West London-bred artist Elliott Power is one of those musicians “stuck between two generations of the Internet and pre-Internet”, whose online presence is Mo’re defined by his actual music rather than information about himself and his private life. And that in many ways is a good thing because his music really does the talking and his dark and brooding productions with “Mo’ments of light and euphoria” really are something unique and special. However, with his current single ‘Murmur’ being released in conjunction with the re-launch of James Lavelle’s legendary Mo’ Wax label, it really was time to find out a bit Mo’re about the man, whose sound could define a generation in a way many other Mo’ Wax artists did from the early to late 90s.
Elliott, how are you doing, what are you up to at the Mo’ment? Hi, I’m currently a bit under the weather, but on the plus side I’m in Paris working on some new music from a really nice apartment right by the Place Des Vosges.
Tell me how you linked up with Mo’ Wax head honcho James Lavelle and what it means to you that the re-launch of Mo’ Wax is in conjunction with the release of your single ‘Murmur’? I reached out to James to do a remix for a track off the album; James was really into the track and the rest of the music I played him. Philippe Ascoli (Marathon Artist Director of A&R) has a long working relationship with James from when Philippe ran a French label called The Source and when James was previously doing Mo’ Wax. So they decided it was a good idea for Marathon Artists and Mo’ Wax to put out my music as collaboration. Working with both Philippe and James is amazing as they have a rich knowledge of my influences and understand the importance of being contemporary and looking to the future as well as looking to the past. As a fan of Unkle/James and Mo’ Wax as Mo’vement it’s like a dream come true to not only to be working with James, but also to be able to exist under the rich history of Mo’ Wax and its new chapter.
Mo’ Wax was/is such an iconic label, so how special is it to be on Mo’ Wax and how much of a fan of the original Mo’ Wax output were you? Mo’ Wax was/is Mo’re than just a record label, it’s a Mo’vement, and it’s alMo’st like an institution. I got into Mo’ Wax through listening to Unkle, as a kid I was drawn to the Futura 2000 logo and then the music. Around the time my Mum was really into Ian Brown’s solo stuff, so that along with streetwear culture and stuff like A Bathing Ape, I began to connect to dots, look back deeper into Mo’ Wax where I was actually familiar with acts on the roster like Dj Krush, Dj Shadow and Attica Blues through my parents. None of it was foreign. It was a world I already knew, understood and belonged to by accident.
Tell me about the ‘Murmur’ video. It’s a beautiful – and at times slightly disturbing – Mo’ntage of London nightlife filmed from a driving car. I heard that Mo’st of the people/scenarios filmed were for real, literally just shot while driving through London at night? It was a pretty straightforward shoot over two nights, long and tiring, but a lot of fun and obviously the result speaks for itself. Working with Toby Dye was a pleasure and he is a very special/gifted director. Murmur was Toby’s first music video in 5 years so he wanted to make a statement. Toby is from a documentary film making background, so yes, Mo’st of what you see is genuine and did happen.” for real! There are also a few staged Mo’ments, but Mo’stly just a case of being in the right place at the right time.
For you as a Londoner, how gratifying was it to have your home town featured in this way, I mean there are a lot of recognizable spots in there, especially in East London, where you obviously shot a lot of stuff driving up-and down the A12? It’s great to show Mo’dern London by night. The Murmur video is snapshot of the here and now. It marks a Mo’ment in time; hopefully people look back and see this as an iconic British cult music video. It was quite funny as well to see James Lavelle in the video.
You must have been pleased to have the legend himself in the video? James had a lot of creative input into the video along with Toby and I. He’s very passionate and committed. It was great to have a tongue-in-cheek cameo from him.
‘Murmur’ and previous tracks like ‘On The Windrush’ have a dark and brooding undertone. Is that something you are attracted too, the darker, Mo’re paranoid sounds? Yes I love all things dark and industrial, it’s something that’s always been compelling to me even as a child. But at the same time I like the have the groove and the soul and bring Mo’ments of light or euphoria.
Although you have released quite a few tracks over the years, there isn’t that much information about you out there and you seem pretty elusive, so please tell me a bit Mo’re about yourself. Where exactly in London are you from, what sort of music did you grow up with and what influences you musically and when did you first start making music? I’m stuck between two generations of pre-internet and the Internet, so living online doesn’t come so naturally to me. That’s probably why I’m seen as elusive. I’m from a town called Brentford on the outskirts of West London, there’s not much going on in Brentford it’s the sort of place that would be in one of J.G. Ballards books, very concrete, high rise tower blocks and social housing.
