Fresh out of the advent calendar on December 1 was some wicked news via Hospital Records, with the announcement of their WID&B Mentee 2021: Ellie Clarke AKA Viridity, a super sharp shooter headed for the heights, it’s no surprise she is Hospital’s choice this year.
It’s the second time Hospital Records have reached out globally on the search for emerging and existing female talent with their WID&B mentorship, which shows their commitment to meaningful change to help address the gender imbalance in D&B. This in-depth programme offers plenty to further a producer’s skills.
It’s the complete package for this year’s mentee Viridity, who follows this year’s mentee Stay-C on a year’s development which includes masterclasses, regular A&R feedback sessions, along with lessons on marketing, streaming services, and DJ bookings.
But who is Viridity? An up-and-coming drum & bass producer, DJ and vocalist, over the last few years she’s graduated from the position of avid raver, bedroom DJ and ‘D&B head’ to an established member of the underground scene. Production-wise Viridity produces both heavy rollers and liquid with clear influence from neighbouring genres like jungle, tek and jump-up. Her style fuses soulful melodies with heavy basses and crisp drum breaks. Additionally, she works as a vocalist with fellow producers and on her own tracks.
Whilst there are plenty womxn DJs and vocalists, it’s well known that there are far less womxn producers in D&B. So let’s introduce Viridity; one fierce force with a triad of talent in her aptitude for beats, great lyrics, and the ability to mix up a killer selection.
Tis the season to be jolly, big ups on bagging the membership!
Thanks so much, I’m thrilled.
It’s definitely a great time to be a woman in D&B.
Yeah, I think the scene is progressing in the right direction and I love seeing more and more women emerging. Having said this I’m aware that there’s still room for improvement and I want to be doing my part.
There’s been a massive positive force this year from everyone across the gender spectrum to push for more inclusion. Going into next year, it feels as if we are riding a new wave of unity and activism in music.
I really hope so. I’m optimistic about this ‘new wave’, however I think there is still a lot more to be done and I want to aid that as much as I can.
More diversity within drum & bass can only further unite our scene, and with that bring on an even richer multitude of music. What else would you like to see change going forwards?
What I really want to see in the scene (I’m sure others can agree) is more inclusion of all minorities. This is going to take an active effort to achieve so despite being very happy to ride the new wave of unity and activism, I want to be pushing it forward too. Specifically I’ve noticed certain labels such as Full Spectrum (@fullspectrumbristol), Just Be (@justbeevents) and Black Junglist Alliance (@blackjunglistalliance.) Those are just three but there are quite a few labels who are pushing for inclusion and diversity in DnB so I encourage supporting them. It’s very exciting to see new organisations like these emerging.
We love to see it too, bring on 2021, and with that, the beginning of your juncture with Hospital. What are you most excited about?
I’m excited about all of it to be honest. I’ve been plowing away making tunes so I can’t wait to get some A&R feedback on those. I’m also just looking forward to absorbing as much information and wisdom as I can haha.
You’ll be matched with a similar artist to your style over the course of the mentorship… Any ideas of Hospital legends you would like to work with?
In terms of who I would like to work with during the mentorship, I’m pretty open minded, I like all of the producers from Hospital Records. Having said this, my music is probably most influenced by Hospital artists S.P.Y, DRS and Nu:Tone so I would love to work with one of them.
Big names indeed, and saying that, I’m loving yours (totally didn’t look this one up …)
Haha thank you, I’m glad you like it.
It means ‘ the quality or state of being green’. Tell us what’s so appealing about the colour green, do you draw inspiration from this colour when writing tunes?
Green has always been my favourite colour and I just resonate with the name. It also means naivety, youth and freshness so I thought I would sort of reclaim the word.
It’s mysterious, definitely connotes freshness and all things that flourish! So previously you’ve released on Fearless Audio and Encrypted Sound. What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on lots of bits at the moment. In the coming months I plan to put out a couple more heavy tunes for free download along with some guest mixes. I am also putting together an EP at the moment and working on some exciting collaborations and features that’ll be coming out in 2021.
You are a multi-talented one woman rave unit! DJ/producer and vocalist is a pretty special combination for making tunes. I hear you also do your masters and artwork, along with penning down your own lyrics?
Haha yes, this is true. I love all aspects of drum and bass and the process of making music. Despite doing it all myself I still have much room for improvement and my goal is to have full creative control to an exceptional standard. I came from a song writing/ composing background which massively benefited me when I started producing and getting into the more technical side.
This is a wonderful formula to allow you to control your own sound and going forwards obviously there will be collabs in line, but this producer/vocalist combo is pretty unique in D&B.
Haha thank you. I am very happy collaborating and working with others. Normally I have a clear vision of what I want but being able to take feedback and learn from others is key and has been instrumental in getting me to where I am now.
Speaking of instruments…your voice has a great contralto vibe to it ( that’s deep and sultry in layman’s terms) A fitting companion to this style of music.
Thank you, I’m happy you think so. I take a lot of influence from soulful and jazzy singers.
Let’s talk influences then.
There are so many artists that inspire me and influence my music. In D&B I am hugely influenced by producers such as Break, S.P.Y, Total Science, Dillinja, Bladerunner, BCee, GLXY, Lenzman… too many come to mind. I also draw influence from the smaller producers growing in the scene around me like Sudley, Iskia, BSearl, Funktional, and Varga to name a few.
Outside of D&B I listen to contemporary soul/ R&B such as Pip Millet, GreenteaPeng, Sinead Harnett and Sabrina Claudio. I love rich vocals and harmonies so these singers definitely influence the way I am as a Vocalist.
Despite drawing inspiration from a variety of artists I actually find it quite difficult to escape my sound (I’ve been told this is a good thing.) Whenever I set out making a tune and say I’m trying to channel S.P.Y or Break it always ends up sounding like a Viridity tune.
