Listen to "Deep Breath" from the rising London dancehall producer.
Photo courtesy of Murlo
When it comes to rising London producers, Murlo’s in the upper echelon: his arsenal extends from flighty grime to pastel-hued dancehall remixes, bound together with a deft melodic sensibility. He’s a fearsome presence in raves, a badman producer, and a crafty CGI design wizard with an affinity for bizarre Greco-Roman themes.
I first heard Murlo through his colorful flips of Mr. Vegas and Stylo G. Ever since I’ve rarely let a party slip by without sneaking one of his tracks into rotation. Murlo strikes a balance between experimentation and hip rotation. He mines a fertile common ground between Caribbean music, grime, and R&B, building a world where incandescent square-wave synths can share air-space with, say, Rihanna.
After several years spent exclusively making instrumentals and remixes, Murlo's turning a corner. His recent EP for Brooklyn's Mixpak Records found him working with a vocalist for the first time–"Deep Breath" is a highlight, piquant synths surrounding a sticky vocal hook from Gemma Dunleavy. It hasn't left my head for months.
Murlo’s coming to America over the next few weeks; you'll want to come correct. After kicking off his tour in DC last night, he’ll make his NYC debut tomorrow. Grab tickets here, and check the rest of his tour schedule below.
Eager to pick the brain of one of my favorite party-starters, I caught up with Murlo over email. He told me all about his favorite dancehall tracks, his fascination with bubbles, and his interest in raving within the Earth's molten core.
Noisey: I first heard you through your dancehall and soca-influenced stuff—how did you first get into Caribbean music?
Murlo: Think it was about 6 or 7 years ago, back when I was at uni. I came across a few dancehall mixes back then and I was sucked in completely.
Favorite dancehall track of all time?
Man, I don't really have one track, there are a lot of classics I keep coming back to, and a lot of instrumental packs that seem timeless. Recently I've been listening to a lot of I-Shawna, Busy Signal and stuff from the Ward 21 guys. From the top of my head one tune is Aidonia - The Only One. The video is just the semi-instrumental but I love the space in that tune and that arp is wicked.
Over the last year or two your releases have tended more towards grime than dancehall and soca—what sparked the shift?
For me it wasn't necessarily a conscious decision, I've made tracks in the past which are just grime tunes at different BPM ranges and bashy tunes that are at 140 or whatever. It's all in the same thread for me, past couple of years i've definitely enjoyed making music that isn't functional in a club set but I think that's just me getting more comfortable with writing tunes. I started out making club edits 5 or 6 years ago and I remember I had no idea if something was in key or not ha, I just picked it up.
Where do you draw inspiration for your fantastical drawing/CGI work? Is there some kind of coherent world/mythology behind your visual work?
I grew up copying fantasy paintings and stuff when I was kid and that whole world has kept with me as I got older I guess. I love mythology and ancient history, its really good escapism, especially when i'm spending so much time DJing and making music its good to switch off for a second and sculpt a head of some 5th century Lovecraftian snake thing or summat.
Tell me about working with Gemma Dunleavy on your latest EP—why did you choose her to work with, and how did those tracks come together?
It came by chance really, I got introduced to her online by a mutual friend and I sent over the Jasmine instrumental, I made that track like 3 years ago and I've always wanted to work with a vocalist on it, so anyway she sent back a rough cut of the tune with her vocals and I was gob smacked, I emailed straight back and was like "we need to make another tune!"
What’s your favorite “non-musical” sound?
What vocalist(s) do you most want to collaborate with?
I have a massive list on my desktop, haha. There are a few JA artists i'd love to work with like I-Shawna and the Ward 21 crew and some UK people I plan on reaching to in the future.
If you could ignore all laws of time and space and design the perfect party scenario, in line with your music/design aesthetic, what would it look like?
A dance in the molten centre of the earth would be cool.
What’s one song you’re particularly excited to play out on this tour?
Yeah I mean there's a lot of my new bits I'm lookin forward to playing but I'm excited about reaching into the garage/funky/bassline crates the most I reckon.
What are you most excited to see/do/eat in the US?
As I write this I'm on my second day here and my appetite has vanished; once it comes back I'm excited about eating though, ha. Travelling and seeing the different side of the U.S is gonna be cool too.
Imagine someone going to a show of yours whose never heard of you—what track of yours would you show them as an introduction?
My latest thing, why not: