This Monday saw the release of the latest EP from Sheffield-born London-based producer Arshaw, his first for hometown label Itchy Pig Records. Arshaw’s is a sound defined by 2014, all footwork kicks and juke claps fused together by a string of traditional African melodies and looped vocal samples. Whether exploring the upbeat scale of electronica in the mbira-sampling In Between Daze, or just exerting some furious dancefloor fire as with the rolling groove of Jacarta, Arshaw intends to move bodies.
Far from limiting himself to the confines of one tempo though, Arshaw’s UE podcast kicks off slow, deep and rolling, morphing into a final foray of spacious bass mutations, before dropping the tempo once more to finish back where he started.
Greetings Arshaw. How’s life treating you right about now?
Great thanks. Busy with uni, random studio sessions, work and the usual music making.
Your latest EP In Between Daze channels the juke/footwork sound that has come into prominence of recent times. What would you say has challenged you most in producing and compiling the EP?
I think my change of musical tastes have been quite challenging in producing the EP. It took around a year to make the whole EP, my mac dying had quite a lot to do with that. So my style of producing was always changing and developing as i wrote the EP. You can definitely hear the combinations of club music tied in with the more introspective ‘at home’ listening approach to music. Without even realising i was trying to make these two conflicting aspects work on the EP and hopefully that’s worked to my benefit, hopefully it’ll be an EP for both types of situation. In terms of the ‘Juke’ sound, I’ve always at least tried my hand at most new genres since I started producing, be it Moombahton, UK Funky, ‘Future Garage’ whatever.. I quite like using the defining factors of new genres to aid what it is that i’m trying to get across.
Has working for Decks.co.uk influenced your approach to production? Would you say it has granted you opportunities otherwise unavailable to others?
I would say it has influenced my approach to DJing more so but yeah, having a lot of equipment on display, you can quickly go through different approaches on different pieces of equipment and figure out what you like about each. I found i quite liked how the Ableton Push works and how quickly (and enjoyably) you can sketch out ideas then effectively record the track as a live set. Inevitably I ended up buying one haha. In terms of opportunities, I’ve definitely gained a lot of experience and more in such a short space of time that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Mostly from the lads i work with to be honest. They’re all DJs themselves so it’s been great to get other people’s perspective and understand all the different approaches to DJing and playing live.
Talk us through your relationship with Itchy Pig and the scene in Sheffield.
Basically me and Leeroy (owner of Itchy Pig Records) became aware of one-another through a mutual friend who had shown Leeroy a couple of HipHop tracks i had been working on and from there we started to chat about the possibilities of an EP. That then lead to me signing a management contract with them. The guys at Itchy Pig are fantastic, the most helpful and down-to-earth guys i’ve ever met, i definitely feel that i can actually progress as a producer with them as opposed to taking on the world by myself.
Can you give us a rundown of what your typical studio session would consist of? Would you say they are regimented or more freeform?
Definitely freedom and more so flexibility is the key for me. Literally i have a mac, speakers and the Ableton Push. I make music while i’m eating tea, watching TV, not sleeping and generally avoiding uni work. I do on occasion do recording sessions in another studio or on location which i think definitely helps to get out the bedroom and be creative. I used to solely make music in my bedroom for literally about 5-10 hours a day. That drove me mad.
What’s your favourite release currently and why?
One of the lads i work with showed me ‘Twice’ by Hollie Cook. The album’s produced by Prince Fatty (he did ‘that’ shimmy shimmy ya reggae cover) and it’s absolute bliss. It’s one of those albums you can listen to 10 times a day and not get bored of. I’ve found the more i got into production, the music i most enjoy listening to is purely escapist. In terms of things i’ve found related to the music i make, Submerse’s ‘Slow Waves’, Yosi Horikawa’s ‘Vapour’, Daisuke Tanabe’s ‘Floating Underwater’ and Throwing Snow’s ‘Mosaic’. They have been the main inspiration at the moment. I’m sure in around 6 months you’ll hear the results of that
What’s next for Arshaw?
Hopefully more musical releases, starting to gig my live set (essencially based around the Ableton Push) and hopefully some collaborations as well. Got two more years of university ahead of me which i’m hopefully won’t be too stressful. I’m studying music so i’m definitely looking forward to what i’ll inevitably learn in the process. I’ve also been living in London now for just over a year so i’ll still very new to the scene. Still many people and places to check out.
And finally, what’s the one Urban Essential you couldn’t live without?
Chai Tea.. And non of that latte rubbish..