Ensuring our Future Vision stream showcases the finest future of dubstep, Ace Aura will be joining us from Texas this New Year’s Eve. The final show in another hyper-accelerated year for the 22 year-old, he’ll be packing sweet melodies, thunderous beats and plenty of unreleased material…
Treading that fine line between music and muscle, Ace Aura has been one of the key protagonists pushing the sound best known as melodic riddim this year. With labels such as Disciple, Circus and Fresh Blood, he’s meddled and fine-tuned his alchemy of contrasts with releases almost every month throughout 2020; the soothing melodic yin and the raging lazer bass yang creating a fresh energy and euphoria that’s captured best on EPs like Reset_Environment.
Released on Disciple earlier this year, Reset_Environment was a conceptual body of work that was inspired by the book of Revelation. It took Ace Aura’s sound to some of the most futuristic places he’s been to yet with strong shades of trance, hard dance and cinematic dynamics that create a mini-album like experience. Since followed by more seismic, technicolour musical slammers such as Miracle and Bye (also on Disciple) and the bombastic brass of Waiting (on Borgore’s Fresh Blood), each release has amplified the young Texan’s position in one of the fastest-evolving dubstep subcultures in electronic music. Which is even more impressive considering he’s also been completing his studies this year.
All ready and primed for UKF’s New Year’s Eve Future Vision online event – where he’ll be performing with the likes of Dilemma, Nuu$hi, Kumarion, Deadline, Winslow, Sippy and The Caracal Project – we called up Ace (AKA Eric Seall) to discuss inspirations, his faith and an exciting future for dubstep.
You’ve just graduated from university, you’ve had a big year with releases and it’s been the covid year. Quite a 2020 for Ace Aura…
Oh crazy. Too many things have happened! I was actually happy to slow down on music and finish my education but then I got offers for drive-in shows and there was no way I was going to say no to them so I’ve been pretty busy, which has been great.
We’ve had sitdown raves here but not so many drive-in ones. How have they been for you?
They’re very different. The club shows are much more intense as everyone is close together and you feel the energy. But with drive-in shows people are spaced out so it’s a different vibe. I prefer club shows but it’s what we have for now. Even though it feels like forever.
How has it affected your writing?
Having some space away from the club focus has been great. It’s made me think of how my music can have an impact outside of the club and be more experimental. I’ve been incorporating a sound called hardwave into what I do, especially with the intros.
So kinda hard, melodic and quite trancey?
Yeah exactly. I’ve been trying to capture some of that energy and musicality into my music.
You can feel that on Reset_Environment EP. That feels like it was your most ambitious work so far
Oh yes. It was made over the course of a year and a half so I started it, went off and did some other things, and then came back to it and developed them to get that consistency. It felt strange, but it was good to complete and release something I’ve been working on for so long.
Was the Comatose EP the one you made in between?
That’s totally it. I started the Reset_Environment EP, did the Comatose EP and then came back to that. It was really interesting to go through that experience over such an extended period.
It was almost like a mini-album in a way and had very strong themes of faith…
Yeah that’s right. I always have a theme in mind when I’m writing but with that EP I was particularly inspired by Revelation, especially Revelation 21, I put a clip of it in Hypersonic. The concept of a new heaven and new earth is so cool to me. So I wanted to create a futuristic sounding EP all around that.
It’s rare for artists in bass music to talk about their faith. It’s almost the last taboo
Yeah it kinda is. I think there are a lot of artists who do have faith but don’t see it relating to how they present themselves in music or online. There’s also Twitter culture and cancel culture. When people talk about faith it comes with all sorts of assumptions that people have and it can be difficult to incorporate that with your brand without it taking over your entire brand, or people not understanding what you mean. So I understand why people stray away from talking about it. But for me it’s such a huge part of who I am, and growing up, that it’s part of the music I make. So I try and talk about it where and when I can but without it being overbearing of course.
Was church your first experience of playing and performing music?
