The influx in producers crafting electronic music in our present timeframe leaves a large margin for mediocrity. This current technological paradigm has resulted in a relatively small percentile of producers harnessing sounds that’ll be engrained as imprints of our generation. A very few creating music that lingers in the minds, bodies and souls of us all. The increasing recognition of electronic music into the mainstream has lead to a tremendous overdose of colourless, uninspired beats… be that as it may, our next featured act beg to differ. Gaz and Tulip are the masterminds behind Congi, a Nottingham UK based duo of producers revamping the formula for dubstep music. These two continually dig deep into their roots, extracting elements of jazz, funk, hip-hop and soul. Their fusion of these influences is an output apart of what is seeming to be a proflic new wave in the 140bpm spectrum. Producing beats crafted with soulful harmonic components, wrapped around unique grooves and unforgettable sampling. They evoke strong emotions in the listener with their amalgamation of heartfelt vibes stemming deeply from their desire for creating bass music. With their new album ‘Tidal Fragments’ released February 14th 2014 on Chord Marauders, Congi launches this campaign dedicated to showcasing a more intellectually challenging style of dubstep, with a prominent depth influencing strong empathic vibes and reflective thought. The 12 track LP features collaborations with Chord Marauders producers B9, Jafu and Geode, as well as a collaboration with Nottingham based producer Fable. Across the album’s entirety, Congi has meticulously assembled tunes spanning tempos and dispersing varying energy levels. This balance of quality tunes resembles the perfect summer playlist. Full of unforgettable melodies and atmospheres to leave you stuck in a state of bliss. The album is available for purchase from the Chord Marauders webpage. I highly recommend supporting these artists on their journey.
TRUSIK: I first heard of Congi back in 2011, when did the project start for you two, and had you each already established your own music production at that time?
CONGI: We first started making music together early 2011, we had both been producing music individually for a while and shared common interests. After a few sessions of making music together we really started to understand the sound we wanted to achieve. It varied from session to session but there was always that common thread.
TRUSIK: When it comes to producing music, what equipment do you two use? Hardware? Software? Studio Monitors?
CONGI: We both run a very simple set up production wise; monitors, midi keyboard & DAW. We use a mix of Cubase and Reason depending on the project, for collaborations we like to flick between the two and eventually finish up in Cubase as we feel it’s a little more accurate mixing wise. We don’t own any hardware as such but we do record a lot of sounds and try out different things with the microphone – it’s all about those one off samples.
TRUSIK: Creating any art form often relies strongly on drawing inspiration from life and your environment. With the many outlets from which we can seek such inspiration, what inspires you guys to create the sounds that you do? And what has driven the two of you onwards with respect to your music production: specifically your desire to produce jazzier, more rooted music.
CONGI: That’s a big question. Firstly in terms of environment I guess Nottingham has been an inspiration consciously and unconsciously. There was a wave early of producers around 04-09 with a distinctive Nottingham techy-140 sound that defintely caught our attention and the raves in Notts over the past 5-10 years have built a solid community. I think the ethos of your home town plays a part in your approach to production for sure. In terms of the jazzier side of things, I think that’s a reflection of what you grow up listening to. Hip-Hop, Grime, Jazz and Soul are what we’ve spent our childhoods and adult lives listening to so it’s bound to inspire us when we create.
TRUSIK: You two have always pertained to an earthy, ethereal field of music. With your involvement now with the Chord Marauders record label and working alongside the likes of Geode, B9 & Jafu; has this new excursion influenced a new direction with your creative process? And how did you fellas get wrapped up in the Chord Marauders collective?
CONGI: Working with the other guys on the label has definitely had a positive reflection on our creative process in terms of our ideas and production techniques. Each producer in the camp has a different take on the genre and there is always something to learn. In terms of how we ended up working on CM; we initially started collaborating with Geode & B9 and were talking about the idea of creating a platform to release through. The whole ethos of the label is to create different music. We all have an input and every idea is considered, it’s great to feel a part of a musical family and to share an output with creatively driven producers.
