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A Conversation With: Plastician & Compa

I sat down with UK bass music legends Compa and Plastician to discuss Compa's recent release on Terrorhythm - the wonderful 'Avow' E.P.

Plastician has been strongly associated with the scene for years now, and in releasing ‘Avow’ via Terrorhythm, has helped to add another interesting, experimental release to the sounds' growing catalogue. With this in mind, I was thrilled at the chance to pick his brain about what this particular release might mean for the genre, as well as get his thoughts on how the scene is developing in general.

Avow was released back in Decemeber.

Now many of you probably know Compa from his experience with the UK Dubstep scene and his association with labels such as Deep Medi and Boka Records. It's safe to say that hearing distinctly wavey elements on his recent release, which dropped on Terrorhythm before Christmas, came as a surprise to many of us. I wanted to find out exactly what it was that prompted Compa to experiment with these sounds and also what the future holds for his production.  

You can listen to and purchase ‘Avow’ here. If by any chance you haven't heard it, it's an ethereal journey through the different faces of what is broadly known as Wave, from the abrasive to the feminine, with an emphasis on trap synths and meaty sub-bass.

You can read a transcript of my conversation with the guys themselves below! I hope you enjoy!



Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to speak to Lucid Steps!

C: My pleasure!

P: No worries!

Plastician, you’ve done a lot for the Wave scene. Of course, all credit to the guys who first started producing this sound and have worked tirelessly to build it into a movement. They’re doing a lot to promote the sound worldwide and it’s obvious they’ve got big futures ahead of them. That being said, there’s no doubt that your involvement in Wave & your use of Terrorhythm to support upcoming Wave artists has helped bring this sound to the attention of listeners who otherwise wouldn’t have heard it. 

So, from your point of view, what does it mean for the UK Wave scene to have Compa, another well-loved producer from a well-known genre, on board with the sound now too? It’s a pretty exciting development right?

P: I think Compa's one of the first people to openly admit to having an interest in the Wave stuff, but behind the scene I have many producers hitting me up letting me know what they're into from recent sets and the stuff I'm putting out through Terrorhythm etc. If you check Om Unit's recent album there's some bits in there which were influenced by the movement too. People in bass music seem to be interested in it for sure.

Plastician's Rinse FM show, which ended in 2017, was huge in introducing new listeners to the sound.

Compa, it’s pretty exciting to hear a Wave-influenced E.P. from you! You’ve been a huge name in the Dubstep scene for so many years but this seems to be a bit of a change in vibe for you. Tell me, how long have you personally been producing this wavey sound for?

C: See this is the thing, I don’t consider any music that I make fits into any particular genre. I can understand how this record is put in the Wave box, and I’m happy it’s found a home there and that it’s being supported by a lot of people in that scene, but originally the tracks were made for vocalists; rappers from here in England and from America. I was just trying to produce emotive rap music and incorporate heavy bass and the textures I’m known for. But to answer your question, I’ve been making music on this tip for about two years, along with a load of other sounds and styles across different tempos.

What was it that first drew you to the sound?

C: Two things drew my ears to this sound, firstly getting into a lot of different types of rap music a couple of years ago and secondly Plastician’s Rinse FM show. I’ve always been a huge fan of music with groove and also with emotion, I tried to mix these and combine them with my usual heavy bass and dark textures kind of style and this record is the result.

So, how did this E.P. come about?

P: Compa was sending loads of bits through and I was playing loads of them on radio - he was keen to put some out and we thought we could definitely get them out on the label so we started compiling and over the course of a few months we got the track listing down!

Compa, what made you decide now was the time to release this E.P. and why Terrorhythm?

C: Terrorhythm had to be the home for this music because Plastician was the first person to play all of the tracks and really showed enthusiasm towards everything I was sending him on this tip, and it inspired me to keep writing. We had a stack of tracks to choose from and when we sat down to discuss which to put out, it took us no time, like five minutes, we both completely agreed on what to put on the record which was dope!

Plastician's label has been running since 2002. The pioneering label has seen releases from across the electronic music spectrum.

Where did you draw inspiration for these tracks from?

C: As I say, rap music of all kinds, stuff by Lunice and Falcons, other kinds of emotive music by the likes of Burial and Om Unit etc. and lots of music from within the wave scene by the likes of Kareful, Skit, Mystxrivl, Sokos etc.

Obviously Plastician, you are involved in the Wave scene in a big way right now both as a tastemaker and producer - I’ve also seen various Dubstep heads show interest in the sound (for example back in 2015 Kromestar dropped an E.P. with a wavey feel). Do you think this sound has the potential to grow amongst Dubstep heads? Is there an appetite for that do you think?

