Sunday, 16 June 2013

Strict Face

There’s been a lot of excitement at the moment for a young producer from Adelaide. Strict Face has been getting support from DJs like Dusk and Blackdown, and Slackk. I caught up with Jon for the first installment of the Musically Mad interview series.
Download the mix here

First of all, for everyone not already aware, can you briefly introduce yourself...
Hey, hey! My name's Jon. I'm a 20 year-old producer based in Adelaide, which is down south in Australia, and I make music under the name of Strict Face. 

There seems to be a handful of producers doing exciting things with grime in Australia at the moment, producers like yourself, Arctic, Juzlo and Dellity. Do you know each other outside of music? Are there any collaborations on the cards?
Yeah, there's some fuck-off-amazing music being made in Australia by those guys and dudes like Dro Carey at the moment! The grime scene in each of our states is a bit small, but it's definitely getting the attention it deserves now, especially with Arctic and Juzlo. I'm really hoping the four of us get to link up at some point this year... I might be flying over to Melbourne some time to link up with Arctic. Dellity's over in Essex at the moment, but when he gets back, someone should definitely get the four of us in a room with some decks and a good soundsystem.

I know Juzlo and Arctic have done a track together, which is absolutely mental! Arctic and I have just started off on a four-way collaboration with Dellity and Juzlo as well, which is slowly getting off the ground. I'm really looking forward to how it turns out; it'll be an interesting one. 

Talking of collaborations, a video was uploaded recently featuring a track you produced with Rabit. How did that come about? 

That came about shortly after Rabit and I started chatting. It's pretty straightforward, really: I sent him a couple of loops, which he absolutely murked the first time round. We sent 'em back and forth a little bit, but halfway through the process the project file got corrupted, which was a bit of a shame. It actually sounds good in its current (and permanent) state though, I will say.

How long have you been involved in music? What made you start producing?
I think I've been producing for about ten years now... close to about eleven years, I'd say. I've been making stuff under the Strict Face name for three years, though... there are a few older aliases floating about if your detective skills are A+.
When I first started making music, I suppose it was a case of general boredom while living in the Philippines at the time combined with the itch to see how easy it was to make rap beats, since I was listening to a lot of East Coast hip-hop. The only software I had on me at the time was an old version of Fruity Loops and Audacity: a little primitive, but it got work done.

As for the Strict Face stuff, a lot of it was inspired by the "club" stuff I'd stumbled upon during high-school (i.e. some of the early Wiley/Dizzee stuff, the Night Slugs discography, a lot of the American UK funky-inspired stuff), though I was a total outsider to that kind of environment. To a small degree, I still am an outsider to it, really. I haven't heard much of it played in my city outside of the radio station I've done shows at. 

When I listen to a lot of your music (tracks like Mylar Swamp and Grey Saviours) one thing that is very noticeable is the space in your tracks. Does that come from a particular musical influence?

I'd understand if someone thought the usage of space comes from dubstep, but I didn't really 'get' into dubstep until a couple of years ago! I think the 'space' mostly stems from listening to a lot of avant-garde music and dub reggae when I was young. Stuff like Steve Reich, Arvo Part and Alvin Lucier's 'I Am Sitting in a Room' definitely changed my perspective towards music, especially with how stark and stripped-back the music (or sounds) can be. I guess it ties in with a lot of the King Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry records I'd listened to religiously during those years as well... those reverb sections are deadly on their own.
As for musical influences, there's a fair few... apart from the obvious stuff and what I've mentioned previously, there's stuff like synth-pop, field recordings, weird stripped-back Chicago ghetto house (i.e. the Dance Mania discography), "quiet storm" R&B and boogie, some of the weirder industrial/post-punk in the 80s (i.e. This Heat, Zoviet France)... it kind of depends on what tracks of mine anyone gets to hear, but a lot of it's pretty influential to the stuff I make.

What should people expect from you in the near future?
I've just wrapped up a couple of remixes which should be out at some point this year: one of them's for Tony Phorse, who's an absolute boss, and another one's for Yung Nation, a rap duo outta Dallas. An EP or two is slowly in the works, though I can't say much more than that at the moment. There are heaps of collaborations in the pipeline as well... I should chase 'em up, actually. I recently unearthed a couple of projects I thought I'd lost forever + revisited projects I'd made early last year which were scrapped as well, and they still sounded really good to me, so "Birthday Riddims III" will probably be a tiny bit larger this year. I've been really happy with the 'styles' I've dabbled in throughout the last year, the 'dystopian/cold' stuff and the 'astral/romantic' music... fuck, that'll reflect badly on me. But yeah, those two worlds will probably co-exist a lot more solidly this year..

Sounds good! Tell me about the mix you've recorded. Is it the sort of set you'd play in a club or a more conceptual mix?
It's pretty straightforward... there's some dubs from friends of mine and stuff I've been feeling lately thrown in there. It'd probably be along the lines of a usual club set from me, but I say that mainly because I never get to play out much in my town... if I pulled this stuff out at peak time, it would probably clear the floor, haha.
Thanks for the interview, any shout outs?  
No problem, man! Umm, I dunno... shout-out to anyone who's ever given a shit about my music, I guess?

Jeremih - R.I.P.
Chemist - Sticks & Stones
Slackk - Bamboo Houses
Strict Face - Shibuya Gunner
Kakarot - Lagos VIP
Codex - Neither
Parker - Niagara
Acre - Physically
Visionist - Try & Resist
Jon DeVille - Crossed Eyes
Gantz - Lifebound
Rabit - Black Dragons (Dellity Remix)
Bloom x Merky Ace - Juniper (SF Edit)
Lemzly Dale - State of War (Lington Remix)
Breen - Bridge
Juzlo - Head Gone!
Spooky - #1 Spot Refix
Filter Dread - Take it Hyper
Rabit - Scully Low

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