Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Featuring: Sepia

Photo by Ben Donoghue Photography
One of the reasons why it's so easy to like Sepia's music, or for that matter so difficult to dislike it, is the way in which each track captures a mood so effortlessly and coherently. And while maintaining a simple, linear mood or tone across six or so minutes of music isn't necessarily a stand-out achievement, to create, develop and challenge - through the deployment and subtraction of subtle rhythmic and tonal inflections - a complex atmospheric web is most definitely something to be celebrated; and when all that is built around big basslines, intensely intricate drums and a doffed cap to all that's worth nodding to from the past twenty or so years of UK dance music culture, then celebrating becomes all the more easy. The last time we were this excited about a new producer was probably the last time Sepia sent a new beat through. Or Etch did, or Facta did, or Underclass or - well, you can probably see that there's a pattern emerging here...

Hedmuk: To introduce yourself, what's your name, where are you from and how would you describe your sound?

Sepia: Hello. My name is Theo, I currently reside in East London and make tunes and DJ under the name of Sepia.

It's kind of hard to describe my sound, as it varies depending on what tempo I am working on or what mood I am in, but I think there are some consistencies in my tunes; for instance, you'll always find my tunes are very percussive and focus a lot on intricacies in the drum patterns. I play drums, so I think that influences my drum programming a lot. I also try to capture certain moods and atmospheres through the melodies I use and always a warm rumbling sub bass. I have only really just gotten my head around building synth patches. Most of my earlier works were literally just melodies, drums and sub bass, but it worked for the kind of vibe I was going for. So yeah, I just kind of make percussive and deep, bass-driven music. Sorry for rambling (laughs).

H: How long have you been involved in making music? What was it that first got you into making beats?

S: Well, throughout my teenage years I was writing music with old bands I was in until I was about 17 or 18. I still write music on that side, but have been more focused on electronic music since 2008 I guess; I have always been interested in it, but I never really got into making music or DJing until I went to a party in a forest where I used to live on the Isle of Wight (a little island down south, near Portsmouth). I remember watching my mate Ben (who also runs the rig and parties) playing an incredible set with tunes by Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, Luke Vibert etc. and then later through the night another guy was playing a dubstep set and the sounds just drew me in. I was gone at the time (laughs) but thought 'I really wanna play at one of these parties'. So I acquired some turntables and started collecting records and started DJing.

I started producing towards the end of 2008, but was only really messing about, I got a copy of FL Studio 7 and taught myself how to produce. I was under a different name back then and still finding my feet, but when I moved to Brighton I was playing shows weekly with some huge people (Skream, N-Type, Coki, Joy Orbison, James Blake etc.), had residencies and played at nights like Subsplash, Supercharged, Aka Aka Roar etc. and it is through playing them shows and networking in Brighton that I got to meet and become friends with the likes of Riskotheque, Marchmellow, Southbound Hangers, Dismantle, Gangoon Dubz, Etch and Ashley (from Well Rounded). It was about late-2009/early-2010 that I really got to grips with my production and finally developed my own sound and I started taking it a bit more seriously.

And now here I am I guess, I am still learning new things every day with DJing and making tunes, but I guess everybody is really because music and methods are constantly evolving and changing. Nobody ever stops learning, to be honest.

H: In terms of where you take your influence from musically, your tunes give the impression that your listening ear is a open one: is this the case? Who would you say you most often find yourself looking towards for influence?

S: Yeah, you could say that. I listen to a lot of different music, man, a lot of which are bands. If honest, I'd have to say my biggest musical influence would be Sigur Ros: words can not describe the effect their music has on me, so I am not even going to try. You may not be able to hear their influence in all of my tunes, but if you listen carefully to some of the melodies and arrangements I put together (for example in my tune 'If Only We Could See Us Now'), you can detect a hint of the ambient and orchestral sounds I use in some of the intros and atmospheres I create.

As far as bass music goes, my influences will always be the first who got me into this sound, for instance Mala, Coki, Loefah, Burial, Kode 9,  El-B, Cluekid, Horsepower Productions, Steve Gurley etc. and then you have just some incredible producers such as Four Tet, Aphex Twin, Boards Of Canada, Luke Vibert, J Dilla, Quasimoto etc. I wouldn't say they influence the sounds I make, but they influenced me to experiment with electronic music in the first place, way before I even discovered dubstep or garage. Also, you have more recent producers such as Phaeleh, Congi, and DjRum whose music really blows me away.

But my influences go beyond music too: books, movies, people, situations, atmospheres, summer, past experiences and life itself are all influences in my sound. I guess everything has an influence on me, it also has a lot to do with where I am at the time musically, consciously, emotionally and physically: it all plays a part in my process of making music.

