Self-Portrait: The Busy Twist

Oliver Williams’ sound sits at the intersection between the places he’s lived in and visited. Growing up in London, he found himself immersed in rave culture, drawn to the jungle, drum n bass and garage that were soundtracking these spaces. But it was trips to places like St Lucia and Ghana that gave him a taste of the different flavours of Caribbean and African music, which have since influenced his productions.

Formerly a duo until 2015, under the name The Busy Twist Oliver is now on a solo mission to merge these two worlds, connecting the dots between Afro, Latin and bass-driven sonics to create something vibrant and fresh. The fruits of his studio time have since come via labels like Soundway Records, Galletas Calientes, The People’s Ear and his own Busy Life imprint, which launched back in 2018.

Fresh off the back of his latest release, a new EP for Jamz Supernova’s Future Bounce Club Series, Oliver brings the heat with a mix of original unreleased material that showcases exactly what The Busy Twist is all about. This sits alongside an interview about a life spent immersed in other cultures and sounds, his approach to production and the exciting projects he has on the horizon.

World Of The Spirits / Tropic 109 is out now on Future Bounce.

Let’s start with an ice breaker, what’s your earliest musical memory?

Probably from St.Lucia where I have been going my whole life. I have vivid memories as a kid of being there during carnival season, hearing the high energy music blasting from the sound systems and seeing all the colours and dancers in the streets being crazy and free. 

Did you have a particularly musical upbringing?

Not particularly other than being exposed to the vibes of St Lucian and Caribbean music from an early age. My brother and I would collect vinyl records and my parents were music lovers so we listened to a lot of different music in the house growing up from Peter Tosh to the Kinks. My older cousin used to DJ, which inspired me a lot and initially introduced me to the music scene

What led you into music production?

I have always loved music. I used to want to be a rapper when I was 10 haha. I actually recorded a track with lyrics I had written in my friend’s Dad’s studio but when I listened back it was so bad I gave up and never rapped again. However I fell into djing after being given some vynals from my cousin. I then made a hobby of collecting records from as many places as possible. I then was finally put on to fl studio when I was about 13 and never looked back!

Are there any producers or artists who have inspired your production?

There are so many and I continue to discover more every day. Pretty much All the music I listen to inspires me as a producer. Early on I loved hip hop, particularly producers like J dilla and Dr.Dre, it’s the simplicity of their beats which carries so much feeling and groove. The music from the Caribbean was also a big influence – reggae / dancehall artists like Capleton, Sizzla, Vybez Kartel and Bounty Killa to name a few. 

Growing up in London I was big into rave culture and there are so many bass heavy sub genres of electronic music that inspire my productions from jungle, drum n bass, garage, dub, funky house dubstep and grime. Many times I would often come back from a rave and want to jump straight in the studio. 

Travelling to Ghana I discovered highlife and AfroBeats music listening to artists like Ebo Taylor Flea Kuti and also more modern artists like Sakodie. This music definitely influenced my productions and music I was creating there and this really inspired the birth of The Busy Twist project. 

I have to mention Buraka Som Sistema. They are an electronic dance music group from Portugal who specialise in a fusion of techno beats with the African zouk and kuduro genres. They inspired a lot of the early productions of mine to fuse the electronic rave worlds I was familiar with to the new sounds rhythms I was discovering in Ghana. The first time I saw them live I was so excited. It reminded me of everything I loved about being in a carnival mixed with a rave where you can get your bass face on.  

In recent years the music from St.Lucia has really inspired me with a new style of soca called ‘Dennery Segment’ which I play out regularly in my sets and has influenced my productions. Artists such as black boy, Freezy and G6 productions. 

Also loving the new more chilled Ama piano sounds and music from South Africa right now there are alot of great Producers from South Africa like – DJ Lag, Virgo Deep, Kabza de Small.

Are there any particular rituals you go through before you head into the studio?

Not really, normally I have a smoke or sometimes I burn Palo Santos.

Do you come in with a destination in mind before starting a jam? 

Not really, I try to keep as open mind as possible and let the moment take us wherever it needs to go, unless I am in a session for a particular project or artist which then I would likely have a destination in mind. 

Are you the type of producer to work on a track until it’s perfect, or are you more of an impulsive creator, happy with first takes and sketches?  

Bit of both. ‘Perfect’  is subjective and only you will know when it feels right. I have spent months, even years on a song before it’s felt ready. Tracks develop in different stages but I pay a lot of attention to those initial impulses and ideas captured during the early stages. Almost always I find the most useful creative ideas come in those first takes / sketches but It’s unpredictable. Sometimes a whole song can come together in a few hours or can be a few months. 

Can you talk us through how you might construct a track?

No process is the same but usually I would first think about the feeling/emotions I want the track to  have. This is sometimes triggered from a source of inspiration – e.g a new song I love or a cool sound or an experience at a festival or party which gave me a feeling to recreate. Once I have this in mind I can start improvising with different drum patterns and melodies on my Maschine until I find a loop or groove which captures the energy I’m looking for. Once I have that the hard part is done and it’s then about enhancing that by adding all the layers / additional sounds to create a story around it. 

How much of your material is sample based and how much is original?

Mostly original material. I have done remixes and edits using samples but I try to avoid using them. I like to record and create my own samples to use in my productions which helps me to find a unique sound and triggers more inspiration.  

What’s the most important bit of kit that make a The Busy Twist track?

Drums / bass – to make you move and groove.

This mix is composed of 100% original The Busy Twist material. Could you tell us a bit about it? Any tracks that are particularly special to you?

I’m actually really excited to present this mix. There is a lot of music I’ve produced for various artists from different countries over the last few years. I have wanted to showcase these but haven’t been able to because I have not yet had opportunities to release them properly so in this mix there is a sneak peak to some of that. 

The two tracks with Astar are special to me, one of which features Busy Signal. They are two of my favourite artists I was listening to as a fan long before we connected. I recorded with Busy Signal when I was in Jamaica with the idea to get an Afro beats Artist also to feature making it a dope link up between the cultures. After sitting on it for a while I was put in contact with Astar for some sessions in London and came out with these bangers. It was crazy because I played his music out in almost every set and couldn’t have thought of a better artist for the track with Busy Signal. 

The other songs that are really special to me are from a project I have developed in Colombia featuring an Artist called Nidia Gongora. I started this music in 2013 on my first trip out there and still I have not released it due to not finding the right moment. I think this project is timeless and when it does come out will be really special. 

Anything on the horizon for you? Any releases we should know about?

Many releases on the horizon. Projects from Colombia, Ghana, Tanzania, St.lucia and more. I have some new artists singing to my label Busy life and next month I will be dropping a heavy remix of Afro Colombian group Kompilesa Mi which features Ghana mc Bryte. 

World Of The Spirits / Tropic 109 is out now on Future Bounce.

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