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A Modern Intimate Conversation With The Caracal Project

The Caracal Project has recently returned with new music, but this time, he’s doing things a little differently.

Part of an exciting new generation of artists alongside IMANU, Buunshin, Skylark, Synergy and gyrofield to name just a few, he’s been helping reinvent drum and bass with a style of production that’s breaking down and blurring the sometimes rigid boundaries of the genre.

After catching the drum and bass bug after discovering Noisia’s explorative Outer Edges album, he has gone on to release on a host of labels who tip the heavier end of the spectrum, such as DIVIDID, Blackout and Nëu. In September, he achieved his dream of featuring on the legendary Dutch trio’s Vision Recordings, with a track on their Mission series. He said this achievement felt like a ‘new begining’ with his production.

This new beginning sees the birth of his most exciting project to date- Modern Intimate. It embodies the young Frenchman’s vision for bridging the gaps between dance music genres, bringing different cultures together and representing lockdown emotions. Across two tracks, he fuses his energetic, intricate production with a more melancholic approach, exploring the possibilities of his renowned drum and bass style as well as a unique trap-focused beat.

Wanting to make it as personal as possible, he decided to independently release the project, putting it out directly to those who have been following his music. To ensure the release told a full story, he’s created his own artwork and visuals to accompany the music, avenues that he wants to further explore in the future.

We caught up with The Caracal Project to hear more about this exciting new venture, and what it means for him moving forward…. 

We’ll come to your music in just a minute, but I wanted to start by asking how the last few months have been for you regarding the pandemic? 

It’s been a really weird shift in lifestyle as I had to drop my flat and move back to my parents’ house in March. This uncertainty hit my motivation at the start as for the first two or three weeks I was just stressing, trying to figure out new ways in which I could continue keep The Caracal Project up-and-running. My plan before the pandemic was to move to The Netherlands with Skylark. We were counting on a couple of busy months with gigs to make sure we could move with a bit of a financial buffer, but we obviously had to cancel all of that. After the initial shock, the situation triggered a new type of energy in me to work on some new stuff. I’ve done a lot of things that I definitely wouldn’t have done before the lockdown, which is a positive to take, but it all still sucks! 

As musicians have you been getting much support from the French government?

I’ve personally been very lucky! I’m not actually registered as a musician or an intermittent worker as it’s called here because I was doing freelance jobs before and then my music just took over. This means that I started getting compensation from the government based on my revenue from 2019. I dropped my flat so I’m lucky that the money I’ve been given, I can invest in my projects. I know a lot of artists though who have had it a little rougher and have had to battle against the situation, while I could stay focused on my career.

I know Skylark ran a socially distanced event on your Fête de la Musique day. Has there been much development in terms of clubs and events?

I played a gig back in July which was really weird! There was a little window where outdoor events were allowed again if they were under 5,000 capacity. We had to go in wearing masks and everything but once in there no one was wearing them and there was no one checking either. It was billed as outdoors but it was in a big tent with over 1,000 people in. It felt like we were living in another reality when we compared it to what we were seeing on the news. I had a great time but looking back maybe it was a bit stupid. That’s all I’ve done; I haven’t played any socially distanced events. I’d definitely encourage promoters to push new ways to celebrate the music, but it means people have to be responsible with it. Partying is all about standing up against the rules so it’s quite difficult to encourage people to be responsible when they’re going out to enjoy themselves.

With your extra time away from the club scene you’ve started a really exciting new project- Modern Intimate. Tell us all about it. 

Modern Intimate represents a new branch I’ve been exploring this year. It’s been tailored throughout the lockdown, which really pushed me to release it.

This release is more sentimental than my previous work. This music to me felt like a ray of hope in the middle of the crisis. We all need to keep our heads up for what’s to come. For me, this is what music is all about. Modern Intimate taught me that making music that people are going to listen and relate to is a responsibility, hence why I decided not to wait to release the project. It couldn’t be released next year, because it’s music that represents the present.

Both tunes came together extremely quickly, taking no more than three sessions each. I also took care of making all the visuals myself to make sure it reflects what I tried to achieve with the music. I had originally sent it to labels I wanted to work with, but no one wanted to release it in October, so my manager and I decided to jump the gap and work on the release by ourselves, with the help of Hannah Helbert from Elevated Sound PR.

Handling the music by myself meant a lot of freedom in terms of scheduling and content, so I took some time to learn new skills and create a little universe around the songs. It became very obvious when making the face filter, all the people following my music suddenly became part of the project which made it all so much more rewarding. It made a bunch of sleepless nights worth it when it came alive haha! 

Drum and bass can be quite a rigid genre- people like what they like and don’t like to see too many changes. Were you nervous putting this project out? 

I’ve been speaking to a lot of friends about this, especially IMANU. When he changed his name from Signal, he did so because he wanted a new platform. For me, I felt like this was the right time to start showing another side of The Caracal Project. Doing so at a later date might have caused confusion. Now I feel really grateful because everyone has been so supportive of what this new step represents. They can clearly see what the vision for The Caracal Project is, which makes it feel like real acceptance which is awesome! 

You also featured on Vision’s Mission series last month. That must have felt like a dream come true for an artist who releases your style of drum and bass! 

