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Who is behind bass music's latest anonymous producer alias?

2015 Nov 16     
2 Bit Thugs

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 contestant’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 hit… none of the tactics that many new artists resort to gain attention. Intrigued, we searched for more information, only to find that every blog that’s supported his music and every magazine review he’s had since he emerged with a ravishing Amen-addled take on Ephemerals' You Made Us Change in October 2014 contains the words ‘mysterious’, ‘shadowy’ and ‘anonymous’.

The only thing that adds up here is the quality of his music. We hunted him down to unravel the mystery…

I don’t think you’re as fresh as the internet seems to think…

"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 what’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 we’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 12”s because they were on Tru Thoughts. Now there’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. It’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 didn’t have many skills! I always felt like I was playing catch-up and didn’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, ‘I want to take things in a different direction now’. That direction wasn’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 you’ve gone the other way…

"I have! But I’ve always enjoyed DJing this type of stuff and I’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."

One of the hardest lines to tread, right?

"It is. Ninety-five per cent of this type of music is brilliantly produced and works well in a club but doesn’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 I’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 am… I’m relishing the challenge of it so far though!"

Seconds is out now on Jalapeno Records

Follow AOTOA: Facebook / Soundcloud / Twitter





Tags: AOTOA, Flevans, Tru Thoughts, Jalapeno Records, bass music