clÜ eases us into summer with his awesome debut album

South Wales label Incurzion Audio hit the sweet spot this month with a beautiful summer album from rising star clÜ.

A mainstay on the label since emerging with a slew of free bootlegs around 2018, over the years the sound of clÜ (real name Callum Rees) has gradually matured into a fully-charged soul vibe. It’s a vibe that’s deep and textured enough to flex all the way to deep subby dubstep and acidic rollers and bubbly jungle, and it’s captured perfectly over 10 tracks on his debut album.

Featuring collaborations with the likes of P.A.B, Ekstatic and Headroom, the album is entitled Glas – which is Welsh for blue – it’s an open and honest statement set that maps out the young Cardiff-born artist’s parameters and production passions. All consistently hewn together with an intoxicating liquid glue that feels tailored for these sunnyside months, it’s yet another maverick missive from a label that’s become synonymous with tomorrow’s talent.

Out now, we called up Callum to find out more…

Feels like you’ve really thought about this album. Take us from the start and tell us how it came to be…

Thank you man. Zak from Incurzion asked me if I was up for doing an album and I happily accepted the request. It seemed quite daunting, but I love a challenge and I felt I was ready to rise to it. After producing D&B for the best part of six years it’s a great time to put out a statement about who I am as a producer.

The title came first which I know isn’t usual. It means blue in Welsh. I’ve always seen blue as a melancholy colour but lots of complexities to it. You look at light blue, it’s peaceful, look at the darker shades and it’s very moody. I think there is a direct comparison with this and the sound of the piano and pads that I build my production around. These are the key elements, for me, that I use to try to really express the feelings behind a tune.

Also the double edged meaning of the word as well; in English, glass means it’s a look in to my style and at me as a producer. So that’s how the initial concept came about

I like that. There’s a sense of transparency and honesty to that…

Totally! That’s the key; getting 10 songs that reflect and capture me. I wasn’t trying to capture a particular type of sound, I was just trying to capture me as a producer.

And in doing that you’ve captured every side of yourself. Over a lean collection of 10 tracks you’ve represented yourself. Did a lot of tracks get left on cutting room floor?

A lot of tracks did for sure! It’s funny how it all worked. This was 18 months in the works – the beginning of lockdown was when I started the album seriously and, if I’d have finished it after a year, the final result would have been very different and you’d end up with some very different tunes. But I’m really pleased at how things worked out. The track Pictures Of Us is a good example of how things came together; I finished that literally the day before the deadline. That’s my personal favourite song on the album. So you could keep working on an album forever and it would sound different all the time, but I think we finalised it at the perfect time and I’m really happy with the selection of tracks on the album.

Nice. Are you an album man anyway?

Definitely. My love for albums comes from my old man. We’d be in the car and he’d be playing an album and I’d want to skip a tune but he’d say, ‘No. You play an album the whole way through!’ So I learn to consume music in that way, which is very different to how music is consumed now.

Everyone wants to hear the bit they love and move on. So if I’m commuting or travelling then I will take the time to really soak up an album. One album in particular that really captures that for me is Daft Punk’s Discovery. That’s the golden one in terms of a full LP from start to finish. So yeah I’m a big album man and I think you get a better idea of the music and the artist when you take the time to listen to an album like that and get to know it.

Yeah man. And I’d often find that the tune you liked the least on an album would often become your favourite in the end…

Yeah! LTJ’s album Earth. I always remember the track Mood Swings. I’d skip it all the time for some reason but now that’s one of my favourite songs whenever I listen to it now. I love it.

What albums did your old man play you?

He’s in his late 40s, he’s a big rock and alt kinda guy. Stone Roses, The Cure. Those type of bands. He loves a bit of cheese, too, but I think a lot of my interests in synths is down to his love for cheesy music. My mum has cooler tastes to be honest, she’s into hip-hop, RnB, a bit of jungle.

Ahhh your mum’s a junglist! So you mentioned you’ve been producing for six years – give us some history!

My journey began in school when I was in year eight. I’ve always been into tweaking and one day we finished an IT class early and the teacher introduced us to some music making software. So that’s where it started. Properly, I’d say the last six years I’ve been producing under clÜ; different styles ranging from jungle and grimier stuff right the way through the deeper and RnB sounds I push. I took clÜ a lot more seriously when I started uni four/five years ago. It all started on Soundcloud like it did for a lot of people. It began as a hobby, letting it grow naturally and not forcing it has kept it exciting for me and keeps me coming back.

Did Incurzion pick up on you through Soundcloud or through Cardiff connections?

I uploaded a bootleg and it got played at a few events locally and I met Zak at an event and that led to a free download release and the relationship’s grown from there. I love being on the label and the whole roster is so supportive. Being local is an added element but Incurzion is global isn’t it? It’s an amazing collective to be part of.

Totally. They’re putting Wales on the map. How important is your Welshness to you as an artist?

Incredibly important. I’m a fluent Welsh speaker and went to a Welsh school so it’s very important for my own identity and my music is so personal to me it’s going to blend between that. Moving forward I’d love to release tunes with Welsh artists even having Welsh language rapping or singing on a D&B song if the right opportunity comes up. D&B is an international language and you can be from anywhere and it’s surreal to get support from countries thousands of miles away, but I do think it would be nice to see a little more local pride in Welsh creativity. I think Incurzion are underrated in Wales and it’s crazy how much they can be overlooked locally so it’s great to see they’re getting international recognition.

Amen! So how about your plans for the summer?

I’m looking forward to seeing the album out in the world and hopefully put myself out there more as a DJ. My profile really picked up during covid so now the clÜbs are open again it’ll be great to get more bookings and just enjoy the freedoms of being able to live post lockdown. I went to uni in Bristol so I spend a lot of time there and I’ll be celebrating the freedoms we’ve got and enjoying the post-album period before moving on to exciting new projects.

Sick. What else does the world need to know about Glas right now?

All you need to know is that it’s got something for everyone to interpret as they want and something for everyone to enjoy, whatever their tastes and interests in drum & bass are. And that I hope it’s experienced as a truthful, atmospheric piece of music; a real snapshot of my own creativity and drum & bass production in 2022.

clÜ – Glas is out now on Incurzion Audio

Follow clÜ: Facebook / Soundcloud / Instagram