Dubstep producer Emalkay has rapidly become a household name after the success and acclaim of the massive dancefloor hit, When I Look at You. Having just released the first album, Eclipse, on the mighty Dub Police label, Kmag caught up with him to find out what his inspirations were for the album, if he has any more collaborations in the pipeline and how his album tour went.
Hi Emalkay, how are you doing today?
I'm fine thank you, feeling fresh today because I got a lot of sleep, for a change! Had a big weekend, so just resting up from that at the moment.
What did you get up to over the weekend?
I played a big festival in Lyon, France called Rumble, which was a good night. Before that I was an over 14s rave in Sweden on the Friday as well. Very different vibes coming out, because we have the festival season kicking in so the shows are starting to get bigger and more furious.
So you've just released Dub Police's debut album, Eclipse. How are you feeling about that and what were your inspirations when creating it?
I'll talk about the influences first. Without trying to sound pompous, I kind of looked at my own sounds and what I've been doing for the last two or three years, and I wanted to make something that represented that because this is my first album, and I think it's been a long time coming. Of course there are new ideas and concepts in there, but the album has a traditional sound, which I'm known for.
I'm also feeling relieved and excited - relieved that it's finally out the way because I've been doing if for so long, but excited because it's just come out and the early reactions look good. On the back of that I've done some shows, which have been crazier as well, so pretty excited!
How long did the album take to make?
I can't really give a specific date. I was just making tracks like I normally do and then there was the big single, When I Look at You, out at the end of 2009, so I had a couple of singles made and ready to go out after, but we decided from then that maybe an album's a good idea and we could use the material for the album. I didn't start especially making tunes for the album until about half way through when I realised there was an album there and got my head down more. There was a realisation about halfway through that I had these tracks on the go and decided to finish it off.
You collaborated with the legendary Rod Azlan for Flesh & Bone. How did that come about and can you see any more collaborations coming around this year?
He is legendary! I like Rod Azlan! We've known each other for a long time because he's always hosted Caspa's sets predominantly for the past two, three years, and he's hosted a few of my sets as well. I always liked his style of lyrics – he's just knows and let's the music breathe. When we came to do the track I expected the same sort of vibe, but he didn't want to do a track of his known lyrics. He's very good at coming up with hooks that are really good and memorable that you can sing along to. It was the first vocal track we had finished for the album and a good standard to set.
How about any other artists?
Definitely! I can't give you any names at the moment, but vocal collaboration is one avenue I really want to go down. Maybe instrumentalists as well, but predominantly I want to get in the studio with more like-minded people and see what we can come up with! It's early days though so we'll see. It's still new to me working with vocal elements, but very exciting times! I'm hoping that this album will get some things going.
You've named one of the tracks Why Don't I Like You. What was going through your mind when you came up with that track name?
I'll be honest, I don't think too deeply about what the vocals are. I'll just go through samples in my library or I'll hear something that catches my attention - usually something on the off key and a bit weird. Usually just something that just sticks in my head and I thought it was really similar to When I Look At You but I sort of attached the two and made a really dark, ambient build up for it.
You've been producing for well over 14 years now. What is the most cringe or hilarious thing you've encountered?
I've done a lot of cringe worthy things over the years! I'm sure if you have a look on the internet over past interviews, some of the things I say would make me cringe. Anything to do with myself makes me cringe – I'm probably just a bit too self-conscious! Old pictures from the early days, the internet is terrible for this! If there's anything, Google will cache it and it's there forever. I'm still learning this now so I'm a bit more careful. But the music I never cringe over. Every track I made I was always happy with when I made them. I can look back now and say they could be better though.
What's your favourite track on the album and why?
My favourite track is probably Fabrication or Crusader. Probably Fabrication because it's got all the elements that I really appreciate. I know some people make music to a set pattern or formula, but I make things that I simply want to hear, and if I go out to a club or tune into a late night radio show and you hear a tune like that, that just comes out of nowhere and doesn't compromise in any way, that really sums it up for me. It's my taste in music I guess, but if someone else made the album I'd say the same. But I guarantee you ask me in about two weeks and it'll have changed!
Back in 2005 you set up your own record label, Morphic Sounds. Have you ever thought about starting it up again?
Yeah, I think about it, but then I think I won't just because when I did that the internet wasn't what it was. There wasn't all this social networking, it wasn't there as a big commercial tool and it was just a baby. I had to press up my own records to get my name out, so I just thought of a name, a very simple brand. I put out a few limited releases and it did its job – got the attention of some DJs and labels, and got the ball rolling for me.
When you're not producing or DJing, what music do you like to listen to in your free time and are there any artists or bands that really stand out for you at the moment?
I do listen to a lot of d&b; I'll be honest with you. I like to listen to Netsky, and quite a few DJs. I've always been like that; I don't usually buy albums or singles and when I was younger I'd buy tape packs and CD compilations. I listen to DJs like Shy FX as he'll play across the board, and that's what I like. I like a bit of everything including dubstep DJs who play really edgy sounds and mix them together like Distance. That's what it's about for me, I'm not out in the shops buying stuff or downloading music, I listen to a good DJ mix. That's what I've always done.
You're currently doing an album tour around the UK. Where are you stopping off next?
We did a build up tour towards the release and the last one, on Tuesday, was a crazy, crazy night in Leeds. It was mental! We ended up hosting each other's sets in the end. It was a messy one but was such fun! We had a good night, great way to end the tour. But every show, even the small towns had always good vibes. It was good to see Birmingham, my hometown, because at the moment the scene has been a bit wonky and unstable. Some nights do really well and others are really dry but the album show was midweek and really good, so I was really happy with that.
Any final words?
All I will say is thank you to everyone out there who likes the music and are actually going out there and buying it. Also, bigger and better things to come! Already got my next few projects in the works and I'm excited for what the future holds!
Words: Olivia Stroud
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