Although a quick spin of Oriol's debut LP, Night and Day, will likely seduce you into its world of subdued, jazzy, post-breakbeat electro-funk, the London-based producer, known formally as Oriol Singhji, just wants to make a banger for the dancefloor. "I wish I could make a big club tune, but that's not where my head is at most of time," he explains. "I spend more time at home or in the car than in the club, so I guess that affects the way I listen and make music."
Truthfully, a lot more than just his current environment affects the way he made the gorgeous retro-futuristic sounds that comprise Night and Day. Born in Barcelona, Oriol moved to London with his parents when he was just a few months old. He grew up in the '90s with drum & bass and the now-classic sounds of Warp and Mo'Wax, cornerstones for his eventual interest in electronic music. "There was a musical culture [in London], and kids knew about it and appreciated it," he says. "I might not have heard it or gotten that education elsewhere." He later moved to Boston, where he played saxophone at Berklee College of Music for four years. While there, Singhji bought a computer and some gear and started making beats. "Studying music helped me in a lot of ways," he says, "but school is about technique and theory. I think the best thing anyone can do is work on their own thing and try to be creative with it." Oriol learned to filter his musical interests through an academic background, and it shows in the advanced-sounding melodies and structures that make Night and Day so unique.
"Night and Day"
Night and Day, which arrived earlier this year on Planet Mu, is a multi-era journey into '70s soul, '80s electro-funk, and '90s Detroit techno and breakbeat hardcore. Driving-yet-understated beats provide the backbone for lush, reverbed synths accompanied by a healthy dose of soul. Its finished product conjures futuristic hovercraft joy rides along breathtaking cityscapes, like the audio equivalent of Super Nintendo's F-Zero. "You're not gonna forget the sound of all the music you heard as a kid," he says. So if you hear flourishes of Theo Parrish, Domu, Neptunes, or John Coltrane, it's not by accident. "I've probably listened to them more than anyone," he says, "along with Earth, Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, [and] Leon Ware."
As the resurgence of electro-funk broadens in scope and popularity, Oriol rises above the rest with laid-back, though highly advanced arrangements. While a club banger may be just out of reach, Oriol's tasteful restraint, and penchant for translating emotion through his music, is perhaps his greatest strength. "I think most of the tracks on the album revolve around a melody," he ponders. "They would sound incomplete without it. I guess that's because the melody is the most emotional aspect for me. [Because] I can't sing and didn't have any vocalists on the record, I tried to make the melodies sing and say something visceral."
Night and Day is out now on Planet Mu