Despite his nightmarishly SEO-unfriendly monicker, North London producer Books is a name that’s just kept cropping up on our radar over the past 18 months. So far, it’s a name that’s been inherently linked to the cosmic stylings of XVI Records - who’ve hosted the bulk of his delicate sample-based productions to date.
From an initial cold call promo submission to XVI head honcho Josh Byrne, the relationship between artist and label has developed into something of a symbiosis through a handful of solid 12″s ranging from loosely looped edits to driving Detroit house, co-piloting the label’s radio shows and most recently the launch of a new sub-label in High Praise Edits.
Books’ latest 12″ sees him christen the imprint, a series aligned with their party of the same name and clearly drawing on the influence of gospel on US house, with his most animated work yet in the shape of two retrospective grooves a la Moodymann, sampling soul and jazz. There’s a distinctly Gallic feel to ‘Passage of Time’, largely due to the St. Germain-esque sax line that flirts with the kicks and shakers – while a dreary, almost disinterested Rhodes loops away in the distance with effortless cool.
For his UE mix, he’s turned in an hour of cosmic boogie, prog guitar jams, soaring strings and low slung grooves – mixing between disco, house and edits with ease. Quite often, his transitions constitute impeccably timed stop-starts which keep the energy levels high and the selection fresh – no easy feat.
Tell us a bit about how you approached the mix.
I’m always on the hunt for tunes to play out or sample in my production and I keep a bunch of playlists in iTunes to keep track of all the music I collect so that’s the natural place to start. I’ll go through tunes I’ve been into recently and see what works together and what I want to include and feel it out from there!
Disco has a clear influence on your productions and in the mix. Where does that stem from?
That’s funny because I wouldn’t really say I’m into disco in a big way, I don’t listen to it in my own time. The vast majority of it I find very corny. I like all the elements of it, instruments used, drum patterns and bass grooves. I think if you can find (or make) a song that has all that but isn’t too cheesy it’s always great. Sonically that slightly rough, organic sound with live instruments was always what I always liked – the stuff Dilla and Madlib would sample… so maybe it came from them. I put soul / rare grooves in the same category and draw from all of them in inspiration or directly in samples.
On ‘Feel It In My Bones’, you collaborated with a vocalist called Zodiac who sounds like Peven Everett incarnate. How did you come to work together?
That’s my good friend Jordan, now doing music as Jordan James. He’s a super talented musician that can really make you feel things when he plays keys. We’re in different worlds musically and have very different tastes but occasionally we’ll manage to capture something together. On ‘Feel It In My Bones’ he came to my place for about 30 mins having never heard the track and just started singing. It’s funny because often with him when he’s there – eyes closed, still in his full-body motorcycle gear, and you can’t hear the track all you can hear is him layering up falsetto harmonies and ad-libs you’re not sure what to make of it. Then he leaves and you’re like okaaaaaaay I get it. Cool.
From Nina Simone to a South African choir, samples play a big role in your tracks. How do you go about locating these?
I go through phases of listening to and downloading huge amounts of music, usually when I’m stuck on a track or not feeling inspired. There are a few youtube channels and blogs that I usually start with and from there I follow every lead and explore every tangent until something makes me want to jump back into Logic. There’s an almost infinite amount of music out there, it can be pretty overwhelming so it’s nice to be able to grab something and scurry back to your DAW.
All your releases to date have come via XVI Records – what’s the connection?
Josh who runs it (with Martin Love) is a good friend now. I sent him a couple of tracks which were the first ones I was ready to put out and he liked them and also released and helped out with another project I was working on. Since then we’ve done radio and started High Praise together which is was a party and is now also a label.
What’s next on the horizon for you, release wise?
Actually this weekend there’s a cool record coming out on Behind This Wall which I produced. Just one track with a bunch of friends in italy last year and it turned out really nice. It’s called Violet Hour. Then the next Books release will be out in January on Omena Records so not far off. Really excited to share those songs, they’re my favourite so far!
Books – High Praise Edits Vol.1 is out now.