Interview Akinsa

Starting at present day… You have recently announced you will no longer be making drum and bass. We Have seen on bandcamp that your more recent releases have been that “grey area” style, still with your trade mark dark vibe, I’m guessing that’s where you are taking the Akinsa sound now?

Well never say never, that came from being so excited about a lot of new music that’s been coming out and I have always liked making all types of music, I wanted to take a break from half time dnb for a bit and explore other projects, which I have now done with the Kiritsu podcasts and productions. I find it gets very stale just repeating the same tempo and vibes all the time – I also have always appreciated artists who try their hand at different things, Photek doing House, Damon Albarn with Gorillaz, David Bowie and his alter ego personas, Aphex Twin exploring breakbeat rhythms on Richard D James etc. So I wanted to explore the idea of half time, Techno, and film Score like percussion, and create a 7 piece podcasts series around 7 different disciplines. The intent was that these focus points would help me channel a more meditative side of the sound I was experimenting with. The last of these should be uploaded by the time this goes out. As for where I am taking the sound next, I have a feeling more tribal dub 170 is on the horizon with roots reggae and techno somehow being a part. I have at least 2 whole album’s worth of new unheard 170 material sitting on my hard drive, a few of which are in the process of collaboration tracks with Fuj, Rainforest, Out of Fuel, Kit Curse and of course, Ahmad. The next Podcast series is dub halftime and breaks Dnb – so maybe it will inspire me to do more Akinsa in that vein and come back with a new album of 170bpm…

Its funny because I remember chatting to James (Concealed Identity) and he mentioned your work rate and referred to you as a “beast” haha. Judging off the amount of tunes you’ve made and also the quality of them, you must have a pretty decent creative flow right?

I’ve been making music for a long time – and I really like to be as creative as possible with different styles and experiments. I have a lot of work sitting on my hard drive and folders of breaks I’ve made. I have found a very quick workflow over the years with my minimal set up – and I had set a goal to get as much quality music out between 2016-2017. I must admit I would like to slow down somewhat now and focus on some other projects, bookings for DJ’ing, see a bit of the world more and take my partner and kids too. I’m also lucky enough to work with some great artists on collabs, like James, Out of Fuel, Ahmad / Acid Lab, Antagonist, Apostroph, Blanca, DYL, Fuj, dreadmaul and so many others and this obviously increases the output. I have a had a great two years of full on producing – and I’m looking forward to what comes in 2018 and onwards.

I know quite a few people who are a bit sad that you aren’t going to be making drum and bass anymore but at the same time look forward to hearing where you go creatively from now on. Do you feel like you achieved everything you wanted to within 170bpm with the music you released and also the labels that signed your music?

Again, never say never, I am sure there is plenty more Tribal DnB Halftime to come – There are also still forthcoming releases on Eternia, Conspired Within Music and Vykhod Sily. I achieved a handful of my goals, I wish one label in particular was into what I’m doing, but so far I have had no response. I would still love for them to see where I am going and how I am exploring music. Overall the response has been amazing and I’m very proud to be on the labels I am on, and the support they have given me is amazing, particularly Conspired Within Music, I feel like part of the family there.

I assume one of those would be making it onto the Rupture LP right? How did that come about?

That came about from almost the beginning actually, Delusions had been made a few years back and was on a lot of people’s lists. Ahmad was astute enough to hold onto it, I kept asking him to release it somehow, but he had the patience to wait for the right home and I’m so glad he did. It’s my first vinyl release and to be on the same release as The Untouchables is just a perfect fit. Thanks to all at Rupture for having us on the label.

Many years back what first drew me to your music was that it was dark dnb structured like techno, which brings us to the fact you make techno/ambient under the alias Akkya. For anybody who’s not aware can you give us some background on this alias?

Sure, Akkya, was a name that I came up with around the time that terminal radio was getting under way, Terminal radio is a show that is run by fans of Future Sound Of London, you can find them at Terminalradio.net – we had such an amazing roster of artists and talent on those shows, and such a huge response to what we were doing. I worked on a majority of the shows and did some of my most creative work there. I have very fond memories of my contribution to episode 6. After around 30 podcasts at 2 hrs each – life events forced the key members to step away and face some personal and career challenges and the show just stopped.

