INTERVIEW: Etherwood. Blue Leaves, Liquid Reign.

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Carly Mountford
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Once upon a time at a Med School night – in the deep, dank depths of Elephant and Castle’s Corsica Studios – I thought I was standing beside Etherwood in line at the bar and came this close to losing my little fan girl shit. Turns out, just a bloke with a beard. But therein started my awareness of what a dude Etherwood is and how important his music had come to be for me. So when it came to the release of his second album, there was palpable excitement in the Magnetic camp. And it's not just us feeling it either – released on Friday, Blue Leaves has already been crowned number 1 in the iTunes Electronic chart. This is the first LP that I've listened to from absolute beginning to end in ages. That means without needing a BPM breather. That also means not skipping a single song or being willing to relinquish a single second. This is a true testament to the captivating quality of Etherwood. Long may he reign in the liquid scene! So without further dillly dally, let's get at the chat with the man himself...

Where’s home for you at the moment and how are you feeling in the lead up to the release of ‘Blue Leaves’?

I've been living in North London for a few years now. I love it up here. I wouldn't call it home but it's cool. Seeing the album released is the icing on the cake really. It's been through so many stages and it's all been leading up to this so I'm very excited and proud to get it out into the world. It's like spending ages making a roast dinner for your fam and finally getting around the table to eat it.

Is there a narrative to the album or is it just a pick and mix of ridiculously beautiful tunes?

That's nice of you. There's no particular overall theme of the album but I had a strong direction for it when I started writing. The debut was more of a collection of songs that I'd been working on over the last few years. With Blue Leaves I took it all a little deeper when I was writing it. There's certainly more songs on there and I sing on more tracks. I've got a love/hate relationship with it as I think most producers find after putting in so much time into something.

‘Instrumental prowess’, ‘sublime’ and ‘sick’ are all ways in which the new album has been summed up. If you had three words to capture the idea behind ‘Blue Leaves’ what would they be?

Man, I really can't cope with that word 'sick'. I like the first two though. Summing it up myself is tough but I'd say from a purely personal level 'contemplative', 'explorative' and 'pretty'.

Generic fave track off the album question…

The Last Hour.

What do you feel was brought to the table in ‘Blue Leaves’ that might have been held back in ‘Etherwood’ previously? Was there a different mindset going in?

I knew as soon as I started writing this record that I felt differently about it. I felt more connected to it. The music was writing itself at one point and that felt great. I don't know if any other producers feel it, but when you really delve into a tune, you can feel it and run alongside it and it surrounds you. That happened a lot with this record and it came very naturally.

You provide the vocals for a lot of your tracks which help brand them very specifically as Etherwood tracks - do you like the singing side of things or does it scare the actual bejeezus out of you?

I love it. I took me ages to get used to my own voice. I hated it at first. Now if I'm writing a piano part and a melody pops into my head, I can just get to the mic and lay it down and it's done. Lyrics are tough though. It's difficult to say what you want to say without it sounding like a clip from one of S Club's many bangers.

Which set was the best time this summer? Notice you got some of your kit off at Secret Garden Party…(his shoes guys, come on now!)

Ha, did I? I DJ'd barefoot because I'd left my wellies at home. Yeah, who does that right? I think that gig has been my fave so far. The vibe was perfect. I got the impression there were only a few real hardcore dnb fans in that crowd and the rest were just vibing off the tunes. The sun came out for us too. Can't ask for more.

Favourite tune to finish a set with?

Man, it really depends on the show and the crowd. I try and change it up a lot but I was ending with the Contra booty of Teardrop by Massive Attack for a while. Really nice way to bring it down and the crowd usually love it. Otherwise it's Bad Habit by Pola & Bryson. Absolute face melter.

I was foaming at the mouth at the Hospo BBQ...any gigs you are looking particularly forward to attending in the coming months (either playing or attending)?

That BBQ was nuts as always. I'm going to Sun And Bass next week for the first time. I've always wanted to go, not just to play but just for the experience so I can't wait for that. I'm going to see one of my favourite bands Jaga Jazzist play in London in Nov. Last time I saw them was one of the most captivating shows I've ever been to. Check them out if you haven't already.

And finally – the editors at Magnetic are currently compiling their lists of Top 10 DJs/producers for 2015 – who would cut the mustard as number one in your list?

Yeah that is a tough one. I'm really digging Arca at the moment. He's forward thinking and deconstructive in his approach to producing. His LP 'Xen' is great and he's done stuff for Kanye and FKA Twigs too I reckon. Well worth a listen.

Album is out NOW - scoop it on iTunes
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