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Dusk till dawn: Vowel’s gearing up for a big 2021

New year, new beats: Overview come charging into 2021 this week with the substantial sonic uppercut that is the Dusk EP from Vowel.

Lisbon-born-and-based, but Bristol-raised in terms of his sound and commitment to the culture, Vowel broke through in 2017/18 on labels such as Lifestyle and Bad Taste during his time studying in the UK drum & bass mecca. Now back on home soil and co-running SRVLNC with Jon Tho, he spent the last year refining his sound and fine-tuning his focus. Dusk is the result.

Four tracks heavy, they build on the dark tech sound he’d established before but with added cosmic elements and musicality. Adding to the exciting electronic sound that’s really flourishing on labels such as SRVLNC, Overview and DIVIDID, the EP sets the tone and benchmark for a whole year of next level beats from Vowel. We found out more…

You were pretty quiet 2020 release-wise weren’t you?

Yeah it was quite difficult. I moved back to Lisbon just over a year ago and it was a challenge to get settled. A lot of things changed in my life. Some good, some bad. It was a tough year, so I spent it on getting my focus. I wanted to work out where my sound was going and what I wanted to do with it.

Going back to the trenches, fine-tuning your skills. You can hear that on the Dusk EP!

That’s exactly it. I took time to figure it out and I didn’t want to put out anything that wasn’t truly surprising or really stood out. I wanted to put out a statement of who I am and what I want to do.

I wrote the word ‘statement’ in my notes actually. With the track Closure at the end there’s a story arc and narrative to the EP as well isn’t there?

I think so. The title track was actually written around two years ago. There were some videos of it doing the rounds for a while and it picked up a bit of interest. It felt like ‘oh wow, I need to make music that makes sense to this track to fill the EP!’ It had to be on that same level as Dusk. That narrative is something I was trying to achieve. I was trying to find concept that would tie the EP together.

Mad how Dusk was written two years ago. It sounds very contemporary and in-keeping with that new electronic sound that artists like IMANU, Skantia, Gyrofield, Skylark, Caracal Project are all exploring…

Yeah it’s crazy to think that I wrote it two years ago. It was one of those special tunes to write and very personal.

You were in Bristol at the time, right?

Yes I was. I was finishing uni and it was a strange and very intense time for me. I didn’t know if I was going to come back to Portugal or stay in Bristol. That track was part of this experience, it’s quite deep but I feel the most attached to it because of that.

Makes total sense! I wonder if Brexit had any influence? Sadly the UK doesn’t seem very welcoming…

No not massively. It was in the back of my mind but not a crucial thing which made me move back to Portugal. I needed time to make music, I didn’t want to get a full-time job in Bristol and try and find time to make music in between life stuff. But here I don’t have to pay rent so I could invest my time fully into music.

A nice bit of distance, though? You’re not quite so subconsciously influenced by the city…

Yeah that makes sense. I had that thought at some points, too, but at the same time I do massively miss Bristol and all my friends there and the environment of the city. Ovbiously it’s got its ups and downs, it’s very intense, but it’s such an inspiring place.

Portugal’s got to be inspiring too? I know there’s a wicked scene in Porto…

Yeah there are a lot of great producers based in, and from, Porto. They’ve been the drivers for the whole country’s scene. We have a scene in Lisbon, too, which doesn’t have quite so many frequent parties. But when they do happen, they kick off. The connection between Lisbon and Porto is pretty strong especially with Jon Tho and I running Surveillance.

You and Jon were talking about launching a Patreon together weren’t you?

We were thinking about that but I think we’re doing our own individual ones. I’ll be launching mine soon, after this release is out.

Patreons were a really positive thing to come out of last year. A whole new form of fan interaction and a revenue stream…

Yeah I think they’re very exciting. They’re a great way for artists to keep very active. They give you something to do and keep you motivated during these times. You’ve made a commitment to people and that’s an important way to keep active and focused.

There are many to choose from, too, so people have different or more exclusive tunes…

You’re right. But on the same hand I don’t see this as competition either. It means there are a lot of really talented and interesting people all doing things and also supporting each other. My experiences of the drum & bass scene are that it’s a very healthy and supportive community.

100%! So your Patreon is coming up soon, what else can we expect following the Overview EP?

Once that’s out I want to release a steady flow of releases throughout the year. I want to focus on collaborations a lot. I have a few things I’m working on with Jon and some other producers. I want to keep things spread out through the year, it’ll be nice to keep things coming and to be able to look at the progression at the end of the year. It’s took soon to say what’s coming out and where they’re being released but you expect a lot more from me this year…

Vowel – Dusk EP is out January 22 on Overview

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