In Conversation: Conducta & JGrrey Are Always Right On “Time”
The producer and singer-songwriter interview each other exclusively for Complex.
Late last month, the crown prince of garage, Conducta took to Instagram to start teasing the imminent arrival of his new single, “Time”, featuring singer-songwriter JGrrey. It was a slightly unexpected team-up but JGrrey’s subtle club-leanings and Conducta’s finely-tuned instinct for melody have made it a heaven-sent one. Perhaps the most surprising part of it, however, was how it came about or that it might never have happened at all. In fact, when the two first met—at one of Conducta’s Klub Kiwi events—they nearly came to a heads. Literally. Fortunately, they quickly patched things up and eventually found themselves in the studio together.
It really doesn’t feel like it, but “Time” is the first single we’ve had from Conducta in over two years. He’s still been frantically busy—dropping mixes, remixes, handling production work for others—but it’s been a long time since he last had his name above the door. Thankfully, “Time” and the year ahead will change all of that. As it turns out, this is the first single from a new full-length project from Conducta. Although details are pretty scarce so far, the producer has been working on something special for 2021.
To celebrate the release of “Time”, we got Conducta and JGrrey to connect once more to interview each other, revealing how the single came about, their tumultuous first meeting, what they miss about clubbing, and the importance of owning your own art.
“You can find peace of mind knowing that everything you put out into the world is all yours.”—JGrrey
Conducta: How do you feel about this tune? Are you as gassed as I am?
JGrrey: Bruv! I’ve been excited. I was excited even before we made it; I was excited at the prospect of making the tune.
Conducta: It’s mad, because we actually had three sessions before we did anything. You have to have something that connects you. The first time we met was at a Klub Kiwi night—I barely remember—and we had a standoff. Do you remember that!?
JGrrey: OMG! It was a proper standoff. I was being stupid, telling my friends to “HOLD ME BACK!” It was ridiculous. But yeah, for a collaboration, “that” is key—whatever that madness is.
Conducta: One hundred percent! Do you miss touring and stuff, like I do?
JGrrey: Yeah, I do. At the time when you’re on tour, you don’t really deep how much of an exciting time it can be or has the potential to be. Now everyone’s in a position where we can’t just pull up to a show and touch mic. I’m not going to get booked... I miss my band and my team. I miss getting blackout drunk with my fans—all of that, I miss all of it.
Conducta: I only really deeped it like a couple of weeks ago at the video shoot, when I was on the decks. Obviously, I have decks at home, but when you’re at home, it feels like washing the dishes. But when you’re standing on a stage looking out, with headphones on and there’s no one there, it’s bare weird.
JGrrey: It was nice to see you up there being the video vixen.
Conducta: [Laughs] Yeah, it was good dressing nice and I miss the whole energy of clubbing. Not the actual thing, but everything around it—the experience. Like when you walk in and you hear all the after-parties everyone’s going to; the bartender who knows that weird person will be there, who’ll pester them all night and be annoying. It’s the little things that make a night come together, more than actually being there.
JGrrey: It’s interesting you say that. When you go out, let’s say you’ve got a club night on, you’re not just planning for the night to begin when you get to the event: it’s the funny Uber driver who might be talking shit on the way there, too. It’s the forgetting to get fags on the way, so we’re going to be late. A lot of the time, it’s not even about the dance—you’re right—it’s all about the afters. You’re in the dance for an hour and then you’re wondering where everyone’s going next.
Conducta: I haven’t done a music video in ages, so it was weird to do that again but it was good. I think both our styles came together really nicely.
JGrrey: It was great. I mean, it was a long day of getting drunk [laughs]. Why do you think it took us so long to finally get together for a track? Because we’ve met and worked together a bit before.
Conducta: I think, with music, it’s about timing and things aligning. I think it’s naive to go into a session thinking something will be done there and then, because that rarely ever happens. It takes time to perfect.
JGrrey: Yeah, you were still working on the track on the set of the music video.
Conducta: The final bits were still being done, yeah. We made that song a year ago—maybe longer!—and it sounded totally different than how it does now, back then. And that’s me coming back to it with a different perspective. You just have to wait for the right time and not force things... I caught the first or second half of your NTS show recently, and it was banging!
JGrrey: Bro! If I do one again, you need to come through.
Conducta: Definitely! So, imagine it’s your funeral—who are you booking for the after-party of your funeral? Give me five names and they all have to be alive.
