Following the release of his debut album, X Colour, we caught up with Redlight to discuss his productions, his audio-visual influences and his thoughts on the electronic music scene. Having worked with the likes of Ms. Dynamite and Raekwon to produce some of the biggest dance tracks of the past five years, X Colour has been much-anticipated. In electronic music in particular, artist albums are particularly special. “If you’re going to make a collection of bangers, then it’s just a mixtape. When you make real tunes – a journey that begins in one place and ends in another – that’s the basis of a real dance music album that stands out. Daft Punk, Orbital, they are the pioneers behind albums that have remained timeless.”
That is the aim with X Colour. “I wanted new music which would take multiple listens to understand. There needs to be a proper creative process behind serious tunes because at the end of the day, they take serious time to create. If you’re making a club-banger there isn’t always the need to be serious as a producer.” Redlight is happy to identify his own explosive hit Gold Teeth as a “vibey little production which is fun to listen to”, avoiding any suggestion that that it was a serious orchestration project.
Doubtless, this understanding of dance music has contributed to his success. “There are different levels of success, and when I was around 20 years old my benchmarks of success were completely different. Smoking weed and spinning at local clubs meant your life was as good as it could get. Then suddenly your tracks are getting played by big names and everything changes – any realistic goal is achievable once you find an inner self confidence. Once you’re proud of a tune, that’s creativity.” From originals to remixes, Redlight’s creativity shines through. Discussing the standout vocals on his tracks, they are treated as an instrument just like any other. “The acapella, mixed with a beat, should cut through you as one cohesive package. A vocal for me has to cut on a massive emotive level for it to be a part of the final record.” With remixes too, “I’ll know the aspects of the track that I want to have fun with. If there’s nothing there that catches my attention then there’s no remix, but all it takes is one interesting element to interpret or use in a new way.”
Having started out in drum and bass at the end of the nineties under his Clipz moniker, Redlight transitioned towards 4×4 in the late noughties. “Getting your face out there and burning dance floors down is still how you become famous. British Jungle culture is still in my heart and will always be relevant to how I make music & run a label. It’s about the music and that’ll always be a part of everything I do.” Having established the Lobster Boy label, on which to release music by himself and his peers, Redlight hopes to push authentic music. “I look for people who are good at what they do. Artists who come to me know I’m not going to push something just for radio play. I’ll happily put it in other DJ’s pockets for support, but a record will be organically successful if its good.”
As a project, X Colour is uniquely visual, with different tracks conceived as an aural response to different colours. Redlight’s passion for film and the visual arts also shines through with the video counterparts to the tracks. “I have a large, creative family, with musicians on my dad’s side and a passion for film and television from my mum’s. When you’re young, you’re more likely to see an individual artistry to each film, whereas you grow to learn what to expect from particular genres, particularly if they’re trying to appeal to mainstream audiences. I’m a fan of filmmaking which doesn’t follow the rules, and enjoy French films, indie releases and anything which can be considered art.” The synesthesia of Redlight’s creativity becomes clear when he compares experiencing a painting by Matisse to the emotional response to first hearing Jungle.
Lacking the budget to hire in a large team, Redlight played a central role in the creation of the music videos to his tracks before the album, and remained very involved with the videos for X Colour. “Again, creativity is what it’s really about – I love to do different things and it doesn’t always have to involve glitz and glamour. I have many creative friends within the film industry and I’m lucky to have them as outputs for my own personal creativity, often reaching out with new ideas completely on their own volition.”
“When making music, it has to punch out of the speaker straight into listeners’ ears, and it’s the same with video – any director has to make that happen from the screen. More and more, it is expensive special effects being used to make a film jump out of the screen. In film, money and the backing of a studio is even more of a necessity these days, and while it helps in music too, its far more plausible to accomplish your goals with whatever resources you have available.”