Soul-strung, groundbreaking and poignantly powered by musical and artistic diversity in abundance, these are but just a few of the superlatives used to describe multi-talented Polish-born mastermind Satl.
A supremely cherished talent, we’ve witnessed him unleash an incredible array of captivating sights and sounds over the years, with his last couple of projects – namely a sublime dip into deeper, dubbier, grubbier motifs on a selection of cuts from last year’s standout Lucid Dreams EP – a slight step away from his tantalising, buttery smooth original frameworks. This mentality, a pathway envisioned by both Satl & revered label boss and tastemaker Lenzman, ushered in a fresh creative process, and one that’s fully on show here but this time paired with an EP that’s full of sunshine and seamless, flowing wonder – it’s magical to behold.
It’s new, fresh and fuelled with groove & funk, but it’s also a wisened, introspective reflection on the past and Satl’s roots as a bedroom producer with a dream like so many of us are, with some of those very dreams realised in full on this project, and over the past few years of his lightning development on the likes of The North Quarter and Integral.
With the full release just over the horizon on July 30, and a beautiful collaboration with DRS out now, UKF caught up with Satl to get the full lowdown on his latest project on TNQ, a true soundtrack for your summer.
You last spoke to UKF in June last year, around the time of the release of 4Lyfe. How’s life been since then in the soulful world of Satl?
I’ve still been doing a lot of stuff like that but in terms of releases, with Lenzman especially, I wanted to showcase a little bit of a different style that I’ve been doing. It’s that cliche thing that when you start making liquid in the beginning and then you try different things, people only want to label you as liquid, and then when you do different things or do sets that aren’t fully liquid they’re surprised! I think my goal for the past year or so was just to try and release more music that’s a bit different to my usual liquid stuff which I still obviously love; I just want to let people know I make loads of different music.
On 4Lyfe on Integral, Yin & Yang were a bit different and I had some comments like “Bro, what are you doing?! This isn’t what I want to hear from you” – the EP was like 8 tracks, 6 were pure liquid and I just wanted to experiment and see the reaction. Obviously, some people react really well but some people just wanted the liquid. I think that’s why we decided with Lenzman that, on the Lucid Dreams EP that came after 4Lyfe, we wanted to step away from the liquid stuff and I thought it worked really well. Right now, people can expect that more than say a year ago!
It’s healthy, and that’s something that must be really genuine about working with Lenzman & The North Quarter especially – there’s so many different influences on show and you’ve very much got that freedom to have your artistic presence.
Yeah, especially working with Lenz, he’lll be down to release something that he would like, even if it wasn’t drum & bass. For him, if he likes that music then he’ll put it out and I think that’s really good. From an artistic point of view, I can just roll out the music and send him 10 tracks in a month, maybe he likes something for one project, something for a different project and I know I can be totally free… I couldn’t send him a foghorn haha, maybe he wouldn’t like that! In terms of the full freedom if I want to make more techno-ey or dubby stuff or full liquid, I know he’ll back it up which is really nice. We’ll always go back and forth, if he sees potential in a certain idea he’ll still encourage me to try it in a different way.
Let’s talk about the title – I feel like Bedroom Producer With a Dream is a really reflective description of the project, how did you settle on the name, and the vibe as a whole?
I think the idea came from a lot of people in the scene doing something to be cool, sometimes there’s a lack of honesty when you present your music and the way you would like to present it. I was chatting a lot with Lenzman about it before we agreed on the title because it sounds a bit cheesy, but on the other hand that’s me! The title is fully reflective of the whole journey that I’ve been on and I just wanted to make a statement, as with every release. Especially with the virus, being at home a lot, thinking, reflecting, it felt emotional and I wanted to put it out.
It’s almost like being a bedroom producer again! In a way, are you still that same bedroom producer you were? The EP’s got a real reflective feel to it, but with that expert Satl finesse, know-how and soul worked in.
Definitely! Maybe I don’t produce in my bedroom now but that’s the only thing that’s changed pretty much! I feel that I always wanted to do music, to come full circle… when I first started producing it wasn’t drum & bass for a couple of years, so I hadn’t really done anything like that when I was learning to produce. Working with all these people now, getting the knowledge, learning and mastering the craft – I think that’s why I also started my non-dnb alias [Nowheretobefound], because I came from this background. Right now, with all that knowledge that I’ve got, I just wanted to go back to the same mindstate and mindset that I was in back then. I think that’s why it comes back to being a bedroom producer, going back to some of the things I used to do before I had some following!
Beautiful Struggle w/ DRS kicks off the EP in a perfect manner, juxtaposed and wholly heartfelt. How long has this been in the works with Del? You’ve worked with some incredible vocalists so far and he’s another one that really stands out.
