DRS, DJ Flight, Monty and more will feature on Redeyes’ surprise new 10 track artist album. Set for release on The North Quarter, September 11, it was written entirely during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.
A delicate weave of beats, skits, stories and messages, Selfportaits is the sound of Redeyes defying the curse of lockdown. The French artist’s fourth artist album, it captures a unique moment in time for him personally, for his friends involved in the album and for us all as we begin to look towards making a better future post-lockdown.
In what’s becoming The North Quarter’s signature, there’s no pre-promo hype or fanfare for this release whatsoever; just serious soulful D&B delivered as both a full trip with skits and excursions or as an alternate version with the tracks club-ready. When they eventually open.
It starts today with A Thousand Times feat. [ K S R ]. Full release drops September 11 and the whole thing will be complemented with visuals by Redeyes himself. Portraits of his own hometown Toulouse, a place he’s spent more time in over the last few months of lockdown than he has in many years of touring, they take off where the classy black and white shots of his last album on The North Quarter, Broken Soul.
You can pre-order it now. Here’s how it came to life…
What a ridiculous year we’ve been having…
Yes. But there’s been some positive things to take from it. I’ve had a lot of time to think about stuff. About myself. I got to spend a lot of time with my kids, but I like to be at home, and I have had a lot of time for making music.
Like write a whole album…. Was the whole of Selfportraits written during lockdown?
Two tracks were written before. Change.Illusion was the first track I wrote after Broken Soul. Everything else was written during lockdown, yes. But I hadn’t written anything in maybe six months before, so it was flowing naturally.
The time was right. We spoke about these cycles in the last interview…
It was the right time, but I was a bit concerned because six months is a long time to not be making beats and those gaps between the producing sessions get so big it started feeling like maybe I’d never want to make music again. But I just needed the time to feel good with myself I guess. And with the lockdown, those first two weeks were very crazy. Scary, you know, because you didn’t know what was going to be happening. But then I felt comfortable again and after a few weeks I got into this nice routine.
That’s interesting. I think a lot of people went the opposite way in terms of finding inspiration. Certainly as it went on and on. But it sounds like you really found an opportunity there to relish in your creative flow.
Exactly. Like I told you, all I need is love and to feel comfortable. I love being at home anyway. Sadly my girlfriend is living in London so we didn’t see each other, but we were in touch every day and I found it to be a good moment to be creative.
And do some serious business with man like DRS!
Yes. He did so many things for the interludes. I asked him for an interlude and sent him a folder of some tracks and said if he wanted to do another one, or a different one, then of course it was cool. He did three of them and I was really happy. For a week, it was like a track a day. In two weeks, we got maybe 10 tracks together. It’s so crazy to work with him. For me it’s easy to write a track in a day, you’re just playing with beats and stuff. But with him he’s singing and writing and recording tracks. I think he had a good creative flow, too…
The interlude Dad’s Hands moved me to tears when I first heard that. Listening as a father and as a son…
I hear it as a father, too. My dad wasn’t here too so maybe not as a son. But I’m so happy it’s on there. When DRS asked if there was anything I wanted him to talk about I said ‘love, family and of course Black Lives Matter and everything that’s going on in the world right now’. That was important for me, Selfportraits wasn’t just about portraits of myself but also the opportunity to other people to talk through things.
Like DJ Flight. Her message at the end is a fitting conclusion and such an important message. I guess you guys go back to the Swerve days?
Yeah together with Bailey she was one of the first people to support me and play my music on the radio with her 1Xtra show. It worked out great to have Natalie on the track. I think she was a little stressed about it, but she expresses herself so well and what she’s saying is so important. Always and with everything going on in the world right now. People can’t just consume music, people don’t want to do politics in dance music, but I think we need to change it. You know?
I do. Music has always been political. A lot of rave music has lost that.
Yes and think about what we grew up to. Public Enemy or Rage Against The Machine. It’s fucking politics, you know. We can’t be silent. We’ve got a platform to talk about things and to speak out some truth.
Absolutely. Was there a lightbulb moment when you realised you had an album on your hands rather than a nice creative routine?
Things happened pretty quickly. We put a deadline of maybe early May or something for an EP. But then things really started happening, I was happy with my tracks and we started thinking okay it’s an album now. It felt like an album instead of an EP. The tracks weren’t DJ tools and there’s no clubs to play them in for now. I know people are doing DJ streams but it’s not the same as a club so I wanted something more long-lasting for home listening and to have a message.
I like the immediacy of it. Something real and meaningful to show from your lockdown. When did you finish it?
Early June it was done. We didn’t know how long lockdown was going to last so the deadline was originally May. We didn’t know all this would take so long.
Last question. Some people – like you – have come out of lockdown positively. Other people like Doc Scott and his weekly streams, or Skibadee and his morning stream sessions, have really used their time wisely and created something unique and adapted. Have you had any lockdown heroes in that type of way?
Yes. The thing I like is the capacity of people to adapt. You know, like the series I enjoyed a lot was the Verzuz battles on Instagram. They were all really good fun especially ones like Premier vs RZA and Erykah Badu vs Jill Scott. Every Saturday was something new and something that wouldn’t have happened without the lockdown. And that’s what I’ve taken from this; how well people adapted to this. That’s inspiring.