Off the Record - AKWIUS
Introduction to the project:
I produce music at AKWIUS and this project is called Clever Girl EP, which is my first
vinyl release and is the first project I’ve felt fully encapsulates a mood I’ve been on the
quest for. So I pressed it to vinyl to learn the process and kickstart my own label Upper
First interest in making music / finding my sound:
I first got interested in making music back when I lived in Michigan. One of my good
friends was writing rap tunes, he gave me a computer program to make beats so I
started experimenting with that. Then from this influence I started to collaborate with
other rappers and sell beats, which really helped me learn arrangement and how to
record and sample but I hadn’t quite figured out my voice yet. Then, I moved to
Minneapolis and started going to parties and discovered the amazing beauty of house
and techno, drum & bass and uk style dubstep which led me to start exploring my own
theories in dance music while utilizing the sampling techniques learned in years past.
Then a few years ago some friends and I started to put together shows at Honey MPLS
and it was there that I really started to make a lot of tunes, learn what you can do with
sound in a club environment and really start to chip away at what I really wanted to say
with my music. It took quite a lot of experimentation to uncover my vibe.
Inspiration for this album:
The influences that have gone into this EP are pretty vast and are an amalgamation of
sound and experience. Overall and simply put I was trying to build an artifact of science
fiction, perhaps like a music version of the book Starship Troopers and I wanted it to be
grimey, deep and heavily sci-fi while using the house music format as the catalyst.
Experiences like rebuilding a motorcycle really inspired my appreciation of
craftsmanship, seeing all these perfectly engineered parts working together as a whole
to make an incredible machine function really made me want to learn and apply that
level of engineering to the sound of this record and to all of my music thereafter. One
thing I love is hearing cars with heavy sub bass rolling through my neighborhood (which
is my ASMR, no joke!) so I wanted to be sure this record would hit at that level as well.
Since it was going to be pressed to vinyl, I designed the center label artwork to utilize
the spinning nature of the format so it creates an optical illusion while spinning. Plus if
you watch it for at least 10 seconds or so and then look away your vision will be slightly
trippy for a short time.
Process for making songs and inspiration:
Since my tunes are pretty heavily sample based, putting them together is like
excavating and then painting with all the different colors of sound that have been
uncovered. I like to excavate sounds from movies, video games, old vhs tapes, field
recordings and such and then bring them all into the computer and being layering,
mixing and arranging the sounds into a full piece, which becomes a song. It is quite fun,
sometimes the samples at first sound terrible because the sample format was just not
all that great...like recording a vhs tape out of an old television and the sample has all
this hiss and static but then once I get that into the computer I can begin to sculpt that
sound into something that sounds cool and less harsh and even play it like a
synthesizer. Then, that sound can be layered with other sounds that come from a hi-
fidelity source and you get this strange hi-fi/lo-fi mixture that to me sounds quite
interesting because of the textures that arise. I just love the process of doing this and
sculpting interesting sounds into a final form so the process itself is inspiring and then
different results come from the different samples that resonate within current moods.
Favorite song from the album:
All the songs were equally enjoyable to put together but the first song Hammer Rust
came about in a fun way. It stemmed from exploring ancient Mesoamerican music and
culture. My dad has Native American ancestry stemming from ancient Mexico and I
sometimes wonder what sort of relation these ancestors had with the ancient
civilizations of the Aztec, Maya and Inca. Those civilizations are completely fascinating
so I tried to emulate some of the sounds and moods from the music I was researching
and sort of updated them into a more futuristic format so that it could bump like an
anthem fit for a space outlaw.
Music I listen to:
I kind of have strange phases when listening to music, like a lot of the time I’ll just listen
to certain video game soundtracks over and over...like the Deus Ex Mankind Divided
soundtrack, which has an amazing vibe. These days since fall has began I’ve been
bumping Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation pretty much on the regular as well as listening
to a lot of Jazz.
Something to know about my music:
You can scoop the Clever Girl EP 12” vinyl with digital download at my record label
bandcamp page at upperrealm.bandcamp.com/album/clever-girl-ep or you can find
the vinyl at Electric Fetus MPLS. Also, you can stream and download the EP digitally at
all the main streaming sources like spotify, apple music, amazon, beatport, tidal, etc. To
stay updated on new tunes and such follow me at facebook.com/akwius, twitter.com/
AKWIUS or soundcloud.com/akwius.