Koherent’s capacity for foundation-rooted yet futuristic minimal D&B is more than apparent. And now we can expect to hear a lot more of it as the duo, Luke and Josh, confirm they’ve officially joined the Shogun family.
Their first EP is hot off the presses and is expected imminently. Four tracks deep, it will include collaborations with Ill Truth and Charli Brix, the latter of whom brings out Koherent’s liquid pedigree with style on Voices, the first track to be released from the EP.
With plenty more planned this year, we caught up with the boys to find out what they’ve been doing since we interviewed them last year and to see how they’re feeling about their new musical chapter.
How have things been since we spoke last year?
Luke: The whole of last year was our music from 2017 being released, so we had a bit of traction without making new music. But last year was dedicated to the two new EPs that have just come out on Flexout and Shogun.
Nice, so you’ve been preparing your tunes for this year?
Josh: Pretty much yeah, although we started the Shogun one in 2017.
Luke: It’s been in the background yeah, it’s been something we knew was coming and we were just trying to prepare for it. So, when we went down to the Shogun office and knew it was on the table, it took us a long time because we wanted to get it right and we wanted to make sure we excelled further. We wanted it to be good enough for the label, basically.
Tell us about the Shogun meeting, when was that?
Josh: That was last April, just after we last spoke to you. We had the meeting and sat in Spectrasoul’s studio, which was a bit mental, and played a bunch of new music out of the giant speakers in the studio. It was a pretty snug room to be honest.
How did the tunes go down?
Luke: To be fair, all of them were early stages at this point. There were a few, like Samsara with Ill Truth, that Friction was like ‘yep’.
Josh: Yeah, we played maybe seven or eight and then he picked the four that were the best. We said look, we want to go down the half-liquid, half-heavier route, that was our vision. Then thankfully for us he picked out two of each, so then we just had to finish those up. The lead track – Voices – we only had an instrumental of and then a recording Charli had made for us on her phone, but it was obviously vibes enough for them to sign it, so that was pretty epic.
How do you feel about the EP and signing now it’s done?
Luke: Very exciting really. It didn’t really feel real until the day that it happened, and it was just a bit crazy. We’re happy with the tunes and they’ve been getting lovely feedback, but all the way up until that point, because admittedly the EP did take quite a long time, it has been a bit stressful because we wanted to push ourselves to be as good as it can be. Then, when it actually came through, all of a sudden it became real.
Josh: Yeah, it’s mad. To have the trust from Shogun behind these tunes, from a fairly unknown act as well, that’s quite a lot of pressure for them so obviously it shows that the music is good enough to go on the label. They obviously brought us through the ranks on SGN initially with that original single we released, so yeah, it was just a weird feeling. It’s a bit surreal considering the calibre of artists who have broken through on the label in the past.
It seems like they’ve had quite a substantial role in the development of you guys as an act?
Josh: Yeah, they’ve definitely helped us curate our sound and given us helpful tips along the way to push us in the right direction, and now we’re hopefully ready to blossom on the label and see what happens, see if they can push us even further with what we’ve got in the pipeline.
You mentioned that your vision for your new EP was half-dark, half-light. Do you think that’ll be your sound on Shogun going forward?
Luke: We’ve always had belief, from the start of Koherent, in that 50/50 split because I come from a heavy background and Josh comes from a liquid background. We’ve shown each other the fruits of each approach and now we both love each type equally. But the new EP is us exploring in finer detail what we would do within a liquid-heavy concept, whereas the music we’re working on now is expanding on that, going deeper.
Josh: Because there are so many good acts around in D&B now, you need to find a niche of some sort within it so you can have a unique sound and people will come back for more. Certainly with our liquid, we’re trying to go down the R&B, synth-wave sort of sound, which I’m sure you can hear in Voices. We’ve got a few more bits we’ve started that are similar as well, so hopefully in a couple years or something people will have picked up it up as the ‘Koherent’ sound.
It’s quite exciting for new generation acts coming through at the moment. As part of that movement, what do you think?
Luke: Yes, definitely. But it’s scary at the moment as well, there are so many good up and comers, especially in the past 6 months or so I’ve noticed. It’s like all these other producers out there are kind of pressuring us, it’s like ‘shit, Josh we’ve got to keep on pushing man because otherwise they’re going to overtake us!’ But no, it’s very exciting. There’s a lot of really promising talent and it’s going to be an exciting couple of years for D&B when the younger generation come to the table and put their own spin on it.
Josh: Yeah definitely, you can hear that a lot with the bootleg culture at the moment. I think that’s the new guys being like ‘hey, we respect tracks from the guys who have done it for years’ and so they’re putting their own spin on it, which I think is really cool.
Luke: I think that’s also a sign of how the next generation is coming through. Before now, I would often remix or bootleg tracks that weren’t D&B, because I wouldn’t know how to put my own spin on it. Whereas now, tracks from the early 2000s or the 1990s, although they’re sick tunes, there’s a way they can be flipped now because I feel like D&B is at a turning point.
What do you mean?
Luke: We were having a conversation with Mark Dinimal the other day about a few of the bootlegs we’ve done personally and saying that, before now, it was hard to flip a D&B tune and put your own spin on it. Now, D&B has evolved to the extent where the music coming out is sufficiently different to what was coming out in the 2000s, so it’s now easier to flip a track and put your spin on it, because of how the genre has changed.
In terms of?
Luke: The style, the sound.
Josh: Yeah, the minimal style has come through a lot the past 4-5 years.
Luke: Which is what me and Josh always liked, but we definitely feel like the room for what you can do within the minimal sound now has grown massively, because there’s been a lot of producers trying out that kind of sound and taking it down new avenues. D&B is going in a direction where more people are trying new things. Definitely on this most recent EP, it shed light on some techniques that we’re exploring like reverbed out basses and just playing with space more in tunes, so it still remains minimal sounding.
Absolutely, I think the question of space is really important. Do you feel fortuitous to have emerged during a stylistic trend that fits with your sound?
Luke: Absolutely, it’s really exciting. There are some days when we’re a bit stuck and we don’t know what to do, we login to Soundcloud, flick through and hear some bits from someone we’ve never heard and it’s instant inspiration because people are pushing the envelope. When other people push the envelope, it gives you ideas about how you can push the envelope within your own music. I think because minimal is so popular, there are a lot of people pushing the envelope and so it’s easier for us too as well.
Josh: With the sense of space in tunes, the mixes are just as big but in a different way. You’ve got smaller sounds that have been made big, instead of lots of big sounds in a tune, the shift is quite interesting. With the sub-driven music we’re pushing as well, there’s a much bigger emphasis on the bits that sit just above that rather than much higher up, which is what was bigger a few years ago.
That’s a good way of putting it. What have you guys got coming the rest of this year? Are you allowed to tell me anything?
Josh: At the minute we’re just putting things together for our next Shogun project, which were aiming to have finished soon.
Luke: A bit closer to the present we’ve got a remix of Ill Truth’s Futile coming out on Lockdown Recordings, because they’re doing a remix album. The release date isn’t confirmed but it should be around halfway through the year.