Threading their way across house, hip-hop and downtempo electronic landscapes since 2019, French imprint Cosmocities re-emerges with ‘Say Goodbye’ by Aussie-born vibist Inkswel featuring Phat Kat and Jitwam, supported by a pair of choice reworks courtesy of Adelaide’s Beyond June and Amsterdam’s Jacob Otten, alias Kid Sublime.
Presented in both vocal and instrumental form, Inkswel’s hydroponic ‘Say Goodbye’ blends the finest sun-baked hip-hop and hazy R&B into a fine-grained slice of ethereal Cali-funk, as masterly provided by Phat Kat’s raw, choppy verses and Jitwam’s velvet timbre. Weaving a silky-smooth narrative out of retro string samples, intricate drum- programming and vaporous envelopes, Inkswel’s latest offering is poetry in motion, making the most of the self-balancing, therapeutical power of music.
Up on remix duty we find OZ talent Beyond June, laying down a playfully dreamlike revamp, which flows between a beautiful cosmic abstraction and an earthy urban vibe. Transcending both spheres with non-conformist dash, the track reaches for uncharted galactic recesses.
Kid Sublime takes on the cut with more of a fevered boogie approach, pulling out the infectious Rhodes stabs and athletic bass moves to keep every dancer on their toes as the drum beats a steadily tempo that’s full of swagger.
Inkswel In Conversation with Mickey Duke
I have the pleasure of the company right now of a fellow 1BTN presenter, Mr. Hip-Hop downunder, a former B-boy, a self confessed drum machine obsessive, and one of the busiest men in Music judging from the level of output coming out of his camp in the last 12 Months alone. Welcoming Jules Habib aka Inkswel to the show, how you doing Jules?
Good man, thanks for having me Bro.
I understand a move from Adelaide to Melbourne is under way. You completed or still in the Middle of that?
No, we are about 4 weeks away, so if you saw our house right now it’s like a bomb’s gone off.
This part of moving house is never the best! I feel your pain.
What instigated the move from Adelaide to Melbourne?
Me and my partner move around a lot and we have done for the 10 years we have been together I guess. We were living in Melbourne previously, then Berlin, when we came back from Berlin we had our second child and went to Adelaide cos family is there, so we chilled out for a bit. Now, we are getting pretty busy with music and stuff and need a city that’s more in tune with that and we need to get a hustle on.
You’re a cosmopolitan soul it seems spending time in different parts of the World, have you always had itchy feet?
Yeh, I think even before music I first went over seas in 2007, or something, a couple years after I finished High school, so I’ve been moving about since I was an adult.
You were in London for a little while?
Yeh, back then in 2007 / 2008 I was over there cheffing, backpacking and all that. That’s when I went to the end of Plastic People and got emersed in the end of that first wave of broken beat, even though it’s still going, everyone seems to think it ended.
Yeh it’s still going strong. So, that explains your interest in broken beat!
I always start these interviews by getting a little background on the artist, so for those who may not be familiar with the work from Inkswel could you give us a little background
Yeh, I got into music just through hip-hop. My father was into music and hip-hop as well and we used to listen to the likes of Public Enemy, De La Soul & Tribe Called Quest. He was also into The Clash, David Bowie and Prince, so that inspired me as a creative and he was a creative too, it kind of gave me that licence to stick to something creative and I just became enamoured with hip-hop culture at an early age. I tried everything out B-boying, graffiti, Mcing, Djing, producing, then it just became something that I said I was gonna do with my life, and kept going. Early on I was involved in the Aussie hip-hop scene but because I was into breaking side of things I was into soul music too and I became disillusioned with just the rough kind of rap thing. I was more into the peace, love, unity and having fun idea, the Zulu Nation approach, so got into the breaks and the samples and disco, house and broken beat and moved on. I moved over seas and kept doing music. I was booking Djs for a club in Melbourne in 2009/2010 timeline and met a few people. I then moved to Amsterdam and put out of my first couple records as Inkswel, with the guys frim Rush Hour and Kindred Spirits. I met people like Kid Sublime and it just grew from there and I got more and more serious and here I am.
Amazing, sounds like you met the right people from the outset then?
Yeh, it’s funny as I was buying records from Rush Hour and Rednose Distrikt, which was Kid Sublime’s first group, then a couple years later I was friend’s with them all and putting records out with them. It was a very sped up timeline back then, I guess I was just young and motivated, making things happen.
I think my first introduction to your work as Inkswel was that lovely 12” you did for Unthank records back in 2012, a chuggy, jazzy house EP. As you mentioned there’s another side to your production taking in house and broken beat too. Have your travels influenced your tastes in music and production over the years?
Yeh, I definitely think I was making more Boogie orientated stuff when I was hanging out with the Rush Hour guys, as they were all ahead of the curve and we were all into that. When I lived in Berlin I was making more club music, as that was the environment I was in there as well. I think though at the end of the day I always angle it as B-boy influenced house music, or broken beat cos I’m still coming from a hip-hop aesthetic.
I think we came into contact first last year when I approached you following the collaboration you had with Colonel Red, you then quickly joined the 1BTN family and produced a lovely Monthly show since with your wife Charli. Aside from the show the production from the Inkswel camp has been crazy. Has lockdown enabled you to emerse yourself into music more fully, or is this just your way anyway?
Yeh, it’s definitely given more time to do stuff but it’s the same as I always am I guess *laugh* I feel like if anything, personally I made less music, as there was more time for self reflection and downtime in lockdown, so I think I’m probably producing the same amount overall, which is still lots I guess.
How many projects do you have on the go at present? I know you are working with Charli on Planet Self, do you have other stuff going on too?
