Welcome to the weird world of young UK producer Vellum.
He crafts neuro sound design at a house tempo. He uploads sketches with random made up collaborators like Barry Sandbags and Janet Crackdad. He’s just scored a rare feature from OG UKG MC Vapour. He’s written an EP-sized love letter to the last 25 years of UK bass culture and released it on Inspected. He’s happy to tell you all to swivel….
After a few cameos on the likes of Gold Digger and Upscale in the last year, Swivel is Vellum’s first full EP and acts as a clear statement at what his melting pot is all about… And what could potentially come in the future. Everything goes: from neuro to UK garage to grime to dubstep and bass house, all wrapped up with humour, sound design and dynamic use of space than allows his music to sit just as easily around the halftime as it does grime.
With more tracks heading our way before the year is out we called him up and told him to swivel himself*
*We didn’t actually tell him to swivel
This EP has been in the making for a while, right?
I’ve been sitting on it for so long! I actually wrote Swivel April 2016, but these things take time. You can’t hurry a man like Vapour, can you? Lyrics don’t just come out of thin air. And they were worth waiting for. I couldn’t come up with lines with pickle and squirrel and Wirral and everything else that rhymes with swivel.
But you came up with the swivel concept for him to bounce off though?
Yeah I did and it’s all down to Alan Partridge. It just popped out and Vapour ran with it.
We don’t use the term swivel as often as we should. It’s such a polite way of telling people to make a pretty drastic lifestyle choice
You might not but I do daily. Depending on who I’m with or where I am, I either say it pretty loudly or quietly. But yeah I’m bringing it back. Swivel is very much at the forefront of my lexicon.
I heard a rumour you first heard Vapour’s recording while in a public toilet?
That’s true! I was getting ready for football and got a voice message from Ryan who runs Inspected on Facebook. That seemed odd, he never leaves voice messages, so I checked it and instantly heard Vapour. I was buzzing. It was such a bizarre experience
Nice acoustics in a loo, I guess…
Yeah it had a nice live feeling to it!
The track is an ode to speed garage but I suspect you’re way too young to have caught the first wave of it?
No, I was full going to speed nights as an eight year old boy. But really it was dubstep and garage, years later, that made really dig and go back to the roots and hear where everything’s come from.
I love it when you find a particular old era and it opens up a whole trove of music that’s old but new to you.
Yeah I love digging back. The whole EP is a reflection of that – it’s 100 pastiches rolled up into a love letter to a music that’s fascinated and inspired me for the last 10 years since I’ve been learning to produce.
You’ve been on this for longer than I thought, then…
I was just messing around and dabbling before. Then I took a few years out and decided to do it properly. I’ve had to totally relearn everything and actually understand how to produce in the last few years and basically get my head around sound design.
There’s some really interesting sound design in your work. What was the penny-drop moment for you as you got deeper into the craft?
It’s all down to divorcing myself from sequencing and really spending time experimenting and refining each sound and building up a library. I took a month out and just focused on making sounds, cutting up vocals, finding samples etc. I’d recommend anyone do it. When you have a library of fresh sounds then you’re not wasting time looking for stuff, you’ve got a toolkit you’re excited to use and the tunes come so much easier.
Are your Careful Minute projects something to do with these experiments?
They’re more just sketches. Like when you’re hungover on a Monday and can’t actually use your brain properly. They’re a good palette cleanser, just being stupid and seeing what comes up.
Have any of them turned into a tune?
Yeah Keith Teeth turned into something that I’m going to give away on Soundcloud pretty soon. You know I’m never too sure about keeping those sketches up on my Soundcloud because some of them are really stupid.
No. Bass music needs more humour. Keep them on!
Ha. There’s definitely a dearth of mirth isn’t there. There are a lot of people who take it too seriously. I never have. I hope I never do. It’s got to be fun or why do it?
Amen. There’s that feeling among a few of you – a new, light-hearted energy with artists such as yourself or Vorso. Feels exciting and fresh
Yeah there’s a really exciting group of artists all coming from similar perspectives. Although there aren’t so many doing wacky neuro sounds at more housey tempo from what I’ve heard. I wish there were more. I fear I might end up cutting a lone figure and getting lost in some genreless hinterland.
Tempo is by the by. It’s more the sound and aesthetic. In that way you wouldn’t sound out of place on a 1985 line up or a Crucast line-up. It joins the dots and people seem open to different ideas.
People definitely want more variety these days. When I first got into bass music everyone wanted the same thing all the time. There’s certainly more interest in different ideas and people welcome it or a wider range of DJs are supporting it. There’s a lot of exciting possibilities when you keep the blinkers off.
So what’s next?
I’m currently on a binge of collaborating with other artists, it’s a lot more fun and I found it pushes me more than when I’m producing alone. I’ve got an EP with Vorso in the works as well as other bits and bobs. Now this Swivel EP is out I want to keep putting things out and testing ideas. I’ve been sitting on some tracks for a while so there’ll be some free releases on Soundcloud in the next few weeks because I feel that’s still the best way to get out there and have people enjoy your music while it’s fresh. But we’ll see. There are a lot of different WIPs in the pipeline…