Undeniably a man of extremes, Skylark has made a welcome and long-awaited return to Overview Music with the exceptional Love & Hate EP. The music is so distinctly Skylark from start-to-finish, yet here he touches upon new ground thematically and sonically with apparent ease. For the most part, the release sits itself within the region of club music, but at heart it imagines something much more expansive.
The Strasbourg-based producer has been gaining notoriety for quite a few years now, bridging the gap between organic and synthetic with a blend of classical influences and sound-design forward drum and bass. Since we last spoke in 2019 after his Intervals EP on Overview, he has touched down on the likes of VISION, DIVIDID, OH DELA, 1985 Music and Pilot. Each release has added something new, building upon his years of accumulated experience into something he can now safely call a signature sound.
He also holds fort as part of the collaborative collective Music Squad alongside the likes of IMANU, Wingz, Buunshin, Grey Code, Gyrofield and many more. The community spirit that groups like this represent are emblematic to this circle of bass music, pushing each other to achieve higher and experiment wider – something that is certainly present across the latest release.
From the murky waters of Night Call with long-time collaborator LaMeduza, to the cinematic and inspiring soundscapes of title track Love & Hate, the release represents the contrast Skylark sees and experiences in his own life. Check our full chat where we discuss the EP in more depth.
Hey! It’s been a little while since we last spoke to you…
Yeah, the last UKF interview was for my Intervals EP on Overview, so more than a year ago!
How do you feel things have changed for you since that EP?
A lot of things actually. I have a clearer idea of how to make music that really fits my vision. Also, having less shows has meant making more music, while also constantly learning and improving technically. I’m much happier with the place I’m in right now, it feels way more refined. I think it’s a big step up if you compare the two EPs.
Definitely. How long has the Love & Hate EP been in the works for?
Desire with LaMeduza was made more than a year ago, and then I produced all the other tracks during the last year. I had the EP finished for a bit, but we decided to sit on it because I had the EP with The Caracal Project on DIVIDID to push first.
In the title track Love & Hate, there’s a quote about a love for extremes. Is this the running theme behind the whole release?
Definitely, I tend to think like this in day-to-day life. I have precise ideas about things and rarely can find the middle ground, so it was important for me to include that in the title track. Contrast is a beautiful thing; opposites bring something new, and you can see things you couldn’t see before. I tried to implement this across the EP; Desire for example, is a much deeper and less techy tune, but then you have the contrast with Night Call which is very techy. Similarly, you have Don’t Worry which is a big rumbly gig tune, and Love & Hate which is a softer tune with a story behind it.
Night Call is a good example of how your music can be heavy and club-centric but also natural and organic sounding, something I feel represents your sound right now. Are you constantly trying to nail down this ‘Skylark’ sound or does it come naturally in the process?
It’s a bit of both. Sometimes the track just comes out the way it comes out, which I think is what happened with tracks like Don’t Worry and Night Call. I like having strong tunes for gigs, but at the same time I try not to think about it too much. I just want to create beautiful and enjoyable music.
Do you see it as a start-to-finish listening experience in the same way an album is?
Yeah, it’s meant to be listened to in one go.
In that case, will we see a Skylark album one day?
Yeah, it will happen but I’m not sure when. I’m currently in the process for a new EP, and I want this one to be a statement while also having a new theme behind it. A lot of work and thinking is going to be put into that. I would love to do an album though; I’ve been discussing it with some friends that have been putting them out. I actually think it will happen sooner than you think, but still not quite yet.
I’m interested to know a bit more about your musical background.
First of all, my dad is a guitar player, so I’ve always been listening to blues, jazz etc. My mum doesn’t make music, but she listens to a lot of classical music which led me to cherish that. I guess then, my background is a mix of jazz, classical, and French rap thanks to my brother. Electronic music came into my life way later when I was a teen.
When did you discover drum and bass?
That would have been roughly 12 years ago with artists like Noisia, Camo & Krooked, Netsky… all that golden age of UKF drum and bass.
Title track Love & Hate is the one tune that deviates from the drum and bass format. How did this one come together?
It’s a very intimate tune. Without explaining exactly what’s behind the track’s meaning, I wanted to tell something very special in relation to a specific person. I’m also a big fan of the movie director Nicolas Winding Refn and I wanted to give credit to him through the sample I used. I was listening to a few interviews of his, and the quote that you can hear in the song got me inspired. What he was saying was really profound, and it would have felt off to make a drum and bass track out of it. I’m glad that Peter from Overview allowed me to release it as a title track on a drum and bass label. I’m super proud of how it sounds and the message behind it.
