ALTERED NATIVES INTERVIEW //
In light of ALTERED NATIVES forthcoming release Tenement Yard Vol.2, out on October 3rd, and his aptly timed appearance at LIFE this Friday, playing alongside MOSCA and GANG COLOURS at AKA AKA ROAR – check out the Event Page here – we secured a Q&A with London-based Danny Yorke, the man behind the music.
Altered Natives has a sound that is inextricably woven between genres – is it bass, house, electronica, funky, grime? Truthfully, it doesn’t matter. Danny’s music crosses genres and blurs the lines, and it’s all the better for it, focusing instead on the atmosphere and freedom of a track. This style creates a very personal sound that we can all listen to, and more importantly, relate to. Drum patterns are always strong and – honestly – pretty damn mad, working alongside samples & melodies; the history of Altered Natives productions stretches back over a decade, so it’s definitely worth checking out! A good source of tracks (some available for free download) is his Soundcloud – and a slick little mix for XLR8R can be streamed or downloaded here.
However, to face the future – Tenement Yard Vol. 2 hits our shelves next month, and we’re very excited to see where he’s gone with it. One of our bloggers and writers at Life talks with him about the new album and how it came about, the inspiration of life and how personal experience shapes the music; and there’s always the dream of being an arsehole in Eastenders…
Soo – hey Mr Native!
Tenement Yard Vol.2 is released this month… Tenement Yard Vol. 1 is definitely one of my all time favorites (and I’m not just saying that), so I’m excited to hear the follow up – there’s a suggestion that these albums should sit together as a linear experience. Is this an epic Altered Natives musical journey?
Thank you. I think with this album you’ll hear a definite progression from Volume 1. This second Volume does play from beginning to end pretty successfully, in my opinion, from a listening point of view. Its definitely more streamlined, if not a bit sexier maybe – if thats possible ha ha! I’m already cutting into Tenement Yard Vol. 3, which already shaping up nice.
As Vol. 1’s sequel, did Vol. 2 shape Vol. 1 in any way, from a futuristic point of view – did you have it in mind when making Vol. 1? Have you consciously tied them together?
When I put Tenement Yard Volume 1 together it was never my objective to create something so well received. Same goes for Volume 2 – all I’ve done personally is expand and build on my own production.
I enjoy writing, it’s something I take pleasure from. With Volume 1, the focus was personal, towards the things I love – for example, two thirds of that album were inspired by weed and sex. The remaining third was territorial pissings, warnings and fun… This Volume is darker and a bit more personal. Some of the tracks were born from my own struggles with love, identity, depression, isolation, etc etc.
Yeah, there’s a very integral, personal edge to your music. Do your track titles have a personal meaning too? Do they correlate to the music they describe? I’m curious, as after consulting the almighty Wikipedia I now know that “A tenement is, in most English-speaking areas, a substandard multi-family dwelling, usually old, occupied by the poor.” Tenement Yard. Putting those two words together gives them a whole new level of meaning…
My track titles are like a diary. I’ll share this with you, but I have an unreleased track called “Blow Job No Job”, which was amusingly inspired by a girl who demanded oral sex but never reciprocated?! Or there’s Mary Anne Hobbs’s favorite “Oh my Zipper” about a uncomfortable boner. But, then on the bastard flipside I write tracks seeded from painful experiences, like my fathers death or the isolation and separation from my kids. Most of these tracks will always never get to be heard.
There are some pretty emotionally provoking track titles on Vol. 2 – “Die 4 U”, “Wasteman of Love”, “Womb”, “Can’t Trust Myself To Love You”, “Legendary Suffering” – which seem to deal with strong human emotions… FACT Magazine says they refer to ‘failed relationships, [your] children, and how “the Middle East always seemed like a magical place – ’til now.”‘
Can you tell me about this in more depth, how your family, life and where you live has influenced your creative side?
Well this album hurt a bit, most of all because I’ve always used my production to beat out demons therapeutically. “Die 4 U” was dually about my kids, because I seriously would die and kill for them. They are my life and this is their legacy – so respect our children when you’re tempted to illegally download music.
“Wasteman of Love” was about me wasting my time and love on completely awful women. And hmmm, FACT are changing my song titles haha! It’s “Cant Trust Myself to Trust You”. This was a track born from the failure of a relationship vs. my own trust issues, and is actually one of my personal favorites off the album because I was right, I couldn’t trust myself.
Your discography is vast! What inspires you to keep on making music?
Haha my Airography you mean. I’m joking, it’s a Binaryography. What inspires me is life, I’m not an artist inspired by trending sounds or my counterparts. I’m inspired by the reality of life, it’s hideousness and it’s beauty when you can ever find it. I make music because it’s all I’m good at or capable of right now. But writing music serves as a vent as well.
How does the process of starting and building a track work for you? How do you know when the music is “ready” and that it can’t be tweaked any further?
Errrm…. I guess once you’ve been producing for long enough you know when.
Where it starts, generally I’ll have an idea related to a specific moment that I want to put in my shitlist/diary.
Were you pretty much destined to end up as a songwriter / producer / DJ or were there other things that tempted you, as far as careers are concerned?
Originally I was an artist, stemming from graffiti into club graphics, and then I got into music via HipHop/Jungle. I took a sound engineering/music technology course, and later created Altered Natives during my time spent running a youth training project, mentoring disenfranchised kids from West London with the Westminister Council and People Record, which was also how I got involved in Brokenbeat.
But I’d secretly love to act I think, I’d love to be a evil villain or an arsehole in Eastenders. I’d love to direct as well, I know I have an eye for cinema, so I’d love to direct.
That’s cool, it all sounds very interwoven. And I’ll keep my eyes peeled for an arsehole cameo from yourself at The Queen Vic…! I think music and film are very similar to be honest, both conjure up other worlds. A track is like a film set almost, a stage, a place to express yourself. What’s been the biggest thing you’ve learned about the music industry or yourself, since Altered Natives began?
Never be afraid of sticking to your guns. If you know in your heart you are making something worthwhile, never let that passion get squashed.
As for the Industry, f*** the Industry. Industry for what? Air? Just don’t be a bitch, don’t kiss arse, don’t fall into the clique trap. People will love you or hate you, but at the end of the day you’re either in this because you love writing music, or because you just enjoy the false, momentary adulation of people who are faker than Jordans tits. Let the drums speak. Be real, be a monster if you have to, but never f***ing compromise your passion to simply fit in.
100% agreed, much respect… Right, to finish then, THINK FAST! DJing or Producing?
I can’t skin up and DJ successfully, so producing.
Haha. Some of your own favourite producers/artists on the block?
Eye4Eye Ninjas hands down, Grayz, El Sudor, Misery Peat, DD Black. Basically everyone featured on The Guild of Synchronists CD. I have mad love for a lot of my fellow London producers – I rate the Deep Teknologi and Nightslugs crews, I’ve got time for these guys because they love music, it’s not a pissing or a popularity contest with them.
I’ve seen every faaaaaackin’ Danny Dyer film made.
On that note… Thank you so much Danny for taking the time on these questions – we can’t wait to see you at LIFE, and whack on Vol. 2 stupidly loud!
Words and questions: Eleanor Bell