St Louis-based Winslow has been a more than significant contributor to drum & bass culture in 2020. Already used to an online community, with his well-established line of videos, podcasts and tutorials he was well equipped for this year’s global shutdown and mass online-ing… And armed with some serious musical heat. It’s the perfect backdrop for his set for Future Vision this New Year’s Eve with UKF.
After a few years of self-releases, 2020 saw Winslow go internatty with whole slew of releases on the likes of Goldfat, Code, Soulvent and Pilot. Whittling a unique groove stick that comprises strong shades of raw funk, dancefloor drive, left-of-centre ideas, a wry sense of humour and increasingly his own vocals, there’s a spirit to Winslow’s beats. It’s a spirt that nods at the golden age of liquid around the early 2000s when acts like Logistics, Nu:Tone, Calibre and Artificial Intelligence all broke through.
Unfortunately Winslow’s relationship with another liquid – English tea to be precise – isn’t quite so soul-stirring. But if you’re will to overlook the fact he once microwaved his cuppa (and really you should) then you’re in a for treat on New Year’s Eve as he joins The Caracal Project and a whole host of new talent for Future Vision; eight awesome next-gen DJs from four countries taking us into a hopefully brighter new year. Full line-up announcement dropping soon, but first, a little for reflection on Winslow’s biggest year to date.
2020: rubbish year for lots of reasons but a nice year for the work of Winslow!
I don’t know how it all happened. That first release on Goldfat put me on the map. After that, whatever else was going on, people were saying my name. Whatever people think about it, Chris Inperspective mentioning me on his video was a huge boost. I’m always a few hours behind over here so that was crazy to wake up to.
For me it was a conversation with Justin Hawkes last year that put me onto you. I first heard Spice Weasel (BAM) and it had me at from the title straight off. Banger too…
That’s awesome. That project was a turning point in my own journey, figuring out how to do the whole self-releasing thing. I like to learn the whole process myself and that was the peak of me doing my own thing and trying to launch myself. That track and another one on there picked up attention. So it’s cool I got that far on my own. Then things took off in their own way. You can’t plan this, can you?
No you can’t. You explain that in your recent video about gratitude. Your thoughts on the importance of authenticity which resonated with me. I think we’ve been able to identify authenticity a lot more during these times…
I think online it’s easy to see through egos right now. A big shot DJ can’t have that persona they usually do because we’re all in the same situation – at home, not working, trying to think of ways to get attention. For me, it’s been the same as I always was; making things online because I’m all the way over here, I was doing that as my way of contributing and making myself known. So I’ve been comfortable with that and become comfortable with revealing more of myself online.
I think this type of content and activity online is a great way of getting to know an artist more. I got a strong vibe off John B before all this from his music and reading or seeing his interviews, but actually seeing him on those streams – his sense of humour and that feeling that no idea is a bad idea. That’s me all over. So, yeah, because of that it’s much easier to sense authenticity and also I think people are being more sincere and authentic anyway. People are having more meaningful conversations. It does feel like the scene has pulled tighter. People are showing more genuine interest and checking in with each other.
Unless you start trash talking tea!
Oh, that was funny. I think I angered the whole UK nation there! It was actually a bit of a joke and it made every day interesting as we joked and one-upped each other. I like that connection and camaraderie. I now know you don’t microwave tea, but the deeper level is that we’re friends now. More people jumped in and that sparks more conversation. That’s been a benefit of this situation; talking to people on a personal level. Getting to know people when they’re not writing stuff.
I feel that’s the appropriate connection, I’m always blown away how niche this scene is. Within our own little bubble you can be well known. But outside you’re no one at all. Even in other dance music worlds.
Totally. Within the context someone can be huge but explain it to someone outside of it and they’re like ‘I have no idea who you’re talking about but sounds cool!’
Yeah! What else has been cool about this year?
It’s given us a reset. We’re not on that rat race trying to finish tunes ready for the weekend, we’re not in that constant cycle. It’s forced people to slow down and show other sides to them. It’s cool seeing other DJ’s interests outside of music. People playing games, cooking, things like that. I’ve said it before but it’s connecting on a personal level. I don’t think that would have happened without the pandemic and I think that will fuel the next few years and everything that comes out over that time. We’re grateful for what we had before and we’ll appreciate what’s coming up so much more.
You’re also a teacher aren’t you?
