We premiere the latest cut from cross-genre hero CKtrl.
For the last few years Lewisham born producer CKtrl has been producing a pretty impressive range of output. Having first made a splash with his killer debut Boiler Room set back in 2013, the 23-year-old dropped two self-released EPs last year (“Forest” and “Misc / Azula”) that expanded on his burgeoning sound, bringing in disparate elements to his already eclectic vibe and generating plenty of buzz for upcoming maiden LP INDi.
Due to drop later this month, the record feels like the culmination of a lot of hard work and experimentation. And that’s because it is: some of the songs on the self-released album are several years old, only now seeing the light of day. Others are fresh compositions, plenty of which are collaborative efforts with upcoming artists like Roses Gabor, Tyson McVey, and even CKtrl’s sister, Elle. Those vocal contributions mark a new chapter in CKtrl’s progression, adding depth to his abstract R&B soundscapes and texture to the grime influences which mark him out as a pretty unique proposition amid the myriad producers currently doing that spacey-Soundcloud thing.
Well, while you wait for INDi in all its many-surfaced glory to drop a few weeks from now, check out one of the album’s strongest cuts “Matter” feat. Miles Anthony, that we’re proud to be premiering today. Although it’s far from derivative, there’s undoubtedly something of the Frank Ocean about it – no thanks to all that mention of “soft pink matter” – and that’s never a bad thing: plug in and read on.
Your output and musical styles are very wide: what attracts you to working across such a range of mediums?
When I make music it’s more about the mood I’m in than the actual genre. It’s all about how I feel at the time I’m making something. I’ve never sat down and thought yeah I’m about to make this type of tune. I just sit at the computer and see what happens more time. Or if I had a melody idea prior I just work from there.
How did you first get into making music? What made you want to create?
I started making music around the age of 12/13. I got Fruity Loops 3 off a friend and that was it. I started messing around with that and making grime music that myself and friends would later MC on. There was a record shop in the area at the time called ‘Independance’ that sold grime and all DVDs like ‘Practice Hours’ and ‘Lord of the Decks’ which was before ‘Lord of the Mics’. I use spend hours watching those at home and there just listening records.
I have a cousin called Ruger whose an MC in OG’s which is biggest grime crew from my part of the world so I always aspiring to one day make tunes for them. Growing up in Lewisham music was a huge part of our lives.
I wanted to create because I was obsessed with sound and I always wondered how certain sounds were created and I just wanted to be able to do that myself to. I’d always hear melodies in my head and I just wanted to get them down and put the best drums I could underneath them, sort of like a mental pursuit for the perfect groove. And then later the aim was to capture my feelings sort of like story-telling sonically.
Talk to us about INDi: what are some of the ideas behind it and what was the recording process like?
The idea behind the project was to show more of a wide range of the music that I make, as I haven’t really shared vocals in the past, it’s been mostly instrumentals, that probably function best in clubs so I just wanted to share some songs and open it up more.
In terms of the process, I did pretty much all of it at home, except for Marti’s track “Blossom and Summer” which also features Marti and this singer Lee Velvet those were made on FaceTime, whilst they were in the studio and I was in bed cause they live out in LA and the timezone ting is so peak (lol).
Many of the songs are several years old: why did you decide that now was the time to release them?
I’ve always wanted to release them, but the idea of a full length project with songs as well as beats kind of just came organically, it felt right to do this now so I just got on with it myself.
Collaboration is central to this project. What was it like to work with artists as diverse as Tyson McVey and Elle and why do you enjoy working with others so much?
I just really like what others bring to the table and its a lot to do with admiration for them as artists more than anything else, I just love their talent. Tyson’s voice has always resonated with me and I always wanted to work with her from the first time I heard her sing. With Elle I’ve always produced her music cause she’s my sister, she was always just downstairs until she moved out and it became a we transfer situation.
Your NTS show is one of London’s favourites and you’ve been doing it for quite a few years now. How have you seen the musical terrain shift since 2011?
Thank you! I suppose the focus has come off the music today, if I’m honest people seem more interested in trends and what’s popular at the moment, whereas before you could go out to clubs and hear music that you’ve never heard a lot more a few years ago and have just as much fun. With radio stations like NTS I feel that is still very much skin as all the hosts bring there individual tastes to fore I think that’s why the station thrives as a whole. As everyone really cares about what they’re doing and sharing.
I imagine it’ll be hard to pick given the breadth of music you’re obviously inspired by, but who are some of your all-time favourite artists?
Burning Spear, Alice Coltrane and Frank Ocean
Your Boiler Room back in 2012 really propelled you to a wider crowd. Does that stand out for you as a pivotal moment (despite technical difficulties)?
Yeah definitely, that was the first time I shared my music with the others that weren’t friends or family and got an immediate response that was positive it was pretty sick to be fair. Felt like g when the camera dropped from the bass when I dropped my tune ‘Medium’.
What can we expect next from you after this project?
I’ll be sharing more music, developing a live show & producing for other people some more.
INDi will be self-released on 19th August.