This time last year even the most attentive of D&B heads wouldn’t have heard of Pyxis. Right now this exciting new liquid talent is unavoidable…
By the end of 2020 she will have had over 10 releases on labels such as Goldfat, Liquid Drops and Just Noyze and more than a few landmark projects to her name, including four major VA volumes of Headsbass on Beats In Mind, the mental health initiative she founded earlier this year, and The XX EP, which appears to be the biggest, and possibly the first, all-female EP ever in drum & bass.
Released this week on Chris Inperspective’s exciting new label Eloisa, the four track EP continues Pyxis’s rich vein of soulful form and features four of the scene’s many prominent vocalists and songwriters: Collette Warren, SOFi MARi, Ella Sopp and Sydney, none of whom had worked with a female producer before this EP.
Like Pyxis, all singers have defied the curse of 2020 and maintained their creativity during lockdown and all enjoyed significant releases. Collette has been unstoppable with her weekly streams with Ben Soundscape a whole range of collabs. Ella Sopp can be found on Philth’s recent two-part LP Moments In Time, Sydney recently featured on Pilot with Bert H while SOFi MARi’s vocals are tour de force on Phuture T’s new album and she has a full EP set for release next month on Fokuz. And right now they all feature all on The XX EP. Not just Pyxis’s biggest release to date, but a significant turning point release for drum & bass, too.
This is quite possibly the first EP of its kind with all female production and vocals. When, during the process, did you realise this was the case?
Pyxis: I hadn’t even realised it or thought about it for ages, then it suddenly dawned on me and we realised it’s quite possibly the biggest all female EP ever to be released in drum & bass. It’s come at the right time. With so many people pioneering womxn in D&B, this was very much needed and I’m so happy to be able to bring it with the girls. There are some amazing people pushing for this – Sweetpea, Chickaboo, Mantra and everyone at EQ50 – but as a newcomer producer, I am especially over the moon to be joining forces with these absolutely incredible girls and being a part of an ever-growing family of ladies in the scene.
Ella, Sofi, Sydney, Collette… Is this the first time you’ve worked with a female producer?
Ella: Yes, I had had brief discussions with a couple of others but this is the first time to work on something. And so exciting that it’s getting released!
Collette: Yes it is, and that is shocking! But since this I’ve worked with Dazee on two tracks and I’m working on something with Kyrist now too, so I’m pleased about that.
SOFi MARi: Yes it is. I’ve discussed plans for future collabs with a number of other producers that are women, but Pyxis was the first that I’ve worked with and had anything released from it.
Sydney: It’s the first for me too! I had also never really thought about it. I always knew the scene was very male dominated and it’s been amazing to really feel the movement of women in D&B over the last 10 years I’ve been involved as a raver but as a vocalist I guess it never dawned on me.
How did this all come together?
Pyxis: It came together really naturally, but in a strange way… I had started working with Collette in May 2019, I was just getting into the idea of producing and I asked Col if she had any vocals going spare, she sent me the Senses acapella and I wrote around it. Once I had that locked down, I approached Sophie for the same and she sent me a folder of bits, I’ve been playing around with them ever since, I love going back to Soph’s ideas folder, and we have a couple more in the pipeline. Senses and Timepeace have been finished and ready for about a year, but we were just busy and trying to think how best to place the tracks. Sophie spoke to Chris (Inperspective) and he really liked the tunes for Eloisa, but he hadn’t launched the label yet, so we sat on them. Chris had asked for a 4 track EP and I had Aura and Zen part written, which he said sounded good to finish and include as instrumentals but I really wanted to make the EP an all-female, all-vocal project, so I spoke to Ella and Sydney, who both wrote their vocals within a week and there it was, all finished and ready to release
This is your biggest EP to date and another exciting example of you breaking through as a new artist. You’re defying the curse of 2020!