I actually started the track on one of my Patreon livestreams, Lenz really liked the track for release but we definitely need some vocals for it. We’d been making ideas for some time and I said, “Yo, I’d really like to make it a track with Del!” He said we could definitely try it out, and I’d been speaking with Del for months that we needed a track but we just didn’t have the perfect one. He took maybe two weeks and we had the vocals back so it was a pretty quick turnaround! Getting the vocals quickly and finishing it was really nice, working with Del is absolutely sick, he’s a legend lyrically and as a human being – it’s also one of those dreams coming true. When I started, I always set goals that I wanted to make as I grow and this was definitely one of them.
T.R.A.C also features on the wonderfully quirky Limin, he’s got such a distinctive style in really suiting that Hip Hop-infused vibe. Is this one something that lines up with some of your influences?
I was never actually a really big Hip Hop head! At some point, I really loved T.R.A.C’s collab with Greg Submorphics – ‘Higher Ground’ – I’ve absolutely loved that track for many many years. Later on we worked with Greg together as a 3 way collab Whatchudo, but we never did anything together. We always spoke about it and now we’re in a good place for it, he’d been touring a lot before COVID, I’d been playing out a lot – a lot of collabs are possible now thanks to everyone having that time to actually sit down and make it happen. As much as I miss playing out, I absolutely love producing and that’s where I see myself first and foremost.
I always thought about producers getting solo work down, but I hadn’t really thought about the positive impact on working with vocalists as well.
Yeah, a lot of collabs happened because obviously people were working from home, you can easily go back and forth. There’s been a lot of negative impacts out of the virus situation, but there are positives as well, trying to see that light.
This EP really showcases your versatility and malleability as a producer, especially on the stunning trifecta of solo instrumental tracks – Takeshi, Never Far & Give Up. I love hearing those quintessential Satl rollouts, how did they come together for this?
I think Give Up was already started when I was doing my first EP for The North Quarter, I always thought it had something and I knew Lenzman liked it but I just didn’t touch it for a long time. Eventually one day I came back to it and thought it had potential! Lenz was a big fan of that. Never Far was actually the latest track added to the EP, and a lot of the pianos were sampled from an instrumentalist I’m working with in the Netherlands, Leon Cronie. He’s a crazy pianist and I love working with him, he’ll send me piano jams over and I’ll just rearrange it, chop it the way I want it, pitch it up, that’s essentially this! ‘Takeshi’ was one of the older tracks as well, I really liked this one from the beginning, I’ve been trying different drums, different instruments to fit in – I’m happy that it’s on the EP!
I’ve been watching some of Leon Cronie’s covers on YouTube and they’re absolutely amazing! What’s the link there?
He actually covered All My Life and just hit me up on Instagram – I was like “that’s sick dude, let’s do something together!” We’ve been working like this for more than a year now which is great.
That’s such a cool linkup! There’s also the Tokyo Prose collab on there of course, something we’ve wanted more of since Lights Down Low and his remix of All My Life. There’s so much musicality and soul flying around, how does that merge together in the studio?
It’s funny, I’ve had stems for this track with him for ages, this was actually the first collab that we started. Only until this year, I was cleaning out my PC and I found the stems! I thought okay this sounds good, I totally forgot about it before but we did Lights Down Low and some other stuff, then I came back to this and knew we had to make it happen. The main pianos in this particular track came from him, we went back and forth, changed it a few times, other elements and it was pretty smooth. I’ve gotta say, when it comes to his music (pianos in drum & bass etc), I’d definitely say he’s top of the game! I think it was natural coming together.
In a way, this feels really different to your previous outings. There were loads of varied, deep flavours on show on Things We Can’t See & Lucid Dreams, how would you define this? It feels personal, a celebration of where you’ve come from and your overarching mentality and ethos.
I think for this one, it’s joy. It’s really musical and a lot of funky stuff, it’s summer right now so it’s a perfect time to release it as well – it’s music that you can play in a club but also listen to at home. It fits perfectly in that summer period!
It’s always great to see a project full of joy, sometimes you have to be selfish with stuff like that and just do you. A great showcase of how much you care is your thriving Patreon which I’ve loved being a part of, is that something you’ll continue moving forward?
Definitely, it’s opened my eyes to what’s possible in times like this especially. I see Patreon as one of the social medias, but one where you can get closer with people. I absolutely love it, I’ve discovered so many great producers through it from people sending me tracks for feedback, even just talking to people on Discord sometimes and getting to know people’s opinions, not just on what I do but in general. It’s nice to have that insight and knowledge, I see it as a closer place to get more engagement with the fans and I’ll definitely keep going with it. It links back to the reflection on this EP – I didn’t expect that, being from a village with maybe 1000 citizens, to have the reach to people on the other side of the world that love your music – it’s mindblowing.