TRUSIK: Besides diving deep into music production, what do you guys enjoy most about life? Are there any other activities that you take part in or other art forms that you practice?
CONGI: When not making music we just like to chill, cook up, eat, watch films, listen to music etc, we don’t really practice any other art form apart from making music really.
TRUSIK: Having released music on a few different labels (Deep Heads, Smokin’ Sessions, Chord Marauders, Innamind Recordings) – what goals have you two set for yourselves in the future?
CONGI: This year we really want to focus on working within our local music community. We will be doing some stuff with Nottingham labels Wigflex & Mimm later in the year showcasing some different tempos and vibes from ourselves. Alongside that, we have a release lined up with Pressed Records coming in the next couple of months with a collaboration with our good friend Quantum Soul and we will compiling music for future Chord Marauders projects.
TRUSIK: When you guys perform in clubs and venues, what is the vibe of a mix from Congi, and how would you describe your DJ set? Are there any key tracks that you two reach for during a performance or some of your favourite tunes to blend?
CONGI: We enjoy mixing our sets up, we try to get a blend of flavours from the 140 scene and it’s always nice to throw some older joints in that people might have forgotten about. Sometimes you can sense the sought of track that might set a place off, and there are certain ones that you know you’re going to draw for, but it’s nice to keep that info to yourself!
TRUSIK: Your 12” on Deep Heads a few years back featured a track called Awaken’, a heavier hitting half stepper with unique flow in the drum work. That track has always stood out for me, defined by its’ edgier mid ranges and dark agitated ambience. Now with your new Tidal Fragments LP released on Chord Marauders, it brushes on the lighter side of the spectrum, though not shying away from delivering ample bass weight, melodic compositions, and spanning multiple tempos. It has been incredibly interesting following the progression of your sound, amidst the ocean of producers crafting 140bpm music.
CONGI: Yeah it’s funny really, those tracks on the 12″ are almost the only three we ever made in that style, we sent over a pack of tunes and they were the ones that were picked by the label. I think it was a conscious desicion of ours to move away from that type of release because the scene was awash with that style at the time. It wasn’t so much that we starting making different stuff after that as we’d always made different variations since the beginning, but it was still a happy time getting our first 12″ out there.
TRUSIK: Would it be safe to say you fellas are in the midst of feeling out the music you make as it is conceived? Or do you have a specific plan for where your sound is going?
CONGI: We never really sit down with a plan as such, we just allow it to happen. The good thing about working together is even if you have an idea before hand, as soon as the other one sits down and gets to work on it the tune can suddenly change course. I think we like that element to it as it keeps the process natural, there’s always a core principal involved but we’re just letting it evolve as and when.
TRUSIK: If you guys were able to travel back in time with five records or pieces of music, what five records would you bring?
CONGI: That’s an interesting one. Speaking for myself (Tulip) I’d take J Dilla – Donuts, Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul, Common – Like Water For Chocolate, D’Angelo – Voodoo and Funkadelic – Maggot Brain. In terms of Congi influences I reckon we’d take Author – Author, Mala – Return II Space, Iron Soul – Taurus, James Blake – Air & Lack Thereof and a non dubstep act we both chill to The Black Keys – Black Roc!
TRUSIK: Looking outwards into the community, what promising words can you offer us? Are there any shout outs you guys want to make? Any producers that you two feel are making strides forward at the moment?
CONGI: It’s an exciting time, there’s lots of producers in and around us from this generation starting to get to grips with stuff and there’s a lot of different pools of talent doing their own thing. Our advice would be don’t give everything out for free and stop putting works in progress on the internet!
Much love to the Chord Marauders family – Geode, B9 and Jafu. Out to Fable and Sepia and shout out to the Nottingham crews. It’s all about K-Lone and Facta at the minute, but I’m sure you already know!
Big up Brett and everyone at TRUSIK keeping it moving, one love.