July 20 sees Cyantific release his new album Bloodline.
Featuring a gamut of bangers he’s teased us with over the last few years such as Body Movin, Outatime, Wild Child and many more, technically it’s his second album but deep down it feels like his debut. Eight years in the thinking, three years in the making and galvanised by a striking 80s futurist look and feel, Bloodline is so much more than a second album for Cyantific; it’s a deeply personal statement about where he’s at technically, what he loves stylistically and his idyllic vision of drum & bass’s broadest church. Here’s what we know so far…
We spoke to you about this album three years ago!
It’s been a long journey! I was definitely thinking about an album during that time. Every single has been written with the thought ‘will this fit in with the album?’ And everything was put forward for consideration. That interview was around the single Colour In The Shadows which is the oldest track that made the album cut.
It’s such a fine line isn’t it? Being in an album mindset can detract from the natural process of tune creation can’t it?
Yeah it can, especially because I had quite a clear idea for how I wanted the album to sound and look. That developed over time as I was writing more. Then in the last year we knew what was going to be on there and it was a case of going through everything and trying to finish it and mix it down and all that fun stuff.
You’ve been teasing us with singles every month or so, haven’t you? Building us up to the album.
Yeah that was the was the idea. Ramping it up more and more into this year. We’ve done a single almost every month. Like you say, building it up.
You mentioned how you wanted it to look and sound. I’m going to go right ahead and assume there’s always been a distinct 80s vibe to that vision?
Totally. I wanted it to sound like a soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist which is why the artwork went in that direction, too. The designer I’m working with started using this program called Cinema 4D, you can make these entire environments. Look at his Instagram. He gets it. The 80s atmosphere and aesthetic; it fits exactly what I wanted.
Big him up please!
He’s One_speg, He’s based in Greece and I found him on Instagram. He’s an ex graffiti writer, which I am as well, so he really appreciates lettering. Sometimes I’d find background pictures, other times he would and he’d do all the lettering. More recently he’s been using Cinema 4D and it’s perfect; it’s original, the lettering can be incorporated with neon signs and shop windows. It feels like when you put these pictures together it could be a shot from a film.
It’s that future-from-the-80s-perspective aesthetic
That’s it. 80s futurism. Terminator, LA, that’s where I wanted to go. Stuff like Cyborg was written with the album in mind, it’s got that Terminator vibe. I wanted to bring some of that to the table.
Cyborg is one of the polar extremes on the album… Labyrinth is another on the complete contrasting end. That fits in with the film score idea, too.
Yeah that’s it man. The score is a broad thing to work with and gives you all the scope you need. The intro can be atmospheric and 80s but suddenly drop into a big dancefloor vibe. Then, like you say, Labyrinth is the complete end of the scale. But it works together. I was inspired by Gunship in this way. I dug the way their album has a lot of different moods but it felt coherent because it was all nailed around that 80s mast. A strong theme ties things altogether. I wanted it to make sense even though stylistically it’s pretty disparate.
Does this feel like you’re doing your debut album all over again?
I’m glad you said that because yes I totally do. Matt, who I was working with before, is such a talented musician that it was impossible to stop him running wild on the keyboard and coming up with incredible ideas. It’s very easy to let someone do what they do very well while you do what you do very well and it’s not until they’re not there that you realise ‘oh shit, there’s a lot of things I need to learn which I didn’t know before!’
So yeah I’m still learning all the time. That’s the great thing about this job, it never becomes easy, there’s always ways to improve. Not just the musical side but having to be the complete final say on everything. You don’t have anyone else to be the quality control filter. It has to come down to you. It’s very different to working in a duo. So I do completely count my career as two halves and it’s become apparent while doing the album that, as much as I thought I should do an album in 2010 when we went our separate ways, I most definitely wasn’t ready to do one. It wouldn’t have sounded right. I had to do a lot of learning in this last eight years of being solo. I’m really proud of the fact that it’s my own work.
Do you have any close peers you play your new productions to for feedback?
Mark Wilkinson is in the studio next door so we play each other things that we’re working on at the time. I remember when I finished Outatime I thought ‘ah it’s just another song for the pile’ but he was like ‘no that one is special’. It’s cool; sometimes you don’t see your work in the same way so playing it to someone in real time and seeing their reaction is very important.
How about the sheer length of time it’s been made over? Were you wary of the influence of D&B’s ever rapid changing trends?
Yes and no, you need to stay current, but for me personally the last few years hasn’t quite been 100% me. I found things got a little too hard. Now the wheel has turned and we’ve come into more of a jump up style. I love loads of jump up but it’s not what I really want to make for an album.
Except for Welcome To The Future…
That was me showing my take on jump up and having a bit of fun. It was cool that it fit on Rampage and worked out really well. But, yeah, I love the harder stuff, & I love jump up but I’m waiting for that mid 2000s, musical dancefloor stuff to come back around.
The era you came in on!
I guess, yeah. It’s cycles, though isn’t it. And it just takes time to come back around. But in terms of the album I had to stay true to what I believe in. When I set out to make Bloodline thought ‘I’m going to do this album. People will dig it or not.’ If I settled into it three years ago and wrote something really tearing and hard, by the time I finished it would have dated already. That’s not the way to sit down and write an album. You’ve got to stay true to what you’re doing.
Or else it becomes a regular job….
Exactly man and I wish people remembered and appreciated that more. We’re in such a privileged position to make this music for a living but there are certain camps and cliques who seem to forget that. For me every single sound and style in drum & bass has merits and 90 percent of everyone making it is making stuff they truly believe in and there’s more elitism than I’d like there to be. It’s that quote from Marcus Intalex’s mum that resonated with me; we’re all meant to be in this together, we’re all brothers & sisters. We’ve come from the same place and there’s room for all of us. There are so many different corners to drum and bass. Looking down on someone else making a different style of drum & bass to you is madness.
Amen! You have to stay true to what you’re making whether it’s the dominant trend or not.
I think so. And I’ve been around for a few years now to see these things go round a few times and I’m already hearing things change and develop again with guys like 1991 coming through and producers like Metrik, Sub Focus, Wilkinson still absolutely killing it. I have to say I’m being selfish too… I just want more music to play in my sets.
I suspect you have a lot of new material of your own to play? You’ve got to have your eyes on what happens after the album…
Yeah I’ve got six or so new tracks which I’m happy with. There are a lot of ideas bubbling away and I’ll get going on them pretty soon. I took a couple of months off after the album. I needed to decompress. It was like running a marathon and I wasn’t ready to get back out there and run another one straight away. I’ve been lucky to have a few nice trips and have a bit of a break, combined with some DJing and I’m just about ready to get back in the studio now.
So in six months time, we’ll run an interview saying you’re doing an album then expect to hear it three years later?
It won’t take another three years I promise you!