I decided to work on an album in the vein of what I had been doing with Terminal Radio – my own full length piece. So I set to work on score to an imaginary film. That became my first album and only album so far as Akkya, the album got signed to a small label in Brighton, and they wanted their roster to do some remixes for the pre release promo of it. They were primarily Techno artists, so I did a few Techno versions too, and that led to Akkya techno releases of Dead Cert, Gastspiel Records, Elektrax Recordings, Doppelgaenger, Parallel 125 and Lewis Fautzi’s label Konstrukt. Around the time of my last release I decided I wanted to try something new. The release was Tablet VII EP, and the track that to this day is one of my best pieces of work, Enuma Elish, got support from Ancient Methods at a boiler room mix in Berlin, and then just disappeared. I’m so proud of that work. This led me to looking to reinvent and try something new. Soon after this, and I’m not sure how around 2014 I heard Ruffhouse’s music, and then I heard The Untouchables – and I knew I wanted to make DnB again, it had changed into this almost snareless, repetitive monster of a genre, that had the meditative type rhythms I was looking for and a certain production value, that was simple and honest yet so well thought out that I had to get involved. And so Akinsa was born to start a new journey.

So “Third Foundation” is your record label and it’s got a nice back catalogue of dark electronic music not really focusing on any tempo. With that being said, how do you go about selecting music to release on the label?

Third Foundation was set up as a home around the time I was coming up with the idea for Kiritsu. I was becoming increasingly fascinated by artists like Oake, Pact Infernal, Fonemi, Restive Plaggona, and the Grey Area sound. I self released my second Akinsa album (Ascension) as a piece of work that crossed tempo’s and those styles of techno and dnb, and electronica I was interested in. I went on the search for new emerging artists – via soundcloud, and that was fun, like the old days going to the record store all day and just searching and listening and being involved in sound and experimentation, searching for the unheard. I found a couple of artists I was into to start out and got in touch – half of which signed on and Third Foundation was born as a home to build upon what I had achieved in Terminal Radio. Soon after it was set up and underway I got made redundant from my job. I contacted the artists and closed the label. I had to focus on what was next. Luckily at around the same time after a few years hiatus, one of the founding members of terminal radio, Loose Link, got in touch from New Zealand saying there was talk of bringing back Terminal Radio and I knew this was the right thing. So we are back with Terminalradio.net and the artists are all getting together and we have some amazing talent coming. Plaid are guests on the first show amongst others, and on future shows we have artists from Tangerine Dream, Blu Mar Ten, FSOL, and many many more. The Third Foundation label has since migrated over to there as a new home for all our experimental work, and is expanding all the time.

So let’s talk technicals, what are you working with in the studio, talk us through your set up…?

My setup is very very simple – I started out in the old tracker days on an Atari ST with a replay cartridge that could sample like 10 secs at 22khz or something and the tracker had 4 channels. My version was in German, and hexadecimal code – so at 13 that was fun to work out with no manual – I fell in love with the fact that I could create music, and sample sounds and play them at lower frequencies and just mess about with the code lines on the channels to get different effects. Much later I got an MPC 2000, and had ditched the Atari, and this was great as it was like the replay cartridge, but with pads and knobs instead of code. From there in the late 90’s I got a PC and sold the MPC (which I still miss) and then got a Maschine, from Native Instruments, which filled the MPC hole. Then I added a Push 2 a few years back. So now it’s really simple. Ableton 10 as a DAW, the Push 2 as a keyboard, drum pad and controller for the effects and VST with Ableton, and the Maschine is like a browser that I scroll through and play rhythms and sounds over the top like the old MPC days- that’s it – I have a really old pair of Tannoy Reveals as monitors, and some Beyer 770 Pro headphones for night work.

So I remember at one point you were doing “redubs” of well known DnB tunes (that now are rather sort after because they aren’t available online anymore). I personally liked them but I’m also aware of how people can get protective over old tunes, what sort of reception did you get from them?

The reception was amazing – the Piper redub was first – I wanted to pay homage to the old tunes from the 90’s that had a real character and soul and simplify them in a way and make them more repetitive and add the half time vibe. As soon as I finished Piper I knew I had something and this helped fuse the direction I was going in. I made a few more for podcasts I was doing, and people got in touch for copies – and some heads were playing them out and in podcasts and radio shows. It was great and went exactly as I hoped. 

I only saw positive reactions to be honest and I remembered when I heard them and thought they were wicked! With the tunes you picked out to “redub” were they personal favs or ones you thought the “redub” treatment would suit best??

Personal Faves for sure – they were tracks that I played out over and over and over. The other ones that never got out or finished were

Bad Company – Nitrous

Bad Company – Four Days

Special Forces – The Bleeps

Jonny L – Cut Off

Bad Company – Planet Dust

Pendulum – Another Planet

Photek – The Lightning

Teebee – Lifepod

So you also do the Kiritsu podcasts focusing on “Poly-Rhythmic Techno and Half-Time mixed with industrial soundscapes, occult soundtrack themes and tribal percussion”. Can you explain when you started the podcast series and why?

