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Hannah Gowen


It’s in his DNA: The Story Behind Turno’s Latest Album


It’s in his DNA: The Story Behind Turno’s Latest Album

Over the course of the last decade, Turno has constantly moved with the times and provided us with modern and stylistically-fused drum and bass. His second album DNA is no exception.

DNA is the sound of the Time is Now boss continuing where he left off with his 2018 album Power and delving deeper into the darker side of his sound. We hear tech and house influence bursting throughout this project, showcasing much more of the Turno we love with an assault of exciting new sounds and drum & bass fusions.

Even without the opportunity to enjoy the Turno experience through a heavy nightclub rig, this album presents a diverse listening experience that encapsulates the dark, unexpected and ever-changing times of 2020. His latest project is designed to be accessible for those of us who are listening at home or on-the-go, which is a new consideration in the coronavirus era.

After a difficult year, Turno has come out stronger with a creatively inspired and well-rounded body of work that is set to bless our speakers this week. UKF spoke to him about how house and techno influenced DNA, the struggles he has faced in creating the record and how lockdown changed the direction of the album.

How are you?

Good. It feels great to say I’ve finished the album. It’s an amazing feeling. I’ve submitted it all including the three bonus tracks, literally about an hour ago, so now I can sigh in relief.

A weight off your shoulders then!

Yeah. It’s been hard. Trying to finish it during lockdown has been tough. There were still around three or four tracks that needed to be done during lockdown and it was hard to make bangers, like slamming tracks. I found myself making more emotional stuff, which is good. It’s kind of worked out for the best.

When I got the booking for Malta, which obviously didn’t go ahead, I took the excitement and energy from that booking to kind of nail the title track. It made me realise how much raves and that side of life inspires me to make music.

The creative process is so reliant of our experiences and meeting new people…

Exactly. I didn’t realise how much I was used to being active. Every weekend, every week, it’s a very full on life. It’s not a 9 to 5 thing, it’s a 24/7 thing. Even at the weekends, it’s weird having no travelling to do, whether it be in England or abroad. A couple of weeks in (to lockdown) my body was like ‘What the fuck’s going on, why are you sitting on the sofa on a Saturday night?’. It was a weird adjustment to make, having no motives.

My birthday was in May and we were still in the middle of the lockdown and I went for a bike ride with my mates for my birthday! It was sick, don’t get me wrong, but I did actually sprain my ankle so maybe it wasn’t that sick. It was good, but it felt like ‘what is life?! – I’m going on a bike ride for my birthday!’ It was just so different to last year.

I think it’s the psychological routine of late nights and constant adrenaline from being in raves. It’s like a comedown and you have to figure out life without this crazy routine and there’s no buzz anymore.

I won’t be afraid to admit that I’ve had to speak to counsellors during this time. It’s been a very weird experience. I live on my own as well. I’ve not cuddled my Mum for months. It’s obviously a very bad situation and I feel sorry for all the people it’s impacted, but I can go down my local high-street on a Saturday night and see all the bars and town clubs all rammed with huge queues outside and everybody huddled together, no social distancing, and you’ve got police in their cars just watching. Then there’s me driving past thinking ‘Shit. I can’t even play in a rave’ It’s things like that and then seeing stuff about how little (the government) care about the music industry, like banning singing and dancing. They’ve taken away any kind of fun!

These industries that generate billions of pounds are being disregarded – maybe they’re misunderstood? You can have pubs and bars open with supposed social distancing, but they won’t even try to open nightclubs and manage it from a COVID perspective.

It’s the same with sports and stuff as well. If you look at the size of football stadiums, you can easily let a few thousand into most stadiums in with social distancing. That way you can make some fans happy and get some money in. Anything that is fun is getting locked off – it’s hard to understand.

It’s hard when you’re young and these are supposed to be the best years of your life, but you feel like you’re watching it pass by you.

What makes it worse is that they mentioned October being the point to open things back up and then slapped it back on us and it feels like we’ve landed back in the hole again. It’s so lucky that I have other forms of business like with my teaching and clothing, otherwise I would be screwed.

I think a lot of DJs and artists in general will agree with me – I’ve been doing this for years and have fought my way to be a full-time artist. I’ve done it all properly, tax-registered, accountant from day one and I’m running as an actual business, and that’s only one side of my business. I’m actively adding to the economy and helping keep everything move and it’s a shame to not see the help reciprocated. It does feel like the future is bleak.

It’s the lack of hope and not having any idea of when things will go back to normal. Some artists have said the lockdown has been great for their productivity, but I think there’s definitely a lack of coverage of those who have struggled. 

It’s the reality of things. The album has changed due to the situation. It’s been a reminder of how much the things and people around you inspire what you do and how you do it. Another thing that’s hard for me to take is that a lot of tracks on the album, I haven’t even been able to play out. People are probably playing my tunes out before I have. I haven’t got the response from the crowds or any feedback, which is a mad feeling. I have done the best that I could given the situation and I’m proud of it – I think it’s a good representation of where I’m at and where I’m going.

Was the album in the works before the lockdown? 

It was actually my management that put the idea to me around August last year. I had been thinking about it, but I didn’t think that I had a strong enough selection of tracks together to start building something. From then I got seriously on it in December and spent a few weeks just going through old projects and bouncing out sounds I didn’t use, making new basses, basically making a sample pack of stuff that I could go to just to make the creative process flow as much as possible. I had a few ideas and then it started piecing together.

An album is different to an EP – this is like a journey and it needs to make sense and have highs and lows. As I’ve been looking at music like that for the last year or so now, it’s nice to now go back to just having some fun and make whatever I want to make without being so serious about it. With an album you have to have the contextual features to make it all make sense, and I think that’s important – it needs to sound like a body of work.

