Friday, 17 November 2017


October saw the release of 'Mindmaze', a track by London-based producer and DJ E.M.M.A. It's an unexpected cocktail of two colliding eras of dance: courtly, medieval, harpischord-based whimsy of the past vs. the electronic beats and high-energy of sweaty dancehall. The tract of lutes 'n' flutes that appeared in the track was lifted from Mindmaze, a dungeon crawler-slash-educational quiz featured on childhood-forming Encarta '95. Why Mindmaze though? "God knows to be honest," the producer speaks to us via email. "I made it in 2014, I can remember sitting down and thinking this Mindmaze theme would sound great as a UK funky type beat, but I can't remember why Mindmaze popped into my consciousness 20 years after the fact. It was just something I vividly remember engaging with as a child."

Perhaps it is the polyphonic complexity of baroque music, fugues and counterpoints – something that finds its way into things like videogame soundtracks, and only fractionally in underground, internet morsels and dance music – which simply sounds good against a beat that no Renaissance composer could have imagined. Indeed it's not E.M.M.A's first scrape with utilising the centuries-old form. "Some of my melodies – particularly on [her 2013 album] Blue Gardens – turned out to be baroque and I think maybe doing a homage to the most baroque tune I could think of kinda just seemed like a good direction to go in," she explains. "I've always been obsessed with what Encarta 95 provided us with before the world wide web came on the scene. I'm not sure why this ends up influencing my music, but we are where we are."

There is a nostalgia in E.M.M.A's music, too, with the sonic referencing in 'Mindmaze' following tracks like the 2012 'Dream Phone', referring to the '90s boardgame of the same name. She brings the humdrum of childhood memories, TV commercials and PC encyclopedias, storming into the adulthood of our modern age with hard minimal beats.

Alongside her own musicmaking, E.M.M.A founded Producergirls, an initiative encouraging women to get into producing, hoping to address the gender imbalance in the music industry. The free DIY workshops began in early 2016 and, thanks to a recent, successful Kickstarter campaign, will spread outside the current London base to cities across the UK. With this to look forward to in the future, for now the producer takes some time out to navigate the mindmaze of the lazy interview.


w h o   a r e   y o u ?   w h e r e   a r e   y o u   f r o m ?   w h a t   d o   y o u   d o ?
I was born in Liverpool and lived near Chester before moving to Brighton and London, where I've been for about 7 years. I produce electronic music and DJ, have an NTS radio show with Aimee Cliff called Angel Food. I started the nationwide Producergirls workshop series with Ikonika, Dexplicit, P Jam and Nightwave to encourage more women to try out electronic music production and to see if we can make the industry more gender balanced. 

h o w   d i d   y o u   s t a r t   c r e a t i n g   m u s i c ?

My friend Paul showed me FL Studio in around 2007 and was very encouraging of my earliest creations. A few of my friends were producers and I wanted a piece of the action.

h o w   w o u l d   y o u   d e s c r i b e   y o u r   s o u n d ?

Colourful, whatever the opposite of passive is. Active. I try and make it provoke some sort of dialogue with the listener. Maybe like a musical conversation. In terms of nuts and bolts, it's mostly synth orientated and set in a different imagined world a lot of the time. It varies from track to track.

i s   t h e r e   a   p e r f e c t   t i m e   a n d   p l a c e   f o r   l i s t e n i n g   t o   y o u r   m u s i c ?

At the risk of sounding like a clichΓ©, the middle of the night I think! That's when I make it.

I've always been obsessed with what Encarta 95 provided us with before the world wide web came on the scene
w h a t   i n s p i r e s   y o u   m o s t   w h e n   m a k i n g   a   t r a c k ?
Nature and our relationship to the universe and different times—past, present and future. But then again it depends on the song. I wrote 'Magna Kanye' because something Kanye said about making music really inspired me at a time when I wasn't really doing much, but Aimee and I decided to start Angel Food. I needed a tune for radio which was reflective of the battles I've had in this game. 

w h a t   i s   y o u r   m o s t   m e m o r a b l e   m u s i c a l   e x p e r i e n c e ?