P: I wouldn't say it's an appetite as such, just a common respect for it from other people involved in underground movements. It's still very early for Wave as a sound. Producers only tend to flock to a sound when it looks like it's really popping off and might be an opportunity to make some money so I'd say that until the sound is reaching the fringes of major European festivals and front covers of electronic music mags, you're likely to still be seeing a more natural lean to the sound.

C: I hear you on the Kromestar stuff, Om Unit too. Just emotive synthy stuff innit? That’s what I’m saying, that’s what I’m into, that’s what I was hearing along with what Plastician’s been playing over the last couple of years and it really resonates with me because I’m a bit of a soppy twat at times! I think we all are, that’s why people love this music so much, it resonates with a lot of people. Again, I don’t like to put people in boxes so I can’t say that “Dubstep” guys will start making “Wave”, but I hear you. To answer your question I think a lot of producers from all areas of music have the ability to make great music that would fit into this space, it’s just whether they do or not. Let’s see a few years down the line!

The Wave scene has been functioning mainly online for so long, some of the production hasn’t been particularly geared towards the club. In particular it has lacked the sort of heavy bass-lines that a genre like Dubstep is so intimately connected with.  With that in mind, Compa, do you see what you’ve produced as a club-focused sound? 

C: Well this might be where I added my style to the sound. I’ve been playing in clubs fairly regularly, thankfully, for a few years now and this’s definitely rubbed off on my music because I want to play most of what I make in my DJ sets, but I kind of took a different approach on this record, initially making it for vocalists but it then ending up on Plastician’s radio show and in his and a few other Wave artists’ DJ sets. I personally wouldn’t play this music in a club, even though these tracks definitely have the low end for club sound systems. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve been playing some Wave stuff in my DJ sets, but only the stuff that has a bit more energy and that you can dance to, sort of thing. I don’t want to play anything too deep, I don’t want anyone stood still crying, you get me? It’s finding the balance I think, unless it’s a Wave club night, in which case anything goes.

So, if and when you do play this sound, what is the response from crowds, who I’m guessing are traditionally Dubstep fans?

C: As I say, I play what fits. I’ve been hammering the Mystxrivl & Sokos tune, ‘Pixel’. Absolute fire, works so well. And I’ve just started playing my track ‘Never Gonna’ which is working, but you have to edge them either side with something a bit more energetic or it draws the crowd and the mood down a little too much. Again it’s finding the balance, for me at least. I don’t wanna play a full set of soppy shit, but I equally don’t wanna play a full set of bangers, anyone can do that. Honestly I just play what feels right to me. If I enjoy myself when I DJ, I think that usually translates and people vibe with you.

Compa's relationship with the iconic Dubstep label Deep Medi began back in 2013.

Plastician, I’d love to know what you see as the future of the UK Wave scene. Do you think it’s progressing towards becoming a fully-fledged club-based phenomenon? 

P: I would say it's progressing nicely but it's still miles away from becoming a phenomenon - I’d need to see it filtering into the mid-week university club nights before I would consider it to be close to really becoming a phenomenon. The progress has been natural and steady though, it just needs more people actively working to put on parties really - that's the main thing that'll help.

How do you think Wave production has changed over the past year? Are producers upping their game?

P: I'm definitely hearing more club/dance influences creeping in mostly from the eastern European influence. Trance chords definitely seem to be a thing at the moment. There's definitely a boost in the production levels too.

Right, Compa, is your process for producing this sound similar to your process for producing Dubstep?

C: Exact same process, I just sit down in studio and write, see what comes out, see what comes natural.

What’s your favourite tune on the ‘Avow’ E.P?

C: ‘Never Gonna’. What’s yours?

I really like ‘Crystal Gaze’, that’s gotta be my favourite. Okay so who are your personal favourite Wave artists? Have you guys got any particular Wave recommendations for our readers to check out at the moment?

P: I'd say Fleche is an artist worth keeping tabs on, we've got an E.P. landing from him soon on the label, as well as all the usual suspects!

C: Gotta say all of them, in different ways!

Compa, Is this a genre we’re going to hear more of from you in the future? 

C: Let’s wait and see!

Finally, anything you’d like to add?

C: Erm, yeah, shout out Plastician, and all of the ‘Wave’ guys I’ve linked up with, swapped tunes with, spoken with, jammed with, for the constant support and inspiration. And shout out yourself as well Sapphire, thanks for the interview!

No worries, it’s been a pleasure to speak to you both!

Follow me on Soundcloud to keep up with the latest on Wave and other underground sounds.

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