Yes! When I moved away from home to go and study back in 2016, I quite randomly stumbled across Noisia’s Motion Blur and soon after was listening to the whole Outer Edges album on loop. That was my introduction to drum and bass! From then, I was obsessed with Vision’s output and Noisia Radio, so you could say they were what got me into pursuing a career. They were also my reference when I was learning my production. Featuring on Noisia Radio was the first goal in my journey, then being signed by Phace and then being signed by Vision. Now that I’ve achieved them, it feels like a new beginning!

What was it like working with Noisia as your label bosses? They must be a wealth of knowledge to learn from! 

To be honest, I didn’t have too much dealing with them. I was asked by their label manager to send over some demos, so I think I sent them about eight, they picked two, one of which was The World Stopped and asked me to get it ready for a deadline so they could include it on the compilation. I didn’t get that much feedback about it, so I guess it means I know my way which is a positive to take!

Phace on the other hand was a whole different story. Just after he signed Go Get Some and Botfonk to release on Nëu in late 2018, he invited me to Hamburg to spend some time with him in the studio. I spent two or three days with him and we finished off both projects together. He showed me how not to restrict myself and basically unlocked something in me so I could really start perfecting my production. He also taught me how to be my own judge which is definitely the most important thing as an artist!

I love the use of the Arthur C. Clarke quote on your track. What inspired you to include that? 

The funny story is that the sample just comes from an ASMR video I found on YouTube. I always wanted to do a tune that had a Bladerunner-style with an android, whispering voice.  I found the clip that features on the tune and started playing around with it. When it was done, I was speaking with Kemal on Telegram and sent him over my music, and he said, ‘wow you’ve got an Arthur C. Clarke quote in there.’ I had to google him haha! I found out he was the guy that wrote the 2001- A Space Odyssey book that inspired the Kubrick movie.

I felt so dumb in front of Kemal but also really lucky! By chance I had included a sample from a movie that I love, and that conversation was what inspired me to go on and make the music video.

You mention your music video there, and earlier you spoke about the videos and filters you made for you Modern Intimate release. Is exploring the crossover between music and visual arts something you’d be interested in pursuing on the future? 

Personally, when I listen to other people’s music, I close my eyes and visualise it. I want to communicate visually with my music so my long-term goal would definitely be to have a video to accompany every project. I like how the visual can enhance the story, like how the video can seem unrelated to the music at first sight but then the more you watch and listen you can see the music gaining depth and telling a bigger story. I’m looking forward to more of that, I’ve got some planned for the start of 2021 actually. I don’t want to say too much about it as it’s not done just yet, but it’s something I’m really excited about.

Your production style is really cinematic- would scoring films or video games interest you? 

I was thinking about this just today! Film scoring seems super exciting, just as much as making a music video! It can really be the extension of the story, guiding people on how to digest what’s on the screen. I would really like to do something with video games, maybe just a simple soundtrack for an independent game. It makes you approach the music differently as it has a completely different function. It plays the supporting role and can’t become the main character and take away from the game experience. When playing a game, a lot of people turn off the sound as they get a bit bored of listening to the same stuff, so that’s the real challenge for a musician! One good example are the GTA games where you have a bunch of stations so you can switch in-game. It would be a really interesting project to do but would take a long time to find the right people to work with, but I’m really eager to try.

Alongside artists like IMANU, Buunshin, Skylark, gyrofield etc. you’re part of a really exciting new generation of artists who are reinventing drum and bass. It must be a great collective to be a part of! 

It’s just family! I don’t know what it will be like in ten years but in such a short amount of time we’ve all just become so close. We’re in touch constantly, we see each other whenever we can which is obviously difficult at the moment with the pandemic. I’d usually travel around a lot to meet people so not being able to do that sometimes makes me feel quite empty. They’re always the group I go to when I’m not confident about something and I hope they feel they can always come to me as well. We just support each other which is the key to success.

Anyone who is interested in starting, the best advice is to surround yourself with positive people who are in the same position as you. When you’re new, you feel like you should build links with the bigger artists, which can definitely help. But the truth is, you need your own gang. Stick with the crew who are experiencing what you’re experiencing, as you can help each other out which the most empowering feeling. Synergy is power!

What’s next for The Caracal Project then? More experimentation?

So, this week I’m dropping three mixes! There’s going to be two Modern Intimate sessions- one showcasing my UK influences focusing on a D&B centred selection which will be airing on Kiss FM on October 31, and another that has a more high energy dance music approach which will premiere on YourEDM on October 27. The last mix comes on a different brand with a live video filmed in NEXUS in Paris which will go live via Diggr on October 29. I also just had a remix of my tune Expresso done by Tom Finster which came out on DIVIDID so big up to him, he killed it!

In November I have a new tune on Pilot. It’s another I made during lockdown, taking influence from flamenco culture which sounds quite strange but means quite a lot for me. After that I drop music every month until Spring 2021. People know that I work closely with Skylark, but I won’t drop any information about that project just yet! I think, depending on the situation, after that I want to start looking to do bigger releases. The long-term goal for The Caracal Project is more than just being an DJ, producer or artist in general. I can’t really be precise about that because it’s just me planting seeds every day, but I can’t wait to reveal more about it when it starts to grow!

Modern Intimate is out now 

Follow The Caracal Projec: Facebook / Soundcloud / Instagram