Friday, January 28

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TF Spotlight: Kublai & Minor Forms

Late 2020 saw the birth of two fine Drum & Bass talents emerge into the scene. Just 12 months in, Kublai and Minor Forms have placed themselves in the top bracket of forward-thinking producers in DnB.

Kublai made his debut with a gorgeous two-tracker on Goldfat Records while Minor Forms who is a part of the British Drum & Bass trio Arcatype, made a move away from the act to focus on solo productions and got off the mark around the same time as Kublai’s release with the Biophonic EP on Vandal Records.

Minor Forms’ second release on Vandal Records is how he and Kublai came together. Part of the former’s two-track release on the label, he teamed up with Kublai for ‘Glides’ which fused their production styles seamlessly. The tune then became the start of a solid partnership which culminated into a thumping release on legendary Drum & Bass imprint, CIA Records called the ‘Future Motion’ EP.

We thought it would be a great idea to have the producers down for a chat and know more about how they came together, their production styles, their plans for 2022 and lots more!

Having released your first piece of music nearly around the same time last year as individual producers to the ‘Future Motion’ EP, your journey has almost run in parallels. How would you guys like to describe the last 12 months you have had as solo artists and while working together?

Minor Forms: The last 12 month’s have been pretty transformative from an artist perspective. When I started the Minor Forms project in early 2020 I didn’t think it would progress in the way that it has. It’s been an amazing year with releases, on labels that I really look up to and am proud to be part of. When Jamal and I started to write material together last year something clicked almost instantaneously, and pretty much every tune we have written together has come out. When we are making tunes it’s a very natural back and forth and we definitely play to each others strengths which is really cool.

Kublai: The past 12 months have been a bit of a whirlwind for me. I’ve been writing tunes for years and only in the past 18 months or so I started to feel confident enough to start sending tunes out to labels. Since my first release with Goldfat back in November 2020, I’ve been lucky enough to have had a consistent string of releases on some great labels that I’m really happy with, with some really great feedback from artists I’ve looked up to and listened to for years. It was also a nice coincidence that we both started our solo aliases around the same time, which led to us get back in touch after a few years.

How did the idea of coming together to write music come about?

Minor Forms: Jamal and I have known each other for quite a few years, but when I moved from Manchester back to London we lost touch a bit, mostly due to life being so busy. When he was starting to release tunes as Kublai we began chatting again and then just decided to start collabing. We didn’t really have any intention on releasing lots of music together, and there was no pressure on our output as a collaboration. This has been key with the tunes we have made together so far. We just have fun and go with whatever vibe we are feeling.

Kublai: Justin hit me up just after I signed my debut to Goldfat and suggested we write some music, which led to our tune “Glides” on Vandal. That tune turned out really well and we’d started work on another bit which became “Motif”. It was around that time that he put me in touch with Smithy from Total Science, leading me to work with C.I.A, which I am forever grateful for. After we’d both put out solo EPs on the label, Smithy suggested we write a collab EP.  It made loads of sense and was the natural progression to be honest.

So many styles and influences have featured on the ‘Future Motion’ EP; it’s absolutely brilliant. How was the experience like while writing the EP?

Minor Forms: Thanks so much! Yeah the EP certainly touches on a lot of influences in and out of DnB. This definitely comes down to having fun, experimenting with different sounds and pushing ourselves out of our own comfort zones. I don’t tend to write lots of liquid DnB by myself and Jamal tends not to write a huge amount of darker stuff, so it was great to push each other in these realms.

After writing ‘Motif’, Smithy (Total Science) asked us if we would be up for writing a collab EP. I think originally the idea was for a couple of collab tracks and then a couple of solo ones, but we decided to do a full 4 track collab EP. Listening to it now I am really happy with the sound and aesthetic, and how there are common themes running through all the tracks.

Kublai: The experience was super fun for me. We live in different cities, so the EP was done mostly just bouncing ideas back and forth online. I’d sent a couple of ideas to Justin, he sent a couple to me that we fleshed out, bouncing the tunes back and forth until we had all 4 tracks. The process of working together was really quite easy, as we seem to be on the same page musically about a lot of things thankfully.

Minor Forms, What was the defining moment in your decision to make music away from your Arcatype trio?

Minor Forms: There was no single defining moment, more a growing urge to go out and try things on my own. I always struggled writing tunes and finishing them as a solo artist, and this had been in the back of my mind for a good while. Finding the confidence to start writing music and sending it to labels by myself has been really amazing. 2 years ago I struggled to finish an idea, and now I find myself writing lots of music in many different styles and just having a lot of fun in the process.

As much as I love writing solo, I also love collaboration. As well as the music I make with Jamal, I also have another project, which recently launched called Re:Form. This is a project shared with a good friend of mine. We are focusing on more stripped back, deep, club ready tracks. In terms of Arcatype, after a long hiatus during the pandemic, we are starting to write again together and hope to start releasing music again in 2022, something I am really excited for.

Kublai, Your music brings the world to Drum & Bass but the most fascinating part is the use of organic or eastern elements in your music. Can you tell us a little more about it?

Kublai: I listen to a lot of film scores, soundtracks, ambient music, which I think has heavily influenced my production. Especially the musical vibes. I also sample like crazy, so I’ve always used those sorts of elements when putting together my own music. I’m not entirely sure why I’ve gravitated towards eastern instruments in some of my tunes. For some reason they evoke a certain feeling for me. There’s something mystical and other-worldly that I respond to in that area of music, which I really love. I’m mixed-race, my dad is Pakistani, so maybe that has something do with it, but I’m not entirely sure!

Can we expect Kublai to travel into the darker realms of Drum & Bass and Minor Forms to make some Liquid DnB in the future?

Minor Forms: I have heard Jamal writing darker styles of DnB, and he does it so well, so I really hope to hear more in future. In terms of my music going forward I probably won’t write any liquid on solo productions. There might be the odd one here and there when collaborating, but it’s not where my sound is going. I love liquid DnB and appreciate the hard work that goes into sampling and song structure, but it’s not where I gravitate towards when writing music alone.

Kublai: Yeah I’d love to write some more heavy and darker sounding vibes going forward! I love to listen and play all different styles within the genre which I’m keen to explore in my own tunes. I really rate artists like Zero T or FD, who seem to be able to write all different styles at the highest quality. I don’t want to be known for writing just one type of style. It also gets a bit boring writing the same kind of vibe over and over. Need to keep things fresh in the studio.

When can we expect Kublai and Minor Forms to release music together again?

Minor Forms: We are currently writing new music, as a follow on from the ‘Future Motion EP’, so people can expect similar vibes. Saying that we also hope to switch things up a bit and keep the music interesting and dynamic. Release wise, we have nothing scheduled in yet, but we are hoping to have another EP out in 2022.

Kublai: We actually spent a really productive weekend together in Justin’s studio a few weeks ago cooking up some new beats, so we’re definitely aiming to get more music out there some time in 2022.

5 tunes you both are digging at moment?

Minor Forms:

Marcus Intalex & Spirit – Crackdown
Mark System – The Earth
Fierce & Vicious Circle – Euphoric
Molecular & DLR – Totally Different
Instra:mental & dBridge – What We Got

Kublai:

Breakage – Untitled Dubplate
DLR  – County Lines
Calibre – Nearly Nothing
Athena – Don’t Let
Note – Affirmative Action

You may also like: Kublai & Minor Forms: Future Motion EP

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Written By

Drum & Bass head with a tinge of hip shake for Disco. A DJ when I am not glued to my screen!

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