Scientific Recordings, home to the snow-fresh sounds of 170bpm’s most beautiful and organic of audio engineers, has been squatting over the nest; its rear-end warming a little batch of eggs – Robin eggs to be exact – due to hatch and chirp their way into your lug-holes this very Friday. The mysterious, French, avian-drum-and-bass-dinosaur, known as Naibu, has just hatched a new brood. We thought we’d find out what these electronic chicklings are all about.
Welcome to the Case Study.
Hey Robin, it’s been a while since we first spoke back in 0’13! What does a wily Frenchman like yourself do to pass the time between ground-breaking interviews with us prestigious lot, here at Bite the Belt?
Just working on music non-stop in order to get the chance to break even more ground with you lads. No time to mess around!
That’s what we like to hear! No slacking! Speaking of which; there’s a new Naibu album on the horizon, right?
Exactly, it’s been almost 2 years in the making and it’s coming out on the 16th of October, on Scientific Records.
So, quite literally, this album has been the space between our last encounters and now. 12 months is some heavyweight grafting! Has it been around the clock or did you manage to squeeze in some downtime?
There’s definitely been some downtimes, I tend to start something then leave it to mature until I either get a new idea to take the track further, or finally get the energy to finalize ideas I had in the beginning and / or record the live parts. There’s a track on the album called “Clouds” featuring Key which I think took the longest to make, almost 2 years, I was going back to it every once in a while, little by little. The main ideas for the track came together rather quickly, but working out the right arrangement was really difficult, it’s quite a complex track but I really wanted it to sound easy, I’ve worked on it so much to the point of almost being sick of it!
Well hopefully I can hold your hair back and wipe your face with consolation: Clouds is by far a stand-out track, the highest peak on the grand mountainous range that is the staple Naibu core: organic & natural vibes. On the “sounds easy” score, Clouds passes with effortless flying colours which is interesting, more-so, as the piece is a half time track – a music now well explored but more-often-than-not associated with the heavier and nastier musical end of lower frequencies; dark rooms, skanking and screw-faces. Polar opposites of the Clouds design. These 80/85bpm tracks seem to be the very soul and echo throughout the album. This is certainly a change of pace for yourself – what brought about the half time nature of the LP?
The half time feel wasn’t intentional, I didn’t think about it when I made the album, it stems from the fact that I just wanted to make music at 170 bpm and see where I could take it, some of the songs actually dictated this kind of mood. If there’s a formula it is the bpm, it’s the backbone of the album, and the only rule I decided to follow. There’s one exception to this rule though and it’s the collab with Makoto, which is a lot slower.
I think the real change for me is in the nature of the music, it’s an electronic album in the broad sense of the word, it is drum n bass influenced but it’s not strictly that. It was essential for me to get out of the usual format, and try to express something personal and meaningful but still pay some homage to my dnb roots while avoiding all sorts of clichés. I tried to take dnb somewhere unusual, and use it for a totally different purpose. It’s probably not gonna be an easy record for everyone, I’m actually very curious to see who’s going to get it and who’s going to hate it.
I reckon there’ll be a 50/50 split – some, like me, immersed in the sultry and softer direction where as others, I think, will be left thirsting for the Naibu liquid-funk rollers that they’re used to.
Without stamping a label on it, it’s almost like an easy-listening, lounge-friendly album (I know my mum would love it). Is there anything to be said for the second title in the release, Fighting For Attention? It’s an incredibly beautiful and enigmatic piece, laced with tribal percussion and one that gracefully highlights the realisation of the LP’s stand-alone difference from your previous works. From the outside looking in, the title appears intentionally linked to the nature of the album’s diversion from the 170 norm…
Yes indeed it’s very much an album for the home or for your earbuds / headphones, and probably one you would rather listen to on your own.
“Fighting For Attention” yes, I think it’s always been difficult for artists to get noticed, and ironically, despite the incredible access we have to everything now, even more so today. There’s definitely a little bit of that frustration fueling / running through this track, and probably the entire album as well.
And are you pleased with what you’ve accomplished here? I know the creative journey is a complicated beast but do you think this LP will open further avenues of 170 exploration, perhaps beyond? Or is it just a temporary breath of fresh air?
I am happy with the way the album turned out, the whole idea had been on my mind for a little while and I didn’t really know how to realize it, it was a daunting enterprise from the very beginning so I’m glad I could see it through. Still there are moments when I’m struck by uncertainty and the thought that it might not have been such a great idea after all, but that always happens with everything I do. There’s always room for infinite improvement.
