We spoke to producer Walton about the benefits of collaboration, that “uncategorised” area of music and his new 10-track album, Black Lotus.

Not long after lending his talents to the Hard Food EP which marked 100 releases on Pinch’s iconic imprint, Tectonic; Walton returns to with a landmark 10 track album, Black Lotus.

Black Lotus epitomises the growing area of music which resides between dubstep, grime and techno, drifting between 128 and 136 BPM throughout. The album takes it’s most noticeable influence from the far east, paying homage to old grime instrumentals which incorporate the same sounds.

Swaying between choppy instrumental grime tracks such as “Koto Riddim VIP” and predominantly percussive techno tracks such as “Vectors” and including collaborations with Riko Dan and fellow producer Wen, Black Lotus stands to be a stellar representation of an interesting, active and growing area of UK underground music.

We caught up with the Manchester-based producer to find out a little more about his album, his influences and his sound.

So you’ve just released a 10-track album on Pinch’s Tectonic label, how would you summarise it for anyone that hasn’t heard it yet?
Id say it is quite a cinematic album aimed at the dance floor and sound systems with a lot of influence from Sino grime, techno and other UK bass music.

The album speaks to a sound that is thriving at the moment, taking elements from Dubstep, Grime and UK Techno. It’s still a sort of “uncategorized’ scene where you see Grime and Dubstep MCs rapping over beats that sit at 120-130 BPM, how do you think this sort of cross-pollination came about?
I think for people like me that take a lot of influence from grime, It feels right to work with MC’s as they are a big part of the sound that has influenced us. I think the internet probably has a lot to do with it as well. Its very easy to collaborate and to get in contact with people that might have been uncontactable before. It’s defiantly something I am excited about though. Tunes like ‘Big Slug’ by Riko Dan and Pinch and Lamont’s vocal stuff sound so sick in the club and work really well along side Techno etc.

The fourth track “No Mercy” features Tectonic affiliate Riko Dan, did you make the track with him in mind?
Yeah. We did a tune together for his Hard Food EP and I have remixed a few of his tunes which have had a sick response. I knew I wanted to get a vocal tune on there and made the instrumental with Riko in mind. He smashed it!

A lot of the album integrates Chinese and Japanese melodies with snappy percussion and spacious basslines – where did the far eastern influence stem from? 
It come from listening to lots of old grime instrumentals that have a strong far eastern influence. Theres a great Kode9 Sino Grime mix which is a wicked example of these kinds of sound.

When you were making the album, did any less obvious influences that come into play?
Maybe subconsciously, but I was mainly listening to lots of club music at the time. Lots of percussion heavy techno from people like Randomer and the Livity Sound lot etc. As well as old grime instrumentals.

Tell us a little bit about your collaboration with Wen.
So me and Wen did about 4 collaborations a few years ago (as well as a load of back-to-back shows) which were suppose to be part of an EP. The EP ended up falling through. When I was working on the album I thought it would be cool to include one of them so I gave it bit of a tweak to make it work better with the album. I think the other collaborations we did are still knocking about on Youtube somewhere.

Do you think collaboration plays an important part in growth as an artist?
Yeah I think so. It’s good to see how other people work and can be very inspiring. I have found I like to collaborate when I have a bit of writers block and it always seems to help me get though it.

You’ve received some amazing support for the album so far – anyone you’d like to mention?
To be honest im not 100% sure who has been playing the record but big up Pinch, Madam X, Loefah, Mary Anne Hobbs, Jonny Dub, Dusk and Blackdown, Barely Legal and anyone else who has been supporting!

Lastly, where can we catch you live over the coming months?
Just Outlook Festival at the moment – hopefully more soon!

Black Lotus EP – Walton
July 6, 2018 – Tectonic
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Interview by Beth Sheldrick

Photos by Jerome Collinge