“When I was about 13 my brother had a copy of Reason on his computer,” Julio Bashmore (or Matt Walker) says, “and I was playing with that. I remember I would make a tune that had like a helicopter sample on it. Stuff like that. Fucking about. I really liked that. But then I kind of took a sidetrack and tried to go to college, and that didn’t really go according to plan, so I kind of went back to…” He quietly trails off. “Back to Reason and the helicopter sounds?” I suggest. “Yeah! I might actually bring those back.”
He’s joking. But it wouldn’t be the most shocking of sonic moves. Julio Bashmore’s output over the past year or so has flitted around the edges, never quite moving in a straight line, roping new styles and sounds onto house foundations with an always playful, deft touch. The funky strut of Um Bongo’s Revenge, the old school piano on Jack Got Macked, Footsteppin’s rich, elastic, 2-step accented, grooves. Then there’s the thick synth and bass sounds he makes alongside fellow Bristol resident Hyetal as Velour.
“When UK funky happened, I just, it was like this carnival music. It’s a lot of fun. And now I’m kind of done with that sound. So now I’m just going back to basics. I’d probably want to go deeper. Deeper into house. I’ve been dropping the tempo, just creating grooves,” he considers over whiskey sours (thank you PMR Records) at the Malmaison hotel bar in Farringdon. It’s early December, and in a few hours time he’s set to play Fabric’s Room One, sharing a bill with Claude Von Stroke and Justin Martin, a Bashmore favourite – “when I first started making music, I was just trying to copy Justin Martin. I probably still am a bit.” The next day he’ll play to 8000 people at Madrid’s Goa Club. Opening track Battle For Middle You off his new EP ‘Everyone Needs A Theme Tune’ has been peppering DJ sets all over the place, and he’s recently been taking on a “proper producer’s role”, working on tracks with fellow PMR Records artists Jessie Ware and Javeon McCarthy, the former of whom has contributed vocals to some new tunes of Bashmore’s own.
But while things continue to move quickly forward, his musical leanings seem to increasingly reach back. He talks about “playing shit loads of computer games” and hearing his older brother DJ US funky house records when younger as key moments. That kind of clear-cut, buoyant, simplicity is apparent in the slick sway of Ask Yourself, the light darting bleeps and pieces that make up The Horn That Time Forgot, and the unambiguously dance-floor geared climb and rush of Battle For Middle You. “I’m a massive fan of old Detroit house”, he says when mulling over what has been interesting him lately, “probably my favourite old label is Strictly Rhythm. Really love that stuff. I think classic house, there’s not loads happening on it. Really nice chords and a few key sounds. I just try and make my tracks work like that.” It’s an idea reflected in the fact he’s recently made the move in terms of production from a software to hardware based set up. “At the start of this year I just went through a massive shift from all software, to just using all hardware. I’d still say I’ve got a few key instruments that I use all the time. Just going from having all that software, where any sound is available, just to having these key sounds… I don’t know. That’s where I found myself. It’s like, the more limitations you have, and then the way you work around those limitations, I really think that’s how you craft a sound. Just knowing, having a few bits and then finding out how to work from them.”
Perhaps surprising for a musician working out of Bristol, he claims dubstep was never a big interest. “It’s always been house. Always” he states. Although traces of the kind of Night Slugs, high emotion synth sound, can definitely be heard in his new EP. It’s a shift he puts down to working with Hyetal – he of the emotive monster that is Phoenix – as Velour. The two first linked up when Bashmore read in an interview that Hyetal was into Prince and John Carpenter. “It seemed to click because those are two of my main influences. So I gave him a shout, sent him some tracks, and he liked them. And in Bristol he was, I kind of saw him as the most forward thinking out of that whole, well, it’s not dubstep but, that whole scene… He’s the master of that synth, electronica, melancholy.” Apparently the collaboration isn’t at an end, so expect a follow up to last October’s ‘She Wore Velour’.
As for his own releases, no album is planned for this year, but he’s finished up a load of new material and is looking into ways of releasing it. One idea he seems keen on is starting up a small imprint himself. It’s largely to do with being able to get his work out there as quickly as possible, but also, he seems aware it’s another way to make your mark. “I look at my favourite producers like Claude Von Stroke, they’ve all just started their own labels…” There’s an admirable, understated, sureness in the way he brings up future plans. A quiet comfortableness about where he stands. “I’m always kind of feeling on the peripherals of all that was going on. That’s I guess how I came up with my sound. Which is house. With a hefty amount of bass in it.” Not so peripheral now.