Bop: An untitled conversation

Bop’s always been a bit handy with his song titles.

Right back to his breakthrough in 2009 with tracks like Song About My Dog and Tears Of A Lonely Metaphysician through to his last album Punk’s Not Dead or last year’s Not Your Cup Of Tea EP, Bop’s imagination and humour isn’t just coded deep into his stark, distinctive minimal D&B that’s often referred to as microfunk (the same name as his regular parties and label), it’s in the titles, too.

This year, however, Bop (AKA Alex Dmitriev) has flipped this tradition and released a whole series of tracks as numbered ‘untitled patterns’. Three EPs in total, released over the course of 2018, the ‘patterns’ cover his entire range and show even more scope and versatility than he has before. From the exhilarating techno stamps of Untitled Pattern 65 to the springy steppy 23rd century funk of Untitled Pattern 51, the concept is the Russian artist at his most singular and focussed.

Last spotted by UKF shredding Let It Roll festival pieces in its final hour, we called Bop up to find out more about what’s been up. And what he’s about to do next…

 That Let It Roll closing set, though!

Yes that was fun, thank you. I like big festivals where I can mix experimental sides of drum & bass and show people the other side to the genre. I can reveal more than the usual patterns, I guess.

There’s that word patterns already. I’ve not heard music described as a pattern before your series…

It’s a good word for describing something complete

Like a loop or a cycle?

Yeah or like one mood or one sentence you want to convey in the music.

You have a long history of cool track titles, but Untitled Patterns flips that. What’s the concept?  

I have always been inspired by dub techno vibes and also minimal drum & bass. They are my favourite styles of electronic music. I’ve always tried to combine them. Even if you listen to my first album I’ve always tried to connect those dots. Last summer I wanted to explore more of that side of connecting those styles. I’m very good at procrastination, like most people, so last summer I decided to write one sketch per day. I talked about it on my social media and I uploaded sketches. When I had about 30 I was happy with I asked people which ones I should finish. I also picked my own favourites. In terms of the titles. I just wanted the focus to be on the music itself.

I like the community element of that

Yes it was interesting to see how people reacted to different patterns so I could choose the better ones and finish them and make something solid from this combination of styles.

I also like the idea of making a sketch / capturing an idea rather than slaving over one track until the final details

I was just sitting for a couple of hours, trying to get the right groove for each pattern and that would be it. I found I had spent too much time on tracks before that. If I listen to my previous albums there are usually more than one tune idea in each song. Every track is like a cocktail of ideas. So with Patterns I wanted to concentrate on one idea and just create one mood or vibe for the track and that’s it.

Do you think music in general, or us as humans in general, over complicates things? In hindsight everything needs an edit

I guess it’s perfectionism. I always want to make something better. Simplicity is often the way to do this. When you can focus on just one message. But maybe not always. When you’re trying to simplify you can overthink or complicate in that way too. But it worked for this particular project.

The final EP is out now, so what’s next?

We’ll be putting out the best Patterns with some exclusives and I’ve already started working on other music.

Is Patterns essentially an album but delivered over a series of EP, then? It’s a strong enough concept to do that…

I didn’t want to look at it like an album, no. Albums, to me, should have one idea musically. I like to listen to albums from start to end. But when I was working on Patterns I didn’t want to limit myself to just one idea or theme. I wanted to make as many different combinations as possible. I didn’t make them to place them together into one experience.

In that way, then, this concept is like an anti album!

Yeah in a way it is because it’s all about each pattern. You can listen to just one pattern and you don’t need to listen to the others. But at the same time there was one idea behind them all so it does have a strong concept like an album. It’s interesting.

Tracks like Pattern 65 make me wonder if you’re moving towards techno structures and patterns?

Maybe. But I wouldn’t do it as Bop. Maybe I’d set up another alias but to be honest traditional techno does not inspire me that much. Dub techno, on the other hand, is something very different.

In terms of the immersivity?

Yes and the mood and the chords and delays. I love that experience. But for more traditional techno I get bored too quickly at parties. I need more from the music. I need things happening all of the time.

So what’s happening next for you and your label Microfunk?

For me personally I’m just finishing the last patterns. Then I will start a new collaboration with Subwave who I really enjoy working with. For Microfunk I have designed our next cassette tape like the tape we released last year. This will be Lost Dubs 2 with some pretty old tunes that have never been released for some reason. It will be myself, Synkro, Dissident, Oak and some other cool guys.

I love the idea of bringing life and a home to old musical misfits and obscurities that may never have been enjoyed publicly otherwise.

Exactly. Some tracks were signed to labels but the labels then shut down. Other tracks are based on old sketches that have been finished. They are all from the past in one way or another.

That hints at the timelessness of the label’s sound…

I like to think that it’s cool we can listen to something that was made 10 or 15 years ago and it still sounds exciting and forward thinking now. That’s a very cool thing when you find music like that.

I would argue you personally make music like that yourself!

That’s good to hear you can feel that. I am too close to my work to qualify that statement but thank you, I do always want to make something that excites me and that I haven’t heard before.

Surely that’s the holy grail for all artists?

Definitely. For art it’s necessary to be unique. Nobody wants to hear a copy of things that already exists. It’s very important for every musician, artist, painter, writer to have their own unique style….

Check Bop’s unique style: Patterns 1 / Patterns 2 / Patterns 3

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