The dazzling ambience of his music, fusing soul-inspired vibes with Dubstep, Garage and R&B, caught the attention of London/Sheffield-based Electronic label Bad Taste Records (also representing a Stamp favourite Walter Ego) who put out his wondrously beautiful 4-track debut EP Maybe There last year. Since then, he’s been juggling university and official remixes for Clean Bandit, Robokid, Cuushe and Daniel Curpen.
We thought it was about time we touched base with the young talent and have an in-depth chat with the recent graduate. He’s also recorded an exclusive hour-long mix for us containing serious vibes that’ll make a perfect accompaniment to all the sun we’ve been having recently.
Check out the mix (which you can download for free) plus our interview with him below.
You can purchase the Maybe There EP from Bandcamp, and make sure to like and follow all the links below to stay updated with his movements:
Affelaye on Facebook | Affelaye on Soundcloud | Bad Taste Records on Facebook | Bad Taste Records on Twitter | Bad Taste Records on Soundcloud | Bad Taste Records on Bandcamp |
1. T-ILS – Everybody
2. Polographia – Sunsets
3. Question – Better Man
4. Lone – Jaded
5. Handbook – The Love
6. Freddie Joachim – Strawberries
7. Mobb Deep – Shook Ones Part II (Acapella)
8. Ka-Yu – Idle Moments
9. Spooky Black – Without U
10. Justin Timberlake – My Love (BearFace Remix)
11. Jamie xx – Girl
12. Fritz Kalkbrenner – Facing the Sun
13. Pyxis – Dilla
14. Darius – Hot Hands
15. Onra – Perfect Match
16. Gorgon City – Here For You (Bearcubs remix)
17. Congi – Spoken Word (K-Lone Remix)
18. Bondax – Wet Summer
19. Charles Murdoch – Worth
20. Catching Flies & Ifan Dafydd – Don’t Know How
21. Detroit Swindle – Woman
22. Kaasi – Living With
23. Lucy Tyde – A.M
24. Hot Natured – Benediction (Lxury Remix)
25. Celcius – Devotion
26. Sampha – Without (Bodhi Remix)
27. Affelaye – Want Me
For those that don’t know, could you give us a brief summary of your musical background and your journey to becoming Affelaye?
I started learning the guitar properly when I was about 13. There were always instruments around the house that my brother and I would mess around with; I remember we had a couple of half-size acoustics and a little Casio keyboard. When I was 14, I formed a band with two school friends and we recorded a three-track demo with a Dictaphone. We covered an Artic Monkeys song and I sang in a northern accent for some reason. I got into producing while I was doing my A-Levels; when I was 19 I bought a mac and started to explore Logic a bit more and gradually progressed from there.
What’s the story behind your name?
Haha, it’s actually the name of a Dutch footballer, Ibrahim Afellay (I spell it slightly differently). I tried not to obsess too much over it; I think a lot of pseudonyms and band names sound strange when they’re detached from the music, I just never felt comfortable with using my own name. If you’re able to remove personality from what you’re doing it makes it more about the music.
They got in touch a few weeks after I uploaded Want Me to Soundcloud during my first year of uni. They said they really liked the track and that they were interested in releasing an E.P. It took quite a while to complete; I came close to scrapping the entire thing a few times because I couldn’t seem to finish anything. Both Sapphire and Want Me were borne out of experimentation and I didn’t think anyone would actually listen to them; making music for an official release was quite different so I was far more tentative when approaching the production.
Could you give us a lowdown on what you’ve been doing since the release of your debut last year?
I’ve been working towards a second E.P and trying to get a live set sorted out. I want to take my time over it, though; if you’re going to play something live, you should play it live. I don’t like the idea of pressing buttons and pads for half an hour. Samplers and loop pedals can be really effective but they’re intermediate in a sense that they’re recreating a prerecorded sound; I want to be able to translate the ideas from scratch using instruments and building the track up bit by bit. I think that’d be far more interesting to watch.
You’ve done quite a few remixes in the past, what’s exciting about remixes for you and is there a specific way you always approach them?
They offer producers an opportunity to work outside of their comfort zones and that can often result in really exciting fusions of genre. My approach differs depending on the track; if it’s a song with a conventional verse, chorus, verse structure, I tend to preserve the vocal and compose the music around that. Obviously a remix should resemble, in some way, the original, so I’m always mindful of not altering it too drastically.
Do you try and please the artist when you’re remixing or is it just completely what you want to hear?
It depends on what you’re remixing. Some of the comments I received in response to the Clean Bandit remix were surprisingly hateful. “Fucking shit” and “Worst remix ever” were among the best.
How easy is it for you to get an objective view on your music? So, for instance, say you’ve been working on a track for a long period of time, don’t you lose that “fresh-ear” type of perspective and is it harder to judge if a song is finished or if it needs a bit more of this or a bit less of that?
