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Interview: Redinho

 It’s an exciting time for DJ, producer, songwriter and talkbox aficionado Redinho. After three years in the oven, his eponymous debut album is ready…and we all know that slow cooking is the key to a flavorsome entrée. We catch up with him to chat 80s funk, childhood soul heroes, the key to songwriting, and, er…watering olive trees in the Grecian mountains.

N: So after spending three years working on your album, it’s finally about to be released. Will it be difficult to finally let it go?

R: It’s been a really long process, and I’m definitely glad it’s finally happening!

N: Your EP Bare Blips was put together in just one week – what made you want to spend so much longer on your LP?

R: Bare Blips was a sketchy thing, whereas this was much more of a project. I’ve been trying to push myself a lot more, pulling lots of different influences together to really work on my own style.

N: Bare Blips has been described as ‘a genre-busting fusion of electronic beats, hip hop and grime.’ How does the new album differ/compare to this?

R: I think the new LP is much more influenced by my childhood heroes, people like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson; soul artists; funk artists; the people that I used to listen to and still do.

N: It’s interesting that you’ve been inspired by people like Stevie and Michael Jackson more than other DJs or artists with an electronic sound. In what way have they informed your music?

R: I think Stevie Wonder would be my main point of reference, especially in his songwriting style. A lot of the stuff on the album started with me messing around on the piano – I have quite a traditional starting point when I’m writing a new track. I grew up playing instruments in bands and that is definitely the way I approach things. Even though my music is primarily synthetic, at the heart of it are human things; I like emotional music, I like soul music, that’s always going to be where it’s going to start from.

N: So with your music there’s always a necessary synthesis of the human and the electronic? Tell us a little bit about quantization…

R: I do quantize a lot. I’m a little OCD about it! I really like that mechanical feel, that sequenced feel. In the promo video for my new album, there’s a shot with lots of screens in the centre of the room showing close ups of me and other people who have been involved in making the record. That image is what the new album is about: machine funk. Funk being played by machines. And that’s why I like quantization.

N: You’ve talked previously about the essentiality of harmony on the album – this is unusual for a DJ with background in drumming. What difference do you see between the importance of rhythm and the importance of melody?

R: The writing process usually begins when I’m cycling around or something and I start singing a tune. I pull over and record it on my phone, get home, put chords to it on the piano. All the tracks in the album have started from melody. My aim was really to get a strong heart; a structure of some substance; a skeleton, and once I’d got that established, to flesh it out with production and present it in a different way.

N: Tell us a little bit about the talk box…

R: I got the idea from an 80s band called Zapp. Other people have used it in different ways but Roger Troutman used it in the way I do – with a synth. Zapp played funk that was quite electronic, and that is what my album is all about. So while I’m influenced by Stevie Wonder in my song writing style, I’ve been most influenced by Zapp in terms of sound.

N: The track ‘Pitter Patter’ from Bare Blips is inspired by something as simple as the sound and rhythm of rain water, whereas the video for ‘Stinger’ from the new LP is made up of graphic imagery and sounds that seem to portray somewhere outside of this planet. How often are you influenced by the natural world and how often by escaping it?

R: All the things that humans have created are from materials that occur naturally: the natural world is always the source. I’ve recently spent some times in the mountains in Greece, working on my friend’s farm, watering olive trees in the sun, with the sound of crickets and dogs barking in the distance. There is something amazing about taking it back to the basic human needs deeply ingrained in our nature; sweating in the sun, resting, eating. It’s nourishment. And it strengthens me to do whatever it is I want to do – even if it’s creating crazy sounding electronic music. Nature is environment, and my everyday environment is London. It’s a totally different landscape to the mountains, different sounds; crickets are replaced with the noises from traffic, planes, soundsystems. I suppose my music comes mainly from that: it is a human trait to be a product of your environment.

N: There are a few different guest signers on your album – how does that normally work? Do you write the melody and lyrics or do you provide the beat and give them free reign to come up with the vocals themselves?

R: The track ‘Get You Off My Mind’ was created through a real collaboration, in terms of writing. It started with a loop of mine which I sent to Brendan Reilly, and he came up with all the parts that he sings. The rest of the songs are all written by me. I’ve worked with two amazing artists Vula and Vanessa Haynes, who are two unbelievable soul singers. I gave them the lyrics and melodies and then they went to the studio and nailed it. I’m open to doing things both ways.

N: How often do you perform live?

R: For me performing live is absolutely crucial. I use my sets to try out new material, and then go back to the studio and work on it some more. It’s always important for me to go back and forth from live sets to the studio, because only once it has reached other people’s ears does it become a real experience. I like testing how it feels playing tracks in a new environment. What is the reaction? The energy of the track being played live? I remember those moments and then go back into the studio and try to recreate that atmosphere. Playing live is essential for me.

N: And lastly, what are your hopes for the album/plans for the future?

R: I try not to concern myself with album reviews – I’m just happy my music is being shared. I hope I continue to do live shows, and people are there to hear what I’m doing. That’s really it. Everything else is a bonus, As long as I can find a way to keep doing what I do, I’m happy.

Redinho’s LP is out September 22nd.


- Georgia Rose

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