Unless you’ve buried your head inside a five-panel for the last couple years, you might’ve noticed Peckham has become a hot-bed of musical activity, built up around a community of switched on producers, record collectors, record shops, DJs and promoters.
Sitting behind the counter at Rye Wax and nestled amongst the release catalogue of Rhythm Section, FYI Chris sit proudly part of the furniture in SE11, turning heads for their dusty house and chalky rhythms. Before they take to the floor for commune this weekend, they put together a wee mix and answer some questions about their hometown.
Hey fellas, how’s 2015 been for you so far?
Chris: Really good thanks!
Watson: Great so far. Wish it would cool its jets though, I ain’t ready for Christmas and shit.
You met through friends at uni, but what was your musical education up to that point? Did you both come from very musical families?
W: My gran was a grade 8 pianist and in choirs for as long as I can remember. My granddad is still a massive jazz fan and runs the Macc Jazz Club – they still make their own mixtapes of different artists and show them down the pub every two weeks! Growing up in their house definitely had an effect on me.
C: My gran was a piano teacher and my uncle taught me how to play guitar when I was younger. This sparked an interest in music for sure.
When making beats, do you have familiar roles and a regular pattern of working, or is it very much ad-libbing?
W: It depends on how the idea for a tune is formulated. Sometimes one of us will really want to use a break or sample so we just get to chopping. Other times we’ll really wanna utilise a particular piece of kit. Recently we’ve been jamming in rhythm tracks to lay the skeleton and then one of us does a really long take on the keyboard while the other fucks with the effects. We swap and change all the time though. Usually when rolling.
C: It works really well. Neither of us are that precious when we jam and we have fun with it. It feels like more of a bonus when we get a track at the end of a session that we are happy with. We also try not to mull over tracks for too long. If it’s not going anywhere at the time we just move on to something else.
We hear you’re both very into your hardware. What’s your favourite piece of kit that you own?
W: I don’t actually have that much! Chris’s collection is dope! I just bought a Boss multi effects unit from Andy Blake that is going to get a lot of use though.
C: We’ve got a pretty compact bedroom studio with two keyboards an MPC and a couple of effects. It makes the studio pretty hands on which is fun when your making music with people especially. The MPC is perfect for jamming out sounds/ideas and listening to them as you go along.
How does it feel to own the same compressor as Alan Partridge? Future collab in the works?
W: I’m fully keen to sample AP, it’s just what to choose. Maybe a passage from the audio book over some Balearic strings and Norfolk bird calls.
Your first two releases have been on South London labels and you also both work at Peckham’s Rye Wax record shop. How important is London and your local community to your careers as musicians?
W: It’s just dead nice to have so many mates making great music constantly. It’s dope to be able to play with mates all the time and I think the amount of great labels around is just a natural progression of the scene. Good people!
C: Rye wax is great for meeting people who make music and most the people working there make great music too. So it’s pretty easy to get inspired.
Peckham’s become a bit of a hotbed for record stores recently? Assuming it’s not like a Costa opening up next to a Starbucks type situation, do you guys all support and collaborate with each other?
W: We’ve done two nights as Rye Lane Record store nights, we’re all mates. It’s good because the shops are all so diverse, everyone shops at each other’s shops. Nothing but love baby.
C: I think we all help each other out. Having 4 or 5 shops in Peckham were you can buy vinyl has made Peckham a spot worth travelling to for buying records. And that’s great for all of us!
We’re big fans of Rhythm Section and 22a on STW, but who else is doing good things for music in your local area you’d like to shout out?
Shout out to our mate Johnny who’s just bought his own cutting lathe. People like him are what’s good with music. Out to Church and BZP as always, Ears Have Eyes, Wholemeal, Charlie Bones, YAM, Pixl8 crew, Gateway to Zen and the Brtsh Knights / Cotch crews! We could go on!
What up-and-coming London producers and DJs are exciting you at the moment?
W: Not really up and coming anymore but Gang Fatale in general still blow my mind. Elysia (or Henry, as we call him at work) is making some insane shit.
C: Blip Discs. I’m not sure if they are in London, but I heard Blip002 by Tom Blip today and thought it was fucking great! Can’t wait to hear more from them.
You’re contributed a track to the Dimensions x CDR collaborative EP Dimension Sounds 2015. How did you get involved, and could you tell us a bit about the field recordings and samples you chose to work with as part of the project?
W: We were really happy to be involved, CDR is a group we’ve really got a lot of respect for. Tony actually started teaching my course the year I left. We kinda wanted to make a murky dark track and so we used lots of weird metallic hits and weird toms-sounding things, loads of atmospheres as well. Just kind of tying all these disparate sounds from all over the place to make something west for the dance.
Could you tell us a bit about the mix you made for us?
C: It’s a mixtape of a few recent favourites, some old, some new. Usually we use Mondays as a studio day as it’s the only day Rye Wax is shut. Watson was out of town this week so I used it as an opportunity to shuffle through my records and record something for you guys. I paused halfway through to eat dinner cooked by my housemate Andre. He makes a really good pasta luganega. It’s pretty special.
What records aren’t leaving your bag at the moment?
W: I’m Still rinsing the Future Times Vibe 2 compilation! And Brotherhood – ‘itsnotover’, which I’m only mentioning because it’s blatantly about to be deservedly repressed anyway.
C: I think I’ve got three Box Haus releases in my bag atm. All their V/A releases are dope. If you haven’t heard them and you like jazzy/choppy house numbers then go check them! And this little rocket by ILO
Anything you can divulge about future projects on the horizon?
W: We got a track on the Lumberjacks in Hell fifth birthday compilation which we’re super happy about! Another tune on a Church V/A release coming soon, everything else I think is pretty under wraps for now!