Mystery is the new marketing, and British producer Aaron Jerome has found the perfect balance between buzzworthy tunes and savvy presentation with his enigmatic persona SBTRKT.
His signature blend of dubstep, hip-hop, soul, and electronic music has caught the attention of contemporaries like Drake and Little Dragon, who were both featured on the "Wildfire" remix, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anything but praise for the London native's self-titled debut.
Although he keeps his face concealed behind those Hidden Place masks, he was completely open with us about his sound, influences, and why he's decided to remain anonymous in the first place. Continue to find out Who Is SBTRKT from the man himself.
As told to Ernest Baker (@newbornrodeo).
His Studio Set-Up
Being Known For Remixes
Modeselektor "Art & Cash (SBTRKT Remix)"
SBTRKT: "It's purely experimentation because it's doing collaborations in a weird way. You're given someone else’s vocals or parts and you're amped to recontextualize them in a new direction.
"It's quite exciting to do remixes. It's profile-building in the sense that working on material and putting out records establishes my sound and identity without necessarily having to put out my own records week in and week out.
"The album is something I’ve always wanted to finish up. It’s been work for a year, a year and a half. All the time I spent writing stuff and working on the records, I wanted to get to that stage where I put out bodies of work so people can understand me as an artist and I can continue from that point. Remixes aren’t quite as important in the mix as they were before."
Coming Up In The London Scene
Working With Drake
Working With Little Dragon
Other Vocalists On The Album
SBTRKT f/ Jessie Ware "Right Thing To Do"
SBTRKT: "I've always been naturally drawn to working with vocalists because writing songs and arranging full tracks is much more exciting and challenging than doing instrumental songs. You can write instrumental tracks in three minutesl, knock them out, put them on the 'net, and have DJs play them. But for me, the challenge is finishing off and writing fully-rounded songs, lyrically and melodically. The only way I can do that is by collaborating with other people.
"The vocalists on the record are all people in London that I've got a close connection to. Sampha [from 'Hold On'], I found through a guy at the label who already knew him from some of his producing work. He was producing tracks of his own and I was listening to some of his stuff at my house and then he played me one of the tracks he had done vocal ideas on and I was blown away by his tone and ideas, and the way he sings. It was unique, the way he was projecting his voice and his vocal style so I was keen on doing something with him.
"From there we just went on to doing a lot of collaborations, working in my living room all over a year and a half, writing more songs, having him come along and flourish vocal ideas. There were times that we just started from scratch playing around on synthesizers, having jam sessions, and making up things on the fly. We'd spend half an hour playing something and then listen to the whole lot and realize in the middle there was something that we could start with. I’d pick out something and work with that as the idea for a new song.
"Jessie Ware [from 'Right Thing To Do'] was another connection through the label people because she was working with another band they had and I was doing some other work looking for a female singer and I felt she could fit in my project because she has a very versatile style and voice, so it was very easy to work with her.
"Roses Gabor [from 'Pharaohs'] is someone I found through just listening to this DJ called Mistajam on Radio 1. I heard some grimy tracks they were playing by this group J2K and I was really intrigued by her voice. After that, I found out that she was part of Gorillaz with Damon Albarn, but she was also touring with Yukimi at the time from Little Dragon because Gorillaz has a weird linkage to everyone."