In terms of the creative process, what has been the biggest influence on you whilst making the album? 

Before lockdown it was always the inspiration from the crowd, one hundred percent. You can think about an album too much and that can sometimes be for the wrong reasons. I think, there needs to be some Turno tunes on there, the slamming stuff that people know me for, as well as showing what else I can do. I always have a liquid kind of track, the one with TomInTheChamber for instance, and then I also have something a bit different like Devotion, which is more like a 90s vibe, and it was great working with Janice as well. I feel like I put together what I believe, in my eyes, what an album should be. It’s just about knowing what you want your music to relate to. This is where I am, this is me.

With the first album it was just drum and bass, but now people know a lot about my house and techno flavours, so I hope this album makes sense conveying that inspiration. I can introduce some people who don’t like techno or house to that kind of sound and intrigue them. They are still very similar in a sense, the whole album has quite a dark vibe to it and there’s a lot of techno influence. The intro is pretty much a techno intro at 175bpm, and I have tried to introduce it throughout and keep that vibe. Inspiration is definitely that hardest thing to find, but ultimately you just need to know what picture you want to paint. You have to ask yourself , ‘What am I trying to say with this album?’, and it might even change during the creative process.

You spoke to UKF back in 2016 and even then you were mentioning the house genre and its influence on you. Clearly this has really flourished since then as we hear an entirely new catalogue of sounds – is it important for you to introduce people to your own different styles? 

For me, it’s so important to sound authentic. You want to put your own spin on things, but you don’t want to sound like a drum and bass guy making a house track, as it’s completely different. I just find that the house and techno stuff offer an entirely different emotion. It’s about building different elements to work together like kicks, high hats, claps and a bass. Once you have a groove, it just goes from there, whereas drum and bass is a lot more technical. My drum and bass tracks have over 150 different channels in, but the house tracks you can make in like 30 channels and it still sounds as big as a DnB track. I think it’s really important to just be authentic to the genre and put a spin of your own on to it.

There’s definitely a dark undertone to this record, particularly with the drum and bass tracks. 

I think my tunes have always been lairy! That’s just my sound, I think, so I still had to include some tracks like that. I think there are three or four slammers on there.

Do you think the lack of raves has changed the types of tunes you want to make? More ‘listening’ tunes rather than club tunes? 

One hundred percent. You might not want to listen to lairy tunes at five o’clock in the afternoon! It’s the same thing with daytime raves – do you really want to be banging out jump up in the afternoon? It’s going to eventually push the underground back to the sewers! Even with how I’ve been writing, I put the If Only track out earlier than anticipated as, when lockdown first started, I wanted to get it out as it’s more of a listening track and it’s more emotional, so I hoped it would connect with people more.

In terms of the collaborations, throughout your career you have always cropped up with some huge partnerships that seem to get ravers excited. Do you think these collabs help to inspire you in your personal career? 

Definitely. I love working with people and having two energies collide to create something fresh and new, as everyone will have a different taste. I’m all for working with artists and seeing what you can come up with. Like working with A.M.C for example – how can you not get inspired by his craziness? At the same time, when we first linked, he didn’t have a lot of shows in the U.K. and I didn’t have a lot of shows in Europe, so when we fused it actually helped us both to reach new places.

If you can aid someone else and they can aid you in your journey, then it’s even better. I’m all about sharing the wealth and I don’t agree in holding people back. If we are all in this together, then there’s enough food for us all to eat – as much as it doesn’t feel like it at the moment. Socially I think it’s so important as well. I’m a very sociable guy and I feed off people and their energies. I like the alcohol when I go out, working with other people, catching vibes – all of that excites me. Ultimately you will always learn something and that will make you a better artist and a better person. It’s a win-win!

The collab with Annix got a lot of love online. Is the online hype more important than ever for feedback on your work since crowd reactions no longer exist? 

You can’t beat a good old drop video on your Instagram for feedback – that’s definitely been a pivotal part in getting feedback for the album. It still isn’t the same. Luckily, I was able to play the Annix tracks in raves before lockdown, so I have a fair few videos of that, but I would love to hear the DNA track in a dance. It would actually be really emotional for me when I hear it in a rave or a festival for the first time – it’ll be weird. All of the tracks will be like a year old and I will never have had them in a rave. I’ll probably have another album done by then!

I never thought I’d cry in a nightclub, but the first rave back will feel like something special – for the crowds too! 

It will feel like a relief. Before I submitted the album, I was listening to DNA in the car and I just envisaged playing it at a rave and I did actually get a bit emotional. I will definitely shed a tear when I do my first set again. I think it will be overwhelming but so weird at the same time. The hope of the first rave is all the hope we have right now.

What’s next from Turno? 

Time Is Now, my clothing brand, is currently in the process of putting out a new range which has been in the process for the last year. We’ve really gone to town on everything and built up the brand. That will be out in November and I’m really excited. It’s another creative output for me, which I really enjoy and it’s something that is really important.

I also have Ethos, my teaching platform, which is building now, and we have over 250 members. It’s a monthly subscription where we have our own discord, videos, monthly missions and competitions to help producers an DJs. It’s a really nice place for up-and-coming artists to chat to each other and everyone pushes each other. It’s a great environment. These are two massive projects that I’m really passionate about.

In terms of music, I have my next two or three singles ready to roll as well, it’s just a case of waiting to see how the album does. All you need to know is that you’re going to be hearing a lot more Turno music. This album is coming out on my own label, which will be my first release on my own label, so now I can release whatever I want, whenever I want. So just expect a lot of Turno for the next fifty odd years!

Turno – DNA is out October 23 on Time Is Now: Full release links

You can celebrate the launch with the man himself at the socially distanced DNA LP launch night a Night Tales in London on October 29. Tickets and info


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