When my first 12" came out on Wavey Tones in 2012. My close friends Tom and Letty started the label to release my music. I remember hearing it being mastered in a studio not far from my house at the time and then holding a copy of the test press in my hands. It just made me see London in a completely different way too, and it was when I started to think that I might actually be a real musician. 

w h a t   a r e   y o u r   f a v o u r i t e   t h r e e   s o n g s   a t   t h e   m o m e n t ?

The Horrors – Ghost

Nightwave – Limelight 

Xao – Karrakis

w h o   d o   y o u   m o s t   a d m i r e   i n   t h e   m u s i c   w o r l d ?

Suzanne Ciani, who I saw at Cafe OTO last week. The OG pioneer of the modular synth.

i n   y o u r   o p i n i o n ,   w h a t   i s   t h e   f u t u r e   o f   m u s i c ?

In terms of the industry, it's smashing up privilege, dismantling self-interested structures, opening up access and reclaiming the art from the gatekeepers so that the industry is what it should be: welcoming to all, with skills shared for free.

w h a t ' s   t h e   f u t u r e   o f   y o u r   m u s i c   –   w h a t   d o   y o u   h o p e   t o   d o   n e x t ?

I'm working on another album.

w h a t   i s   m o s t   i m p o r t a n t   t o   y o u ?



  • πŸ”” Feel free to purchase E.M.M.A's's Mindmaze / Pumpkin Emoji 12", out now physically and digitally courtesy of Coyote Records. Various options for purchase are available via this exact hyperlink.

E.M.M.A Internet Presence ☟

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Wednesday, 15 November 2017


This song has a very easy way of draping itself around your head and enveloping you in its softness, in its blanket of silken sound that is evident from the very first depth-charge sub-gloop bass, synthetic yet with this deep organic tenderness, a classic feel, that seems as though it could be a plucked double bass. And adding further softness to 'Never Not', Jessi Lee spins aching vocals, whisper-crooning from far-off, taut and quavering with memories, or as the producer-singer herself calls them, "those ghostly things that stay with us."

"And even though they're still there, we can move forward and look back on those things from afar as lessons learned fondly."

The NYC-based musicmaker takes us through the song via email. "'Never Not' is about love that endures even after it has been lost," she explains. "[It's] a dreamy experimental take on deconstructing a '50s style doo-wop ballad."

Self-admittedly more a producer than a singer, Jessi Lee tells us that this song – a minimalist exercise in experimental yet familiar styles – is quite personal to her: "I felt like I really had to be the one to vocalize it," she says, "and honestly use this music as a device to come to terms with my own love lost. It was very cathartic to say the least."

The twirling modern imaginary ballroom of 'Never Not' is realised in a video directed by Frankie Leroux>, which uses Coney Island as the backdrop—"a location personal to the story behind the song," says Jessi Lee; "Everything was very deliberately placed," she continues, "from the setting sun to using Coney Island as a character itself."

The slow steps of the bass underpin the fabric of the song, this intense rumble, these notes each one a cloud of pastel fog slo-mo exploded from thin air. Simple drum machine aesthetics make up the rest of the beat, an electronic tom keeping gloriously slow time. Chords like a mist sweep their way through. Ticking percussion peeps out at the chorus, warm and dreamy, it embraces you, the illustration of closeness.

Equally, it is distance, the miasma of feelings that float in the air after a relationship ends, a sultry sashay of tragic proportions, a slow dance till the lights go out.

  • πŸ”” 'Never Not' is taken from Jessi Lee's Deep Rest EP.
  • πŸ”” Jessi Lee plays saxophone in The Love Experiment and also is a sometime writer and performer with future soul duo, Broken Luxury.

