Ink Project is a live electronic/soul collective run by multi-instrumentalist/producer Jez Lloyd. After starting the group in his hometown of London and enlisting the vocal talents of Melanie Dymond, he released Ink Project’s debut album ‘Inside The Sun’ via the Blind Colour imprint in December 2011, along with remixes from the likes of Gang Colours (Brownswood) and Memotone (Black Acre). The album attracted a lot of attention and featured heavily across the blogosphere as well as gaining airtime from BBC Radio, NME Radio, Red Bull Music Academy and The British Council’s Selector Show.
Since 2012, Ink Project has gigged and toured across Europe at various venues in Austria and Slovakia, the Sonar Festival and Groove Control party in Barcelona/Spain, the Jazz Re:found Festival in Milan/Italy, Cargo and the Notting Hill Arts Club in London/UK amongst others. This Winter sees the band back on the road with Dreadzone for a 4 date tour across the UK culminating in a DJ set at Manchester’s world famous Warehouse Project in December
Ste Knight caught up with Jez as the band prepare for their first date on November 26th in the rural idyll of Tunbridge Wells.
Hi Jez. Thanks for taking the time out to have a chat with us, and also record us a brilliant mix. So, first things first. Ink Project – tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the name?
Well, our first tune wasn’t written above an unlicensed tattoo parlour, in case you were wondering :) Ink Project was originally a temporary name while I was learning some new studio equipment and experimenting with different genres of music – trying to hone in on a certain fusion of styles to eventually develop into a band project. It took several years of unfinished demos and I would save the date, style and BPM of each on my hard drive, creating a kind of personal audio diary of ideas to build on. I then started developing these ideas into full songs with Mel Dymond and the name just stuck.
Can you give us a bit of an insight into how it all started for Ink Project?
Well, after getting sick of mainly playing in guitar-based bands, I discovered electronic music, built a mini home studio and started learning how to create house, techno, drum and bass and downtempo music. But for me, having come from a performance-based background of rock and jazz, being a faceless dance producer didn’t hold enough appeal.
I’ve always loved collaborating and performing, so after meeting and constantly bumping into Mel at The End nightclub and other underground parties around London where we were regulars, then discovering her amazing voice and lyrical skills, we decided to work on some song-based electronica type stuff together with a view to playing live. Since 2009, it’s just built and built and we’ve bought in all kinds of other collaborators, played around the UK and Europe, released two albums, four EP’s and have been remixed by some pretty big names – whilst still remaining relatively under the radar.
You’ve got quite a melting pot of styles in your sound. Where do you draw your influences from and do you have any particular artists that have inspired you to start recording?
We are massively into all kinds of artists and genres, like to keep an open mind and wholeheartedly celebrate diversity and fusion in music. Production-wise so far, most of our songs tend to blend the rhythmic elements of house to dubstep, the bass of dub and jungle, and the keys, textures and soundscapes of ambient, soul and psychedelia. I’ve been heavily influenced by everything from Pink Floyd, Dead Can Dance and John Peel to Massive Attack, Aphex Twin, and the West London Broken Beat scene so I wanted to try and bring all of those influences into a live electronic act, providing an ever-evolving production backdrop for a variety of unique and interesting singers to express themselves over. Or something like that ☺ I consider myself very fortunate to have worked with everyone involved with Ink Project since 2011 and it’s been a real journey so far.
Lyrically and song-wise, Mel loves everything from 80’s disco through to The Smiths, Nina Simone, and Outkast, as well as old school electro like The Black Dog. Coreysan brings more of a Caribbean influence and loves electronica, Eastern/Old world music and classic artists like David Bowie, Bjork and The Cure. He not only a fantastic singer, but he’s also an accomplished producer, virtuoso bass and theremin player – so it’s been great fun and incredibly inspiring playing live and learning from him during recent gigs and rehearsals.
I guess the common thread running between all of us is a desire to create mysterious, leftfield pop, dub, and ambient/downtempo music, which are the main styles of music heard on ‘Satellite On‘. Collectively, we all have other side projects on the go which helps even more in contributing to the melting pot.
There’s a definite drum and bass/jungle vibe going on in your tracks. Are your upcoming tour support slots with Dreadzone a dream come true for you guys?
It’s interesting that you’ve picked up on that. I’ve always liked a lot of early jungle and jazzy drum and bass; mainly the bass programming, although I’ve been influenced more so by other genres when it comes to rhythmic production. I was a regular at legendary clubs and parties around London such as The Blue Note, Co-Op, Wiggle, Subterrain at The End, Lost, Whoop Whoop and Kerfuffle.
