Deadboy never was one to sit still.
The producer released the first track on Numbers, with 'If U Want Me' helping to inaugurate a slew of beat makers working in that skipping nexus between grime, UKG, post-dubstep, and lush house-drenched textures.
Since then, he hasn't stopped moving. Building a partnership with the always on-point Local Action, Deadboy has delved into the ambient, displaying several different sides to his persona.
A move to Montreal inaugurated another shift, with full length album 'Earth Body' emerging from a lengthy spell in the Canadian winter.
It's a beautifully meditative work, finding a relationship between R&B's more adventurous voices and his recent ambient electronics.
A record of first - he sings, for one - 'Earth Body' is another fascinating milestone from a singular artist. Clash caught up with Deadboy via email to find out a little more...
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Your recent material has shifted from a strictly club viewpoint to incorporating other functional uses, such as meditation. What has spurred this?
I think just a general expansion of my life and the requirements I have from music, most of the time when I'm listening to music it's not in a club so it makes sense to cover all those areas. You don’t just eat bananas.
Previous release ‘White Magick’ incorporated elements of new age and ambient, how important was that record as a connecting point with this album?
A lot of the sound palette is kind of the same, it was unintentional but I think this is kind of the pop album counterpart to that record.
You’ve released a lot of material over the years, but never an album. What made you feel now was the right time? Was it the new material in itself, the sonic influences… or something else?
It just came together really. I had these tracks that I had absolutely no intention to release as Deadboy but people heard them and eventually I was persuaded to. I added two or three more tracks and suddenly it was an album. It was an accident basically.
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Montreal is the kind of place where you can be whatever kind of freak you want to be...
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The music on ‘Earth Body’ was largely written in Montreal. How important was the city in your evolution during this period?
Montreal gave me the breathing space and the freedom to make this album for sure, I think whenever you move to a new place, where you don't know anybody, its a chance to change and grow a bit in some way. Montreal is the kind of place where you can be whatever kind of freak you want to be more or less. I just saw a guy skateboarding down the main road in a dress with a saxophone and it barely even registered.
Montreal’s winter is notoriously fierce – it’s largely a hibernation affair. How difficult was this to adjust to? Did the seclusion aid your creative, and if so how?
I loved the winter. Yeah it's cold as hell and there's deep snow for months, but the difference between here and the UK is, its sunny in the winter, its not grey all year. I don't care if its cold, when the sun is shining everything is good. You maybe don't go out so much when its minus 30, but I think a large portion of the people here are artists or musicians so that's a great period to get things done.
You sing on this record! Were you nervous about including your own voice? Who do you look at as an inspiration for singing?
Yeah I was a bit nervous about putting this out, not because I'm worried about people not liking the sound of it or whatever, but because sadly singing has gone from being something everybody does to something people think they either can or can't do, in some competitive game show way. If you can get over yourself you will find it very rewarding. Go karaoke or join a choir or something. For this record it was everything from contemporary R&B/Future/Drake/Rihanna... to Scott Walker, Talk Talk, Sade etc.
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It's sculpture basically.
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This feels like a ‘pop’ record in both a classic and modern sense. Is that a word you have associated with your music in the past? What led you to embrace this as a genre/field for your work?
Normally I dont consider genre tags at all when making music, but for this record I definitely wanted to make a pop album. It's sometimes fun to have a framework or a constriction through which to work and see what comes out. I think what lead me to do it was listening to records which were supposedly at the forefront of pop music, and thinking they were good but not quite enough, and thinking if this is the best we can do, I better try. Hopefully somebody will listen to it and think the same thing and we all get to the future together.
Do you tend to write songs as complete entities, or gradually piece them together? How did this record come into focus?
I usually have an idea of the shape/texture/vibe of a song before I start, then I start to lay down rough blocks, then chisel it into shape. It's sculpture basically. I wanted to have a lot of abrupt changes in this record, something I got from Scott Walker's later albums, so some tracks I wrote in sections.
Will there be live performances of ‘Earth Body’? Will the material become open-ended, continually changing with each show, or do you want something more static from a live set?
I have been going back and forth with this. Maybe.
Your recent work has encompassed a staggering number of styles/influences – where do you see your music going next?
At the moment I'm working on more club-focused music. I feel like this record was something I wanted to get out of my system. I've also just finished an ambient release for New Atlantis under my J.V. Lightbody alias so that will be out soon.
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'Earth Body' is out now on Local Action - order your copy HERE.