Etherwood has garnered a reputation for producing some of the most beautifully crafted records within the world of drum and bass, rightly cementing his place as one of the modern liquid figureheads. The Lincoln-born musician, who has an extensive background of playing in bands, has recently given the world another brilliant demonstration of his creative skills with the release of In Stillness.
Looking through the track list and listening to the album it is clear to understand just how much this record was forged on Etherwood’s sole efforts. When asked about how the album had been received Etherwood provided a warm response, emphasizing how it felt profoundly different to his previous records.
“It’s been really good to be honest,” he said. “It felt different for me this album compared to the first two. Some of it is less drum n bass and some of it was more personal to me so it is difficult to know how it was received but it seems to have gone down really well. I’ve had lots of nice feedback about it.”
Releasing an album is a huge milestone for any artist and often triggers an overwhelming sense of relief, symbolizing the gargantuan effort to assemble their ideas and produce a finished product.
Ask countless musicians what the hardest part is about the process and the overwhelming consensus is likely to be making a start. Etherwood decided to take a rather different approach when setting out to write his third album, opting to venture over 1500 miles to an isolated cabin in Finland. Making such a dramatic move away from normality was always the plan and provided a quite unique inspiration, according to Etherwood.
“It’s always been a big influence of mine,” he added. “I was completely surrounded and there wasn’t anyone else within like a mile so it was really nice. The whole album was just about how peaceful it is and how nice it is to be surrounded by trees, water and not have the busyness of human life around you.”
Fulfilling a childhood dream by going out into a totally secluded area and producing an album was completely different than what Etherwood had done before. Never before had he written all of the tracks in such a short period of time.
“The first two albums were written over a longer period of time and all over the place in clubs, collaborating with more people and tracks were coming together in different locations,” he commented, “this album was mainly just me sitting down in this cabin and writing the whole thing in about two weeks and then coming back and getting them all finalised.”
One of the artists Etherwood worked with on this album, FEELS, is a name which a lot of dnb fans won’t be familiar with. Enlisting the vocal talents of this singer proved to be quite an appropriate collaboration given she originates from Finland.
Teaming up with musicians that are not on everybody’s radar when creating an album is important for Etherwood, who believes it helps to promote originality.
“It’s nice when you see an album and it features artists you’re not aware of,” he continued, “when you’ve got all those big names popping up on various different albums it seems to water it down a lot I think and a lot of the vocals will be similar to what have gone before.”
Nearly five years since his debut eponymous album, Etherwood confessed there hasn’t been much that has changed. With the overwhelming amount of artists trying to draw attention to their music it can be tempting for them to try and conform, in order to earn that big break.
Ever more increasingly musicians are writing records that are radio-friendly, trying to create songs which will attract large followings.
“I think the core sound is still there,” he said. “It is quite easy to stray a little bit and make tunes that are maybe more designed for the dance floor or maybe trying to reach a more commercial audience.
“Those things are always in the back of your head a little bit. I feel like I’ve just tried to hone in on the vibe of the tune as much as possible without worrying too much about production techniques.”
Alongside a third studio album Etherwood also decided to create a live show to accompany the new record. When you are so used to DJing and the way music sounds in that particular format it can often feel a daunting idea to start from scratch, looking to create a more organic performance. Fortunately for Etherwood he had acquired a great deal of experience in the live arena, most notably playing in Jakwob’s band.
Etherwood admitted he was still quite anxious ahead of the live debut performance at Hospitality in the Dock last month.
“It was a complete mixture of nerves and excitement,” he continued. “It was our first major show and didn’t know how it was going to go. Congo Natty played before us and then we came on at the end so it was a bit of a whirlwind but it was amazing.”
Staging live performances has become something of a hot trend amongst DnB artists in recent years with the likes Fred V & Grafix, High Contrast and Sub Focus all creating their own shows. Stepping into this area of performing has been something of a lifelong dream for Etherwood, who described with insatiable enthusiasm just how much he had been looking forward to this moment.
“Right before I even started producing I just wanted to be where I am now with the live show,” he added, “instead of trying to recreate your own tunes exactly and having loads of stuff coming through a backing track and loads of stuff triggered I just wanted to do it completely live.”
“It’s been quite a challenge to begin with. We’re trying to do a new take on the album track instead of getting them exactly as they sound.”
Looking ahead to shows in the pipeline Etherwood was quick to emphasize his excitement for the Hospitality BBQ at Bristol’s Motion nightclub on Saturday 9 June. It might be an unfamiliar type of event for most clubbers but there is something about grilled meat, the warm sun and dnb music which works.
Set to return for a fourth instalment this summer, Etherwood explained why the event had always provided a brilliant experience.
“That’s always a good show,” he said. “It’s another one I’ve played a few times in the past. Bristol crowds really like their drum n bass so that’s really cool.”
The following month will see Etherwood play the inaugural edition of Hospitality on the Beach, set on the idyllic shores of Tisno’s Garden Resort in Croatia.
With Hospitality in the Park proving to be a roaring success over the last couple of years it did seem inevitable the London-based label would decide to venture abroad for their next major event.
The thing which Etherwood is most looking forward to about Hospitality on the Beach is the chance to hang out with friends and fellow artists from across the entire dnb spectrum.
“It’s good to get together with all those guys and meet up with people from all corners of the drum n bass world,” he continued, “That’s what’s so cool about Hospitality in the Park. You’ve got loads of Critical Music guys like Goldie, who is playing this year. Outlook are doing a stage and Let it Roll so you get all these different acts coming together.”
In true Ticket Arena fashion it was only right to finish by quizzing Etherwood on the record which he knows is guaranteed to send everyone into a state of pandemonium during his DJ sets at this moment.
Whilst he found it difficult to pick out just one record he did mention an interesting combination of artists.
“This guy Unglued who has just signed to Hospital has done a bootleg of “If We Ever”, which is one of High Contrast’s classic tunes,” he added, “Then there is everything which Dimension is putting out at the minute. He is absolutely killing it.”
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