With releases on the likes of Flexout, Rebel Music, Context Audio, C4C, Deep Within, Delta9, CIA, Skankandbass and Program last year, and the launch of on-point producer tournament Dub Wars, it’s safe to say the curse of 2020 didn’t affect rising young Bristol-based producer Creatures.
At least it didn’t seem that way. Behind the scenes he suffered every shade of loss and frustration a pandemic can throw at a man, but he’s successfully channelled his emotions into his art and is set to have an equally productive 2021 with some of his most personal and emotionally charged music to date.
It starts right here. Following cameos on Ekou and Delta9 compilations, his first full release of the year is Gonzo Transmission on Overview. An all-out collabo fest, the dispatch comprises five killer tag-team tear-ups as Volatile Cycle, Joe Raygun, Rizzle, Wingz and Hadley all jump on board. Not just representing exactly where Creatures – who first stepped into the music game as a clash-hungry grime MC – is at right now, but also where the new generation are at, it’s another major league Overview missive that requires your attention. We called up Harvey Creatures to find out more.
What’s your favourite creature, Creatures?
Ha! Well I do love Cerberus, the three headed dog. I’ve always thought he was cool, but I think my favourite is the manticore. My new branding is my own take on a manticore. It’s a lion, it’s brave, it’s got that dark and light side to it. It depends on your experience with it. It might have attacked you or eaten you. I like that, it works for me. A lot of my tracks are different and have those different sides.
I hear that! I think we heard a lot of those sides in the last year. 2020 was a productive year for you, all things considered…
Musically 100%, it was my best year in that way. The hard work I put that made it pay off. I didn’t enjoy what was going on but did enjoy the fact I could lock myself away and finish a lot of music. I spent a lot of time watching tutorial videos, I re-read my whole college course and I felt I’d made a big improvement with my production quality and the level of releases I was having. There was Flexout, Dispatch and obvious Rebel Music right behind me. I did enjoy that aspect of the year for sure.
Were you on furlough?
No, it was a bit of a shitty situation. In June I lost my job and unfortunately lost some very close family members as well. So that hit me pretty hard and the outcome of that was a very emotional and personal liquid EP which will be coming out later in the year on Intrigue. It was an intense time with both myself and my girlfriend working from home in a little flat so I got my headphones on really put everything into that music and put things in place to set-up my Patreon and do as much as I could to make music my main job.
Patreon’s really interesting in terms of how you organise yourself and being more like a ‘job’. Without gigs the whole process and structure are different.
Yeah 100% But the gigs weren’t just the structure, they were the purpose too. Last year, January, I played between Fabio and Bryan Gee so that gave me all the impetus I needed to finish a lot of dubs that I could play in that set. Now I don’t know when my next gig is, so it’s harder to finish the tracks with that type of focus and excitement.
Sounds like a sick show though!
Yeah it was amazing. I was back to back to Koherent and it was at the Lightbox. We were given a chance to showcase what the new-generation are doing and I loved it. It was one of the last gigs I played before everything locked down.
When did Gonzo Transmission come about during this? 2020 was a very collabo-ish year wasn’t it?
Yeah some of them were done during last year. Some are older. The one with Wingz goes back about two years and we’ve had a love/hate relationship with it, but it came together really nicely. Then with Joe Raygun, I met him through Dub Wars. We used a sample pack of his in the quarter finals, I dropped him a message and said I really liked his vocals so we’ve got quite a few tunes done now. Then with Rizzle and Hadley, it was the same type of thing with sharing stems and seeing what comes of it. And with Volatile Cycle we’ve been sharing things online for years so it’s finally nice to see something actually done and finished and out there.
So much stuff gets shelved or sits on a hard drive doesn’t it?
So much of my stuff stays in that state! Then I’ll dig one out and play it in a set and that’s the track that gets the best reaction so I start working on it again. That’s how a lot of these collaborations came about this summer with sit-down events, especially at Engage Audio. People were trying to stand up and that’s enough feedback to get back in the studio and finish things off.
Nice! The EP is great snapshot of new-generation talent, too…
I definitely think the last few years have been good for up-and-coming producers. A lot of these people I’ve known for six or seven years and I’ve felt we’ve been kept at bay a bit. But this year, particularly seeing the likes of Klinical and Waeys reaching the spots where they are is proof that we can all hit those spots. So the EP is a statement of that, it’s me and a few like-minded people who’ve been knocking on the door for a while now and labels are beginning to recognise that.
Some label already did. Your earliest release was on Delta9!
Yeah that was a long time ago now, when Creatures was a trio. We’d done a release on Ransacked then I’d won a dubplate competition at college and I sent that to Diego [Delta9 boss] and he signed it. He’s been amazing and always given us up-and-coming artists a break. MVRK, Screamarts, Molecular, all came through Delta9. A really important label.
Interesting you mention a dubplate competition because I was about to mention your involvement in Dub Wars. What was the dubplate competition?
The competition was cool, it was just something Bath College did with everyone’s end-of-year tune. We had some great tutors like Raiden and Nick Data and people like that. So they came in as guest judges. The best tune got pressed on the college vinyl, it was cool.
And now you’re hosting Dub Wars.
Yeah! Me and Ben (Rebel Music bossman OB1) have been talking for years. We both share a love of battle rap and one time, during lockdown, he had made this flippant comment along the lines of ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to do a battle but with productions?’ I was instantly into it and he said he’d think about it but I said ‘No, it’s May, we’re all on lockdown, let’s make this happen now!’ So I started hitting up artists who might be into it and it picked up straight away and came together. It was Ben’s seed I helped to grow and it came from a love of battle rap. He’s been into the hip-hop side of things forever and goes to a lot of battle events. I’ve personally come from a grime background and was an MC for a bit, that’s where I started, so I’ve always loved a clash, too.
I also love the idea of giving artists that type if creative challenge. I’d made a track in five days before and found the experience really interesting. There’s something about the competition that really kicks you up the arse and motivates you, too. You can’t default, you’ve got to deliver. It’s a great platform to test yourself. Plus we had some really cool samples from Ulterior Motive and Total Science and guys like that. Chef and Darryl kept it going really nicely. Season two was even better and season three will be even better again.
Yes! It does push people – Molecular had covid and won the tournament!
Yeah his mind was in the right place. He’s got something special. He’s a stand-up guy and so talented, it’s nice to see.
What can we see from you next?
I’ve got a track with Ben Verse which has been supported by Whiney. It’s coming out on Rebel Music, really nice to work with one of the biggest MC in the scene. I’ve got a couple of remixes coming up. One with Rider Shafique and Dave Owen which is nice bubbly track. There might be something on Guidance in the future and then the liquid EP which I mentioned, on Intrigue which was written when I lost my nan, my great nan and my uncle who I didn’t get to say goodbye to. My uncle was the first person to show me a DAW and give me my first booking so he was very inspirational. The EP is in memory of them. I pour my emotions into music, more than you might be able to tell from the music. It might be a minimal banger but it doesn’t mean I wasn’t tearing my heart out when I wrote it. Emotion drives everything I do and I’m sure that’s rhe same for a lot of artists. But this one especially for me, it’s got a collab with Kolectiv and Collette Warren on there, I’m looking forward to getting it out there.
Look forward to hearing it. But first, we know your favourite creature is. But what is Creature’s favourite creature comfort?
I’ve got into playing old school games, role playing games and Final Fantasy. There’ll be a lot of Final Fantasy inspired track titles in the future. Other creature comforts include eating lots of shit and not seeming to put on any weight and in-line skating and trying not to break my neck!