El Choop opens our latest Various Artists – Decade Dubs with his downstripped and minimalistic dub techno track Unknown Landscape. Born in a small town in mid-Wales and now living in Bristol, he is part of a new generation of producers on the dusky edges of the scene: breaking boundaries, firing loops, and, as you might expect, making feet tap and heads spin.
How did you come in contact with house and techno?
My first serious tango with house music was at local free parties. After being so inspired by the music I’d heard I wanted to try mixing myself. As luck would have it an old friend was selling a pair of Kam DDX5000 turntables. Shortly after, I came across a box of about 50 acid & chicago house records at a local car boot sale (big up Harry Tuffins Sunday market). From there it was a cocktail of trial, error, youtube tutorials and terror until I had a firm grasp of spinning vinyl. As for techno, my family business goes to Freerotation every year to do the outside catering. I’d clock off work and hit the party to see DJs like Ben UFO, DJ Spider, Blawan, Surgeon, and Steevio. That was my first introduction to proper techno.
Tell us something about the parties in the woods.
Using a viral text message as a crude GPS we would hop in a convoy of about 2-3 cars and spin up into a nearby forest with one ear out the window to guide us. Nothing but a marquee, solid sound system and good music all night. Trying to find the party was always half the enjoyment. It’s always exciting to see
‘turn left into the woods and….FOLLOW THE BALLOONS IN THE TREES’
at the bottom of a text message.
What lead you finally from Drum & Bass to the softer sounds of dub techno?
I was always into the more crispy, crackly and lower tempo drum and bass like Krust and Photek. I can see similarities between their music and Maurizio’s now I think about it. The music I listen to seems to have just been getting more and more reduced over time in terms of sonic components. I adore it when an artist can make something so complex and evocative from only a few elements. Deepchord, Gradient and Maurizio are excellent examples of this.
How would you describe your music?
I’m really into this reduced, pumping style of dub techno at the moment. Cold filtered chords and with a strong, consistent bottom end. Could work on the dancefloor but equally as suiting for bedroom listening.
You are living in Bristol, where Bands like Portishead and Massive Attack come from. Are you influenced by the trip hop sound at all?
There’s no doubt that trip hop and dub techno share similarities. Plenty of desirable distortion and noise. Always a fan of both these acts as a kid so they definitely helped mold my taste in music and in turn inspire me. I’d definitely like to integrate some more vocal material into my tracks…These guys do it so well.
What about the techno scene in Bristol?
A night called Room 237 has booked acts such as Roman Lindau, Objekt, Helena Hauff and Mike Dehnert. I’m always out when DJs like this come to town but there isn’t much dub techno in Bristol…Definitely a niche that needs to be filled **nudge nudge**
From what do you draw your inspirations?
Visual art is always a source of inspiration for me, particularly science fiction. Dan Kitchener’s murals are insane, there’s a few in Bristol that I’m in love with. Asimov’s old book covers are beautiful. A current source of musical inspiration is anything from Heavenchord, his new album Interminable Module is full proof and his remix of A Jaded City is my all time favourite.
What gear do you use for producing?
Many tools, digital, analogue, virtual and physical. My favourites include the Roland JX-03, Volca Beats, Roland RE-20 Space Echo, U-He Diva and Satin and Ableton Live as sequencer. Tape is so much fun to drive stuff through and hear it crunch.
What can we expect next from you?
A collaboration between me and Heavenchord on Czech label Bukko Tapes that will be released on cassette. More releases with London label Default Position and a science fiction inspired concept album…Keep your ears peeled.
What is the idea behind your mix?
A melange of all my favourite tracks at the moment. Some from friends and some from artists I aspire to be like. Every track in this mix I feel is full proof and hits the nail on the head. The last two tracks I found blended together perfectly while mixing, I love it when that happens.
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1. Echo Inspectors & Insect O. – Bourne Dub (Ambient Mix)- Primary Colours
2. Heavenchord – Ancient Method – Koloa Records
3. Federsen – Ascetics – Linear Movements
4. Rob Chord – Le Space – Culture Depth Records
5. El Choop – Unknown Landscape – ETUI Records
6. Gradient – Iteration 3 – Greyscale
7. Linus & Amy – Our Secret Tunnel (Joseph S Joyce Remix)
8. El Choop – A Strong Pulse Through The Wall – Unreleased
9. Rydell – Careless – Fachwerk
10. Roberto Figas – Sorting – Cannibald Records
11. Linkwood – Lovelost – Firecracker Recordings