It’s finally ready: Paul T & Edward Oberon’s debut album Strange Days will be released on December 3 on V Recordings.
Featuring collaborations with the likes of Serum, Singing Fats, Cleveland Watkiss, 2Shy MC, T.R.A.C, Riya, Makoto, A Little Sound, Lorna King, Cee H Blak and Elipsa, the album follows a series of universally supported anthems such as Moon In Your Eyes and Take My Breath Away.
In a tradition that fits both V and Paul and Edward’s reputation, the release has been in discussion for well over a year now. But, as Edward says himself in this interview, good things are worth waiting for.
A 12-track game of musical and dynamic contrasts, Strange Days continues Paul T & Edward Oberon’s exciting and unhurried vein of form, building on their reputation for strong, emotional hooks and drops raw enough to melt your dancing shoes. Singles have been dropping since the summer with two more arriving before the album release in just over a month. We called them to find out more…
Well, it’s about time!
Paul T: Haha. There’s no point in rushing things. There was a song we needed to finish, a few things we needed to fix and we also wanted a track with Serum on there, because of the collabs we’ve done with him in the past. He’s got a lot of things happening with his own label and stuff with Hospital, so it was finding a time that worked for him plus the turn around with vinyl.
Edward Oberon: We don’t want to be like, ‘It’s all Covid’s fault!’ But that did have an impact, too. Waiting for vinyl, waiting for mastering, even us fixing tracks, everything got pushed back because of the situation. But we’re finally here now.
Paul T: I don’t think we’ve ever had a release that’s come out on time. Moon In Your Eyes was 18 months delayed, wasn’t it?
Edward Oberon: Good things are worth waiting for!
But taking time can often make you want to change things, right? How many versions and iterations of these tracks and the whole album have you been through?
Paul T: A ridiculous amount! At least 10 or 15 versions per track.
Edward Oberon: Easily! We always do this, and we always try different ideas with tracks and send versions back and forth. It’s a bit of a journey until we both go, ‘Ah that’s the one we’re looking for!’
That’s the beauty of being a duo isn’t it? You are your own quality control…
Paul T: Without a doubt. Ed’s the one who’s very good at going in on a tune. I’ll get a vibe together, but he spends six hours on a cymbal.
Edward Oberon: Haha. As my CV says, I’m very detail-orientated!
You complement each other perfectly! So the first thing that strikes me about the album is that it’s legend central with the collabos. Within a few tracks alone you hear Fats, Cleveland, 2Shy. Some of the most important voices in D&B jungle!
Paul T: Yeah we love vocals and they’re all legends to us as well. With Cleveland in particular, we’ve known of each other for years, might get a wave if we see each other out and about, but it was Sun And Bass 2018 and he jumped on my set. He wasn’t scheduled to, but he did and he loved Moon In Your Eyes.
That was the anthem of that Sun And Bass and that story doesn’t surprise me. Cleveland is Mr Sun And Bass!
Paul T: He was lovely. I asked about doing some music and he was all over it. I sent him this thing which, looking back, was a really crap idea. But he came back with those amazing vocals and we built a whole new track around them.
Edward Oberon: He was a bit shocked when we played it to him, but the crowd reaction was pretty massive, so it was cool.
Oh wow so the first time Cleveland heard the final version was live?
Edward Oberon: Yeah, it was at Sun And Bass the following year! We were working on it at the place we were staying at, drinking beers on a balcony trying to finish the tune in time.
Love that. I also associate Fats with Sun And Bass. Did you link there or through V?
Paul T: Nah, that was at Sun And Bass, too! We linked with a lot of people there. When you’re in the club it’s very loud and quite fleeting and hectic, but at a festival like that you’re there, immersed in it all and you have time to speak to people. Fats was into Moon In Your Eyes and was asking questions about it, so I said, ‘Let’s do a song.’ We originally hoped Fats would duet with Cleveland on Cleveland’s song but Fats said Cleveland has smashed it so much he couldn’t find where he’d fit in so we did a tune with him and Edward sent him a demo track.
Edward Oberon: Yeah we’d send a basic idea over, hear where the vocals were taking it and then totally build a fresh track or expand on the idea we sent them.
Awesome. Tell me about Strange Days. These have been strange days since Brexit, haven’t they? It’s nice that Serum is on that track due to your strong connection from previous tracks. Also Cee H Blak’s vocals on that track!
Edward Oberon: We knew we would ask Mark to be involved, because of the success of the previous collaborations we’ve done. We also wanted to include proper vocals because we’d used vocal samples on our previous tracks but wanted to do even better on this one. One up it in whatever way possible, right?
