Having just released his debut EP Warm Words, we spoke with budding producer Aftermind about what it takes to find your voice in the lo-fi scene.
Currently, Aftermind is best known for his work as half of Coalescent, a hip-hop duo made complete by Dux. The pair have been making music together since 2015 but Aftermind’s intention to also work on a solo project stemmed before the inception of Coalescent. One of the biggest differences that Aftermind found between going solo and working collaboratively was simply how long it actually took to make happen…
“It takes a hell of a lot longer for sure – I’ve been working towards putting out a solo EP since 2013. I’m a perfectionist and without Dux on board to balance that out and bounce ideas off of it was a long old journey.
I think the hardest thing was carving out my own little sonic space, I desperately wanted to make something that I thought was interesting and somewhat different. Because I was more focussed on Coalescent, my degree and a long-distance relationship, as the years went on, I ended up scrapping and restarting the EP multiple times as I listened to more music and developed my tastes because it had been so long that it didn’t reflect the sound I wanted to go for anymore.”
Eventually, Aftermind landed in the realm of rough around the edges lo-fi beats laced with silky vocals that blend into a collection of smooth soundscapes…
“In the first year of uni, I got really into SoundCloud, specifically the underground lo-fi hip hop scene. Big up Jav Nunes for putting me onto that whole sound by showing me Lord Apex, definitely a big moment for me. So yeah, I fell in love with that style but after a while felt that the scene was stagnating somewhat.
A lot of creators (including myself) were making one or two-minute beats with old school rap acapellas which sounds really wavy but only has so much longevity, and as the sound grew in popularity, you’d hear the same acapellas and samples over and over. Towards the end of uni, I had the idea of taking the whole aesthetic and production style and trying to write and record original pop/neo-soul songs with it, like with hooks and all of that, which isn’t something I saw a whole lot.
I was pretty much trying to make the music sound sampled even though it was 99% original.”
With the EP’s dynamics decided, Aftermind also tackles some tricky themes in Warm Words…
“All of the songs are mostly talking about relationships and depression from a couple different angles. It’s a mixture of personal experience and fictional stuff. I had quite a chaotic upbringing so will definitely be tackling some more serious issues further down the line, but opted to keep it relatively simple for the debut you know? Especially as I’m a producer first and foremost, so most of my energy was spent on the aesthetic and production value as that’s my strongest area.
I actually changed the title to Warm Words last minute after hearing the phrase on a Brexit debate haha, it was in the context of trying to butter up the DUP to back May’s deal but instantly I knew that it fit the sound and themes of the project so just sneakily stole it.”
Despite this particular project taking a lot longer to complete than Aftermind may have liked, the process has proved to be a valuable learning curve for future works…
“Shorten the process of creating a project. Don’t always get too attached to the art otherwise you’ll be anxious to let people hear it and it’ll never be ‘finished’. Just work towards finishing it and then get it out.
Creatives are always improving and changing their taste and processes so to see a project all the way through in 6 months to a year will be way more organic, and the songs will fit together better in terms of quality and sentiment. It’s like a more accurate snapshot of your artistic influences and life experiences at that specific point in time.”
Aftermind has also learned about his own capabilities throughout this process, another struggle he had originally encountered was finding his own voice…
“I’ve been singing for a couple years but not that seriously and until this project would never have thought about singing on my own stuff properly. Like it’s one thing to be able to sing notes in tune but a completely different thing to be able to SING you know?
I think I found a good middle ground on this project of embracing the ‘rough around the edges’ aesthetic with my vocal performances as I didn’t put a whole lot of power or effort into them, sometimes it sounds almost slurred which I hope suits the music.”
For Aftermind, Warm Words is just the beginning and he has his sights set on the bigger picture of progressing his sound even further…
“I think it’s the first step for me to grow into my own sound. My main goal really is to blend and channel all of my underground influences with my indie/pop roots to make something new and interesting that most listeners can at least appreciate, if not enjoy.
Solo shows are definitely on my radar and will be in the works soon… you can expect me to be bringing a whole load of artists on stage with me though!”
It was a live performance that marked Aftermind’s career highlight so far…
Supporting Artful Dodger at Cargo, 100%. Great turnout and energy from our friends which made the whole room get into the show way more, it was a really special night.
When all is said and done, how would you like to be remembered?
As the waviest lo-fi producer in the game.
Warm Words is out now. Listen here: