Pa Salieu closed the 2021 Youth Music Awards
Kelpe is a London-based producer with an ear for a sample and a tidy collection of analog synthesizers. He has already released four albums on D.C. Recordings since 2004 (alongside a clutch of EPs on D.C. and others like Sveltana Industries and MYOR) but has recently branched off to set up his own DRUT Recordings imprint. He christened the label with the ‘Answered’ EP this spring, but makes his first major statement with the album ‘Fourth: The Golden Eagle’ out in June, so we thought it was a good time and to get him to make us a mix and see what he’s into at the moment. His offering is split into a warm opening phase and a more experimental close – with a track from a new fave of his and NTS Radio regular Joane Skyler to piece the transition together.
It’s not a mix you can really define by a specific genre – though he flirts with quite a few and the central Skyler track with jungle – and is probably better described in terms of its inquisitive and quietly exuberant mood, a feature of Kelpe’s sound that is evidenced on a smaller scale in the track Single Stripe. The full mix is available to stream and download below, with a tracklist at the bottom of the page and a Q&A with the producer on his new album, label, old synths and the unpredictability of the British summer.
Hey Kelpe, how’s your day been so far?
Yes pretty good thanks, it’s a rare sunny day so had breakfast in the park cafe, tidied up a bit, finished this mix for you and now I’m back in the park writing this with a can of cold lager. Actually it’s getting a bit cold again now though. (Update: by the time I finished this interview it’s pissing it down with rain again).
Could you tell us about your Dummy Mix, what kinda vibes were you hoping to capture with it?
It’s a bit of a split personality mix – the first half is mid-tempo stuff that I’ve been listening to lately mixed in with the odd old favourite of mine, with a couple of tracks from my new LP that are at that tempo, plus a more jungle-esque track I’m addicted to from a new discovery for me Joane Skyler. After that, halfway through the mix it massively swings mood and drops into more ambient / beatless droney material and gets a bit far out.
Analogue synths are central to capturing the warm, alive sound throughout ‘Fourth: The Golden Eagle’. If you had to have a go at picking out a favourite synth, what would it be and why?
My collection is fairly small and manageable, but my favourite at the moment is a Korg Polysix that I picked up at the start of this year. Unfortunately, as I paid quite a bargain price for it, it’s spent a lot of the time being repaired – I just got it back again for like the fifth time and it seems to finally work. So, that’s a really nice sounding synth when it’s working properly, it’s an early polyphonic (can play chords) synth from 1981 that you can save your own sounds on and it’s also got a really nice feature of chord memory which is fairly self explanatory, and a nifty arpeggiator. It’s actually quite basic in a way but relatively easy to arrive at nice sounds because everything is easily tweakable. It looks quite nice as well, with wood panels on the side, although is slightly battered. The one I’ve used the most over the last 5 years or something is a Moog Little Phatty which has got a stupid name but has been really useful to me as it’s a more modern synth (although you can’t play chords on it) so it has midi which integrates with more modern equipment, but still analog. Great for basslines etc.
You’ve said you see Answered as the kind of centerpiece to the new album. Was that the first track you got down and then was the rest of the album built up around it, or was the process more scattered than that?
I believe it was the first track I started and finished yes – but as I spent quite a long period working on the LP so it’s all a bit of a blur now, and indeed it was a bit of a scattered process. Still, it’s always good to finish a track you are really happy with, which can then set a mood for an LP, and that was the case with Answered. I decided to place the track at the end of the album as a conclusion and to build up to it rather than put it at the start and build from there.
It’s early days yet, but if you could release anyone’s on DRUT, what might a dream label line-up look like?
Actually I think I’d maybe find it too nerve-racking if I was releasing the music of some dream artist or musical hero. I already have a small handful of things lined-up which I can’t be specific on until they’re 100% confirmed, but I’ve got some pretty damn good music to release I reckon.
Other than music-making, what else occupies your time?
I also work in video as an editor, which is an on and off (self employed) day job – sometimes just occasional but some longer stretches of work as well. I actually enjoy it – it gets me out of the house and I get to see other human beings a bit, plus it makes me look forward to the next time I get to make music.
Jameszoo – Poek
Kelpe – Go Visible
Bambooman – Lucazade
Syclops – 5 In
Reo Grey – Ginseng Bird Rub
Kelpe – Single Stripe
Brothomstates – Adozenaday
FilosofischeStilte – Gold Dust (Sam A La Bamalot remix)
Rechenzentrum – Vertikal
Joane Skyler – Foam
Samoyed – Simmer Lunt
Max Bellancourt – Past Present
Quicksails – Only Escape
Co La – Sukiyaki (To Die For)
Lotide – In The Deserted Bazaars
Roj – Transcommunication
Porn Sword Tobacco – Sad Blocks, Happy Pussys
Kelpe – Nice Eyes In My Size
My Panda Shall Fly & Microburst – Rew Antigram