H: Your music covers a wide range of styles - from Grime to UK Funky to Garage and Dubstep and more - is this something you're conscious of? Do you approach making a tune with a certain idea or style in mind or is it a more organic process of just seeing where it takes you?

S: I am aware of it after the tune is completed, but it is not something that is planned or thought out. I never sit and think to make a certain genre. Going with influences again, it all just depends where my mind is at the time. I usually start my tunes with an 8-bar drum loop and from there I try out some little bass hooks to try get a feel of what kind of groove it is going to be. From there I separate everything and start from scratch and build an intro, drums, basses, synths, atmospheres etc. and start constructing the sounds I have made into a song. But it is hard to say really, as each tune is different; I never produce in a certain way, it's ever-changing. Not sure if that is a good thing or not, but it works.

H: How does it feel, despite not easily fitting into a particular genre category, to be receiving airplay and support from the likes of Joe Nice, Dusk & Blackdown, Phaeleh and B Traits? Do you feel like this recognition puts the pressure on to deliver more in the future, or does it just encourage you to progress with your sound?

S: I have been stoked and overwhelmed by the support and plays from the people who have been into my sounds. It might not be much to many people, but I am so stoked that 'Observer' got played on Radio 1. Even more stoked that Joe Nice cut 'Observer' and played it on Sub FM. Skream & Benga recently dropped my tune 'Cornered' on Radio 1 too which I am stoked about. And the support and plays that Dusk & Blackdown have given me have definitely influenced me to keep striving to push my sound further and excel.

I do feel that knowing that some people enjoy the music does influence me to progress my sound and deliver more, but at the same time it also scares me. Sometimes I make tunes and won't even show them to anybody as I don't feel they are worthy because some people might be looking for a certain sound and I am not sure that it will be the one they are looking for. This goes back to the way I produce, I can't stick to a certain sound or genre because I'm influenced and intrigued by so many things and I like to experiment with different sounds and styles sometimes. I don't like to think there are any restrictions or boundaries in music: everybody should just be allowed to go with their instinct and see where their creative flow takes them.

H: Tell us a bit about the mix you've put together for us.

S: The mix was recorded at my friend's house on his CDJs (big up Etch for letting me use them); when I play out I like to try and give the listener a taste of where I am at musically, so I tend to jump genres and create different atmospheres and also try to keep the listener interested by playing different things that hopefully everybody can enjoy at least a part of. A lot of the tunes in my mix are made by my friends, and that is something I am loving about the underground music scene right now: a lot of us are actually friends, we all network with each other and we are all bouncing off each other to excel and progress. So this mix features a lot of dubs, forthcoming pieces, and a few new releases by more established artists that I am feeling. There is a sneaky VIP in the mix also and an upcoming project too...

H: Finally, are there are anything forthcomings lined up or anything else in the pipeline that you'd like to put the word out on? 

S: Yes there is, 'Cornered' and 'Outbreak' are forthcoming on Redshift-One and are due out June 24th (available from all the usual digital outlets). I've got something else lined up too but nothing is 100% confirmed yet, so keep an eye out on my Soundcloud or Facebook for forthcoming releases, gigs and new music. Hopefully you'll be hearing more from me in the near future.
And lastly, big up and shouts to yourselves at Hedmuk, Etch, Atlas, J-One, Lex, Breen, Facta, Underclass, Rabit, Scalade, Konvex, Threnody, Dusk & Blackdown, Joe Nice, Phaeleh, Congi, Quest, Glacial Sound and too many more. And of course my girlfriend for putting up with my noise all hours of the day (laughs).

Download: Sepia - Hedmuk Exclusive Mix


Sepia - Bullets [Dub]
Sepia - Because Of Me [Dub]
Wen - Swingin' [Badimup]
Sepia - Outbreak VIP [Dub]
Walton - Homage [Keysound]
Pearson Sound - Quivver [Nonplus+]
Fresh Paul - Sunblazed [Keysound]
Bloom - Quartz [Gobstopper]
Vivek - Asteroids [System Music]
??? - ??? [Dub]
Sepia - If Only We Could See Us Now [Free]
Sepia - Into The Abyss [Dub]
Sepia - Observer [Dub]
Sepia - Skyline [Dub]
Congi - Somnium VIP [Dub]
Sub Basics - In The Quiet [Dub]
Klax & Disonata - Lost Souls [Forthcoming Uprise Audio]
Daega Sound - Land In Motion [Black Box]
SPD - Habitus [Slime]
Sepia - Cornered [Forthcoming Redshift One]
DjRum - Honey [2nd Drop]


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