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GLXY // Interview

Fergus Holmes-Stanley Chats to GLXY.

Thanks for joining us what have you been up to today?

Jon: I’ve just had a trim, so I’m feeling good! Confidence levels are high!

Tom: That’s two trims since they’ve been open again right?

Jon: Two trims in two weeks. I’m never leaving the barbers again!

I know the feeling, I was straight in the barbers too! Big ups for the ‘Method EP’ that you’ve just dropped on Shogun Audio! What did you want this EP to be about?

Jon: To be honest we just had to get some music out! This is our first project since the album, so we needed to put something out and because it had been so long we thought let’s do something more than a 4 track EP and let’s put a nice body of work together. The album was also very much an end of a chapter for us. We’d put all this work into the album and culminating all the styles that we had learnt. It’s a bit cheesy to say, but this EP is the start of the next chapter.

Tom: I think that’s why we put a slightly darker, heavier tune [Method] and the Garage number as well [Stamina Creux]. We do listen to a lot of that stuff and make it too, so it’s good to put it out there and the album wasn’t the right format for that. It’s good fun to experiment and put something new out there.

It’s really refreshing to see a lot of different vibes on the EP. Do you think this project is a testament to how you guys want to progress in the future?

Jon: I think with a lot of our music we tend to overthink quite a lot, but with this EP I think each tune is quite focussed and they’re not as elaborate. A lot of our tunes have lots of layers and stuff going on, but sometimes you don’t need it and this EP is a lot more stripped back, especially with the heavier tunes. We’ve tried writing heavy stuff in the past and but we just end up overthinking stuff because I think heavier tunes have to be quite simple. Our previous version of ‘Method’ was super complicated, but the version we’ve released is the stripped back version of the original. So we’re learning how to be a bit more clinical with our ideas.

Tom: The whole EP was written during the pandemic, so I’m happy we managed to get something out as it wasn’t the most inspirational time!

Jon: Our output has been super low since the album because we had a good four or five months of writing nothing and then we hit a patch where we wrote most of the tunes on the EP in a two to three month period, so it’s nice to get some creativity back in. I think the EP is more reflective of our influences as well. For example ‘Sweet Lows’ has that techno/soul vibe and I love that sort of drum ’n’ bass. It’s always been there in our sound, but it was never this focussed. So it was really nice to be able to hone in on that. 

Tom: I hope that tune will mature, as cheesy as that sounds! It’s not your obvious liquid tune, but give it some time and I think it will stand out as one of our best tracks. We’re proud of that one!

It sounds like this EP shows the music that you really enjoy making. So what were your inspirations behind this EP?

Tom: I think within drum ’n’ bass the inspiration always comes from the same people: Calibre, Lenzman, Alix Perez… They’re master of what they do. But we bring in a lot of influences from outside of drum ’n’ bass, like the techno/break stuff and a lot of weird, ambient stuff too! There’s also a lot of soulful inspirations which I think really comes across in our music.

Jon: We have two styles that we do. The real soulful side, which has more jazz, hip-hop and R&B influences and the more synthy side, like in ‘Sweet Lows’, which has a much more techno influences. 

Tom: We’ve been listening to a guy called Trauma quite a lot who’s a minimal techno producer who makes really dubbed out music and we love using those dubby sounds in our productions. So anything that is a bit off centre!

You mentioned how Covid has affected your workflow, so how have you found having to write an EP during the pandemic?

Jon: It’s been tough, man! We both have full-time jobs so it’s quite easy to just focus on that so it’s been tough creatively. I think, as well, writing an album is a big effort so we always wanted a break anyway and I think the pandemic has amplified our break!

Tom: A double-whammy! No nightlife has made it quite hard to get back into that motivational zone of why I write music. Ultimately, when you go to a show or come out of one, you get that motivation to write new music as going out raving is also a massive inspiration, so if you take that away it’s tough. For me the first lockdown was alright and then the second was just horrible, it was so dark and grey. I’m not sure how we managed to write some jazzy, liquid tunes! 

You’ve been exclusively signed to Shogun since 2017, what’s it like working with them, especially during the past year?

Jon: Overall it’s been a positive experience which we’ve really enjoyed. It’s so easy not having to worry about sending demos out, and you know where you can go so we can just write the stuff we want to write. We’re a duo so we naturally do a lot of internal A&R as we critique each other’s work and it can be quite hard to bring another stage into that with the label. But we are really happy with the projects that have been released so we can’t say that it’s definitely worked. 

Tom: We’ve come a long way from when we first signed with Shogun and they have helped to develop us to a stage that we’re both really happy with, so credits and thanks to them for that! And from the events side of things it’s great too. We’ve got Jack and Harry from Polar & Bryson, Monrroe, the Koherent boys, and we all get on really well so any events we do are great laughs.

Jon: It’s a nice little family vibe and I’m really looking forward to getting back to them. It’s a nice drum ’n’ bass family! 

What’s it like working with a duo? Are there any big arguments about snares?

Jon: I think at the moment we’re just so used to it. We started making music together at Uni in the same room but when we graduated it became a remote collaboration because we live so far away, so at this point, we’re just so used to working in a duo that it’s just become how we naturally work. 

Tom: I think if we were two established artists and came together then it would be a much different dynamic. But because we’ve done this from the start it’s calm. Obviously, we both write ideas that the other doesn’t like and we do get pissed off at each other but ultimately if we both like a thing we know that it’s probably quite good.

Jon: So that makes it quite easy to know which tunes we should definitely release. We made an unwritten agreement years ago that if neither of us liked a tune we wouldn’t release it. 

