Soul Intent is back with a fresh EP on the Exkursions arm of Lossless Music this month, featuring possibly the imprint’s most beautiful music yet. To find out more about the tracks, musical influences and all things Exkursions, we grabbed the bossman and Elementz of Noize for a chat about the new EP. Check it out…
DNB Dojo: Hi guys, thanks for chatting today, and big up on a really exceptional EP! Where are you in the world today and what have you been up to?
Soul Intent: Hi Henry, it’s 11pm Saturday night and I’m currently sat on my sofa with one of the cats sleeping next to me while I have the first episode of The Defiant Ones documentary on in the background.
Elementz of Noize: Hi there Henry! I’m just sitting at my desk at home dunking cookies in tea & tediously sifting through snare drums. Been at the day job this cleaning up other peoples dust from about 8 this morning. I’m sleepy!
DD: So Al, this is the first vinyl release you’ve had in 15 years, quite a milestone. Tell us a little about how you got involved with Lossless Music and how the release came together.
EoN: Yeah, it’s been a huge vinyl gap. If I remember correctly I just asked people’s thoughts on who might be approachable to release some vinyl, Alex’s name was mentioned and as I already know him and I was already a fan of his tunes I sent him a few tracks to check out. Was kind of thinking he might go for the heavier stuff which is now my To EP but instead he took a liking to The Grand Escape, so I finished off a couple of similar styled tracks and then he chose I’ll Be The Clouds, You Can Be The Rain for a digital extra…fairly straightforward I guess. I was meant to be sharing the EP with someone else initially but then Alex decided to add two of his own…good choice I think!
DD: The tracks are credited to Elementz of Noize and Infinite Leap… were they created in collaboration, or is this more of a melding of two alter-egos, kinda like the “Alaska & Paradox” releases for instance?
EoN: The “Alaska & Paradox” thing. I liked the idea of having an alter-ego or two to suit different sounds but to be quite honest this will probably be the first and last time that I will appear as “Elementz of Noize & Infinite Leap’ which makes this EP a bit special maybe? I’ve kinda decided to keep things a bit simpler. Years ago “Elements of Noise” with an “s” was for the lighter intelligent stuff and “Elementz of Noize” with a “z” was for heavier stuff but that just seemed to get confusing so I think I’ll just make EPs called Infinite Leap (First), Infinite Leap (Second) etc. There will more than likely be one more alter-ego for another sound as well…maybe!
DD: You’re taking in a some less typically “D&B” influences on these two compositions – The Grand Escape in particular reminds me of post-rock bands like Explosions In The Sky. Are there any particular artists that informed these tracks when you wrote them?
EoN: No, not any particular artists but there’ll be a little influence coming from the post-rock thing. A few years back i reworked a track for The Wax Girl called Nuclear Winter which was very much post-rock and i still like to listen to it now.
My initial thought for infinite leap was to blend my ambient/drone/modern classical project Tunnel At The End Of The Light into things a bit more. I have adapted several of my ambient tracks and made D&B versions. I like piano and strings a lot and always have. I also like to build up tracks very subtly which will more than often end out with many layers and eventually a big wall of sound. Also, I find that writing ambient D&B tracks is good for my head after hours of twisted beats and bass lines. My musical influences generally cast a very wide net which is good as things will become stale very fast if you are a D&B artist who’s only influences are other D&B artists. Can you imagine the circles that would go in?
DD: Can we expect to hear more of these kind of tracks in future? And what other projects have you got lined up for this year?
EoN: Oh absolutely! I already have four or five more Infinite Leap tracks pretty much finished and a couple more that are also coming along quite nicely…some of them sound even less like D&B.
I’ll see if anyone is interested in releasing some of my stuff apart from Alex & Mo (M Ocean) but I haven’t had much interest from other labels since my return to be quite honest. Anyway, i’ll release them myself if nobody is biting and I’ll look into the possibility of putting some vinyl out too. My other D&B plan is to release a couple of Density EPs in the not too distant future as well. They will also be more experimental and still have ambient/drone influences but these will be much darker.
After I’m satisfied with those projects i’ll turn my attention back to Tunnel At The End Of The Light but this time round there might be full vocals and a bit more folky electronica thrown into it… we’ll see, things morph and change with my moods and what I’m capable of doing at the time. What i do know is, if I can play my own music to myself over and over again and still enjoy it, then I’m doing it right…that’s what matters.