As far as opening further avenues that’s difficult to say, having done this album has definitely opened new doors for myself on my own creative journey, and I can now move on to the next thing but I’m not on a mission to preach at anyone else, if that’s what you were getting at. I do hope the music will speak to some people and hopefully it will inspire some to follow their instincts, which is what this is all about, more than exploring the possibilities of a given genre, it’s about following your instincts, expressing something personal, and taking risks.
I have the same thoughts after adding various cupboard spices to a microwave lasagne. Though I can assure you that your finished product, to me at least, is absolutely delicious, refreshing and an elevating experience – as opposed to confused, overcomplicated and difficult to swallow. Are there any stories within the confines of this musical exploration of one’s self? I’m wondering what experiences might have inspired the musical dialogue, if any, and what imagery the completed album conjures within yourself?
For me, I keep drifting into thoughts of hazy rainforest; isolated from the machination and mechanisation of faraway societies, the deep dark of the lost and ancient hallow, the grey hue of uncertainty luring me deeper into the rhythmical realm of Naibu.
Thanks man, it’s a relief to hear it was not hard to swallow [goes down like a Kraken on the lime rocks, if you ask me: the spice in the dark intoxicating and the sweet ease of the drink always leaving you thirsty for more]. One of the most important things for me is to make music that sounds simple enough on the surface so that you can easily get into it, but also complex enough underneath to allow the listener to discover new layers, get new angles after a few listens [100% like a Kraken, then – desires achieved]. That’s what gives music a longer shelf-life, there has to be more to it than first meets the ear. Often times I’m actually worried to overdo things, and I’m still learning to strip things down to the bare essentials, it takes a lot of discipline and it’s all about balance and perspective. It’s a constant search, a quest.
There’s a lot of stories behind everything on the album, some deeper than others, but what you’re saying is infinitely more interesting. You should take music and make it your own, turn it into a personal experience and that’s what you did. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that’s part of what I love about music and art in general. Everything’s there, it’s all about how you are going to relate to it.
Well, y’know what they say; “A spoonful of Naibu keeps the doctor away!” Which makes sense when you’re clearly working hard in the beat-kitchen, on the quest-like search for perfect elemental harmony in your musical medicine. And may your organic-sounding rhythms ever sooth our sickly souls, our minds hallucinogenic with the imagery and philosophy it does conjure, whatever it may be.
Before we go, could you tell us your favourite track on the album and why?
Thanks for the nice words Josh, it’s true that making music actually really resembles cooking, you won’t be able to cook a great meal without great ingredients [or a Kraken].
As for picking a favourite I’ll say “Five Pieces” with Makoto, for the great time working with him at his Human Elements studio in Tokyo and for managing to make something that’s a bit different for the two of us. It’s got that Makoto magic nonetheless and it’s the track that was made the quickest on the album, it only took 2 sessions to complete and I love those quick ones, every other track I’ve worked on so much that I just can’t appreciate in the same way anymore. Knowing all the details and each little bit of sound in every track is really a killer, I actually haven’t listened to the album again since I’ve had to check the vinyl test press a few months ago.
Five Pieces is actually my own personal favourite on the album as I’m a man always starry-eyed over ambient/soundscape-style pieces. It was a treasure to find amidst the rhythm-driven throws and a beautiful centre-piece. A few percussion-devoid minutes to pause for reflection, and what an enigmatic few moments they actually are.
Ah! All too familiar is the story of the artist that pays little attention to their own work – for infinite reasons. But if you haven’t been listening to Case Study, what have you been listening to?
After finishing the album I went back to The Beatles and started to explore each member’s solo work, I like McCartney’s “Cherries” album and Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band album a lot, you can hear what they individually brought to the Beatles and I just love the rawness of both these albums, especially Lennon’s, that’s something I’m looking for a lot more in music these days, uncompromising, raw performances and sound.
Some of the more recent stuff I’ve liked in the past few months off the top of my head are FKA Twigs, Tony Allen’s Film Of Life LP, Beck’s Morning Phase LP, I also went back to a bit of Cornelius as well, who’s a great inspiration. Om Unit’s LP on Headz was a good listen, and I recommend my friend Ena’s Binaural LP for some inspiring rhythm work, it’s not the most accessible of music but it will leave you with some interesting new perspective at least. I’m definitely forgetting a few things here but that’s a good start.
Grab up your copy of the Case Study LP today – here