Friday 6pm rolls around and I am still at my desk. A dismally grey day of British summertime has been accompanied by a to-do list as long as my limbs. But there are various lights twinkling on the horizon: 1) The sun has just decided to raise its glorious head. 2) There is only one more to-do to be ticked off. 3) It’s not long until I am off to meet Oriol Singhji, the chap behind Coconut Coast, the sun-drenched party 12” recently released on Planet Mu. Thanks to ORIOL I have been consistently swept away from the damp, overcrowded rat-race to tropical Miami Vice-like sunsets and piña coladas where the most pressing responsibility of paradise life is to shake your tail feather to the beat.
ORIOL’s forthcoming debut long player ‘Night And Day’ (download album track Joy FM above) has the feel good energy of bouncy summer carnival basslines combined with heavily sun-stroked, woozy melodies. Listening to his music you hear the swollen lazy synths of Kool & The Gang’s Summer Madness or Roy Ayer’s Everybody Loves The Sunshine and the Detroit funky of Theo Parrish’s Soul Control or the disco two-step of The Juan Maclean (who talks us through his recent DJ Kicks mix here). All in all, a pretty inclusive music policy but with an inclination towards the funky.
Of Trinidadian and Spanish heritage, ORIOL was born in Barcelona, lived in Bristol and London, studied Jazz in Boston and finally settled in Cambridge. His musical influences are just as nomadic. In-between producing his industrial Funk sound, he teaches the saxophone. As a kid, he and his friends “were all listening to DnB and passing round DJ Hype and Randall mixtapes,” he explains “but I was saving up my pocket money to buy a John Coltrane CD.” His pals headed to the local Jungle raves and he went transatlantic to Berklee to study personal heroes Coltrane, Herbie Hancock and Leon Wurr. Although there are no freeform Jazz sax solos on the album, ORIOL’s style shares the open-minded, ever fluid Jazz aesthetic. “Sonically it doesn’t sound like jazz and the grooves aren’t Jazz but it does share something. I don’t see a separation between genres. It’s all music. It’s all connected. It’s all just melodies, chords and rhythms, know what I mean?”
After packing up his sax, purchasing a computer and moving back to the UK, ORIOL dove head first into electronic production. In London he visited CDR at Plastic People to test-drive his tracks: “CDR’s a kinda jam session for producers. Anyone can take a track down and hear how it sounds on their sound system, see how the crowd reacts. And yeah I got a good response.” CDR worked as a springboard to success for Floating Points (interviewed here) and it got ORIOL noticed too. After a unsuccessful tryst with label Kindred Spirits, it was Planet Mu who took the bait: “Yeah they dug it. I never thought I’d make this kind of music. I always thought it’d be Jazz, but I went away, made more and this is the result…” And what a gem the album is. I tell him it’s a high contender for my summer soundtrack. “Funny you should say that, I wrote most of it under the British gloom, so it might have been a bit of wishing I was somewhere else,” he says.
If you take a stroll over to ORIOL’s myspace you’ll notice it’s pretty anonymous, no pics or viral videos and, most noticeably, no dates of future gigs. “I didn’t conceive this album with a show in mind,” he explains. “When producing an album like this you work as a composer and composers aren’t involved in the performance aspect.” While we’ll have to wait and see if that changes in the future, if you do need a pseudo fix of feel-good Vitamin D then a large dose of ‘Night And Day’ is heavily recommended.