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Interview: Walton Talks Chinese, Japanese Influences On New Album 'Black Lotus'

The UK producer also talks his new grime collab with Riko Dan, the battle between the MET police & drill and more.

UK grime, house and garage producer Sam Walton, known to his fans as Walton, has released his new album Black Lotus on Pinch’s label Tectonic. After releases on Hyperdub, Keysound, Tectonic and Kaizen, Walton returns to Tectonic with something a little different on Black Lotus. He brings together his own sound with strong Chinese and Japanese influences (first noticeable on the title) and throughout the record itself. We caught up with Walton to learn more about how he created the album, how those influences ended up on this record, the ongoing struggle between London police and drill artists and how he beat writer’s block. Listen to Black Lotus below.

Magnetic: With an album so beat-driven, what types of hardware and software do you use to make your sounds?

Walton: It was all made on Logic with no hardware. I program most of my drums & baselines on Native Instruments plugins called Battery & Massive as well as cutting up loops etc. For all the instrument stuff I have been using a cool plugin called Eastwest virtual instruments which has hundreds of gigabytes of samples.

Why did you really start to get into Japanese and Chinese music for this record?

Japanese & Chinese melodies are something I have come to love through listening to a lot of Sino grime stuff growing up. That is mostly what has inspired the style of the album as well as percussive techno stuff, dubstep & 130 bpm bass stuff.

What was some of that music you were listening to?

Wiley, Dizzee Rascal, Danny Weed, Jammer, Japan Blues podcasts and film soundtracks like The Shogun Assassin, Randomer.  I did lots of browsing through YouTube and then listened to Hodge, Wen, Tectonic Stuff, Commodo, Gantz.

Going four years in between albums, were there moments where you really struggled to find inspiration or the ability write good music? How did you break through that?

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I think I always go through small periods of writers block. You’ve just have ride it out and listen to as much stuff as possible. I have never been one to sit down and try and force myself to make music though I just make stuff when I feel like it. I have also found it a lot easier to write stuff since starting work full time because it takes away the pressure of thinking about having to make money from it.

While it seems as though a lot of the record could work with vocalists, “No Mercy” is the only one with a Grime rapper. Was that conscious or just how the album came together?

I had in my head that I would love to get Riko on the album since starting the process as we have worked together before and I have done a few remixes of his stuff. I made "No Mercy" with Riko In mind and it all came together quite nicely. He smashed the vocal!

You have released on labels like Hyperdub, Keysound and Kaizen. What drew you back to Tectonic to release this album?

Pinch put the album offer on the table a while ago after one of the first EPs and just kind of said "whenever you’re ready lets do it." I felt like I had a cool concept of where I would like to take an album after my last 2 EPs with Tectonic & Kaizen and it just felt right to put it out with Tectonic as the have been pushing my stuff for a few years now.

While drill is a different genre from what you make, do you have a take or solution to the MET crackdown on Drill artists?

I am probably not the best person to ask about that, as I don’t really have much knowledge on drill music. I definitely don’t think banning people’s music is a solution though, it is just hiding the situation.

What else do you have planned for the rest of the year? Will you have remixes or collabs done with the album?

No remixes planned as of yet but I’ve got 2 more EPs coming out towards the end of the year - one on Kaizen and one on Tectonic.

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