With electronic music currently at the most fertile it’s been for years, new sub-genres are emerging quicker than ever before with artists constantly redefining people’s expectations. One artist who has made being indefinable his mission statement is Actress, aka Darren Cunningham, by carefully drawing on the best elements of styles of music, has created a sound that truly transcends all current genres.
Cunningham grew up in Wolverhampton and played football for West Bromwich Albion, before an injury in the early-00s sent him out of the game and into music – first DJing, then producing, via a Roland Groovebox and a Dictaphone. His passion for music drove him to establishing his own Werk night event promoted with Gavin Wealev between 2002 and 2006, and also to set up his own label Werk Disc. Over the last 8 years Werk Disc has developed a roster of some of the most interesting electronic artists to date, including Zomby, Lukid & Lone.
After four years of work Actress released one of the most enduring albums of the last few years, his 2008 debut LP ‘Hazyville’. This was followed by the 2010 album ‘Splazsh’, released to widespread acclaim including a 5 star reviews from Fact Magazine. One of the standout album tracks for us was the hypnotic 80s melancholic techno track ‘Maze’:
Last year he visited the Congo as part of Damon Albarn’s DRC project, and appeared (in his ‘Thriller’ guise) on Radiohead’s ‘TKOL RMX 1234567′. His latest LP, ‘R.I.P’ was released last week on the British Independent record label ‘Honest Jon’s’ to rave reviews from the likes of Pitchfork, Resident Advisor, The NME & The Quietus, with Drowned In Sound declaring “To call it album of the year at this stage wouldn’t so much be pre-emption as an actual understatement. 10/10″.
“An artist so underground that even his own friends doubt his existence” – Dazed&Confused Magazine
“Some of the most exciting techno around” – Resident Advisor
“One of the UK’s most fascinating musical figures” – Fact Magazine
“A musical icon for our generation” – Dummy Magazine
Catch Actress at dollop’s 8th Birthday event in Nottingham on Friday June 1st, where he plays alongside Julio Bashmore, Jackmaster, Huxley, Oneman, Amirali, Dusky, Charlie Banks & lots more.
Lone is the creative vision of music producer Matt Cutler, who hit the scene five years ago with the release of his first album, Everything Is Changing In Colour, in 2007. With his futuristic sound and infectious vibe, Lone has a fresh and unique sound that fuses electronic beats with a catchy bass line which fills his music with a radiant energy. Set to be released on May 5th, Lone’s new album, Galaxy Garden, captures the magic of the synthesiser to take you on a psychedelic journey through a jungle of rhythm. The songs have a certain enchantment about them that can take you to another place and bring about a release that is almost hypnotic. When asked about the album and its concept, Matt says “the way I picture this album – is that it’s set in a rainforest at night, looking up at the stars. Looking at space from the ground up and having your mind fucking blown…” Lone teamed up with R&S Records over a year ago and has been working on an album for them ever since; Galaxy Garden slides easily into the intoxicating genre of electronica that R&S have been specialising in for years, alongside artists such as James Blake, Pariah and Space Dimension Controller. An independent record label, R&S are currently at the height of their game, signing some of the best up-and-coming artists in electronic music. Lone is the latest star to spark their ignition and Galaxy Garden is set to bring a fresh glow to its fire.
We are pleased to announce that the seventh guest at our 8th Birthday party in Nottingham is a man who has absolutely killed it every time he has played for us – Standard Place resident, Rinse FM DJ, 502 Records owner and Boiler Room regular DJ ONEMAN.
Oneman is regarded as one of the UK’s foremost DJs, and is the embodiment of the current bass music scene with his trademark quickfire mix of House, Garage, Dubstep & Techno. Check out his recent mix featuring the likes of Hudson Mohawke, Girl Unit, Drake & Jammer – recorded live at fabric at the Rinse vs. FWD>> Boxing Day special.
Stage monikers, as far as Akua Grant, aka Lady Blacktronika, is concerned, can be the accidental making of you. Such burdensome aliases could possibly carry the weight and worth of a whole career. Frequently tipped as the ‘First Lady of Beatdown,’ you would anticipate forthcoming deep house virtuoso, Lady B, to assume more of a direct and pensive stance to her self-proclaimed title. Yet, as relative her candidly uncompromising releases are, the name transpired from nothing more than a flippant myspace update.
