Destination Sao Paulo: a city that’s spawned legions of drum & bass talent for over 20 years.
Building on the firm foundations dug by the likes of Marky, XRS and Patife, the Brazilian city has consistently provided us with jungle inspiration: S.P.Y, Bungle, Unreal, DJ Chap, Nitri, Duoscience, Critycal Dub, L-Side and Jam Thieves are just some of the scene-renowned names to have come from Sao Paulo.
And now Urbandawn… A man (named Felipe Wrechiski) who’s musical passions are so entrenched in the city so much his artist name is influenced by it. Taking inspiration from sources as disparate as Nordic folk to 90s hip-hop and 60s Brazilian soul, and with years as a professional studio engineer to his name, he’s been causing sonic shockwaves with his technical mastery, harmonic trickery and diverse style from day one. Early signs of his skill were evident on his debut release on Fokuz in 2012. It was Vegas and Maldini’s Bad Taste Recordings, though, that really cemented his validity with the beautifully delicate roller Words To Say in 2014. Never missing a trick, Hospital signed him shortly after. And work on his debut album Gothenburg Cluster began shortly after that…
18 months and one EP later, the album has finally landed. And with it comes Felipe’s broadest showcase to date. Rifling through the range with bold colours and vibrant brush strokes, his scope of the genre, fusion and sense of melody are all in full force as he takes us on a trip through his own personal musical psyche. Just when you thought Hospital couldn’t squeeze another genuinely essential album into one of their most successful years to date, boom…
We caught up with Felipe to find out more about him, his technique and wtf a Gothenburg Cluster actually is…
Word on the street is you’ve been a busy man….
Quite true. After a year of hard work and way too much coffee, my album is finally done.
Was an album always the goal or was it something realised as your body of unreleased work developed?
It was definitely a goal from the start. After releasing Neon Nights and Cloudless, Hospital and I started to talk about the album. Something I aimed towards for such a long time was to sit down and do an album project and think about all of the concepts and bring a cohesive, unified thing together. I experimented a lot in terms of audio and music, played and recorded loads of instruments and unusual foley material, and the main goal was to make an album with a history behind it. Even though it’s quite subliminal, it tells a personal history and goes throughout some different nuances of my own life. Tony and the Hospital team encouraged me enough to pursue my own voice on it, and I can’t thank them enough.
If you were pushed to pick a favourite what would it be and why?
I’m really happy with the whole album I’ve got to say. But if I had to choose one right now it’d be Black Notes. It’s not a DJ-friendly track at all, but in my opinion it’s the most musical track I’ve ever written. That track is me putting all of my experimental/fusion influences into an organic D&B environment, where I had the opportunity to record with Daniel Baeder, one of my dearest friends who is actually the drummer of Cirque Du Soleil in North America. We had one of the best days recording it, between recording sessions we had long chats about life in general, so all of this great moments are printed somehow in the track.
My favourite song is undoubtedly Power Scheme. Does that one do as much damage to a crowd as I imagine it to?
Power Scheme was the first track I wrote for the album. I played it for the first time at Hospitality Norwich in October last year when I did my first EU tour. The track wasn’t finished yet but I got goosebumps from the crowd’s reaction, so I’m really looking forward to see how it will sound now!
What’s with the album name? What exactly is a Gothenburg Cluster?
Chris Goss from Hospital once said to me it sounded like a chocolate bar name. A big part of my musical influences came from bands of the Gothenburg/Swedish scene in the mid 90s, especially in rock/metal and folk songs too. When I was touring around the UK last year, I did a two day trip to Gothenburg to see what it was all about. I ended up creating the main arp riff for Gothenburg Cluster (which didn’t have a name by then) when I was chilling in a park called Tradgardsforeningen. When I finished the track back in Brazil, Gothenburg Cluster seemed the right title for it.
Tell us a bit about Sao Paolo…
I love Sao Paulo, I was born and raised here and the name Urbandawn was partly inspired by the city – where you can either appreciate the wonders of a big metropolitan city and at the same time (if you travel for a few miles) be delighted by beautiful, natural landscapes. We also have the most exciting D&B scene since the explosion of the genre around here in the early 00’s. There are loads of talented producers and DJs around here right now and theyíre touring the world more and more – guys like Alibi and L-Side are just two.
How did the Keeno collaboration Still Breathing come about?
Mainly over the internet. We chatted briefly at ADE and started to talk about collaborations and Still Breathing ended up being one of the last tracks to be finished on the album. It was all pretty fast, sending stems back and forth. I really like Keeno’s approach in D&B. We were fortunate enough to create something that captures both of our views in music.
How did you get to the point you are at in terms of engineering? Your technical level is clear in every production.
I’m fascinated about the engineering side of music – it’s something I can read, experiment and study 24/7 with endless pleasure. All started when I entered IAV, one of the biggest audio engineering institutes in Latin America, then started working in studios as a recording/mixing engineer. I was fortunate enough to work and learn with some of the best engineers around, guys who devoted their lives to it for more than 30 years. I’m always learning new things when doing sound design/music for cinema and TV too, even though it’s a more restricted area regarding experimentation, I’m always trying to push my own limits when working with it.
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