Looking backwards to move forwards, BackRoad Gee is taking UK rap into uncharted territory
In that cold no-mans-land between Boxing Day and New Years Day, we stumbled across Evian Christ. A set of videos with slow-moving blocks of colour half-way between Matisse and a screensaver, they were the work of 22-year-old Liverpudlian Joshua Leary, one of the most gifted producer of his generation. His music spans a very modern set of house, hip hop, radio pop, juke, folk and drone and combines them with a wit, cohesion and imagination far in advance of his nearest contemporaries. It floored us, and many others, instantly, and he was quickly snapped up by Tri-Angle, who released his ‘Kings And Them’, a four-track sampler of his video hits.
The mix we spoke about months ago finally arrived this afternoon, and it’s one of the best we’ve ever hosted. The “mix” is really a concept-driven feature-length composition, as he explained in his notes submitted with the piece:
Duga-three is a four-part piece of music I wrote after reading about a Soviet signal transmitter of the same name. it was characterised by the repetitive tapping sound it broadcast, which was sufficiently powerful enough to intercept transitions across the world. After 28 years of transmission, the Duga-3 array was abandoned as mysteriously and unexpectedly as it had appeared.
It shows the broad imagination, sonic intelligence, wit and instinct for music that first grabbed us by the throat all those months ago, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
I love the mix. Can you tell us about it?
Thanks! I actually made it a little while ago, but at first I was a little hesitant to do anything with it because I thought it was a bit self-indulgent or whatever, and in general that’s not really what I’m about, it’s not in my personality to be like that. So I guess this was just a one off. I have weird little pockets of mainly useless knowledge about random things and for a little while I was reading about over-the-horizon radar systems, which were used by governments in the mid-late 20th century to detect targets at really long ranges. Because the Duga-3 array was unclaimed during its period of use there was a lot of speculation about what it was actually there to do, and together with the sheer scale of the construction…I dunno I can imagine it being really intimidating and I guess I just found that interesting. Visually it is just incredible, there are some amazing photographs of it on the internet. Just kind of gets your imagination going a bit.
This mostly beatless mix showcases a different side of your work. Can you talk about the other artists you’ve been listening to, and how do you think it relates to the more bass/rap-leaning productions?
I don’t think it’s too detached from my rap stuff in terms of the overall sound, but yeah it doesn’t have drums so I guess there is a distinction to be made. In terms of things I listen to that probably had a direct impact on me making this, I had been listening to a lot of old Tim Hecker, Kane Ikin, Ezekiel Honig, Wanda Group. I’m also really into this Swedish guy called 1991 who makes really amazing grainy lo-fi sort of stuff, and Lukid also makes some crazy music along similar lines.
What new things are you currently excited about – music wise and non-music wise?
Ryoji Ikeda has a new A/V thing out later in the year so I might try to see if I can get to Paris to have a look. I’ve never been to Paris so it seems like a good excuse.