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<2 months ago>

Sagar Deshmukh

Q&A

Arcatype – Our Best Music Is When We Start It All Together

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Arcatype – Our Best Music Is When We Start It All Together

We often talk about the importance of artists being afforded the space to create music organically without having to deal with tight deadlines, but as trite as it may sound the music industry as a whole has become cutthroat. The highly competitive and fast-paced nature of modern-day electronic music almost compels producers to keep churning out releases which in the long run can lead to significant burnouts. 

Despite the demands, there are artists that refuse to succumb to the pressure, and drum and bass trio, Arcatype are certainly among them. Coming together in 2015 for their first release on Ingredients Records, the trio has positioned themselves as one of the finest upholders of the rolling and stripped-back flank of D&B.

Their cutting-edge output drew attention from some of the genre’s most respected imprints, including Ingredients Records, CIA Records, Vandal Records, Symmetry Records, and Jubei’s Carbon Music, where they landed their last release in 2022.

Regrouping in 2023 after a brief hiatus and bringing back their penchant for the deep and gliding sounds, Arcatype have kicked off 2024 with a return to Carbon Music for the ‘Roll Call’ EP. The 3-track EP is an exhibition of the sound Arcatype have built for themselves over the years – profound, snappy, and evocative with the trio’s sonic identity shining through from the core on each offering. 

Leading up to the release day of the ‘Roll Call’ EP, we sat down with Arcatype to hear about the creative culmination of the EP, their return to the label, and their collective journey as an artistic powerhouse.  Starting the conversation was one thought we’ve all had on our minds ever since the turn of the new year – “2023 went by faster than ever?”

Karl started off by recalling the year just gone “Every year just seems to go faster than the last one. Lots of ups, and lots of downs, with time seeming to move so quickly, but the fact that were able to assemble again and work on this release, and eventually close it, was a major highlight. 

This is the first time in a good few years that the three of us have come together to work on a release, so it’s a really positive move!”

Moving on to how the ‘Roll Call’ EP was shaped by the trio, Karl gave us a glimpse into how the EP’s third tune ‘3 AM’ came about. “I think it all started with an initial vibe based around a dub techno sample which eventually turned into ‘3 AM’. The idea Karl talked about was first brought to life at Justin’s aka Minor Forms’ studio, and Justin continued “We had a rare weekend when we were all together, and that’s partly why we don’t release a huge amount of music because our best music is made when we start it all together.”

“From that moment on, everything fell into place perfectly, and we all fell back into a well-known groove; Karl brought the sample gold, Tommy added all the intriguing elements and progressions, and I (Minor Forms) pieced their ideas together.” 

Tommy then attested to the idea of writing music when all three members are in the same room, “This EP was how we would write music four or five years ago, and to have each other offering their input in real-time has always led to a better outcome. We want to ensure we follow this formula more going forward.”

The ‘Roll Call’ EP marks Arcatype’s return to Jubei’s Carbon Music since their ‘Return’ EP in mid-2022, and our next question was understanding any stylistic differences in this release compared to the previous EP.  

“I think stylistically, both the EPs are a part of the same creative thread, but both the releases have reminded us of the times we started making music together. Those fat reese basslines, the fluffy drums, the intricately woven samples – it is reminiscent of our first few outputs as a trio.

“It’s also important to note that Jubei has facilitated our endeavours and given us the freedom to work in our own way with the music. We love how Carbon Music is pushing that deep, underground sound, which is right up our alley, and we feel it’s a sound that is missing a bit from the way drum & bass is being made today. That’s what makes it such an exciting experience to work on these releases for Carbon.”

The highlight of the ‘Roll Call’ EP is its progression and how it offers a journey despite its short playtime, and the trio took us through how the release was assembled tune after tune, and how they made the EP a mélange of rolling and club-ready numbers. 

“Like we mentioned earlier, ‘3 AM’ was made when we were all in the studio together, and the tune served as the foundational base for the EP. Then came ‘Aromaboy’ where we dug up an old sketch of ours, which we were able to breathe new life into. The sketch was a bleepy and steppy-infused track which was brought back to the rolling narrative that we love and are known for. 

Then it was all about filling in the gap which happened with ‘Roll Call’. The other two tracks are rolling and heads-y whereas the initial idea of ‘Roll Call’ was more steppy in its nature. The name was fitting for the way we came back together as a trio and naturally, the tune ended up being our lead track even though it was the last track that we finished on the release”

Making music as a trio can be challenging, especially when the individuals are based in two separate geographies, which is the case with Arcatype. We were keen to know some trade secrets of how they keep themselves inspired individually and collectively. 

“I think we’ve always been incredibly honest with ourselves and only released music when the three of us fully felt it, and not release stuff for the sake of it, and this approach has been super helpful. On a personal level and in terms of how drum & bass has progressed as well, it’s a lot different than what it was when we started out. 

The most important factor is to adapt, but at the same time, not stray from your ethos and sound. Every label that we’ve released with we hugely respect and mirror how we want to make and release music. We’ve all grown up loving the scene, the artists, and the shows that we’ve attended together, it keeps us close, and it reflects in the music we make.

Speaking of the ever-changing landscape of drum & bass, Arcatype spoke about the importance of both ends of the genre co-existing. “The more commercial side of drum & bass, it benefits us because people start with the music they hear at festivals, music apps, etc but, if someone’s really into it they explore further and hopefully land on to the side that we’re on. 

“Even though our music is rooted in the nostalgic or the deeper end of drum & bass, there’s not a lot of stuff that is out now that sounds like what we are making.  We’ll never stop pursuing what we want to do and we are comfortable making music that resonates with exactly what we want to hear. This keeps things interesting for us and hopefully for our listeners.”

Closing the conversation, Arcatype gave us a glimpse into some upcoming music which they explain will follow a similar formula of only releasing it when they finish it together and being 100% on board with every tune – “We’re notoriously slow at writing music, and us not being in or around the same place makes it difficult, but that’s the beauty of it. When we do sit in the same place, the output is far more natural and therefore better for us as artists. 

We’ll continue to write music with Carbon Music, since our relationship has been working so well and it’s giving us a lot of inspiration working with the label. We also have plans to return to C.I.A Records, for something that will be more dubby in its aesthetic. The approach will be slightly different but still have the Arcatype sound at its absolute core. Aside from these projects, we are just planning to keep developing our sound and staying true to our ethos. 

Ultimately, our endgame is to write the music we love and enjoy the process of making it.”

Follow Aractype: Soundcloud

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