Arkaik will release his debut album Fate Determined on Flexout Audio in July.
Featuring collaborations with the likes of Skylark, Ray Uptown, Coma and Creatures, the 10 track LP includes a range of inspirations from the sound his radiator makes to the experience of being locked up in a Chinese cell, handcuffed to a chair.
Landing July 24, the album follows a consistent string of recent appearances on the likes of Flexout, Unchained, Dispatch and Vandal after a brief hiatus after moving back from China. Its creation came as a surprise to him… He never really intended to release an album in the first place. Read on to find out how it came to be.
This is a personal one, right?
Yeah totally. I didn’t think I’d ever do an album. I only ever wanted to make bangers for my sets. That’s how I got into it and that’s what I’ve always wanted to do. So to suddenly have this really personal debut album has come as a bit of a surprise to me. But it’s the culmination of a lot of events that have happened in my life. Quite a few tracks felt like they belonged to each other. First it started as a six track EP but ended up being a 10 track album. It came together very organically.
How long has it been in creation?
I started writing some tracks specifically for the LP around five months ago. But some of the tunes are older and were written whilst I was still in China.
How was China?
I was out there for 4 and a half years. It was sick. My design job took me out there and it was a mad experience, lots of inspiration for the LP came from China.
Massively I became resident at Sweat Shop, which is one of China’s longest standing drum & bass nights. I met loads of friends out there. One person who knew me from my Diffrent output put me on a tour with Bredren, I did a tour of China and played a lot in Beijing and Shenzhen. Daniel Power who co-runs Unchained was really supportive. I was one of the first international artists to play for them. I toured Taiwan, Australia and got to play a lot of partys over that way because I was more accessible promoter compared to European based artists.
Which tunes on the album were written out there?
The collab with Skylark, RD21, was written over there. The Chair was written while over there. The songs were all written at different times and are associated with things in my life.
Got any stories?
Well I moved back here Febuary last year, then over new year the relationship with my wife broke down and we ended up separating. I’d been with her for 10 years, so it was pretty traumatic The emotions going through my head all spilled into It’s Raining In My Mind. I was at Flexout HQ for a Dinner & Dubs night and showed it to Bassi alongside some other numbers and that’s when the idea of an LP first came about.
Wow, sorry to hear. How about The Chair?
That was written after complications arose in China. I got put in a cell and was handcuffed to a chair for 18 hours and locked up for 24 hours. I didn’t know if I’d get out, put in jail, or deported. I couldn’t contact anyone, I had no rights.
It totally fucked me over. It made me wonder if I wanted to be there. One funny thing I’ll never forget it from it was that I needed a piss and the guard came over to unlock me from the chair but he didn’t have the right key. He was on night shift so couldn’t get the right one and I ended up having to walk through the whole of this police station carrying an old school iron chair and then had to piss while holding the chair. It wasn’t easy.
Yes, 100%. By far. I’ve been arrested in the UK before and that wasn’t anything on this. I could have been locked up without question for as long as they wanted to. The whole thing was awful and it inspired this tune.
So they’re the first two tracks… What a traumatic opening. Any other tracks from such challenging circumstances?
Not quite as strong as those. Radiator Funk, for example, just samples me hitting my radiator. I have to say Fate Determined was a great collaboration with Ray Uptown. We’d been talking for years about a collaboration and he gave me those bars. They were the best bars he’d done all year and I didn’t just want to make a club banger out of them. I wanted to have it as a breather in the album that would let his vocal shine.
My input was only background music on that one because it’s all about him. I’m really grateful he was up for that. The name of the album came from one his lyrics. It all fed into each other. The Air raid syrens in were recorded From my Balcony, searched for a long time to find the right samples and synths to complement his vocals. I’m interested in the idea of things happening in your life to lead you to where you are today. All these events and encounters have led to where this album has come from.
What event inspired Upsidedown?
That was written at the start of COVID when things started to feel completely fucked up and the world was starting to seem pretty upside down. I wrote it with one of my best mates of 25 years, Coma, so I was pleased to get him on the album.
This is all very recent, then…
Yeah. I’ve been a sitting on a few of these for a bit, but other ones are all pretty recent. Everything fits together for me though. The album is intended to be listened to as one piece of music on vinyl. The vinyl version of the album will have the tracks overlinking as one long piece of music per side, so it all connects as one piece. People don’t buy the vinyl for playing in clubs much anymore, so we wanted to have it flowing and really tell the story. There’s a lot of connections – some sounds and samples and synths are shared across the tracks so it all makes sense as one piece.
That’s what separates an album from a collection of tracks…
I think so. Albums like Sabre’s Wandering Journal was amazing like that. Like a proper concept and loads of thoughts and meaning behind it. Or when you’d get an album with the DJ doing a mix with it as well. You don’t see so much of that now. Or if you do in the digital context it’s not the same.
Amen on Sabre’s album. Gonna dust that off after this call…
Yeah it’s proper sick! I love that whole idea of having things together in a cohesive, story-like project. We’ve really gone in on the vinyl and the whole package to reflect that. I hope people like it.
Arkaik – Fate Determined is out July 24 on Flexout Audio