Jessi Lee Internet Presence ☟
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Tuesday, 14 November 2017


Huge. The expanse of it, the ambience of it, the wild sandstorm blight of it, the pastel colour pleasantries taken and ripped to shreds and thrown in mad gallons of confetti across the every corner of Earth, the wind-up toy nature of it, but without that metal key at the back instead it spends a third of its duration inhaling air, capturing energy like charging a spirit bomb and gradually that meter is filling and—bloop! It reaches the top and this wondrous track charges into life, crowds the air like a cloud wrapped round a goddess cartwheeling to the ground the loudness of it crunching like thunder. And afterwards it fades into the ether, gorgeously slipping away into silence.

lilac's track 'feelings' is quite literally a long explosion of sound, thick layers of gossamer fibres glowing grey and pink and teal and then more robust rumblings under these electric coils of noise, a beat if you can even call it a beat like ultra-slowed trap, the kick overdriven self-detonating, delayed satisfying sidechaining with each distorted boom, sharply crashing cymbals cracking with each slow syncopated percussive hit, dynamic clusters of rattling snares, clipped handclaps keeping time for this gargantuan swaying rhythm. How soft at the same time, how muffled, the rounded cushioning of it, the feathering, the tenderness of it and how that tenderness warps and self-destructs into obsessive longing, a swirl of sound, of feeling, that takes up every surface every empty nodule of the mind.

  • πŸ”” More fabulous tracks from lilac are available in a streaming as well as downloadable medium over on their Bandcamp.
  • πŸ”” Must admit: originally led to lilac because their profile pic is Lindsay (played by Linda Cardellini) from Freaks And Geeks.
  • πŸ”” Affiliated with SoundCloud collectives you may know: otter boys, Tsundere Fan Club, and REGRET.

lilac Internet Presence ☟


The melting atmosphere, the horizon spilling onto the earth and the grand oil colour splashes, the waves of thick stodgy paint, swirling and whirling together and running over the land like a flood in slow motion. That's 'Landmark' setting the scene for you, the low-slung sludgy psychedelia of it crafted by Portland-based musicmaker Cool Trips—not the typical sun-glittering stuff you might be used to, but this inhabits a different time of day, a different state of mind, the chorus crooning in with grounded wisdom: "I can't live forever / forever's too long."

"I think the hook is going to tend to sound a little morbid to a bunch of people," says Cool Trips in an email to us, "but to me it's about living and dying in moments in a metaphorical sense more than anything... and learning where the high roads are and how to find them. It's strangely positive given all the reminders of inevitable death." And to frame this darker theme, this slice of surreal reality, the kick drum slams overdriven and the tottering bassline skips and dawdles, abrupt atonal synth sweeping sharply above, the vocals call out as if from a different dimension, as if already having died and giving melodic advice from beyond the grave, a slow and steady zombie march of sound.

Cool Trips Internet Presence ☟
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Thursday, 9 November 2017


The sound of comfort, the sound of homely embrace, warmth and familiarity, the steps stepped a thousand times before, the furnace of love simmering the blood and the hot eyes of side-by-sideness, the cradled-by-someone feeling, enveloped enwrapped blanketed with safety and solace. 'Sines' by London-based Greg Wanders seems to fill your ears with gratitude and grace, a tract of soft sounds that conjure scenes of homecoming and fitting in, a heavy organ-esque synth sound that bubbles voraciously, squeezing up and down in pitch with theremin smoothness, an airship sailing through the clouds as the sun sparkles on the vessel. Because there is also this grand sense of expansiveness here, of skyward destinations, that oozing synth, the twinkling string sounds that seem to come from far afield, the glints of sun on long-distance travel.

Greg Wanders tells us via email that the creation of the song came "at a time of unease with song writing and my life-situation." Walking into the studio, he had low expectations of what would happen, "moving in circles of self-doubt and spending too much time in my own thoughts." But eventually the first line of the song that he sings with a soulful heartfelt croon – "Sines everywhere that I go" – the truncated echo of a cosy room, and the sine chords followed, warm, like a gurgling bath of sound, a slow beat punctuating, sometime vocal samples creeping in with virtuosity and the skipping-mind fizz of anticipation.

"The song is focused around human connection," he concluded, "which has been a topic I’ve wanted to write about for a while so it felt good to finally find the words, it felt completely natural."

Greg Wanders Internet Presence ☟