Three weeks ago Skylark dropped the walloping Intervals EP on Overview. In two weeks time he’ll be releasing the explorative Echo Form EP on MethLab. With these two releases in mind alone – not to mention his recent free download Negative Space – it’s safe to say the Strasbourg 24 year old is kicking off the 20s with intent.
Roll back to ’19 and more evidence emerges with two EPs on Dispatch and his continued work with the exciting future talent cartel Music Squad. In fact this Lark’s been rising, peppering us with evidence of his potential, since he made his debut on Skankandbass in 2016 and went on to release with Flexout, Lifestyle, Drum Army and Demand to name a few.
As he explains himself, his sound has been developing over each of these releases. But the space he occupies between the Intervals and Echo Form EPs is perhaps his most defined sonic playground so far. Stark, spacious, prone to purring; it’s the sound of a young artist sharpening his sound and preparing us for what’s to come. Welcome to the 20s.
You’re not messing around here…
I’ve just been trying to improve my game, push the levels, get creative, develop my sound signature. I guess it’s going in the right direction…
Do you feel you’re close to finding your signature?
There are some hints, but I love to change things as well. I don’t want to be locked into what people want to hear from me or say ‘this isn’t a Skylark tune’ when I do something a bit different. I want variety as well.
I think you hear that variety between the two EPs you’ve just dropped on Overview and MethLab. There’s a strong range and some very different sounds.
Thanks. That’s what I was aiming for. I wrote the MethLab EP at the start of 2019, then I worked on the Overview one. I had a very different approach for both. For the Overview one I was trying to make new and different sounds while the MethLab one was more experimental.
Overview is more dramatic, the MethLab one is a lot more about the tension. I have to say that Morpheus is a beast!
It’s my favourite one, also with The Chase. LaMeduza did a stunning vocal. I couldn’t ask for a better vocalist. Initially I had this tune as an instrumental, but felt vocals would elevate it. I hit up LaMeduza and she sent me the stems within a day. They worked perfectly first time and I had the tune done a week later. That and Morpheus are my favourite works so far.
They’re the poles of your style essentially. LaMeduza is killing it. Very distinctive voice and delivery. I’d say The Chase is one of your most soulful records so far!
Definitely. I’ve wanted to put a tune out like for a while, but I wasn’t hitting the right spot with my tunes. The tune was more rough in the beginning but with the vocals I created the atmosphere and that soulful vibe in the end. I’ve wanted to make a tune like that for ages.
Would you say that EP is more of a current reflection of your sound?
The way I’m feeling, then yes. I love the minimal sound of the MethLab EP, too, though. I’m very happy with Arcturus on that EP. It was so hard to mixdown. I think we did about 15 different mixes, but I wanted it to sound as good as possible. It has some different sounds, it’s very techno-ish.
There’s a strong techno influence on the whole EP…
Not on every tune. The techno-ish parts are on Arcturus and Sonar. With the other two it was more about a rough and experimental sound. Especially the one with Dot. I didn’t want the conventional arrangement so did something different. I’m happy this EP came out on MethLab because I had the total freedom that Jef gives me. That changes the way you write when you have that freedom.
MethLab were very early supporters of you weren’t they?
Yes that’s right. We had that cool collab EP with two of my closest friends from drum & bass. I’ve met a lot of cool people but Ewol and Grey Code are bros. It was so fun to make an EP together. I still like those tunes. It was fun to have an EP with your friends.
Do you prefer IRL or online collabs?
They both have strengths. I can work well with Caracal Project online because we have very good communication. Other people it takes some time to get into a flow. I think it’s different, though. It’s hard to get a vibe going when you’re both in the studio at the same time. It’s music, you can’t force it. But if you’re online then you can work on it when you’re in the right creative mood and things can flow at their own pace.
Yeah totally. Let’s go back in time a bit. Was there a strong D&B scene in Strasbourg growing up?
Oh for sure. I discovered D&B early on. I was 15 or something and back in those days there were some promoters running these sick Jungle Juice parties. It was super cool to get to these gigs. I was getting blown away by this new music, experiencing it in the way it’s meant to be – with the people, loud, on the dancefloor.
You started on the dancefloor!
Well listening first but it pushed me onto the dancefloor and that pushed me on to getting my hands on DJ stuff then that of course that leads to producing. You know how it goes…
For sure. You just mentioned Caracal Project. There’s some awesome D&B artists coming out of France right now.
There are so many good producers here! Visages, Cecil Hotel, Caracal Project is doing so great right now. Then you have Naibu and Monty of course. Also The Clamps. He’s one of the guys I was listening to a lot when I started listening to drum & bass. He’s making a new project Burr Oak with one of the Signs guys. We also have this DNB France crew who are super friendly and super open and keen to push the new artists. They can help getting gigs and exposure and spreading the word, they actually booked me in Montpellier with a friend EiZO. He’s also in the Music Squad.
Ahhh yes, I wanted to big up Music Squad and your community vibe!
It’s incredible to think about it. Getting help from your friends if you need a clear mind on a mixdown, or you need fresh, good feedback. Everyone is there, everyone is pushing each other to the top. I don’t see many people having what we have. We want to push Music Squad more in 2020.
I like the democracy you have with the releases and how you vote for tracks anonymously…
That’s the best part. We wanted to do that. In the first place, before running the label, we’re very good friends. We want to maintain that. Everyone wants to push good music. With this system there’s no problem. It’s anonymous so we are literally voting for the music we think is best. So if you didn’t get voted, you didn’t make it good enough. it pushes you to do better for the next time. That’s great, I think. And I also think it’s cool to push the music ourselves. I remember what Noisia said in one of your interviews about the importance of releasing your own music. I’m very happy with the labels I work with but it’s nice to get my hands-on and try and brand something myself.
You’re in a perfect position to do both right now
Yeah I think so. The way I work is that I do the music then I try to think ‘where does the music belong the best?’ Usually I can’t think of a better place for each piece of music to be other than where it is. I want to do anything, I just open Ableton and do the music. Whatever happens, happens.
So what comes up next?
I have a collab with Visages, there’s a Caracal Project and Skylark EP coming and I’m going to be working with some labels I really like and have looked up to for ages. That’s coming soon, I’d love to reveal more but not quite yet…
Skylark – Intervals is out now on Overview / Echo Form is out February 4 on MethLab