Ahead of Intriguant’s second full length album Kindred dropping at the the end of the month – which includes a launch party on the 29TH of November – Nez Senja interviews the electronic music producer regarding inspirations, processes and perspectives on underground electronic music culture, with a Spotify playlist curated by Intriguant himself.
Hi Intriguant! Thanks for taking some time for this interview.
Thank you for having me bro!
Let’s dive straight into it. Your last album Recluse was released in 2017, to much acclaim. With this forthcoming album, how was the process of writing? How far back in that gap of two years from the last one, did the concept of this album bear its fruits? With the theme of Kindred within the electronic music landscape, what has shaped your perspective on underground electronic music?
For Kindred, I felt like I needed to go back to the fundamentals of electronic music production as well as my beginning as a DJ/producer, I remember being a clueless 20 year-old discovering the eclectic and underground club culture that we have in Singapore. I wanted to reflect on that feeling that I had and also how it has inspired me today as an artist and also a human being. My perspective of the music and culture is always evolving, there is something about it that is hard to explain but you need to be present in the moment to experience it and you will get it.
The first single off of the album, Chika has been released ahead of the full length. It contains an Asian sounding lead sample backed by a stepping beat with an overall brooding atmosphere. What made you decide that this would be your lead single from the album, with it possibly being a darker track than most of the ethereal nature of your first album Recluse?
Chika was based on my tours in Japan. As most venues are situated in the basement, they have one of the best sound systems and acoustics that you will ever experience. The stairs was the passageway that leads you into the unknown and next, you are in whole another dimension. Thus, Chika is the gateway track to Kindred.
Let’s get technical! What was your mode of production for this album as compared to before? Did you keep most of the same processes as the 2017 output or did you experiment with new gear at all – do you work with a mix of analog and digital equipment?
The production process has changed but the application has pretty much stayed the same. At a spiritual level, I let the ideas flow into the production rather than overthinking about the sounds I am trying to create. Focusing more on the rhythms and progression of the tracks. Definitely, there was a lot more experimentation with analog and digital gears. For this record, I have played around with more samples to create my own synth pads and leads. I worked with much more sequencing with my drum machine and synths. There are a couple of patches that were recorded in Mess Ltd. in Melbourne, Australia. It is a space where you can rent out time to play and record with their analog synthesizers and drum machines, I recommend gear freaks to check it out if you are in Melbourne.
Kindred will be a self-released album as compared to the previous album. What are some of the challenges you face putting this out on your own as compared to a team from a label behind you?
It is a humbling experience to be on at the other side of the spectrum. I have decided to have Kindred as a self released because of the DIY concept that I was going for, from production to mastering to distribution. To me, it is an ongoing experiment to see how far I can push the music. With that being said, I am lucky to work with really talented friends who are graphic designers, photographers, visual artists, etc. Without them, there will be no album.
Let’s dive into some bits of the playlist you have provided. It kicks off with something by Teebs. An ethereal atmosphere backed by Dilla-esque beat. Is Teebs a major influence for you as a music producer?
Teebs, Brainfeeder, Low End Theory have always been a huge inspiration for me up to this day. I am always listening out for great material that they are putting out. His recently released album, Anicca has been on repeat. and I had a pleasure to play alongside Teebs in 2013 during a Syndicate event. Great guy too!
The found sound style of Yosi Horikawa’s Timbres is one of my favourites on this playlist. What draws you to working with this kind of sampling sources? Does merging it with synthesized sound help push you towards frontiers not otherwise explored?
Yosi Horikawa is one of most exciting music producers today. He is a genius, he even builds his own monitor speakers. Foley recordings in production has always caught the attention of my ears. The first album I heard that solely based in foley recordings and production would be Foley Room by Amon Tobin. There’s always something new you will discover in the album. It’s all about the layers.
You slipped in some dance floor depth with Four Tet’s Anna Painting as well as the grimey, garage tip of Floating Points’ remix of Back To Basics, with the latter being a great cross of the two worlds. In your view, what is the relation if any, between a type of street culture like grime and rap to club culture?
To me, having these tracks are a reminder of my progression in my influences as a DJ. It is ever evolving like the music scene. The idea of culture has always been about a unifying entity, that is able to bring people together.
Sekondi is a dance number with African vocals. Would you explore the usage of Asian vocals from vintage disco or funk tracks in a modern production under the Intriguant name?
Definitely! In time to come! In recent times, more people are definitely getting more curious about music that coming from this side of the world, me included!
I had the pleasure of seeing Nils Frahm live a few years ago, and it thoroughly blew my music absorbing mind. A melody centric track, yet with a minimal pulsing rhythm that carries the loopiness of techno with classical music at the foreground. Is this merging of styles something you strive for during your writing and creative process?
I experienced the live show of Nils Frahm at the Esplanade, I was seated on the 3rd floor with a view of all the gears that he used. Having a live show that has the ability to capture the audience through every aspect of the technical specification, is a dream. The concept of a live show to me is an ongoing process. always learning and always striving for new ways to play live.
How do you hope this Kindred album to affect your listener, now that the process of creation is done. Do u imagine that the listener will be able to feel what you were feeling when writing the music? Will that be a measure of success of your album, from an artist standpoint?
It is definitely different from what you know from the Recluse album. Kindred is music that is made to groove but yet being emotive at the same time. It is a reflection of the culture that I come from. Having said this, the listener must feel the music and the culture, from where it comes from. Stay curious and let your ears evolve.
Thanks for your time Intriguant! We are looking forward to the full release of your album and hearing it in its entirety. All the best with the release and launch!
Thank you for having me! See you on 29th of November!