Friday 24th March // Tonight we have an Insight first, the first of many interviews with some of the industries most influential producers, engineers and labels. Let’s kick off our first interview with an artist who’s been a great friend of Insight’s for some time now, featuring on 2 Insight compilations and supplying us all with some amazing material. The one and only, Eikona.
Hey Eikona, first off, where are you currently based?
At the moment I live in a small town in Lincolnshire, England
When was your first real exposure to music?
It’s hard to say for sure, my mum got me into a lot of bands from a young age, 80s bands like INXS and 90s bands like Oasis, my grandparents listened to a lot of country music growing up and this is all stuff I still love now. I remember being in primary/elementary school and I got the “Take off your pants and jacket” album which is probably the first time I really got into music. It was so different from what I was used to and opened my eyes to a whole new sound. I’d probably consider that my first real exposure because it was the first time I’d become obsessed with music. My first real exposure to electronic music was the Jungle Sound Gold mix which was probably the cornerstone that led me into music production.
When did you start writing and producing music?
I was probably around 14 when I started playing guitar, as I got older I drifted from band to band but eventually became tired of having to rely on others for the music to come to fruition. I decided I wanted only myself to rely on, and began writing and recording everything on my own. The beauty of working solo is that you have absolute creative control – the melodies, the drums, the bass, the structure, you have the final say in everything and so each project feels more personal to me. The first time I realised I wanted to make electronic music was when I discovered drum and bass, particularly Drumsound & Bassline Smith. They were creating synth sounds I’d never heard before and I suddenly realised there were infinite possibilities of what can be used to make music. That realisation inspired me to begin producing.
Your music has been hugely respected over the past couple of years. What’s been your biggest inspiration?
Right before I started making music as Eikona, I discovered many producers who were doing something I’d never heard before. Hajimari and Enzalla are two examples who really opened my eyes to a new way of producing. I discovered that you didn’t have to use drum samples to make drums. Any percussive sound you can record can be used in some way – coins, glass, keys, pencils, jewelry, Lego, I realised drums can be made of anything. Experimenting with reverb and other effects on various melodies I had made I also found that melodies, pads and atmospheres too can be made of anything. The more I experimented the more I learned that anything can be used musically and I suddenly felt free of the rules I had imposed on myself. The biggest inspiration for me was this realisation, that there are no rules, from that point on I experimented constantly and it shaped my music into what it is now.
It’s great to see such a close and engaging community of producers within our genre. Have you made any new relationships along the way?
I’ve made many good friends through production, the producers and fans of this genre are so supportive and encouraging, I really love seeing so many people being able to relate to and connect with each other through music. My first experience of this was being invited to join Sekai Collective after my first EP, there I met many great producers who taught me so much in the beginning. Shortly after that was my first release with Insight on the Encompass compilation which further expanded my connections within the community. I’m meeting new producers weekly and it’s really interesting to see how people gravitate towards each other as the community expands. So much of what I know was taught to me by other producers, Finding Hope and Enzalla taught me a huge amount of what I know and I have a lot to thank them both for. I met Azaleh who I’ve since collaborated with a few times and Phelian who I’ve talked to daily for over a year. Being able to share ideas and get feedback from such talented and honest people has helped me grow and develop along the way. They all play a huge role in the music I make today and I couldn’t be more thankful for them.
What’s been your proudest experience to date?
There are many experiences that are way above anything I thought would ever happen so this is a hard one, being featured on the ‘Encompass‘ compilation alongside some of my biggest inspirations was a fantastic experience, and again on the ‘V‘ compilation. It’s great to know I’m contributing to this genre alongside such talented guys. Collaborating with Azaleh was a great moment too as I had been a fan of him for a while before that. Making music that inspires the people who inspire me is always a good feeling. There hasn’t been one defining experience of pride because in some way I always feel as if I don’t deserve the opportunities I’ve had because this scene is full of such incredibly talented people, but being accepted as a part of it all is perhaps the one thing that makes me the proudest.
Have you ever performed your music live?
I never have, there isn’t much of a music scene where I’m currently living and I’ve always thought of my music as “rainy late night headphone” music, not “live in a club” music. It’s definitely something I’d consider in the future if the opportunity arises but in the meantime I’ll be focusing on production.
Favourite record right now?
I’ve been listening to Copacetic by Knuckle Puck a lot the last couple of weeks. I switch between genres regularly depending on my mood. Right now I’m very excited for summer and for me this album really amplifies that feeling.
Favourite record of all time?
So difficult to pick just one, the Five Days EP by Sublab & Azaleh will always be a favourite as it was one of the first times I heard such a versatile combination of chill and garage. The Titan EP by Sabrepulse is one I never get bored of, would put it on almost every time I studied at university and was one of the few records that could help me focus for hours at a time. Dreamstone by Sorrow is an absolute work of art that sounds like no other, but if I had to pick just one it’d probably be Untrue by Burial. It is truly a genre defining record that still sounds like nothing else 10 years later. So much of this genre is owed to that album and it’s perhaps the record most respected by this community.
You’ve worked alongside Insight Music on a few occasions. Which track of yours have you been most proud of?
In terms of Insight releases I’d probably choose ‘Shadow of You‘ because it was such an honour to be part of the 5th anniversary of Insight. It was a small compilation and I’m good friends with most who were on it, so it really felt like a community release. We all came together to achieve the same thing, show appreciation and respect for Insight and the genres we produce.
You self-released the ‘Don’t Let Go’ EP late last year. Any upcoming releases on the horizon?
I spent the 3 months after that EP trying to develop as a producer so I wouldn’t just put out the same kind of EP again. It’s taken a lot of work but I finally feel in a position to work on something new. My 2 most recent tracks “Out of Reach” and “Turn My Back On You” are a reflection of the direction I aim to take this year and I plan on releasing an EP in this style sometime in the near future.
How about collaborations?
I will almost certainly be collaborating with Azaleh again at some point as we understand each other very well and he’s an easy person to work with. There are many other producers I’ve had collaboration talks with but I couldn’t say for sure if they will ever happen. Sometimes they just don’t work out even when you both have the best intentions, but I’ll hopefully be collaborating with a few other good friends in the future.
What’s your musical goal for the next few years?
My main goal is simply to grow. I want to learn as much as I can and develop my abilities to their full potential. As long as I’m learning I will improve and my music will be a reflection of that. I have no specific release goals, I just have to keep putting in the work and the music will follow.
Any life goals?
Focus on my career – finished my degree last summer and will be applying for a doctorate next summer, in the meantime I’ll work and travel as much as I can.
Has there ever been a piece of music or an experience that shaped you to become the musician you are today?
I experimented a little with drum and bass in the beginning, and later dubstep, but it wasn’t until I heard Burial’s Untrue record that I knew how I wanted to make music. The thing’s about it that struck me first were the unique use of vocals, the percussive drums and the deep atmospheres. I never wanted to sound like Burial, but I knew I wanted all of these qualities in my own music. Discovering Enzalla’s music was the next big influence. I fell in love with his style instantly. It’s more melodic than most in this genre and the melodic focus combined with organic drums was exactly how I wanted to sound too. An amalgamation of these two experiences molded the way I make music.