In conversation with El-Trip after the release of his brand new EP, ‘Going To The Moon’
El-Trip aka Earth Leakage Trip is a UK music veteran, and has loved music since he could barely reach the piano. After years of honing his craft and bringing fans funky downtempo electronic cuts, El-Trip has just released his brand new EP, titled ‘Going To The Moon’ via NexGen Music, on 6th December. Available exclusively via NexGen Music’s website, the EP is a mystical journey of jazzy melodies, crisp drum-beats and deep bass cuts and features collaborations with talented artists such as Roxana Haloiu.
Listen to ‘Yellow Beauty (feat. Roxanna Haloiu),’ taken from El-Trip‘s brand new EP, below.
We caught up with Neil of El-Trip and chatted about collaborations, seeing the world differently and not sticking to one genre.
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
A desire to express, through a non-physical dimension, aspects that move me.
I think I’ve always seen the world a bit differently to people around me which, for the arts, can be an advantage. At a very young age I loved surrealist and abstract paintings and was drawn into the mysterious unknown world they created. In art class and music at school I stood out and when I left school was accepted into art college. I studied technical illustration and graphic design. I had started to play around with the home piano as soon as I could reach the keys and would compose simple arrangements and play to people. Plenty of encouragement has kept me on the path up until today, although I’ve never had any formal training and my family are not musical. I’ve always enjoyed teaching myself and have always felt a desire to do things differently rather than be a clone of the person teaching me.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
Probably the sound in most cases, if I’m doing a remix then perhaps I would have some idea. The ideas are generally task-related, I would, by playing with arrangements, form an idea of how to construct one. If I’m looking for a sound then I would start with one very simple idea and see if I can do something new with it. My intention is to try and bring essences of the music I like into whatever I’m doing and fuse it with modern styles, I don’t stick much to a specific genre. I like to experiment mixing unusual things together to see the effect, I don’t want to know what to expect, I would rather have the danger. I like to challenge the listener to expand their own tastes and bring a multi-dimensional experience.
Does your material feature any collaborations?
Yes, the artist known as Aluna George is featured throughout the ‘Research and Development’ album, and collaborated with music partner Tony Lobue. My first EP was collaborated with Rob Playford of Moving Shadow and ex-music partner Simon Carter aka Crystal Distortion. As well as working with local musicians over the years, jamming etc. My latest collaborations are from my new 6 track EP by El-Trip called ‘Going To The Moon’, featuring ‘Yellow Beauty’ with vocals from Roxana Haloiu and ‘Going To The Moon’ featuring vocals from Kerry Cassidy.
What’s on your current playlist?
In the car we generally listen to rock classics; Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Disraeli Gears, Crosby Stills and Nash, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley. Miles Davis, various Acid Jazz and 70’s theme music.
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
I don’t at the moment play out my electronic music, usually when I’ve performed on stage I’ve been on the drums jamming with a band. And that has always drawn quite a bit of attention from the audience, recently I had a man shake my hand profusely after doing a show at an outdoor festival. Mostly I’ve observed the reaction to my music hearing it played in a club. In the early days with my first releases like ‘No Idea’ and ‘The Ice-cream Van From Hell’ the reactions where wild.
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
I like to experiment with things that I don’t know about. I tend to set things up so that an automatic evolution of events happen within a structure. This is to give it a certain amount of depth that would be tedious to program and far less fresh. I set up conditions to some extent so that I can throw random things in quickly and see what happens. This way, I can soon be presented with things of interest that I hadn’t pre-conceived. I like to be able to perform the arrangement parts I’m working on to get an idea of arrangement quite early on.
Take us through a day in the recording studio.
These days I’m traveling a lot so I tend to work with just my laptop, pretty much anywhere. I like to compose in the car, and listen on other systems which helps keep things fresh. I do have a few places that have been my studio spaces for many years. I do feel an energy there because for years I’ve conceived so many pieces of work in those spaces. With the band I’m in, Spooky Distance, we all feel the garage we’ve been using to record in for many years has a magical vibe about it, something in the acoustics perhaps, all we know is cool things happen when we jam there.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
As soon as I reached the piano keys as a kid I felt hooked and started developing arrangements. I don’t think there was a moment I figured I’d do anything, I was just already doing it. As a kid I remember loving a lot of the TV and film music way before liking anything else. I’m sure the theme from ‘Dirty Harry’ got me liking bare drums with plenty of groove and a quite specific dirty sound in production. As early as I can remember, I was drawn to the drummer. At school one day they bought a very expensive synthesizer that seemed to have hundreds of knobs and buttons and when they turned it on made noises that blew my mind, at that point I totally knew I wanted one of those. The first music I got into was hip hop and electro music which made me want a drum machine and, eventually, this was my first investment in electronic music. The rave scene or acid house hadn’t yet happened in the UK and I was composing with an old Roland drum machine. We used to record bits of music to create loops with two tape decks and it was a skill to use the pause button to get a tight loop of a bar. I composed all sorts of mashups this way, this was before anyone I knew had midi. When it became an affordable option to make electronic music with a computer, a sound box and a basic sampler was about the same time acid house music arrived. I think for sure at this point I figured it may be possible to make something like this music.
What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
I’ve never thought about it, water perhaps.
Any emerging artists on your radar?
I’m checking out future bass and trap artists like Cashmere Cat, RmaN, and WATEVA
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Hearing something super fresh.
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
The drum kit, a Rhodes Keyboard, a Trumpet, a USB mic and Ableton live.
Any side projects you’re working on?
Spooky Distance is a four piece band I’m drumming in and we have two releases on NexGen. The music is live jamming with guitars, bass, keyboards and samplers, and is an acid jazz/funk psychedelic experience.
Another project is Project Camelot, which is my partner’s company that I put some of my music, video and graphic skills too. She, Kerry Cassidy, is known around the world in the area of UFO research, conspiracy and truth. Like the 60’s music was about truth and trying to reach people through music, the internet has given access to information like never before and the players in this movement are the new rock stars with a message. Recently I created a documentary starring Kerry in Egypt which features music I composed specifically for it. We also work together on music and recently created an album called ‘Rebel Gene’ which features Kerry on vocals. I recently worked on a score and appeared in an independent film called ‘Awakening Of Twelve Strands’ by Sandra Daroy.
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
By practicing a lot within every aspect, from playing an instrument to using software and composing, also by keeping a keen ear on fresh music new or old. I’m refining it all the time, there is always room for improvement, I think that’s part of what keeps me going.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
I’m looking at remixing some of my earlier work from the ‘Research and Development’ album and another release from Spooky Distance. I’ve also got a number of other tracks that are on the boil.