INTERVIEW ::: Arshaw

Arshaw is the Sheffield born, London based producer who is making a name for himself through his lush, varied, bass-centric productions that have long been rumbling across the UK’s dance floors, leaving them aquiver with delight in their wake. We caught up with him recently to chat about his latest release, the ‘In Between Daze’ EP, his influences, move to London and more.

First things first…congratulations on In Between Daze! Is this your first full length EP? How did the process of deciding to produce it come about?

I guess it is, yes. I’d never really thought of it like that but I guess so, with my other releases being only two/three tracks each, this is my longest by far. It came after Leeroy (Itchy Pig owner) approached me about the possibility of doing an EP for them and around that time he had mentioned that he enjoyed my previous EP (atmosphere) which was all juke/footwork tracks. We did chat about vague concepts early on but it quickly developed into a concept of taking music at 160bpm and trying to see how far I could take it. It’s worked out that while the tracks are very ‘club friendly’ – they also are nice to listen to by yourself. I find music quite personal anyway so this is always a concept I try to push through my music, I get quite excited about the possibility of interacting with people the same way I do with those artists I listen to.

• Why did you decide to only make the EP a digital release when vinyl’s been making a bit of a resurgence in recent years?

It would have been great for this EP to make it to vinyl but I think it’s fair to say whilst most artists would love to release on vinyl, it’s inevitably quite hard – especially for someone with no ‘track record’. To be honest, I never expected this EP to be released on vinyl, I’m just grateful for the support from Itchy Pig. I know from speaking to others who own labels, releasing vinyl is always a tricky business, with very little gain other than the actual product itself of course. Releasing on vinyl is very much a goal of mine but I’d never think of a piece of music less if it had not been released on vinyl.

• When creating the EP were there ever any artists in your mind whose sound you really admired? If it is at all possible, would you be able to list three artists who you feel have been the biggest influence on you in your career so far and why?

Yeah definitely haha, there always is! I think Mark Pritchard, Bonobo, Traxman, Spinn & Rashad and Addison Groove were probably the biggest influences on this release. All but Bonobo have released and developed the Juke genre in their own unique ways. For me, the Bonobo influence is there as I’m always fascinated by the marrying of electronic and organic (live) elements within music and that was a concept I kept in mind when producing these songs. In terms of a top three, Burial, Four Tet and Bonobo. They all are purveyors of a unique sound that whilst it lives within a genre, doesn’t follow it that closely. I think for Burial, I find it quite inspiring how an artist can exist without the need to tour or be within the public consciousness and put all their time and effort into making the best music he can. I see Bonobo and Four Tet as two artists who have so many similarities (hip-hop influenced, heavily sample based, worked in ‘live’ contexts) yet seem to take the music they make into completely different worlds. Black Sands and There Is Love In You are two of my all-time favourite albums…I listen to them at least once a month, maybe more. Burial’s Untrue is a perfect example of music that I feel so personal about, I actually find it hard to listen to when it’s more than just myself in the room, that’s how attached I am to it.

• My personal experience of listening to some of the EP was that it had a sound reminiscent to a lot of the stuff I remember listening to back in 2010 for example…early Disclosure, Joy Orbison and others like them – a time when the concept of ‘future garage’ was alive and well. Your work’s often been labelled in this way; how do you feel about that, and what do you think about the idea of making music in 2014 that’s recognised by others to have an air of 2009/10 about it?

I think that’s quite a strong tangent throughout my music and if I can say, a nice compliment as well – thank you!. Around 2009/10 was when I started to take producing much more seriously and I guess that sound rubbed off on me quite a lot. Especially Joy Orbison and the ‘future garage’ sound which as daft as it is, seems to sum up quite a lot of things very well. I’m definitely moving away from that sound though, naturally it’s an old sound so it wouldn’t make much sense to cling to it.

• Upon listening to IBD it’s clear synths play a crucial part in many of the tracks. What are your favourite pieces of studio equipment to use in general and that you see as a must have?

I use a lot of samples from analog synths instead of using soft synths. I enjoy the contrasts of pre recorded audio and those generated by software. In terms of gear, I didn’t really use anything other than a computer for this EP, I’ve never been lucky enough to own a decent synth but to be honest, I enjoy the limitations of using nothing but a computer, I always feel much more satisfied when I use purely samples/software as I know it has taken a lot of time and effort to create. I will say, lastly on this, I used Ableton Live a fair bit for this EP (even though the tracks were made in Logic) and I think the ‘collision’ synth in Live was definitely a revelation. I’d never worked with something like that before. Listen to the frantic synth in ‘Grrrrrl’, that was ‘collision’.

• You’ve moved to London from your native Sheffield in recent years. Do you feel that that change has affected your creativity or approach to music? or are you still pursuing the same kind of path you were when you lived in Sheffield?

Definitely, I’m a big believer in that your environment affects how you make music, more so than the gear to buy. So the choice to move to London definitely gave me a bit more inspiration when it came to making the EP. I find London quite exciting and I think that has translated into the music I have made since moving here. This EP (as it has been a long time in the making) has been somewhat of a transitional body of music for myself in terms of moving away from my hometown as well the relationship I’ve built with Itchy Pig.

• Being a Sheffield lad you must know a fair bit about the nights that have been on offer in the city. Where were the places/what were the nights you enjoyed going to the most and why?

Hope Works. The best venue in Sheffield bar none. Other than that, Kabal is quite a special night for a city like Sheffield. It seems to attract a very niche audience but that’s what makes it so special…that, and the DJs (Pipes, Winston Hazel et al) obviously. Lastly, Ambush and Dusk Till Dawn are two nights that I always try my best to attend (obviously that’s become quite difficult now) as they’re both run by good friends and they always seems to be amazing. Phil who runs Dusk Till Dawn is probably the world’s biggest Breaks fan and that definitely translates to the artists he books and it works perfectly for him and for everyone who goes. The last DTD I went to was at Yellow Arch Studios which in itself is a great venue.

• Lastly…what is next for Arshaw?

Well, I start my second year of uni next week so that’s obviously taking most of my time, but there will definitely be more releases and remixes on the way next year. I’m also developing a ‘live’ set which I will be taking bookings for (through Itchy Pig) in a couple of months’ time and I’m hoping that will give me an opportunity to play my music outside of clubs and hopefully find an audience interested in the more leftfield ideas I have, because believe me – I have.