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Nottingham-based producer Kirk Spencer creates hypnotizing electronic music that draws influences from East Asian music and pairs it with steady hooks and a sense of atmospheric levity.
Through his label STRANGERZOO, Spencer takes the auditory experience a step further, intertwining the visual and tangible with the sensory. What results is an overwhelming climate that envelops the listener, transporting them to the various scenes Spencer paints.
Spencer gives us a peek into his subconscious with his mix titled Cycling in Your Sleep. This lucid stream of ideas is the soundtrack to your REM sleep, with rolling tunes ranging from electronic to Indian to classic rock.
I had a chat with Kirk about his creative process as he tried to clue me up on what Indian music (and Nottingham) is all about. Check out the interview below. His EP ‘Wonderland’ came out this week, and can be streamed here in full.
How did Indian music end up playing such a large role in your music?
My mom is a yoga teacher so she would always have tapes lying around our house of a lot of Indian and East Asian music. The music just really has a way of transporting the listener to a different place, which is why I suppose they play such a large role in yoga. I was always really drawn to a lot of those sounds, the compilations are so unique.
For listeners who are looking to get into Indian music, what artists / producers / resources would you recommend?
The Asian Network and East Village Radio are good stations. Also Bobby Friction and Nihal on Radio 1 play some great stuff. Talvin Singh and Nitin Sawhney are also some of my favorite producers right now.
What does your ‘Wonderland’ EP represent for you and what are some of the influences that brought it about?
It was great fun making the ‘Wonderland’ EP, I wrote the EP while I was living in a huge, old school in Nottingham. Safia May was one of the artists who lived in this big old school. Wonderland was going to be my first album since I had made 18+ songs. The story of all the tunes is about a young musician who is wrongly imprisoned in a mental home for a crime he is sure he didn’t commit and then he escapes and its kind of a metaphor for me feeling trapped in the mad world of Nottingham.
How has growing up in Nottingham contributed and influenced your music?
There’s definitely a strong collective of musicians here. I’ve worked at a community studio for a while which has allowed me to meet and work with a bunch of amazing artists, a lot of whom have contributed to ‘Wonderland’ and my other work. I lived in an abandoned house for about 8 months with a bunch of artists. The place was really insane, there was a swimming pool. Being around so many creative people was super inspiring and got me motivated to make new stuff and gave me the opportunity to work with people with a lot of different artistic perspectives.
Could you explain what STRANGERZOO is all about?
STRANGERZOO represents the Nottingham collective of artists. It’s a label but it also encapsulates the elements that I believe are an integral part of music. Each track from Wonderland is going to be released with an accompanying visual representation. A lot of the people I collaborate with in Nottingham contribute to making my music videos, and graphic designs. I want to see how far I can push the boundaries of STRANGERZOO to represent various aspects of the listening experience.
What are we in for with this mix?
If I was riding my bike in a dream, this is what I could imagine playing in the background, going down and up huge purple hills in a space like setting. It has some new exclusive live and studio material I’ve just made as well as some old and new music I love.
Kirk Spencer – Between Moons Journey
Kirk Spencer – Live Percussion Jam
Djemba Djemba – Yah Pop
Warda – Esmaouni
Clams Casino – Im God
Keys and Krates – Lucid Dreams
Zero 7 – Futures Vocal
LOUDPVCK – Chirp
Fred Lowery – Whispering Hope
Rolling Stones – Paint It Black
Rowdeelaku Rowdeelu – Theesko Coca-Cola
Kirk Spencer – Blue Skys
The Critters – Awake In A Dream (Kirk Spencer Edit)
Kirk Spencer – Raah Deep
Kirk Spencer – Dreams
Debussy – Clair de line – Tomita Version