
once in a blue moon. I guess Iâ€™ve set myself a difficult task;
poking my head above the water with something that works in a club
but is also a bit different and a bit lofi and no one knowing
who I amâ€¦ Iâ€™m relishing the challenge of it so far though!"