Young Londoner Stray has just dropped his latest single "The Pursuit" backed with the free beat monster "Poison". We sat down with the prodigal maestro to explore alternative patterns and working outside the box.
Both "The Pursuit" and "Poison" are much darker than what people may be expecting from Stray. There is an aggression that some would consider we haven't seen so much from your work before, does this signify a change in direction for your sound?
I think if you look at past releases of mine such as "Saturday", "Erase", the "Peril" remix, the "Raising the Bar" remix, "Askari" and "St. Clair" with Sabre and Halogenix, it's evident that my taste for a darker aggressive sound is no new thing at all - in fact "The Pursuit" was in one of the first batch of tracks that I finished, along with "Timbre" and my "Helios" remix. I always try and keep a balance between releasing that sort of material with the more melodic, less edgy tracks because that keeps a fair reflection of my own musical taste and desires.
"The Pursuit" has been doing the rounds for a while now, featuring in quite a few mixes and getting heavy rotation on the dance floor. It suits the Warm Communications sound well. How did you link up with Heath and Warm? Was the track always destined for the label?
I think Heath just gave me a shout a few years back on AIM because he wanted to sign some music, and after a while I decided that a good first step in becoming somewhat less needlessly retentive with my material would be to sign over "The Pursuit", a track which had remained unsigned for a number of years even through seeming to attract a great deal of positive feedback and demand. I've always respected Warm Communications as a label and I think that respect is shared fairly unanimously amongst the scene today.
"I always try and keep a balance between releasing that sort of material with the more melodic, less edgy tracks because that keeps a fair reflection of my own musical taste and desires."
The first half of "Poison" is in 3-beat/ free beat. A sound that has reared it's head recently with people like ASC and Dan Habarnam. It's a bold move, and quite difficult to make it work. What inspired you to move into a more unusual structure? How has the track been received on the dance floor?
Again I think it's evident from an early release of mine such as "Timbre" that unusual structures and rhythmic patterns isn't something I've recently been inspired to move into, but rather something that forms the core of my music palette. I'd say this stemmed directly from the fact that I was into IDM music and jazz before I got into drum & bass. I've always felt that whilst it's a shame that so many people miss out on the whole world of musical possibility that lies beyond the 4/4 time signature (not to mention things such as 170bpm and the intro / drop / breakdown structure) that there is something satisfying about fitting the most interesting material you can come up with within these guidelines. On occasion you can even give the illusion and effect of having melted down some of these boundaries entirely within a piece that in fact as a whole keeps within them, and this is what we tried to do with "Poison".
The stuttering rhythm of "Poison" gives the effect that you are listening to life through a film with half of the frames removed... The vocal consolidates the vibe with and almost "street" chic. Were did the vocal come from and is there any hidden meaning behind the words for yourself?
The words do mean something to me and Halogenix, but there's no hidden meaning per say - I think the lyrics are quite straight forward and as such speak for themselves... They're about cutting through bullshit and being pro-active.
"So many people miss out on the whole world of musical possibility that lies beyond the 4/4 time signature."
In 1997 Suv coined the phrase "three beat lick" referring to his 3/4 beat pattern tracks on the Free Beat EP and DJ Suv EP. In 2012 a more openly acknowledged creativity and expression within drum & bass is creating a space to revisit the structural ideas originally explored by Suv. What was the catalyst for yourself?
There's been a sense of being able to push more explorative ideas within drum & bass to the forefront of the scene since the autonomic movement started in 2008 / 2009. I've never personally approached writing music in any other way but you're right in the sense that the scene now more openly acknowledges such ideas, and that's nothing but a good thing for artists like me and Halogenix.
We've got a 12" vinyl copy of Stray/ Stray & Halogenix - "The Pursuit"/ "Poison" to give away. Simply click HERE and enter your email address to be entered and we'll pick a lucky winner out of the hat...