PALACE may be a new name to some, but you can most definitely expect to be hearing a lot more from him soon. The young producer has quickly carved out a sound that is all his own, referencing some of the most iconic (to me) touchstones of UK underground music in the last 10 years and twisting them through his skewed productions. Amalgamating the glacial sonics of classic eski productions with a dark 2-step shuffle and the bump of bassline’s darkest recesses he keeps his tracks sparse without forgoing any of the impact. Each element cuts through his mixes with a jagged force that ensures they swing and hit in all the right places as they tumble forward.
He has just dropped the killer ‘Mandy/Armageddon’ single on the always on-point Unknown To The Unknown label, which has already been getting support from the likes of Fantastic Mr Fox, Hudson Mohawke and Mumdance. He also recently gave away his rude, scattershot bootleg of Destiny’s Child classic ‘Say My Name’ which I highly recommend grabbing from Hyponik’s site. We haven’t been excited by a producer this much in a long time and with more releases in the pipeline for 2012, he is most definitely one to watch out for this year.
Ahead of his set at our next event on the 14th (Details here) he was kind enough to answers some of our questions and give us a bit more of an insight into the world that exists behind his music. Check it below…
First up, can you please introduce yourself…
Sam Walker, 20 Years old from North East London.
How did you first get into production and what impelled you to do so?
I must have been about 13 or 14. At the time I was in a couple of heavy electronic hardcore bands with friends. I saved up and got a microkorg synthesizer and I would pretty much spend every night after school just playing with it and programming different sounds.
Did DJing come before or after production and do you think that informs the way you work as a producer and DJ?
Djing came after production for me. I see the 2 things very differently. When I DJ I rarely play my own material, I prefer playing the songs that inspire me and that love hearing when I’m out at a club. When I produce I don’t really think about how the song will sound in a mix, I just concentrate more on how it sounds alone.
There are a number of different touchstones that come to mind when listening to your music for me. Two of those are classic 2-step and grime productions. Are these something you listened to the first time around or something that you have discovered and gone back over?
Growing up in the 90’s I can always remember those catchy house and garage songs being there. It was the pop music of the time and you would always hear it on the radio and on TV. Do you really like it by Dj Pied Piper was one of the first cds I ever bought as well as the So Solid Crew ‘F*** It’ mix cd. I was only about 9 or 10 at the time and really didn’t know much about music and as I got older and began listening to different music I pretty much forgot all about it. When I was about 16 I started to discover artists like Skream, Caspa, Rusko, Coki, Mala and Loefah on Youtube. Although they had some garage elements it wasn’t really until I found Burial’s ‘Untrue’ album that I properly re-discovered my love for 2step again. I started looking up similar artists and discovered a whole new underground music scene. Hemlock, Hotflush, and Hessle Audio were putting out music that had a classic garage vibe but with a newer deeper cleaner modern sound I’d never heard before. Those labels pretty much inspired me to start producing what I make now.
Your use of vocals and distinctive bass manipulation give a nod to bassline too. The genre has never really hit off down south beyond a brief infatuation, but is that something you take an interest in?
I did have a brief bassline phase. The energetic drums, vocals and hyper bass lines were so catchy and addictive to listen to. I did get bored of it quite fast, I think its the only genre of music in which pretty much every song has the exact same structure and sounds. In some ways though it definitely has influenced my productions.
What music has had the biggest impact on you over the years? And does that correlate to what influences your productions?
I started producing 8-bit dubstep and techno chip music using an old brick gameboy and a tracker program called lsdj. You basically can control the sound card and create music using basic saw, square, noise and waveform synths. Although I can’t stand it today I guess I wouldn’t be where I am now without it. It taught me everything I know today and I made a lot of good friends from it.
Your tracks have a real sparse rawness to them, often centered around the drum lines. When you are building tracks, is that where you start?
Do you have any set processes like that? I pretty much always build my songs around the beat. I normally start with the main percussion then I’ll create an intro and work through the rest of the song. I think the sparse rawness comes from a number of things. I mainly like to keep things basic but energetic. I sample a lot of dark crunchy sounds and use a lot of ambient noises. I’ve never had any music production lessons and pretty much taught myself and do everything by ear. I also don’t really use a lot of effects and like to keep each sound in its raw basic form
I won’t ask you how you would describe your music as that is a bit of a nightmare question, but do you think there is anything fundamental to the music you make? Any themes that tie it all together?
For me the main fundamental in my music is minimalism. When I produce I basically try to create as much energy and noise from a minimal amount sounds.
When you are making tracks, are you aware of the sound you are aiming for and the people inspiring you or is it a less conscious and more organic process?
When I produce I normally have some idea of the sound I’m aiming for but I like to experiment a lot. I pretty much make music for myself. If I don’t enjoy listening to it or I’m not sure about it I’ll just delete it or start a new song. I have a lot of different influences and I try to combine them all together in my music.
You have a release out now on Unknown To The Unknown. How did you hook up with the label? And can you tell us a little bit about those two tracks?
The release was a complete surprise! I made the 2 tracks about a year ago, they are a lot darker and heavier than my more recent material. I decided to just stick them up on youtube and a week later I had an email from UTTU saying they wanted to release them. since then everything has gone a bit crazy!
Do you have any projects or releases planned for 2012?
I have a few things in the works but nothing definite.
What can we expect from your DJ set at Liminal Sounds?
Dark, Raw and Deep Techno, House and Garage.
-PALACE ‘MANDY/ARMAGEDDON’ IS OUT NOW ON UNKNOWN TO THE UNKNOWN