Yeh, there’s always lots man, the release for Cosmocities, the album for Atjazz, which has just been released. I did an album with Mista Monk on my label, there’s stuff with my partner and more stuff on the label. I’ve just finished an instrumental hip-hop album too.
Inner Tribe Records being one of the projects you started last year too, right?
Yeh, I guess the lockdown more so enable that, as we had been talking about doing the label for a while but just didn’t have the time and then we just knuckled down and it kind of happened over night. Aaron drew the logo and the rest is history.
You mentioned the album to Atjazz, which I have had the pleasure of listening to, well two new pieces actually including the new Cosmocities records. The new album has been on repeat and it’s a cracker I have to say, taking in all manner of styles and moods. Tell us about that?
Well, I’ve known Martin Atjazz for a few years, as he’s always been a big supported of my music and we have always been talking about doing something for his label and I guess the timing was right. I had a couple house tunes just sitting there, so initially it was just going to be a 12” or an EP but I thing one thing Covid has done has slowed down the dance music community, so it doesn’t really make sense to have the dance format in terms of a release, so I just hashed it out and turned it into an album. He’s into all kinds of musical styles as well, broken beat and hip-hop etc, so it just made sense to do another album, so I just knuckled down and finished it, here we are.
It’s a perfect fit for Atjazz I have to say, some cracking collaborations on there. Are these people you have worked with before, or are they new relationships you have forged?
A bit of both really. Ive done a lot of stuff with Colonel Red and Sam Smith but then ive got a lot of new collaborations on the record too, which I’m super stoked to share, like Rider Shafique, and Andrew Ashong. There’s some up and coming talent on there too, which is cool to shine a light on. Yeh, it’s just a vibe man. Just trying to make it cohesive and get better each time I release.
Yeh, it certainly is that. A big album for the summer I think. That track you did with Dwight Trible by the way!…
Yeh, thanks man.
It’s dope! Is Dwight someone you reached out to?
Yeh, since his project ‘Build An Ark’ and I’m a big fan of what he does. I really loved one of his earlier albums, which had all the soulful hip-hop production on it. I guess just hanging with KC the Funkaholic, who was running Kindred Spirits, I just became more in tune with what he was doing and have been following him since. We have actually been sitting on that track for 7 or 8 years! I rehashed it for the album, as the original version was more like what I was doing back then. So I kind of reinvigorated it and it ended up becoming the title track for the album.
Ok. Do you find that happens a lot where you go back to beats from years ago and then bring them up to date?
Not really with me at all, that doesn’t usually happen because I usually just finish things and put them out but there will be the odd thing here or there that will fall through the cracks and doesn’t get finished, maybe some time later I can listen with fresh ears sometime later I can re-approach it and it has a new life.
Ok, great. Aside from that you have new collaborative track due out to Cosmocities records. What brought this about?
I did a release with Cosmocities in 2019, with Stan Smith from Atlanta. We had a project called Active Ingredients, which was just like a collaboration EP we did. It had a Kaidi remix on there and an Edseven remix. He put that out and it was a cool experience and i guess we just stayed in touch and I sent him some demos later and he just jumped at this track, so we got some remixes organised and that’s about it really. Kept it pretty simple.
Both Phat Kat and Kid Sublime feature on the release and Phat Kat and Dj Design and now Kid Sublime have recently joined the 1BTN family and are producing wicked Monthly shows for us, as are the Steppers crew out of Sydney, with Edseven, Steve Spacek & Tom Studdy, as are Oisima and Lady Flic. You introduced all of these incredible selectors to us. Thank you for your additional input mate, I think we need to open up a head of Recruitment role for you!
*Laugh* Sounds good!
Its been great getting all these guys involved in the station, so thanks for that
All good man
I see the gigs are starting to roll in now, are you guys out of lockdown proper, or does it differ from city to city?
Yeh, Adelaide was kind of unaffected for the most part. I was on tour in the States just a few weeks before the whole world shut down last year. We initially had a big lockdown at the start but it pretty much went back to normal. We didn’t really have any of the mask wearing here, it was just social distancing and a few other restrictions. Melbourne had it really bad, 9 Months of hardcore lockdown. It just varied I guess, we are pretty isolated here in Adelaide. It’s not as popular city to be in, so I guess that was a saving grace for it. Now it’s all gone back to normal I guess for the most part. They have got on top of it now and there’s only a handful of cases in the whole country. They have brought in all this check in stuff and the vaccine roll out has happened, so they are on top of it.
Regarding future plans for you guys, I know it’s a bit of a ‘finger in the air’ type situation but have you got any plans of getting out Australia and into Europe?
Yeh, I’m always open to it. I don’t really know what that is going to look like in the future. It is happening, as we have just had Marcellus Pitman and Ben UFO over here, like last week, so International travel is happening to an extent, when big money and work Visas are involved. I see myself at the short end of the stick with that, as it’s hard to justify a niche act to tour like it was. I think all of the bigger stuff is going to get a bigger shine first, until normality rolls through to the smaller clubs and the more underground scenes maybe. I think a lot of that is financial. They have got to be able to justify the extra cost now of flights going up and insurance and stuff that is now going to be a part of it.
Yes, of course. We have had the green light for festivals and clubs opening in the summer, which we are all buzzing about. It would be great to get you guys over, so we will have to keep our eyes on that one
Yeh, I would love to.
I would just like to say a big big thank you for your time my friend, keep doing what you do. I urge everybody to check out the new records, the new album is brilliant and it’s going to be a big one in the sunshine
Hope to see you sooner rather than later over on these shores. Speak to you soon. Thanks mate
All good man. Anytime. Peace
INKSWEL ‘Say Goodbye’ Vinyl is released to Cosmocities Records on Friday 7th May.
Support the artist, support the label, buy your music! Listen and buy here – https://www.juno.co.uk/products/inkswel-say-goodbye/820890-01/