DD: Over to you for this one Alex…Exkursions is only four releases deep but already you’ve taken in everything from autonomic-esque head nodders to ambient soundscapes to dark garage and plenty more in between. Did you expect the range of music to be this wide when you first started the project?
SI: I didn’t really think too much about it to be honest. I just wanted an outlet for the more leftfield studio output I was starting to amass on my hard drive. Whether that be beatless tracks like The Fading Light, something pretty heavy like Drifting or a 140BPM thing under my Odyssia alias genre and tempo are fairly irrelevant, it just needs to send me to that Exkursions place in my head when I’m listening to it.
I’m not doing the labels to make a living (I still work full time) so the positive is that I don’t have to play it ‘safe’….though I’m sure my distributor would encourage more neuro releases haha. Don’t get me wrong, as much as it would be amazing to make a living from my passion, there’s a feeling of freedom that comes with being able to put out what I want without the pressure of needing the music to sell to pay the bills.
I think this freedom allowed me to start Exkursions and still do physical releases. To be very honest with you the vinyl sales for Exkursions haven’t been amazing but I feel its important the music makes it onto a physical medium as it’s more than just dj fodder…..I want to sit there I’m in my 60s and flick through these releases and feel proud knowing there’s people all over the world who have these records sat in their collections.
DD: The other two arms of Lossless (the main label and the old school focused Dope Plates series) are easier to sum up (or pigeon-hole, hah). How would you describe the Exkursions sound? What’s your criteria for picking tracks to release on this series?
SI: Exkursions is all about the vibe, anything thats pushing an emotive or cinematic edge. That said, sometimes I don’t know why I sign something to Exkursions rather than Lossless, Exkursions just feels like the right home.
I’ve always been a massive fan of artists like Global Communication, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Biosphere, early DJ Shadow and I wanted a label specifically for stuff that might be a little crusty, unpolished, a bit weird, or mellow.
I don’t mind admitting Drifting and No Answers (which made up EXKUR001) were actually written back in 2009, and were originally signed by Darkestral, then Samurai but for various reasons the tracks ended up back with me. I personally felt that those two tracks were some of my best work so starting Exkrusions with those tunes made a lot of sense, and I consider the Drifting 12″ to be one of my best releases.
DD: It’s OK To Be Sad Sometimes is one of your most beautiful and thoughtful-sounding tracks, possibly because of the extra space afforded by the lower tempo. What inspired this track? The title really resonates with me; it feels like a lot of people in all walks of live strive for happiness 100% of the time, which is surely an unattainable goal.
SI: Yup, you nailed it Henry. We live in this Facebook generation where everyone is pushing this “it’s all good, all of the time” front and I’m just not in it. It’s not natural is it? Life is made up of highs and lows but must of us live our lives through social media and there’s this pressure to project the perfect life.
Personally I think a lot of people are hiding behind these fake smiles because they feel they can’t show how they really are, because they don’t want to be a downer to their mates, or maybe because people (who they don’t even bloody know) will judge them. I think this pressure to hide your feelings when you’re down can be dangerous.
I started having anxiety attacks about 18 months ago but from talking to my friends and family I quickly realised it’s really common, which made me feel a lot better about it. Now I try to be very open about my anxiety as maybe someone reading this interview will get some comfort in knowing there are other people out there who aren’t living this bullshit social media fantasy life…..and that’s OK!
DD: What’s next for Lossless throughout 2018? Any exciting projects you can tell us about?
SI: I’ve got a EP coming out on Lossless which features collaborations with Paragon and Ben Repertoire. We’ve also recently submitted Versus Volume Four to the distributor which features artists that haven’t featured on any of the labels previously. The Versus series is a great vehicle to introduce fans to new and established artists who’s work I’m feeling, and normally marks the start of a bigger working relationship.
Scape, who featured on Dope Plates 005 has a solo 12″ for Exkursions lined up and some other releases starting to take shape but its too early to mention them just yet.
DD: Last up guys, give us your top 3 emotional tracks, any style, any era.
SI: Hard to just pick 3 but off the top of my head…
EoN: Ah, save the most difficult question until last aye! Well I’m a melancholy music guy so there’s a lot really.
Also, the Johnny Cash version of Hurt, especially with the video. The remorse on his face is hard to watch sometimes though. Also, Depeche Mode started to play the album version of In Your Room on the Global Spirit tour and that left me in absolute bits.
Was that three? Three and a bit maybe…
The Grand Escape EP from Soul Intent & Elementz of Noize comes out on vinyl and digital May 4th – check out the clips below and hit up the Lossless Bandcamp to pre-order now.