As mentioned earlier I was looking for a new direction, and artists like Oake and the others were really doing some fantastic sound design and arrangements. Sam KDC and ASC and others too were informative in me looking to experiment. I think the time I decided to do Kiritsu was when I heard what I call the Holy Trinity – the foundation of Kiritsu for me was the Horo takeover of the Boiler Room. The three podcasts that pushed me to do it were by Ancestral Voices, Sam KDC and Presha – check the hyperlinks
Once I heard those – I knew I wanted to do my own set of work in this theme and so Kiritsu was born.

So do you listen to other types of music outside of the world of Akkya and Akinsa?

Yeah of course I love music, all types really, a good track is a good track right! Plus I have two young daughters and a partner who love to listen to music and so we have music evenings where we all just pick tracks to play to each other and we have everything from pop, to hip hop, to folk, metal, hardcore, jungle, techno, soul, rare groove, literally everything. Just last night we had Boogie Wonderland and then Coldplay then De La Soul while sitting on our balcony eating pizza! – Gorillaz are amazing and excited for new album The Now Now, also always been a huge fan of Jamie too, from ages back with Deadline.

With a broad spectrum of electronic music you produce I’m interested to know what your musical influences were when you were growing up?

I grew up on all sorts of music, some of my influences over the years would be — The Police, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Beach Boys, James Brown, Eurythmics, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Nirvana, Fugazi, Ministry, Prodigy, PWEI, Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, 2 Lone Swordsman, Chemical Brothers, De la Soul, Senser, Beastie Boys, Nine Inch Nails, Underworld, Jamie Lidell, Bob Marley, Global Communication, Justin Warfield, The Byrds, Santana, Primus, Galliano, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Tool, Hijack, Sonic Youth, NWA, Fleetwood Mac, Senseless Things, Goldie, Stereo MC’s, and my favourite band / artists of all time – Future Sound of London – who have had by far the biggest influence on me – and in my opinion are the greatest recording artists of all time.

So I’m also interested by your heavy association with everything by Japanese culture… Must be something you have a keen interest in? 

Yeah totally, there is something very respectful and powerful about the culture. Photek’s Ni Ten Ichi Ryu is very influential obviously – (a redub was done of this – but only I have it). I grew up with two uncles that were black belts in karate, their friend was like 7th Dan and an instructor who taught me at a young age, and we watched Bruce Lee movies over and over and over as a kid growing up in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I think there is something beautiful about oriental culture and their honour and belief systems also the way there is a strong sense of tradition – I love the way the words sound and look and the calligraphy and it’s a very artistic culture, it has a deep meaning to me from my childhood.

So is there some sort of translation for Akinsa and Akkya? Or do they have a meaning? And how did you come about picking the names?

This is a private topic – so can’t answer this one really, all I can say is the both have meanings to do with family.

Sorry, did you just say a photek redub?!! Is that gonna be strictly for you? You know people would go nuts for that right!!!!!

Yeah its private also, I did it to see if I could come close to honouring it — I came close! And that was good to know. To be fair that is probably the best dnb track of all time – the top three for me would be

Photek – Ni Ten Ichi Ryu

Krust – True Stories

Goldie – Inner City Life (21 min version)

So let’s talk about the mix you have done for us. Did I recall you saying you haven’t actually done a music showcase before??

Yeah, that’s correct, I feel there is so much good music out there, it is ridiculous unless asked to do so, to fill the mix with only one’s own work. A piece of work should be about what compliments itself as you travel through it. I was very surprised to hear when asked to do so, how well the tracks worked, when I played just my own and collaborative work. It’s a one off podcast and I’m very pleased with how it turned out.

Well I can confirm it’s banging! As people will soon find out when the mix drops! So a previous discussion we spoke about film scores and trying to move into that side of the industry. Would be a pretty fresh and exciting route to go down in comparison to just producing music surely wouldn’t it?

Yeah its great I have recently worked with a publishing house who asked me for some work which they took to LA for prospective clients – so you may be hearing my latest pieces to Hollywood blockbusters soon enough. I’m in touch and working on scores for film as I would love to work on a Fincher project – that would be ideal and to finally meet Trent. I also have Ichizoku clan being used to promote a forthcoming mobile game Hades’ Star – It’s good as I said to experiment and work across genres and disciplines. I have about 14 tracks that I have just finished for film – and I’m off to California  and LA in a couple of weeks to see some people and get some sun.

AND finally, is there anything else you would like to add? Before we wrap this thing up! 

Just would love to say thanks for the opportunity to do this, and obviously to thank everyone who has supported my music. More podcasts are on their way and you can book me through Josh at Kikaboni.agency

Thanks to my partner Cass and daughters Storm and Phoenix for being into what I do and inspiring me to keep pushing myself.

Cheers

Music found at .- https://akinsa.bandcamp.com/releases

Booking agent .- https://www.facebook.com/Kikaboni.Agency

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