Luckily for Grant, it couldn’t describe her any better. Born and raised in Northern California, Lady Blacktronika has spent her primer years tailoring her own electronic legacy and forging a bulging black book of producer contacts along the way.
A veracious worker, her productivity is unremitting. Not only has she released a throng of densely important EPs in the past year but has been involved with founding Cocaine Records alongside Mattski, developed her own social community, Deep’N‘ Dusty, and has recently set up her latest label venture, Sound Black Recordings. On top of all that, this buoyant entrepreneur is set to make her UK debut at London’s Corsica Studios on Friday as part of Dollop’s involvement with The Garden Get Together’s Eglo Takeover. Lady B will play in Room 2, which is hosted by Phonica Records and Rhythm Section.
Before the party starts, Lady B finds time out of her relentless schedule to speak of her humble beginnings, her imminent prospects for the future, and what we can expect from her in two days’ time – that is if she gets over her sore throat!
I’m Akua aka Lady Blacktronika aka Lady B. I’m about realness, creativity and the freedom to be myself. I am currently trying to get over a really bad soar throat before I leave for London tomorrow. I would hate to disappoint because Berlin got me sick.
How long have you been involved with electronic music? How rapidly have your tastes evolved since your prime?
I got involved really in my mind and heart when I first heard of house music in 1988. From then on I couldn’t get enough and I knew one day I would be a producer and make a name for myself in underground electronic music. My tastes are ever evolving.
You have referred to singing as your ‘refuge’. How much has vocal samples and your personal affiliation with singing influenced your stance on producing? What takes precedence, vocals or production?
Production. I love to sing but I hate my voice so I’d much rather produce then sing. But, I am very self-critical.
You follow a common thematic motif in your releases rooted in racial and gender issues. Have you found it a challenge to relay your cultural surroundings in your tunes?
It’s something ingrained in me. These will always be topics of discussion as we are still fighting for freedoms on many fronts race, gender, sexuality or otherwise.
What does it mean to be the self-proclaimed ‘First Lady of Beatdown,’?
The First Lady Of Beatdown started not so much as a self-proclamation but as a joke on my myspace page’s status mood update. Then it just took on a life of its own and who am I to deny the truth?
You have previously expressed your lack of interest for hip-hop and, especially, gangsta rap. Growing up in San Francisco, what was your area of solace? What was it about electronic music that inspired you?
I actually matured with in the gang culture of San Jose and Hollywood not SF. San Francisco was my escape from the reality that I never fit in around San Jose. San Francisco was an hour’s train ride away and it was like Wonderland to me. Then I moved to LA and was in the Hollywood Santa Monica Blvd scene doing sex work for a living. It was a hard life. All my friends were in to Rap and shit I hated but Deep House and Disco was my escape there.
You are deceptively modest about your achievements. Does that transpire from your own conscientious nature or a general fear of the future?
I wouldn’t like to say yes but perhaps on some level. I think mainly it is that I have always been self conscious and very shy on the inside despite my outrageous exterior.
How much do you owe to Matt ‘Mattski’ Avalos in terms of aiding your production career?
He is my brother and in some ways like my teacher when I was younger. He always had the most underground rare and jacking records by producers I wouldn’t have ever heard of. So I owe my education to him and my continued dedication to playing the best and producing the best.
How much of a struggle has it been to get your music heard internationally? How has the initial response in the UK fared in comparison to, for example, Spain?
I can’t really say. Though I put out more records in Spain then any other country I wouldn’t say that is my fan base really. I don’t know about the UK. I think I’m still pretty much unknown there.
What drove you to start up Cocaine Recordings?
Cocaine Recordings was Matt’s and my brain child. I have since moved on to my put out my own label Sound Black Recordings. Cocaine is more a concept now I’d think than a functioning label.
You’ve been praised by Detroit and Juke luminaries such as Mike Huckaby and Dubbyman. Being very much an upcoming artist, how surreal is it to have such established support?
It’s absolutely amazing. I’m always in awe when ever I find out that big names know who I am. Like when I met Theo Parrish for the first time a couple weeks ago, I was shocked to find out he knew who I was and that he actually digs my tracks.
Your tunes levitate from deep house to groove driven disco re-edits. Do you feel Lady Blacktronika has the breadth to explore a vast range of electronic styles or is there a definitive sound you are still seeking to perfect?
I have influences as far flung as Dream Pop Rock like Cocteau Twins and Speedcore so I mean I really place no limits on myself musically. Except of course I don’t ever want to produce pop bullshit.