You’ve also done collabs with other artists on this EP like [ K S R ] and Rhi. What’s it been like collaborating with artists when you can’t physically be in the studio with them?

Jon: It was all remote, but I think most of our collabs have been virtual. Most of the vocalists we work with have studio set-ups so that makes it really easy. Working with Rhi was really cool as she’s not a drum ’n’ bass vocalist and we were proper fans of her before hitting her up so it was great working with her and her voice just suits the eery, moody style really well. 

Tom: If you haven’t checked her out yet, you really need to!

Jon: She’s signed to a sick label too called Tru-Thoughts who’re based in Brighton and they’ve signed so many different artists like Flowdan. She smashed the vocals, it was pretty much perfect from the first recording. [ K S R ] is just a ridiculous vocalist who’s killing it and he’s always been somebody we’ve wanted to work with, so we were glad he was up for the collab when we DM’d him. The way we hit up people is through Insta DMs and we’ll just say ‘Hey do you wanna write a tune?’ And they’ll say yes or no…. Or just not reply to us!

And talking about other artists you’re feeling, who should the readers check out?

Jon: One producer that Tom and I always say is really sick and needs more love is a guy called Javano. You can really see the soulful, dub and techno influences in his tracks and it’s so good.

Tom: The Visages guys are making some really good stuff too… but I’m not sure how to pronounce their name! 

Jon: Polar & Bryson’s new album is just amazing it’s really sick. There’s some really good music coming now that we’re getting out of the lockdown. At the beginning of the pandemic when people were sending me tunes I just wasn’t that interested because there was nothing to do with them. But now we’re getting sent some wicked tunes, the QZB boys have sent us some bangers! I’ve got to shout out Workforce too who’s been really supportive and has some great stuff coming out. I think the second half of 2021 is going to be a really good time for drum ’n’ bass! 

A lot of people have started making music over lockdown, so what advice would you give to these new producers?

Tom: We get asked this quite a lot and there’s no golden ticket to it. It just takes practice so just have fun and experiment. There’s an absolute gold mine of knowledge on YouTube and every producer has learnt stuff on there regardless of how big or small they are. Definitely work across genres too as there are different techniques and you can bring in different influences as well. I think if you just make drum ’n’ bass you’ll just sound like other people from the scene. I think creative sampling often gets overlooked too as a lot of people want to just make their basslines straight out of Serum and think it’ll make a banger. But there’s so much stuff you can do with sampling.

Jon: I also think you’ve got to remember that you don’t need to release every tune you make. Quality control is probably the biggest thing that people miss, and we’ve made this mistake too. Say you make ten tunes, you should just pick a favourite two. Social media is a trap as well. It’s obviously a powerful tool for promoting music, but you’ve got to focus on writing music first and I think people get sidetracked by it a bit much.

What’s on the horizon for GLXY?

Tom: We’re not actually sure music wise. We’ve got a black slate to write on, so we’re just going to write new projects and remixes.

Jon: We’re in quite a nice spot at the moment. Maybe we’ll start a second album or maybe we’ll just write another EP… we’ve just got to right tunes now, which is the fun part! We might try and get a few remixes of our tunes done too and we’re working on a few remixes as well. Might have some other stuff coming out that’s not music as well… a couple merch bits and that! I just can’t wait to start Djing in front of a crowd that’s not sitting down.

Tom: We’ve got a lot of shows coming up and whether they actually happen or not is the question though.

Jon: Well BJ said we’re definitely coming out the other week, and he never lies! Never ever!

Let’s imagine he hasn’t lied and we’re out on the 21st. What’s the first thing you’re going to do?

Jon: I’m going to the first available rave! I’m not even on the line-up for Flexout on the 25th, but I’m still going and I’m going to have a mad one! It’s also my 30th around then so I think I’ll be out the entire time. 

Tom: I haven’t even thought about it, but I just can’t wait to travel again and have a beer midday on a sun lounger. It sounds really cliche, but anything that makes you feel free! 

And in the meantime what kind of stuff have you done to keep sane during the pandemic?

Tom: I work in health care so work’s kept me busy. Apart from work I’ve just been doing a lot of running. The fresh air has definitely kept me sane.

Jon: I’ve started the ‘Amen Brother Podcast’ with Jack (Polar & Bryson) and Visionobi, go and check that out! I’ve been smashing Warzone as well and now the pubs are open I’m there often. Just regular shit really.

If you could collab with anyone who do you think it’d be?

Jon: I can tell you what Tom’s going to say… Tom Misch! He says it all the time! 

Tom: There are so many sick new-age soul artists from the UK who would be great to work with. Somebody who can just play multiple instruments and Tom Misch is the obvious candidate. 

Jon: Jordan Rakei would be sick as well! A grime artists would be sick too, I reckon a tune with Skepta would be big! 

A Skepta x GLXY collab would be unreal! So last question: if you had to pick a dirty warehouse rave or a summer festival which one would you go for?

Tom: Summer festival all day!

Jon: I do love a warehouse rave though, it’s a tough one! I’ll go for that just because Tom said festival! Although when you’re in the sun and the drinks are flowing and you can play that fun liquid, it’s such a vibe! I’ve got a lot of good memories playing at festivals like that. 

I totally agree and I’m still absolutely gutted that Boomtown’s been cancelled! Thanks for the chat guys, anything else you want to let the readers know about?

Tom: Watch out for more streams and merch.

Jon: Big up the Shogun lot and go and check out our mates’ projects like Unglued’s new album which is coming up!