NK-OK, otherwise known as Namali Kwaten, of Blue Lab Beats gives his personal recollection of the making of Xover, the current release on Society of Sound, which was recorded at Real World Studios.
“Most of the tracks from this album began in the bedroom studio of the Blue Lab. I laid down the drum programming; Mr DM laid down bass on some tracks and also some keys. This took a couple of months of late nights, annoying the neighbours and lots of coffee! We took the basics down to Real World and recorded our favourite musicians from our scene in London. Each day we had amazing talent in the room – one day it was Moses Boyd on drums and Sheldon Agwu on guitar, the next day we recorded Nubya Garcia on tenor sax and some of the band Nerija – Richie Seivwright on trombone, Sheila Maurice-Grey trumpet and Cassie Kenosha on alto sax. Then we had Ashley Henry on keys, Kiadi Akinni on tenor sax, Dominic Canning from Triforce on keys, Daniel Taylor on talk box, Femi Koleoso on drums, Terry Thomas on bass, the list goes on…Mr DM also played Wurlitzer, vibraphone, piano, guitar and synth. I played synth bass and synth. There is an amazing Jen SX1000 analogue synth at the studio that we recorded, I found one on Ebay that I have now bought!
Some parts we told the soloists to play or gave them a vague instructions, some solos they wrote themselves and other times we recorded one or a group of musicians jamming. Back in London I chopped up some of the parts and sampled them so it has that hip-hop sound without having a clearance problem! Other times we added whole parts that the musicians had recorded to the tracks. I do all the final production side back at the Blue Lab.
I can honestly say that recording at Real World was our best experience so far. The building and room, the shape of it and the peace with the water outside really helped the creativity. Plus the visit from the swan of course! We worked 12 hour days and they passed by so quickly.
The vision of the album was to incorporate the many genres that influenced us, but to have the Blue Lab vibe still evident. A lot of the tracks are instrumental but the names often show what the vibe of them meant to us, there was a meaning to them when they were being made. We like the mixture of vintage keys like Rhodes, Wurlitzer, the Jen SX1000 synth, talk box, vibraphone and traditional instruments used in jazz and also the Machine drum machine (which brings the hip-hop element)
We worked crazy hours to make this album in just a few months, but that helped it become such an exciting project for us.
Our next dream is to record in Real Word with some of the vocalists that feature for us – Kojey Radical and Tiana Major9, they performed on stage with us at WOMAD and it was awesome!”
To read more about the jazz duo’s influences and to listen to their specially curated playlist, click here.