Yep, it’s clear how you like to mix up your styles. While we are talking influences, it always brings a smile to know other heads’ introductions to D&B.
I’m sure like lots of people, my main introduction into D&B was through the events. I was always into electronic music and when I was too young to go raving and experience the scene I would listen to producers such as Netsky, Goldie, Shy FX and Chase & Status. The love for the music is how I got into producing but in terms of DJing and actually becoming a ‘DnB Head’ it was definitely the events and the underground scene that I fell in love with.
What’s the scene like where you’re from?
So I grew up in London and moved to Bristol for university. Both of these cities have a pretty healthy D&B scene but I think when I was living in London I was going to very different events. It was only when moving to Bristol that I refined my taste.
Bristol definitely has its own flavour going on.
Bristol is brilliant because it’s all at your doorstep. In London one has to know where to look to find certain events, there’s such a broad span of music there. Great for drawing inspiration from all over but not the best for a beginners way in.
Going to take another moment to say congratulations! Success is always a great situation to draw inspiration from. But what about the darker times we’ve faced this year, lockdown, closed clubs, no gigs?
THANK YOU! Yes I am pretty ecstatic. As much as I miss the events I’m in an extremely fortunate position. I know of DJs and people in the scene who have struggled, so I am very lucky that lockdown didn’t affect me too much.
Lockdown has been a little bittersweet in allowing producers such as yourself a lot of time for making music, and a little reflection. Have you been working on a fresh set of fire?
Yes, I do love a bit of time to hermit and make music. Lockdown meant I could really focus on the areas in my production that needed some work. Once again I’m fortunate because I’m very content in my room concentrating on tunes.
Sick to hear you’re up to the ears making more magic. It will be great when you can get back to playing events, so tell us, what’s the highlight of your career so far, (other than this massive opportunity with Hospital)?
Hmm, it’s so hard to say as I’m only at the very beginning of it. I’ve been producing drum and bass for about two years but only at a standard I’m happy with over the last year. Before that, I’d been making other genres of music. I got into songwriting as a teenager and used to write for my friends, the school choir and myself to sing and perform.
Wow, that’s wicked.
Creating music has always been my main passion so even moments like reaching a thousand followers on soundcloud is a highlight for me. In terms of DJing, I’ve only played a handful of sets but supporting Kelvin 373 at a Dazed event was good fun. I’m mostly just excited to continue pushing myself as an artist and hopefully when events are back up and running again I can play out more.
Tell us about your introduction to djing and production. Which DAW do you favour?
My introduction into DJing was through my friends who had bought controllers. I think we all saw people like Randall, Break and Storm doing it and thought “I want to do that too!” It also just seemed like the next step up if I could mix with my own tunes.
The DAW I use is Logic Pro X. It’s always been my main DAW although I’ve used Ableton and could see myself eventually swapping over.
I feel that, a logical progression indeed. Do you incorporate any of your own instrumentation in your tracks, besides your voice?
I would love to say I use more of my own instrumentation in my tunes and previously I’ve recorded my guitar. However I mostly play my melodies via MIDI using sampler instruments. Hopefully this will change when I have access to studios again. Mainly it bothers me because it’s difficult to find authentic sounding strings and brass… and I love orchestral elements in D&B.
I see there are two years worth of back catalogue of your tunes on Soundcloud with some more experimental, chilled out flavours. The colour green, and the name Viridity suits you with the vibes you put out.
Haha, yeah there is some questionable stuff up on my soundcloud, I suppose I leave it up to see how I have progressed especially in terms of my masters and mixdowns… (they definitely were not up to par 2 years ago.) Thank you, I think Viridity suits me too.
Allow it! I think it’s remarkable to be able to see how a producer has progressed over the years. Take Your Time is a lush airy liquid affair!
Thanks yeah, I made Take Your Time at the start of the year, it’s interesting listening now because I notice how much my style has developed. This can be heard in my newer tunes like, Just Fine which is released on the Encrypted Sound LP and is now up on my Spotify page along with other distribution platforms. My music seems to be constantly evolving so I’m enthusiastic about the progress I’ll make during the mentorship.
For sure, do you get into the studio for any of your recordings or is it mostly a bedroom affair right now? I guess that’s about to change what with your being the new Hospital mentee 2021.
Yeah so I’ve done the majority of my vocals in my room using my sE condenser microphone and some home acoustic dampening although I would love to get into the studio more.
I noticed there’s a bootleg of ‘The Worst’, a track which received a lot of attention when dropped in Kings Of The Rollers Royal Rumble set at Studio 338. Completely different vibes here. It looks like you chucked everything at it production wise!
Haha thank you, yeah it seems like everyone and their nans have done a bootleg of The Worst and they’re all great tunes. Jhene Aiko is one of my favourite singers so I wanted to make a bootleg that had her vocals and the musical elements from the tune in the drop.
The bootleg route has been a massive way for artists to grow and be discovered on soundcloud in the digital age, would you say that’s how it’s been for you?
Um I’m not sure. The bootleg route is a great way to get people listening to D&B when they might not be already. Plus my bootleg has got the most plays, although I don’t think it’s been the main way that I’ve grown. I’d actually say one of the main ways I’ve been discovered is through my work as a vocalist which has allowed me to collaborate with other producers.
Plays are not before talent, although it’s great to have recognition and reach through the means of a bootleg as you said.
I’m also still very much in the early stages of my journey as an artist. What I have picked up from my peers and the little growth I’ve experienced, is that it’s down to a combination of networking, producing and taking up opportunities.
For more conversations on womxn in drum & bass read our previous features: Will More Female Artists Hit The Spotlight When Raving Re-Starts? and our Introduction to 2021’s EQ50 mentees