Do you make stuff outside of drum and bass regularly?
I do, but I don’t release most of it. I’m inspired by friends like IMANU, Buunshin and The Caracal Project who release across the scope of electronic music. I also spoke about this with Thys in Groningen recently, I love the way he releases music that’s different despite his drum and bass image. It’s definitely pushed me to rethink it all, and I think I’ll be releasing more of these tunes in the future. When I release EPs there will likely be one or two non-drum and bass tunes, and for an album probably more.
I imagine writing stuff at different tempos helps with making drum and bass as well.
Yeah, creatively speaking it’s refreshing. You get to do new things and experiment which is the most rewarding part of making music.
You mentioned The Caracal Project earlier. How has the joint Patreon with him been?
It’s been going great, although we’re both going to go our own way now. Having both just released our own EPs, we think it’s the right time for us to focus on our solo Patreons. There was nothing wrong with it though, and it was a fun ride for sure. It was cool making music and content with him for all the patrons, and I’m happy to see many of them now getting signed to labels like Overview. I’m looking forward to bringing my own individual touch to my Patreon, and super excited to see what Felix is going to be doing in solo too.
He’s someone that you’re obviously good friends with, having worked with him a lot on music, shows, etc. Will we see more music from you both in the future?
We haven’t been making anything recently, but it will surely happen. I don’t think it will be too soon because we’re both focusing on improving our craft for now, but there’ll be something coming for sure.
One of the other tracks I wanted to mention was Don’t Worry. That’s been on the circuit for a little while now, right?
I try to keep most tunes fairly locked in, but as soon as gigs were a thing again I sent this tune to a few friends. This is the tune off the EP that goes off every time it’s played, and it’s amazing to see people going crazy for it.
Have you had the chance to play out the rest of the EP before the release then?
Yeah, I’ve been lucky enough to play gigs in places like Paris and at festivals like Let It Roll and Rampage. I’ve managed to play all the tunes apart from Love & Hate as I don’t think it’s as suited for gigs.
Must have felt great after the long break we’ve all had.
It’s been super inspiring and great just to see people again. If I take the example of Noisia Invites recently… that was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I’m so grateful to have that back, and I now understand how lucky we are to be on a stage with people sharing these moments.
I see you played at Volks in Brighton recently for the Overview event. How have your experiences of playing in the UK been?
I have played a few times in the UK before and have always loved it. It has a very special vibe, and the crowd reaction has always been crazy. It’s one of the most hyped places to play drum in bass in Europe for me. That Brighton one was a special one with it being my EP launch and Overview in their hometown.
It’s good to see you back with LaMeduza on the EP. She seems to be someone that really fits your artistic vision. How has it been working with her?
It’s always very easy. I sent her a demo for Desire, and she came back and smashed it on her first shot. That was it basically, I just had to rework it and ask her to provide some extra bits and we were done. The process for Quick Of Breath with her and The Caracal Project was the same in that sense as well. She’s very quick and professional to work with which I like, plus she’s an amazing singer.
It’s no secret the scene in France is great and has been for a while. Who is killing it for you currently?
Monty and Visages are two of my favourites right now. Monty’s forthcoming debut album is great and the visuals are amazing… plus he’s just a great guy. Same goes for Visages, and of course The Caracal Project. I’ve also got some friends from where I live called LDST and Roytek who are working on some really cool bits right now.
Is there much of a drum and bass scene locally in Strasbourg then?
There are people that enjoy drum and bass, however its more centred around the likes of techno, UK garage and dubstep. For example, my crew spectr and I are pushing bass, UKG and drum and bass.
Finally, what’s next for Skylark?
There is something I can tell you, but I’m going to be a bit vague about it. I have a remix of an emblematic track from a crazy name in the game, something I’m super happy about and proud that I’ve been able to do. Aside from that, I’ll be working on my next EP, as well as more collabs with some great names. I’m looking forward to making more music with my friends like IMANU, Synergy, The Caracal Project and Visages.
Before I go, I want to shout out my manager Thibaud who’s been putting in serious work behind the scenes, as well as my Music Squad friends for forever helping with the constant feedback and creativity.