Head to head: Playhead

CHK One spoke to the fellas that make up Playhead, who are flying the flag for dBs Music.

Hey! How is 2017 going for you so far?

Full of good things already – we signed some music at the very start of the year which was put together at the end of 2016 and we got the contracts in the first week of January.

It was a nice way to begin. We have been beavering away at the new live set up and working on new bits of material. We often find these first few months of the year are always the build up to spring/summer when things start to get more exciting with gigs and festival season.

Who makes up Playhead?

The main core is Bruce Turner, Jon Savage and newly recruited Kristian Sharpe. But there is a larger Playhead family, including some phenomenal vocalists, musicians, lighting designers, and other producers.

If you had to describe your sound to someone who doesn’t know you, how would you?

Forward-thinking, retrospective, breaks-inspired bass music.

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Rumour has it you have an EP on the way, can you tell us more about it?

We have a 4 track EP coming out very soon on Flex Industries – we are really pleased to be working with a label with real roots in the Jungle/DnB movement. The EP features two tracks So Much So, which was featured on BBC introducing last year, and Moments which can be found on our Soundcloud, along with two new remixes of a couple of our tracks.

The tracks are quite varied but our sound is carried through the EP and is all about clean and crisp production with strong vocal driven songs. We have had the pleasure of working with some great vocalist and songwriters. We are just finalising the artwork and looking forward to getting it out there!

How has your sound evolved since your first track?

Music is a constantly evolving process – our production and songwriting was not as good when we first started but every time you make a new track it is a continual learning process and you use new techniques, combine ideas, new processes etc. It is part of being an artist you are never quite happy with your work!

The live set up has evolved also, many changes have been made and it has now become something really cool which we are looking forward to testing this year and then making a real push in 2018.

You also lecture – how do you find the time to produce?

It is a challenge. We aren’t doing nearly as much as we would like to. We also all do other industry work as well, such as TV, music, session work and some other technical and creative roles – it is often a bit mental.

One blessing is the fact we are thinking about producing each and every day – so when it comes to the creative part, the ideas roll out very neatly.

What are the highlights for you about teaching at dBs?

It is a really buzzing environment. We (Kris and Bruce) are very lucky. The staff are great and there are some very future-thinking, creative students. Our students thrive on having industry active teachers, which reflects well and aids creativity both ways and the students help keep us up-to-date. Jon actually works at Bath Spa University, but the same goes.

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What equipment will you be using at the Kong’s event?

Kris has an awesome drum set up, 2 x Roland SPDs – the foot triggers into the beast and a sound card driven by Ableton. Kris tracks the breaks, chops them up and uses Instrument Racks to play them back via the triggers. Bruce plays MIDI guitar running sample instruments, phat Bass sounds, alongside the real guitar sound. Jon has a laptop with Ableton and various synth and gadgets but mostly playback sample from the tracks using Kontakt.

Have you got any surprises in your set?

We are surprising ourselves all the time! If you haven’t seen our set before it should be full of surprises. If you have seen it then you will be surprised at the progression since the last gig – in the live electronic performance world we haven’t seen many people doing the things that we are doing.

What else can we expect from Playhead this year?

So we are filming a set for Native Instruments in about a months time. Also, it has just been confirmed we will be seeing out Glastonbury Festival with a late night set closing the Rumshack in the Common on the Sunday: we really want to concentrate on getting more shows with the live act.

Finally, as we have already spoken about, we are excited about the EP release and making some new music and trying out our live set up.

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