I was exposed to a lot of good music and films from day one. My mum was always into slightly Mo’re down tempo alternative music like Bjork, Portishead and Anthony and the Johnson’s. My Dad was really into Jungle/Drum ‘n’ Bass and Chicago House, stuff like Goldie, Photek, Deep Blue, Fingers Inc etc. Bass was always something he was drawn too. I think it’s a Afro-Caribbean thing. As he’s half Trinidadian and half Nigerian.
I think one of my biggest influences that people don’t know, is UK Garage producer Wookie. His music circa late 90s – early 2000s was way ahead of its time, and blew me away, wookie tracks from that period still sound timeless and fresh to this day. Bjork is another key influence as she is the complete artist in my opinion. James Lavelle is obviously had a massive impact on me.
I’ve made music since I was 13. Obviously looking back that early stuff is so bad!!! I met my production partner Dorian Lutz through a mutual friend when I was 15, we were both trying to go against the grain and Mo’ve in the opposite direction to our peers. When I was 18 I made a song that made me realize that I actually do have a bit of talent. By time I was 22 I established my initial sound and identity. Now at 25 I know who I am and what I like, but evolution is key, look to the past, live the here and now and think of the future.
How important is longevity for you? I ask because you said in an interview that it is about “building a career” rather than being a one-hit wonder…I mean that’s the only approach that makes sense in an age where the music industry as such is pretty disposable, right?
Longevity is everything. I want to make timeless music. Records that still sound good in 10 years or in 30 years. I’m not interested in hype for hype sake, I want a good product first. Not the sMo’ke and mirrors around it. That’s not to say I wouldn’t work with an artist that has ‘hype’ but if we made a song and it didn’t work, it wouldn’t come out.
In general are you happy about the way the music industry has changed, I mean they way anyone and everyone can become a star now with help of the internet and the way the traditional structures of record companies are somewhat changing?Like any change there are pros and cons. You already mentioned some of the pros in your questions. There is a real grey area in streaming right now and although spotify, apple music, tidal etc. are exciting and revolutionary, how artists get paid (especially independent artists) by these platforms currently isn’t adding up. I’m not anti-streaming but the way artists earn needs to be clearer with Mo’re rigid regulations. At the end of the day this is our job, being rich isn’t a priority, but I’d like to eat.
Tell me about your album ‘Once Smitten’. When will it be released and what can we expect musically? I mean listening to your previous releases I can imagine that it’s going to be quite a diverse affair… Once Smitten shows a much Mo’re vulnerable, angsty Elliott Power, than the man I am now. It’s a real journey from start to finish, pulls you left, and pulls you right, up and down. Musically it’s diverse but still coherent. It’s not black, its not white, it’s a mixed race sound. It’ll be out early 2016, and the artwork will be really slick too.
A lot of artists have obviously brought together a bunch of different musical influences, but what I like about the music that I’ve heard from you before is that it somehow sounds fresh and a bit different, just something that’s true to yourself in a way and not constructed. How important is that authenticity to you? I’m a product of sound system culture, growing up as a mixed race kid in West London with Notting Hill Carnival and multiculturalism. How could all the creeds and colours and clash of cultures not have an impact on me? My dad with his love for all things Bass led, my mum with her downtempo influences and love for soul. My dad and his brothers were in their own sound systems back in the day, playing all genres and tempos. It’s in my blood. That’s who I am; my taste comes from my parents. It’s not a conscious thing, it just finds it’s own way into my sound and then I try to make it work.
How much was growing up in London an inspiration to you? I mean I ask because in the 20 years I’ve lived here I’ve heard to so much incredible music and have been to so many awe-inspiring clubs and live shows… it really is a city where you can eat, drink and breathe music, right?
I feel so lucky to have grown up in London. West London is very diverse; I’ve always been around all types of races, nationalities, rich and poor. I’d like to think it’s given me a well-rounded view on society. There are some great record shops in London, like Honest Jon’s and Phonica. I personally think the night life has become very bourgeois in recent times, with fancy hotels and members clubs hosting nights, where they don’t want to let you in and charge a £11 for a bottle of beer. But I recently went to a night in Peckham at the Bussey Building called ‘Soul Train’ which was a lot of fun. Bradley Zero also does a night called ‘rhythm section’ which is pretty good. Benji B’s Deviation night is still good and going strong. Also Brilliant Corners has good nights where people like Floating points come and play, it’s Mo’re like a bar/snack place, really nice vibes.
Will you do live shows for the new album and what else is in the pipeline for Elliott Power?
Still figuring out the logistics for the live shows, but they will be happening sooner rather than later. I’m currently writing for my second album. Thanks!