Yeah, definitely. I think that’s one of the reasons why I took so long to finish the EP; once you put something out, it’s out for good and that finality can be quite daunting, particularly if you don’t have total confidence in the material. I’ve resigned myself to that fact that sometimes I’ll never be completely happy with the music I release but it’s still a real hindrance. At times I can be unnecessarily thorough and obsess over minute details; knowing when to stop is a skill in itself but I’m aware that dissatisfaction with my music is something I’ll always struggle with. It’s important to step back from something you’ve been working on for a while and revisit it at a later stage, otherwise everything starts to sound the same and you can’t differentiate between something that sounds good and something that sounds terrible.
Do you ever feel frustrated with electronic music in that it doesn’t have a direct narrative or story that a song with lyrics has, or do you never have the urge to writing something with a specific direct meaning?
It’d be easy to argue that electronic music is one-dimensional; the lack of a narrative voice can be restrictive but I don’t think it’s the soul source when trying to convey a deeper meaning. I can be moved just as much when listening to Burial or Apparat than I can when listening to Bon Iver or Wild Beasts. Lyricism and electronic music aren’t mutually exclusive; artists such as James Blake illustrate that.
You do have a really distinguishable soundscape as a producer that is easily recognisable and attributable to you, which does go to show that within electronic music, there’s creative talent in composing but there’s also talent in choosing the specific sounds that work well together. Could you talk us through your process and the progression of how you created the ‘Affelaye’ sound?
I usually start with a chord progression or vocal melody. I’m trying to incorporate vocals into the new stuff; I really hate my singing voice but I grew tired of sampling poor quality acapellas from YouTube. All of the sounds I use are created in Logic’s synthesisers, I didn’t get round to downloading any third party plug-ins. I’m still learning, too. That’s the beauty of working within this genre; its infinity offers scope for exploration.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
All the bands and artists my parents would play when I was growing up probably helped shape my musical interest in some way; my dad’s a big reggae fan so I was exposed to a lot of that as a kid: Bob Marley, Desmond Decker and Toots and The Maytals. My sisters listened to a lot of R’n’B, too: Ashanti, Destiny’s Child, and Brandy. The melodic nature of that stuff definitely bled into my production.
What are your thoughts on the Brighton music scene as a whole?
It’s good. As a student, I feel as though I’ve experienced its brighter side. There’s always a lot going on and a lot of variety. Brighton’s great for live music; there’re loads of open mic nights that actually showcase decent singer/songwriters, which is a refreshing change from relentless Oasis covers and a drunk guy’s rendition of The Proclaimers.
Any favourite record shops in Brighton you would recommend?
There are quite a few: Resident are pretty on it in terms of new releases and you can order almost anything in and they’ll have it ready within a few days. Across the Tracks is great for older stuff, a lot of really rare, original cuts. There’s a also a place above a little clothes shop called One Stop Records, I’d definitely recommend having a look in there.
Are they any new upcoming artists you think we should know about?
There’re a few Brighton based artists that I’ve been listening to a lot recently: Phoria make really beautiful music, their Display E.P is definitely worth a listen. There’s also a band called Lion Bark, who’re releasing a single on their own label Creepy Love really soon. They recorded a live version of Come Into My Arms for Burberry Acoustic a couple of weeks ago:
The most recent song you’ve listened to today?
I listened to Bon Iver’s new song Heavenly Father earlier today; it’s featured in Zach Braff’s new film Wish I Was Here. The chorus is absolutely stunning.
Do you have any dream collaborations of people you’d love to work with?
D’Angelo. Voodoo’s one of my favourite albums so he’d probably be top of the list. I’d also love to work with Arthur Russell. He’s definitely one of the most enigmatic, forward-thinking composers of all time; I’d love to see him in a studio environment and witness his process first-hand.
What’s been your proudest moment to date as Affelaye?
A couple of weeks after I uploaded Sapphire, a guy e-mailed me asking for permission to upload it to his YouTube channel and I couldn’t believe that someone outside of my immediate friendship group was listening to the music I was making. That was long before Affelaye was even conceived but I began to take it more seriously from then on.
So what’s on the horizon for you looking forward? Debut album, live shows etc?
Now that I’ve finished uni I have a lot more free time to concentrate on making music and getting a live show ready. I’d like to release a couple of E.Ps before I start thinking about a full length. I’m still learning and my sound is very much in its infancy but I’m in no rush, hopefully it’ll all progress organically.
Lastly, could you tell us a little but about the mix you’ve recorded for us?
It’s a just a selection of some of the tracks I’ve been listening to over the past few months, some old, some new. It’s not necessarily thematic, there’s some house, some hip-hop, and Spooky Black.