New transmissions: Bluetoof is using narrative-driven bass to reconnect with his heritage

today07/08/2023 7

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So you moved to London with the mission to create music?

Oh that was the only reason. I think I moved a week after Jossy played my track, my mum who has had my back creatively since forever was like you need to go to London its your destiny haha. a room came up in a house and I just moved. I was really hungry to get it. I got a job in Pop Brixton, in a chicken shop, and Benton was randomly working there when I arrived for my first shift. Benton took me under his wing a lot, he helped me put my first project out and helped me do it on his label – he acted like a big brother for a long time, a mentor for a minute. Then it all fell into place, you know how London is, you just start meeting everyone — it’s actually so small after a year, even though it feels so big when you move here. I felt like part of a scene, it felt so nice that Benton took me in.

Has South London been a real source of inspiration for you?

Yeah, it’s like the capital of the uk techno/ bass scene. Being from Kent, you see these parallels between where I grew up with South East London. My close friend and the owner of the club night Percy Mingle, he was the one who gave me my first proper show in South London and my fanbase definitely grew a lot from that. I owe Percy a lot for putting me on. Then venues like Venue MOT and Ormside Projects, you can play whatever you want and the crowd are so receptive, have definitely impacted my sound. I think South London is definitely a big part of my personality, the friendships I have here are so special and I haven’t experienced that as much outside of this city. Being around so many creative people, so many people that are so talented, is so shocking. Growing up in a place that is so drained of culture, and coming here and everyone is on shit — it’s like, okay, let’s get this going. Collaboration, spitballing ideas, just meeting likeminded weirdos… it’s been really nice.

You’ve already touched on people like Benton and Percy Mingle taking you under their wings, have you had any other key mentors in music?

I think when I was younger and I met Benton, I was so starstruck by him and he really – on a technical level – showed me a lot about production, and a lot about how the game worked. The ins and outs of the industry. Another key figure for me was definelty Oneman, he seriously showed me how to use a Pioneer DJ mixer as an artistic tool, and also how to keep a rave flowing and everyone moving and grooving. Owe him a lot for that. I guess, more recently, my close friend Andres Branco put me on a lot he introduced me to my manager Miguel – who also works at fabric – he’s a big brother, he guides me and helps me realise my vision. When it’s a bit chaotic, he’s helped me hone it in, and work out where I want to go with Infa Red. It’s really nice to make plans with someone who knows their stuff. It’s strange sometimes, because the line between friendship and mentor can blur so much in this industry, it’s so skewed. Sarra Wild has helped me a lot in being in touch with my heritage, helping me do things authentically and advising me – helping me to do something I’ve wanted to do for so long, as well as a great emotional support. I’ve got to mention is my non-blood twin Greg harris aka AKONE we have really had each others back from day one. Also, I guess it’s not mentorship per say, but Impey and Dome Zero have taught me a lot they always help me out and back me when I think something wasn’t working. there’s to many people to mention I could go on for hours.

I guess also being able to work with people who are down to earth, who you feel you can connect with personally too?

Yeah, a lot of people you meet in this industry are so fickle. So when you meet these people, I could list people for days, so many people have really had my back. Lasha at fold has also really supported me and looked out for me, the team at fold have supported me from very early on when no one knew who I was – they gave me the platform to do what I want to do. Me and Jossy have our studio over there now, there’s some core peeps there that have really helped push me in the right way.

The last 12 months have seen you work closely with fellow bass-head Jossy Mitsu as BLUMITSU. Can you tell us about the decision to grow this partnership with Jossy?

We’ve got a lot of mutual friends, we’d been loosely friends for a bit. Her radio show at Rinse FM is before mine on Wednesday – she does 6-7, I do 7-8. We saw the similarities in each others shows, we hung out a lot more, and Jossy asked me if I wanted to get a studio. At first we would do sessions separately, then we did a b2b on Rinse and we were like “oi, this is going somewhere” after the reception it had. We get on really well as it is, she’s like my big sister. At one point someone was like: “BLUMITSU” and we were like, “oi, this is something, maybe we should start working on some tunes.” We’ve been working super hard, in the studio every day working on this project – it’s coming out in September. Our debut EP. I’m really excited to put it out. We’ve gone to town on the full package, we’ve got a video coming out from it. It’s just been really nice working with another person too, sometimes when you work by yourself it can get quite lonely. It makes the creative process so much funner, having that duality.

Read this next: “More risk-taking”: Jossy Mitsu is spreading her wings

Who have been your biggest musical inspirations?

I think people who I really respect are people like Djrum, LCY, DJ Plead, Batu, Stenny, Mad Miran, Azu Tiwaline — people who are really true to themselves. I really respect that, they haven’t compromised but have still found success. But also, my close friends, people like Interplanetary Criminal, Dr Duplate, Cosworth, Main Phase. My little crew of friends, they are big inspirations for me. It’s so nice to see everyone do so well after all starting around the same time, when no one really gave a shit. Seeing those guys so well, it’s super inspiring on a personal level but also sonically. But yeah, everyone around me is inspiring me daily its crazy what people are achieving in all creative fields not just music. My main inspo’s have got to be my mum, she’s the most creative person I’ve ever met and really taught me you can do anything you want in life. lastly my fiancéTav’sWorld is insanely inspiring she moved to London and smashed it seeing hat she’s done in the design side of music is so impressive. She’s a real driving force in my life.

Do you think your musical ethos has changed a lot since you first started?

As you get older, you become way more inverted I think – you stop focusing on what everyone else is doing. I wanted to look at my heritage more, explore what I want to represent and how I can portray that sonically, doing more research. Before I would get any old sample pack and jam it in, whereas now I want to authentically apply the elements of a project so it doesn’t come across corny. Particularly with Arabic percussion, I don’t want it to be this ridiculously obvious nod — I want it to be nuanced. Again, I love dark bass music and drum ‘n’ bass, they are still part of it.

What is coming up next for you?

I’m going to be amping up the release schedule for Infa Red, and just working on some more mixes. Also, the AV show, I’m really excited about. Plus me and Jossy will be heading to Atonal in Berlin, also Dimensions… can’t wait for that one.

Can you tell us about your Impact mix?

So I set out to do less of a live club style mix and tried to do something loosely concept based, I titled the mix “lost between ancestry and now”, its kind of themed around the idea of teleporting between ancient Morocco and present day. Mixing both current forward-thinking new music with traditional Arabic percussion and instrumentation peppered throughout, I feel like the mix makes you feel as if – while teleporting, you get stuck half way between both worlds. It’s kind of like a vortex warping, and ping ponging between dark and light, with crescendo drum patterns and wiggy top lines. It’s got a lot of the sounds and themes in ‘diggin a hole’.The selection has a few unreleased bits from myself and some of favourites, there’s tunes throughout that have really inspired me recently and resonate with what I would describe as my sound.

Megan Townsend is Mixmag’s Deputy Editor, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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