Always. So in comes Cee H Blak…
Edward Oberon: That’s right. He’s a lovely vocalist. Paul hit him up, we sent him ideas and it was one of those moments. Sometimes you send an idea to a singer, and they come back with pages and pages of incredible lyrics and vocals and it’s just perfect. This was one of those times. So after that we sent it to Mark.
Paul T: I had a simple bass drop on the track. I sent it to Mark, he loved it and got involved. The lyrics, when you listen to them, really do capture the strangeness of everything that happened last year.
Edward Oberon: He wrote it in the middle of the whole pandemic kicking off, around April type of time.
Paul T: He really captured how strange the times were. Mark heard them and was like, ‘Wow.’ He usually makes jollier stuff but he put two fingers up at expectations and did something very different. It all came together and, because of the lyrics and the way it summed up everything, we decided that would be the title track.
Edward Oberon: It was so poignant and relatable for everyone. We didn’t make it easy for ourselves having a collaboration with Serum as the title track because we had his release schedule to be considerate of, but it felt right.
The whole album feels right. You guys do contrasts really well. That opening track Somewhere Else for instance. A beautiful intro then that thunderous drop. That’s the parameters of the album. You’ve done some very big anthems, but the album is a much broader vision of yours isn’t it?
Paul T: Thanks man. It has been nice to step away from those big tracks. Take My Breath Away was a big track, too. Not quite as big as Moon In Your Eyes.
Still big, though!
Paul T: Yeah, it was very nicely supported and a lot of DJs we never expected supporting it. But with those tracks we were doing the vocals and musical elements and Mark was making them heavy and dancefloor oriented. The gradual change we’ve had during all this time was learning how to make our own tracks heavy. So with that track in particular, and all tracks, we want to show that contrast and that musicality and then a full-on drop.
Edward Oberon: Yeah. Don’t hold back! Still keep that musicality but try and make it as fierce as ever.
There’s a real edge to some of them. Rocking Me has had me doing silly dances every time I’ve heard it since freedom weekend. Not sure whose sets I’ve heard it in but heard it a lot…
Paul T: Maybe Bryan’s sets. Groove’s been playing that a lot. I think Fabio’s been playing some tracks so maybe that one. You never know who’s playing it because no one tells you they’re playing it. But it’s an interesting concept with doing the vocals. It’s a lot more work isn’t it, Ed?
Edward Oberon: It is a lot of work, and it adds another layer to the process. But it’s been a nice process overall. We do work really well with vocalists.
There’s a nice range of them, too. Obviously signing out with fellow V legend T.R.A.C…
Paul T: Yeah. Who else is on that track?
Edward Oberon: Me!
Paul T: Oh yeah that’s right.
Edward Oberon: I did some backing vocals on that. I don’t like performing vocals live any more but I’m happy to record and edit.
That makes it even more personal. Nice. Did you know you’d add your vocals on the album? To have that personal stamp on it?
Edward Oberon: Yeah I think so. It’s nice to back vocals up and give things an extra layer. I did it a lot on my releases on Liquid V and back then I did still sing live. So times have changed but it is nice to know I have that option and know we can do that on a track if it needs that extra vocal or element.
It’s quite the tradition in drum & bass with the likes of Calibre, Calyx, Fred V, dBridge and many more singing their own tunes. So there’s another single then the album, right?
Paul T: Yeah there’s For Our Love with Lorna King and Makoto at the end of the month. Then the title track, with Serum and Cee H Blak, goes out at the end of November. Then the full album drops on December 3 and we’ve got a launch on December 2 at Peckham Audio.
So, looping back to the first question, with the delays in mind you’ve probably got loads of stuff up your sleeves after the album has dropped?
Paul T: We’ve got a few things. All of them are sitting with vocalists at the moment.
Edward Oberon: There’s a lot of things aren’t there? We’re starting up the album engine again and getting the ball rolling. A lot earlier than last time because now we know how many peaks and valleys an album can entail! But yeah, the minute this was done we were both like, ‘Okay, next!’ It’s great, Paul had loads of ideas ready, I did, too and it’s exciting to be in that process again.
Riding the buzz!
Paul T: It’s nice to have something substantial out. Singles are good but they’re out, you do a bit of promo and that’s that. But at a time when everyone is working quickly and firing things out it’s fulfilling to work on something like this. We hope everyone enjoys it too….
Paul T & Edward Oberon – Strange Days is out December 3 on V Recordings: pre-save & info