Looking back, all of those sound systems generally played music to massively diverse crowds in a time when London was thriving culturally with driving, heavy sub-bass and funk elements, so it was only natural that I’d eventually incorporate those experiences and styles into Ink Project at some stage. I’ve always been a big fan of Dreadzone and respect their all inclusive, open, multi-cultural approach to music and unique fusions of dub/reggae with dance music. So yeah, they’ve been a big influence on Ink Project and it’s an honour to support them to end a great 2016 for us.
Your latest album ‘Satellite On’ dropped recently. What was the recording process like when you were putting the album together?
Well when we started writing and getting ideas together for what we thought could potentially become either a series of EP’s or a second album, I decided to leave London and move down to Brighton to be by the seaside and start afresh – so that really helped inject some new life into it all as it’s a very creative and liberal city where pretty much anything goes. Mel lives in Barcelona these days and Corey’s in Bristol, which obviously has it’s restrictions as we can’t meet up in person as much as we’d like to, so a lot of the idea sharing process and song development was done via the internet which seemed to work really well.
We did have a few informal jam sessions in Barcelona, Trowbridge near Bristol and I also spent a few weeks writing at a seaside cottage in Dorset although, for the most part, I’d mainly work on beats, bass lines and textures at my home studio in Brighton, then email them over to the others to write some vocals and lyrics to before structuring them into finished songs. FiFi Rong who has collaborated with the likes of Tricky, Skepta and Yello, also guested on the track ‘You Don’t Care’ and having performed live and written with her before, it was great to get her involved in the record as well.
At the final mix stage, we brought in Nate Connelly who is an amazing producer on our Blind Colour label roster before it was then mastered by Matt Colton of Alchemy in London. The album artwork was done by the very talented Steve Pulham who’s a friend of Mel’s in Barcelona – so hopefully the whole album has a sense of cohesion running throughout, whilst still retaining a kind of ‘scrapbook soul’ mentality that I wanted to retain from the early days.
Recording an album is obviously a bit different to recording a mix or DJing. Tell us about what your intentions were with the mix you recorded for us. How do you feel the creative process differs between the two?
The two processes are usually world’s apart with album recording taking endless months of learning your gear and software, jamming ideas, developing ideas, scrapping ideas, more experimentation, editing, more editing and so on. I’ve produced well over two hundred tracks with many different people but only released a handful with Ink Project so knowing your audience to inform song selection, refinement and completion is key.
Selection is obviously also important when it comes to DJying but you don’t think about it in the same context as creating an album. It’s a different kind of narrative exploration. The venue, sound system, being in the moment and reading the vibe and energy of the crowd becomes more important. The best DJ sets and mixes are usually the least planned, whereas my favourite albums are usually heavily pre-planned.
Top three albums…GO!
Well, in no particular order, the top three albums that influenced this second Ink Project album production-wise were probably, Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon, Dead Can Dance – Into The Labyrinth and Salmonella Dub – Inside The Dubplates.
And just to finish, what does the future hold for Ink Project? Anything exciting in the pipeline?
Who knows but it’s been a very busy and satisfying 2016 so far! ‘Satellite On’ came out in April, along with a whole variety of remixes throughout the year, plus we’ve played some live shows around the UK with ibibio Sound Machine, FiFi Rong and Sorceress from New Zealand and are supporting Dreadzone in Tunbridge Wells, Oxford and Portsmouth in Nov/Dec, finishing up with a DJ set in Manchester. I also run the Blind Colour label and you can check out all of our artists and releases here.
01// Ink Project – Where To From Here?
02// Ink Project feat. FiFi Rong – Runaway Ritual (Seahawks Eye In The Sky Remix)
03// Dead Can Dance – I Can See Now (Live)
04// Radiohead – Desert Island Disk
05// The Invisible – Life’s Dancers (Floating Points Remix)
06// Kraftwerk – The Man Machine
07// Space Dimension Controller – When Your Love Feels Like It’s Fading
08// The Slow Revolt – Never Get Close
09// Hella Personal Film Festival – Admitting The Endorphin Addiction
10// Al Dobson Jr. – After Carnival
11// Jordan Rakai – Talk To Me
12// Lamb – Nobody Else
13// Boards Of Canada – Dayvan Cowboy
14// SBTRKT – Wonder Where We Land
15// Depeche Mode – Goodnight Lovers