Yeah, years six and seven. I’ve been doing it since August and it’s all new to me too. I was meant to be interning but they were like ‘okay you’re going to teach now’. So I was thrown into it but it’s been a crazy process and a really positive one. I will have graduated by the time anyone reads this.
Congratulations. Are you going to give music a full time shot?
I think about it every day. With the way things are I’ll go into teaching at least for the first semester. I got some nice DJ offers for next summer and, if things settle and return to normal a bit, I’ll definitely give music a full time shot then. That’s why I’ve been pushing hard this year to establish myself as much as I can. I want to explore all the non-traditional revenue streams like Bandcamp, Spotify and royalties before I do. What this year has taught me is that you can’t rely on touring and performance like DJs did before. So I’ll have to explore them more and really think about it hard before I go full time. Plus I love teaching so I do want to develop that side of my career too.
You just mentioned you’ve been pushing hard. Where you can hear that in your productions? My favourite was the Home Alone EP
I like that one, too. It’s just a mass of pretty random ideas I had. Just fun tracks that I didn’t think would ever fit in one project but they’re so out there and so different it kinda works. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. The only thing I plan are the names. Naming tracks is my favourite thing, I don’t want to add another basic one word title out there. You’ve got to put a bit of thought into it, because if they don’t remember the song they remember the name at least!
But those tracks are quite old, they were done last year, so I think the best example of me pushing hard and breaking through on an idea I’ve had was on the last Goldfat release Mumbles Of Grace. It was the musicality aspect of things I’m trying to do. I think I pulled off that feeling where everything comes together effortlessly. It doesn’t get boring and keep s going along. That’s so difficult to nail and I think on that one I did push hard. It came together. I was happy with that.
There’s a real dark art to that. It’s hard to hide when there are minimal ingredients…
It really is. Everything has to have a purpose. I joke that it’s the Calibre method – you have little as possible, you take one thing away and it’s not the same. Everything has that perfect balance. There’s the rhyme and reason why it works. You can hear it in music, you can identify it but actually trying to work it out and applying it a whole other thing!
Yeah totally! So will we hear any unreleased tracks from you on the Future Vision stream? What’s coming out from you next year?
Oh you’ll hear some unreleased stuff for sure. Next year is another four-track project on Soulvent in the first few months. There’s a collaboration with someone I can’t mention with me on the vocal side of things too. That’s been quite a crazy thing to develop and build my confidence in. I’ve got a lot of remixes, too. After this year I’ve had a lot of remix requests! There’s one I can’t mention but you’ll know when you hear it.
Nice! How have you found streams this year anyway?
It’s been normal for me and how I connect with people for a long time. I’ve done a few of the online events. The Hospital House Party stream was a lot of fun and that was another catalyst for people picking up on me. We also did a fund raiser stream for the Stephen Lawrence Foundation, which I enjoyed. I’ve been doing some personal streams on Twitch and YouTube. A few on Instagram. That took a while to work out but Marky was smashing it on there so I thought I’d try it out. So yeah, it’s been fun. I like it, but I know there’s only so much you can do. It’s not like being in a club but it’s been my connection with the world for a long time.
The validity of streams as a means to break new music has much more value now.
I think so. For me, being so distant from any show, it’s cool for me to see what these guys do in a live setting. It’s one thing being in an area and missing a show but it’s another being thousands of miles away and hearing stories every day about people’s summer. Places where they’ve been to like 338 and seen S.P.Y and Kings Of The Rollers or some crazy party in Croatia or somewhere. It’s like watching highlight videos; ‘go on, I can live through your stories!’ But with the chat going and everyone online together, there’s been a vibe there. It’s been fun.
This year was so promising for US drum & bass with the #DNB2020 conversations. Do you think that will happen again next year?
I think every year there’s this sense of ‘this will be our year’ but even if this year did incredibly well, and the whole covid thing didn’t happen, then it might not have happened until next year anyway, because of schedules. But I think the playing fields being levelled will have helped. We’re pushing for things over here. Especially myself, Justin and Echo Brown.
I have to admit, it took me longer than it should have done to realise Echo B was Echo Brown. I thought they were two different artists!
Well I’ll raise you there… I didn’t even realise he was from America for a few years! I first heard him on a North Quarter thing and thought he was European. But yeah we talk all the time and he’s got a lot going on. Justin has got a lot going on. Because of the geographical vastness we’re all so far apart but the internet keeps us together. Just like it has for all of us this year…
Come together: Winslow will be perfoming at Future Vision for UKF online this New Year’s Eve.