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Interview: Cowlam

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Cowlan is a progressive and melodic techno producer from Darlington UK curating deep dark cinematic melodic sounds to take listeners on a journey to another realm. With a sound that sits in the creative space between his Afterlife and PRYDA influences, Cowlam now makes his first appearance on Polyptych with ‘Totum’. We had a chance to catch up with the British artist for an exclusive chat just prior to the release. Enjoy!

Hi Cowlam, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Hi guys thank you for having me I think I can speak for everyone when I say 2020 was a weird year but having said that I have learnt more about myself as a producer. My lat piece of music that I listened to was Cristoph’s SFB.

 What are your plans for the coming week?

My plans mainly consist of working, eating and living in the studio during lockdown here in UK.

 Talk to us about growing up and living in the UK, how has it affected your musical taste and the music you make?

Growing up I never really knew what I wanted to do I was always torn between ideas of what to do when leaving school, it was only when I left school that I found electronic music. Where I’m from growing up my music taste was makina which is still loved in the north east. It was when I first started going to events I found myself falling for progressive house among all the genres.

 Can you name five tracks that were important in your musical development and why they are so significant for you?

Eric Prydz – Opus: This track has all the right moments of magic from seeing it played live at festivals/events which is why I love to include the arpeggiator in most of my productions.

Startdust – Music sounds better with you: This track has always been a favourite growing up around this track and have so many memories from it.

Armand Van Heldon – I want your soul: Since starting out this was one of the first tracks I mixed on my first time trying a controller.

Maceo Plex – Conjour Dreams: Since hearing this track when he played at parklike one year this track has always stuck with me and I can find myself going over it in my head.

Monolink – Return To Oz (Artbat Remix): This track is when I found my love for the deep world of melodic techno, the haunting vocals in thugs track is what gave me the motivation to make my own sounds like this.

 You have a new EP out this week on Polyptych, tell us a bit about the release and how it showcases your individualities.

These tracks were made during the long year of 2020 my mood can kind of reflect In these tracks. I wanted to test myself and make a lighter and chilled out vibe and this release showcases the different styles I can produce when in the right moods.

Walk us through the production process on the title track ‘Totum’.

First off I started with wanting to create a downtempo style track so as always I start with the kick, then move on to the rest of the drums then found various afro house percussion loops and broke them down the bass was created on serum along with the light pads after playing around with different octaves It eventually came together. After listening to some of the other tracks on Beatport I kind of new where I wanted to take the track.

Was there anything that inspired these two tracks? And where does your inspiration come from generally?

Alot of my music is generally trial and error sometimes I can be sat for hours and get frustrated with myself I think of one idea and it comes out in the studio totally different. But after listening to different styles of electronic music I get fixated on some sounds and then this gives me the inspiration. These 2 tracks reflect how I was feeling during the first lockdown.

What does your set-up like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of this EP?

When it comes to my DAW I use Ableton and have the Ableton push 2 which helps me create music From scratch combined with the use of the Serum plugin which I used in this ep and all other projects. I like the aspect of being able to control every aspect of the track at my fingertips. But mainly favouring the digital aspect of making music.

 You’ve had past releases on Beatfreak, Cinematique and Freegrant Music. Was Polyptych a label you had in mind for these tracks from the beginning? What made the label an ideal home for these tracks?

After listening to there catalogue and sending numerous other tracks to them that weren’t the right sound I decided to try both of these tracks at first it was only “totem” but after listening back to motion polyptych decided it was also right for them.

How much friend feedback is done before you’re ready to say a track is finished? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

All my music once mixed down gets at least sent to 5 different people from all genres so I can get different feedback on what they think of the mix. As always I send my finished tracks to Cristoph as he has been an inspiration since the start

 Are you musically trained? And do you think it’s necessary for success in writing electronic music?

I have never played and instrument but since getting my first midi keyboard I learnt how to play it. After playing music and DJing I decided I would like to make my own music so in 2018 I decided to do a training course on Ableton at PVR studios here in Darlington where I’m from. Firstly I wanted to give up because how hard it was to get my head around the software. After a few more lessons I started to get the feel for it and during lockdown I decided to give the basics a go on playing on my keyboard. But its something I wish I did when I was now younger knowing music theory would have helped me a lot but it is not the end of the world if you are not musically trained and want to make music.

 How have you been dealing with COVID-19? How has it affected your daily life, music production and overall inspiration to write new music?

The first few months were really hard dealing with depression myself It took its toll on me after the first lockdown in the UK. Its only recently that I have just thought its something that we will have to live With from now on. The first few months were amazing for music production then I hit a dry spell for production and now the fire is back.

 What is the current situation with the pandemic in the UK?

We are currently in a nationwide lockdown only allowed to leave the house for essentials and work.

 Once nightlife eventually resumes globally what kind of effect do you think this period in our history will have on the clubbing experience?

Once the vaccine is rolled out I think everyone will want some form of normality back I know I cant wait to be back playing in front of a crowd. I think music is a way for people to let go of their reality where they don’t have to worry when they are at a rave or festival.

 What have been some of your favourite tracks over the quarantine period?

I have been listening to a lot more music since I have had the time to myself producers like Franky Wah, Prospa and just feel good tracks.

 Is there a movie you would have loved to have produced the soundtrack for? And if so why?

The rise of the foot soldier has an amazing trancy and 90s dance soundtrack to it this always sticks with me. Also Kevin and Perry go large is a firm favourite with the old trance anthems. 🙂

 What does 2021 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

Hopefully once Covid-19 is over we can all go back to raving and playing our favourite tracks but so far this year I have a single lined up on OC and Verdes label and releases on Chrom recordings and 10 steps North.

‘Totum’ is out now via Polyptych: https://press.fanlink.to/PLT163

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