SpectraSoul’s Jack Stevens reveals his solo alias project: Workforce

Producers gotta produce, artists gotta art, writers gotta write… Creativity is not a 9-5, it’s not something you can shut away or switch off. It’s why artists make music in the first place and is much more important than any of the many end benefits of the music; the success, shows or the mad fact that you’ve stirred emotions in total strangers.

It’s a driving force and compulsion. It’s something that’s neatly captured by SpectraSoul’s Jack Stevens with both his new alias Workforce and label Must Make.

It’s a matter that’s close to his heart. After three of SpectraSoul’s biggest years to date – during which they’ve launched their own label, released a remarkable album and gave the scene one of the most unifying bangers of last year in the form of Untitled Horn – when Jack’s partner-in-vibes Dave Kennet decided to ease off their demanding schedule and focus on his young family for a while, Jack found he was still writing, still feeding that need to create, write and ultimately express himself.

Workforce is the result.

The project kicks off this month with Late Night Soundtrack Volume 1. A four track EP that ranges from raw dancefloor grit to the deeper rolling sound Jack has been best known for, it’s the first in a trio of solo releases delivered throughout the year and marks a whole new chapter in Jack’s compulsion to create. It starts with the gnarled Don’t Tell and will build up throughout the month as the first volume reveals itself in all its unapologetic full-spectrum glory. Including on our very own channel UKF Drum & Bass.

Producers gotta produce, interviewer gotta interview. And the first question should put every SpectraSoul fan’s mind at ease. Readers gotta read…

I’ve got to ask, man. Have SpectraSoul split up?

No. Definitely not. It’s quite a long timeline to be honest; we finished How We Live in the middle of 2017 and we had the Untitled Horn EP ready at that point too which was going to be released by Marcus. So after we’d made all that music we did a lot of touring. During this time Dave and his wife have got married and they’re starting a family but I’ve been writing music all this time… And this is the music.

It was a good point to release it; we’d had a few amazing years as SpectraSoul, some of our best yet, so to release it now feels right. If I’d have released it after a few years where we’d been quiet or not had such a good time then that wouldn’t have been a good message to put out – for me as a solo artist or for us as SpectraSoul – but the timing feels right. And to be honest it’s been quite an experience; going into the studio on my own and seeing if I can do it on my own has been an interesting one to step up to.

I was going to ask… It must be quite strange to work on your own after so many years. Kinda like riding a bike without stabilisers maybe? Not sure if that’s an appropriate comparison!

No that does make sense. Working in a duo means you have reassurance; you’re either in agreement or you’re challenging each other in order to make the tune better. But on your own you don’t have that type of security. Working on your own is harder, you’re the driving force 100 percent.

Yeah it’s all down to you. I love the name of the label too; Must Make. I get that from a writing perspective. Every artist I speak to is the same; you don’t feel fulfilled without making, creating, doing something. Expressing yourself.

Nail on the head. That’s literally it. It came about through a podcast idea I had about speaking to fellow peers about that compulsion and how that affects their mindset, their mental health, their happiness. If I don’t feel like I’m achieving what I want to achieve then I’m a fucking nightmare. My family and friends can confirm that. I’m trying to get that under control.

It’s what drives you as well though. If you have it under too much control you won’t have that burning feeling – that compulsion as you mentioned – to achieve. It’s a very fine line.

Totally. It’s the reason I’m in the studio early this morning but I got back from Bristol late last night. It’s also the reason why I find it hard to give myself a day off. Even after a weekend of gigs I can’t justify to myself that taking a Monday off is okay, I need to be in the studio, I need to be progressing. So I’m learning how to have that conversation with myself and realising that taking time out can actually help the creative process; the balance is hard to achieve though isn’t it?

Forever! You sound pretty balanced and motivated. Prolific, too. I’m wondering if the next EP is already locked in the chamber…

Yes. I’ve got loads of things pretty much complete. I had 12-13 tracks ready and thought I’d drop them all as an album. But then I felt like maybe that would be silly and potentially go under the radar so I think I’ll do these as a series of three Late Night Soundtrack EPs. But yes, you’re right, I have written a lot. The challenge is working out what to release and which tracks to put on which EPs. That’s been a new learning curve too; when I’m writing with Dave by the time we’ve finished a track we know we’re going to release it. Not a lot ends up being shelved.

You’ve got a filter as duo, like your own quality control

Yeah it’s part of the process we have between us that you can’t have when you’re working on your own, it’s all really interesting and something I’m learning loads from. Even the whole process of writing an album sized body of work but releasing it as I go along is different and unusual to me. And that’s the purpose of this project – for my own sanity and fulfilment – to challenge myself and develop in a different way.

You can’t pause your own creative needs…

Exactly and we’re working our way through this. SpectraSoul still very much continues, we’re still playing DJ sets, we’ve not split up, we just had our best years yet… This is just my own mission I need to do. It’s been a great challenge and really inspiring which will feed back into anything else I do.

Workforce – Don’t Tell is out now on Must Make

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