It was. I started playing drums at eight and played with the youth group band, which was my first experience performing publicly.
When did electronic music come into your life?
I found out about it in eighth grade. Someone showed me Dirtyphonics remix of Scary Monsters & Nice Sprites and that was me hooked.
A UKF anthem!
Oh yes. It’s come full circle. It’s weird! So that was where I started exploring. I had station on Pandora and found artists like Flux Pavillion, Zomboy, Doctor P, those guys. I listened to it more and more and then started making it in 2012, messing around with Pro-Tools (which I don’t recommend for any aspiring production to try and learn on at all) and then started to take it seriously in 2016 and got Ableton. For a very long time I was just trying anything and not thinking about dancefloors or anything because I was too young for clubs anyway.
So in a way, take away the clubs this year, you were in a similar situation to what you were when you started but with the ability to actually create what’s in your head…
Yeah, but when you’re starting out, you don’t know all the rules and everything is super creative. I’d love to get back to that. When you know the techniques and certain formulas to make things work in a club it’s very hard to get out of that. But I think I’ve done more of that in recent months, especially with the hardwave. I want to experiment with other genres and listen to more. I should have maximised my exposure to other genres during lockdown, but I mainly listen to dubstep, I have to say.
It’s hard to find balance isn’t it?
Yeah it helps stay up to date, but it can be dangerous to fall into current trends. It’s really important to listen to other genres. Having influences outside of the genre helps you to keep things fresh and different to anyone else. At the moment I think I’m listening to a bit too much dubstep.
You’re immersed in it, though. You’ve had your Ace Aura Alliance and, more recently, your Discord channel. These recent times have highlight how having a fanbase or a following is much more of a two-street haven’t they?
Yeah, it’s been interesting. I used to message my favourite artists when I was younger and I would be upset if they didn’t reply. But now I’ve realised that it’s impossible for an artist to respond to message if they’re to maintain everything else they do. That said, fan interaction is such an important part of growing as an artist. You’re paying respect to people who support you and allow you to do what you do full time. Interacting with people who enjoy your music helps them enjoy it even more, too, so it’s win-win.
Win-win for the next generation, too. The future’s healthy when you’re encouraging aspiring acts like that and there’s a healthy interest coming from the new generation. It’s always evolving, then.
I’m excited. Thinking about the future of dubstep gets me more and more excited each day. I got into dubstep when Skrillex blew up and it birthed a whole new generation of producers. That’s not a one-off, all it takes is for an artist to come through with a new sound or a flip on things and it influences a whole new wave. I’d say it’s happening now with the melodic riddim and future riddim. It’s gaining traction, which is cool to see.
Melodic riddim… Finding the line between making it bang and hitting the musical sweet spot?
Exactly. I enjoy heavier music. Weirdly, I don’t enjoy pure melodic stuff as much, but if it’s heavy and had chords and melodies I’m there. I think having musicality with atonal sounds gives it that edge, too. It’s the sound and the balance of styles that I’ve wanted to achieve since I started so it’s nice to see that dream come into fruition.
What’s coming into fruition in 2021?
Oh boy. Well there’s a lot I can’t announce yet, but I can say I’m working on a bit of a visual rebrand to bring everything I do together a bit more and work towards the position some of my favourite artists are in, when you can identify a release of theirs from the artwork alone. So that’s really exciting for me from a developing point of view. I was also booked for Electric Zoo in Cancun. I’m not sure if that’s happing because of covid, but I’m so grateful for being considered for them anyway. There’s also a release on a label I can’t announce but it’s a label I’ve been reaching out for a lot of years. So yeah, it’s looking like an exciting year.
Awesome. Can we expect to hear some dubs at Future Vision?
Yes you can!
Join Ace Aura alongside Deadline, Dilemma, Winslow, Kumarion, The Caracal Project, Nuu$hi and Sippy for Future Vision, 7pm, NYE on UKF.