Pyxis: I’ll be honest, it feels like a dream most of the time. I know it’s happening, but I often sit and wonder how. By the time 2020 ends, I think I’ll have had 10-11 releases out since my first EP that came out on Goldfat in December 2019, which is mental. I don’t think 2020 has cursed the release schedules for labels and artists in general, but as a newcomer, I have been lucky. I think it’s a combination of things – being a female liquid producer and there being a gap in the market for this makes me a bit of a curiosity. I don’t tend to produce anything predictable or typical, I just do me. I don’t reference anyone and I try not to write like I’m influenced by anyone, which is hard because I absolutely love so many other artists and listen to them religiously, but I steer away from copycatting. I do think it’s helped being different – particularly in 2020 – and if you don’t fit a mould or a generic/running theme, you do become quick to be recognised and inclusive.
Totally agree! Likewise Ella, Sofi, Sydney, Collette… You’ve all had big releases and kept busy and seemingly not let the rubbishness of the year affect your creativity.
Ella: I don’t think this has been an easy year for anyone however you want to spin it, the only positive thing for me from lockdown was the free time to write record, and catch up with some outstanding projects. However as an artist, and what with how weird everything is/was, it is sometimes hard to be in the right mindset so that has taken a bit of self-training!
SOFi MARi: I have to say the tunes I’ve put out this year, and the releases that I’ve got scheduled, have been part of finding the silver lining of 2020. Personally, I’ve found this pandemic has highlighted the importance of creativity’s link to our well-being and self-care. It’s been a trying year with so much change and upheaval that I’ve not gotten as much recording done as I was hoping to. Yet I’ve still managed to accomplish goals set for particular releases. Keeping creative while adjusting to major change has been quite the learning experience.
Sydney: For me, music was the only thing keeping me sane so I actually became more creative. I wasn’t working, had no structure & with a lot of pain and suffering in the world, mentally I really struggled. Getting up and seeing new music in my inbox to jam to was really making my day – to be honest, once the weird became my new ‘normal’ it was like I was living my dream as a full time musician. This scary year just confirmed how music will always get you through.
Collette: During lockdown I’ve written and recorded the most tracks I’ve ever done in a 6 month period, so if anything it’s pushed me to write more and work harder, so it’s defo not affected my creativity!
Finally Ella, Sofi, Sydney, Collette… Tell us something cool about your collaboration with Pyxis to sign out!
Ella: As soon as I heard the Aura instrumental was captivated by its shimmering uplifting vibe, so felt only right to write about someone’s Aura, and how I missed it at the time of early lockdown. Pyxis gas been a dream to work with she’s great at communicating with her artists and from day one she has been so supportive as a producer , all round top lady. Thrilled to be working with such an amazing team of girls. Here’s to more releases like this in the industry!
Collette: My track was the first one, it came together because Pyxis put a post on the Women In Drum & Bass Facebook page and asked if any vocalists would be up for letting her have a play around with some vocals, so I said yes and sent her a vocal pack. That’s when Senses was born, and it turned out into s lovely roller. I’m very happy with the end result.
SOFi MARi: How Pyxis took three different recordings that I’d sent her, and combined them into the tune we have on the EP, still gets me grinning like a Cheshire cat. The dreamy, amen-heavy vibe of Timepeace was a direction that I wasn’t expecting from Pyxis and I loved every bit of it! I suggested sending the tunes she did with me and Collette Warren to Chris Inperspective and he was happy to bring Pyxis on board of his imprint Eloisa Records. From there it was decided that Pyxis would release a 4 track EP and here we are… Ladies coming together for an epic release!
Sydney: I think I was the last girl to get involved with the collaborations so we actually turned the track around in a crazy amount of time. The track for me was so easy to write to, real soulful liquid so it didn’t take me long to get a demo over to Pyxis, which she loved. After that it was just a case of tidying up ad libs and harmonies – definitely the most stress free track I’ve worked on! So thankful for Pyxis for getting me involved, I really feel honoured to be a part of this with four amazing ladies… looking forward to getting together again for future collabs.