Spotlight: Congi & Occult
Today marks the release of the eagerly-awaited debut on burgeoning label Deep Heads from two sets of artists that have been making intelligent, emotive 140 beats for a good few years at least now. Congi & Occult‘s Same Kind EP bears all the hallmarks of that sound: emphasis on melody, patient, spacey arrangements, soaring vocals from London-based singer Segilola and a praiseworthy champion of the phrase “less is more”. Including remixes from Leeds-born Bambooman, 18-year-old Stockholm beatmaker Audialist and a blissful 170 rework from pianist and producer Tuesday Born, it’s a sumptuous package with a real depth in variety across the board. So it’s with great pleasure that we cast our Spotlight on Tulip, Gaz, and Ollie, giving us an insight into their production methods and how the project came into fruition… Happy reading people!
So first things first: describe to us your entry into production and how Congi & Occult came into fruition.
Congi: Gaz & I have been producing together as Congi since 2011. We’d both been producing to different degrees since our mid-teens. We knew each other from school and so to go from friends to a duo came quite naturally… In terms of working with Occult, we’d been speaking since late ’11 and met in person a couple times since, we’d both admired each other’s sounds and had been meaning to work on something for a while.
Occult: I started to make little loops in 2005, playing with a bit of Rebirth 808 software and a very simple sequencer. Things naturally progressed and I invested more time and money into DJing and making computer music, when I had a Cyberbrain installed in my body I took it to the level I am at now. I have known Gaz and Alex personally for a while, I have always had tremendous love for their music, I think we are similar in vibe and sound so it was natural for us to work together.
Has working as a trio altered your own individual approach to music production?
Congi: For me not too much, working in a duo you get used to sharing ideas and building with others, I guess to work together with someone who’s in a different city is more interesting as you’re relying on each other to come through with something!
Occult: Definitely, I’ve discovered how fun and inspiring it can be to work with others on a large project, particularly when working with vocals and building actual songs as opposed to just a tune or a beat that I’m so used to producing. I’m looking to start a lot more work with vocalists and musicians and just experiment a lot more generally.
Where would you say your inspiration towards music production and your taste in music in general has come from? Any artists or labels in particular?
Congi: I grew up on hip-hop, soul, jazz etc, all the usual great names apply! Gaz was heavily influenced by early grime instrumentals: Iron Soul, Wiley, Low Deep, Terror Danjah etc. In terms of producing electronic music we came together as Congi through a love of early Dubstep. Labels like DMZ, Deep Medi, Hemlock, Hessle, early Hotflush and so on.
Occult: Dub music and anything to do with it, from King Tubby to Rhythm&Sound. A lot of avant-garde and minimalist stuff, Brian Eno, Steve Reich, Vangelis. A lot of hip-hop; J Dilla, Flying Lotus, MF Doom. All of my peers; NDread, Demon, everyone from Macabre Unit and Congi of course. Humans of female origin, the Universe in its entirety.
Would you say there are specific elements in Same Kind that are specifically ‘Congi’, or likewise specifically ‘Occuit’ or was the production process more organic than that?
Congi: We tried to keep it as organic as possible. You kind of know each other’s strengths and each take the lead in different areas of the track but nothing was forced, it was a really open process.
Occult: Of course there were elements of Congi and elements of Occult but we wanted to create something entirely new as opposed to an obvious clash of sounds, I think we can revisit this sound we’ve made and it has the potential to evolve into its own entity.
Your individual sound based on your previous work has its contrast in the sense that one leans towards the melodic end of the spectrum [Congi], the other the more aggressive [Occult]. Do you make a conscious effort in your music to stay ‘on side’ or is it more a result of natural progression?
Congi: For us we just make what we feel at any given time. Once you start a build a catalogue of music you can hear a common thread between the pieces but I think it’s more to do with how we naturally approach it rather than attempting to stay in any given space.
Occult: Coming from ICUaudio and being around artists like NDread, Versa and Rowl, we all have love for both ends of the spectrum and have worked a lot to combine them in our music individually and as a group. I’ve never made a conscious effort to sound a certain way, and if i do it always sounds shit. I think you will be seeing a lot more of me on the “melodic end of the spectrum” this year.
What does 2014 have in store on both a professional and personal level?
Congi: As Congi, we’ve just released our debut album on our home label Chord Marauders. There are a couple other bits and pieces being sorted at the moment, hopefully some release details soon. Personally I’m praying Nottingham Forest will reach promotion to the Premier League, but please don’t hold that against me.
Occult: Lots of diverse music, projects with vocalists and musicians, more MUD music, Pillowtalk music similar to what you have heard from me on Smoking Sessions, Cyberbrain music with a good friend of mine MC Jot Maxi.
And finally, what’s the one Urban Essential you couldn’t live without?
Congi: A cuppa tea!
Occult: My Cyberbrain.
Congi & Occult – Same Kind EP is out now on Deep Heads – grabs yours via Beatport.