“Sad music makes happy people”: The story of Redeyes – Broken Soul

Redeyes isn’t short of a poignant, emotional tune or two. Going right back to his early work in the mid 2000s on Bingo and Spearhead, tracks such as All Alone and Hey Lover, a strong proportion of his work has been on the barbed soul side.

But no previous Redeyes release has been quite as poignant, barbed or soulful as his new album Broken Soul. Out now on Lenzman’s evergreen soul stable The North Quarter, Broken Soul is the Toulouse artist at his rawest and most honest. From the DRS-fronted lament The Hurt to the reflective shimmers of Fool Of Me, it’s an abyssal reflection of his depths and melancholy.

It’s also Redeyes his most hip hop; in keeping with The North Quarter signature, building on his previous EP for the label (2017’s Blueprints), the album is top loaded with slow jams creating space and vibes for the likes of Milano Constantine, KinKai, Juga-Naut and Abnormal Sleepz to wrap their bars around. Throw in the sparkling dulcets of Tyler Daley and a dash of warm introspective house and you’ve got Redeyes’ best album to date. His most personal one, too; writing during a darker point in his life, Broken Soul is the sound of a man fixing his heart through pure music therapy. Get to know: 

The album is out and fresh for our ears but for you it probably feels like a while ago since you wrote it, right?

I think so. It was finished around March and there was time when I didn’t want to listen to it for a while. But recently I’ve been listening to it to make sure I still like it and now, in the last week or two, I’ve been inspired to make more new music.

You needed some space after the process?

I did. I needed to take a break from the studio for a while. It wasn’t exhausting, it was very fulfilling. But Teije (Lenzman) is always pushing me to be my best. He’s like a coach in a way. And after the album I wanted to step away from the studio for a moment or two.

Everyone I’ve spoken to on the label has said the same about Lenzman

Yeah, I think everyone who has released on The North Quarter has put out their best stuff on that label. He’s good for us.

He must do it in a good way because no one ever feels like they’re being pushed too much. He’s not like this big bad bossman or anything….

Haha no not at all. I think it’s because it’s more like a family; we’re on the same level, we all have the same goal. He’s not like a terrible manager ordering you around! Yes, sometimes you want the tune to be finished but if he can hear something that still needs work he’ll tell you. It’s for the good of the music.

You two go way back, right? He booked you for a gig, right?

Yeah he was only just starting to produce and was promoting nights with Dan Stezo and he booked me years ago. We’ve been friends ever since. We clicked straight away and were on the same wavelength.

Does that make this album more personal or special to you?

Yeah this is special. Also because it was a specific moment in my life. Not so good times. This was about me making music, working my way through things. It was very emotional. I worked closely on every aspect, too. I worked with a photographer from Toulouse, Lulah Da Curly for the artwork. I really love his art. So yes, everything about this album is very personal.

I was going to say it’s a pretty poignant and at points straight up sad album. A lot of your music has been though over the years…

Yeah maybe. Sad music makes happy people, right? But yes, there was a broken heart in me when I wrote the album. It’s good to write when you have these moments. It was an experience. We don’t have happy lives all of the time, I accept this and it makes me who I am. So turned these feelings into an album and translated how I felt.

On the flip of that; I suspect there was fun, too. There’s a lot of hip hop on the album and you came from that, right?

The very music I loved was hard rock when I was like 7 or something. But then I saw hip hop coming and it did blow my mind. Public Enemy from the US, in France we had Supreme NTM. I was 10 years old when that came through and the whole thing, the culture, it was something crazy. Being this young kid in France it was very in your face. I’ve always loved it. So a year ago Teije started to suggest some rappers. He has good connections with good rappers. Good beats are easy to find, good rappers aren’t quite so easy.

Like Abnormal Sleepz!

Like all of them man. Teije created these situations with all these guys from Manchester and everywhere else. But yes, Abornmal Sleepz is so so talented and such a nice dude. I’m making some beats for something for him right now.

There’s a really strong Manchester connection running through The North Quarter historically isn’t there….

Yes in fact on my last EP I was so happy to work with Black Josh and now of course Tyler, his voice is like a diamond. He has so much talent. To make some tunes with him as an honour. Also Delroy DRS. That’s been a dream to work with him after all these years. His and Calibre’s music has been so inspiring in my life.

So was there a moment when you felt there was light at the end of the tunnel during the album process?

I think maybe when the vocals came through. I first made the music and then when I got Abnormal Sleepz vocals for Blessed and put them together I didn’t know I could make a tune like that. The vocals turned it around and I couldn’t quite believe what I was listening to. It was crazy. That’s the tune I listen to the most from my album. It’s very special. I also have to shout out everybody who blessed me with vocals; Juga-Naut, KinKai and Milano Constantine. They bring the album to life for me.

So how have you managed to squeeze everything in? Day job, Vandal, the album, family life…

I didn’t. I stopped working on Vandal. I had to prioritise. It was a shame because I loved the creative side of running a label, making concepts and the artwork and finding artists and developing them and things like that. But I couldn’t be creative with the label and making music. I had to make a choice. I worked with Vandal for four years and couldn’t do it anymore. When I do something, I want to do it every day and really put everything into it and I couldn’t do that.

All or nothing at all.

Absolutely man

You’re promoting parties too, right? Outlines….

Ah it’s just a small thing. But yes I wanted to put a different musical perspective on the party scene in Toulouse. Here it is all about the bangers and there’s nothing with that Swerve or Soul In Motion vibe. I’m working with guys way younger than me, but they’re so passionate about the music. I said we all love the same music, so we should try to do something. It’s not all D&B, it can be garage or dubstep. We want to play something different to the people. It’s UK bass music influenced and we want to show the deeper side of the music. It doesn’t have to be bangers.

Feel likes Toulouse has got everything right about now!

There’s definitely music for everybody. We got guys like Monty, Signs, Redpill, a lot of newcomer producers like Trail and Visage and many crews. I think we’re the only city in France with drum & bass every week. It’s very exciting.

So what’s up next?

I got an EP coming on Spearhead before the end of the year and a tune on an Integral album but I’m mainly focussing on stuff for The North Quarter. I’m always so happy with the music that I make for them. It’s like nothing I’ve done before….

Redeyes – Broken Soul is out now on The North Quarter

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