JGrrey: This is the best question I’ve ever been asked. How dare you! Okay, cool. My dad’s a DJ so he should be opening, but he might be a bit too sad. We’ll let him just enjoy the food, because it’s probably catered. So opening, probably Peach Pits, and they’ve got a song called “Tommy’s Party” which is really slow. Then, probably Giggs...
JGrrey: Giggs comes out and gets everyone gassed! Then Anderson. Paak’s ting, The Free Nationals, they come out. Anderson. Paak is with them and they do a couple of numbers. Then we’re deeping it because “Oh, she’s gone!” Next it would be SAULT... I played them for you in the first session. Finally, I’m a hologram and I’m performing on my coffin.
Conducta: You’re on holiday in Jamaica. There’s bare inspiration, there’s lots of rum, and it’s mad sunny. You’re writing your album—who do you want in the room? Again, you can only have five names.
JGrrey: Is this dead or alive, or just alive?
Conducta: I’ll be kind and give you dead or alive.
JGrrey: Prince, J Dilla, Amy Winehouse, Elliot Smith, André 3000, and Bob Marley.
Conducta: That’s six! Are you taking out André? Personally, I would take out Dilla.
JGrrey: My music samples Dilla! I can’t... Wait! I’ll bump Elliot Smith and keep Amy Winhouse, André, Bob Marley, Prince and Dilla.
Conducta: Those are some good picks.
JGrrey: Who would you have?
Conducta: I would’ve had André 3000 in there, Q-Tip, Teddy Riley, and then I would’ve had Mya and Wookie.
JGrrey: That’s solid! But what would that sound like?
Conducta: That would sound bare weird. It would sound like something...
JGrrey: It would sound like something I would want to hear!
Conducta: I wanted to ask you about your song “Doubt Nothing”, which is amazing. Being the creative you are, I’m sure you have to overcome insecurity and doubt about your output. What would your advice be on overcoming that? Or, maybe you’re a boss and don’t have any anxiety.
JGrrey: Bruv, have you heard my music? My first single is called “Ready To Die”. I get asked this question quite a lot, but I genuinely do feel all the advice I give is in my music. Even in “Doubt Nothing”, it goes: “Please don’t doubt yourself, darling / It’s gonna be alright, I’m sure,” which means it is all going to shit, you are fucked, but just carry on and fake it. If you want more of my advice, you can listen to my music for it. It’s all there.
JGrrey: It’s my turn to ask you some questions now. What made you want to start Kiwi Records, and what are your hopes for the label going forward?
Conducta: To start Kiwi was basically to have an outlet to release music because I was trapped in my record deal. I wanted to create a community because, at the time, with garage, I was getting a lot of attention and there were producers who weren’t in the limelight, so I wanted to shine a light on everyone else. It wasn’t just me doing this; there’s a whole underground of producers, and I wanted to create this community of people who could release music. It’s really nice to see the fruits of that coming out now, especially when it’s new producers sending me demos from a few years ago and they’re now progressing and getting played a lot and making moves. It makes me feel nice. It’s really cool. Giving people a foundation and creating a platform to give back and empower people, that’s the best thing to do. It’s about making Kiwi that label for people and making us a household name.
JGrrey: Credit to you because you’re actually doing that. The vision for the promo is very consistent. Breaking the music industry can be hard—what’s your one piece of advice and what’s the one mistake that people always make?
Conducta: I think people underestimate the value of just working hard. Sometimes, people make the mistake of working hard to get to a particular position and then think that the hard work ends there. But it doesn’t. I think it’s one of those things: you can work hard and it might not align immediately, but the work you put in if you’re consistent, the work you put in now might affect something in a year or two years’ time. It lays the foundation for something to align then. It’s easy because we have Instagram and it’s so fast-paced that you can get worn down and think, “Why haven’t I achieved this?” 99% of the time, it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes being consistent and having a dedication to your craft. Once you have that dedication, good things always come to light so try not to get disheartened.
JGrrey: I totally agree. So our song is called “Time”—what’s the best moment of your career so far, and what’s been the worst?
Conducta: The best moment was...
JGrrey: Meeting me?
Conducta:[Laughs] Of course! You know what? I’m not just saying this because it’s our moment and our tune, but the best moment to date would be releasing this song with you because I haven’t released a single in two and a bit years. I’ve remixed, but not released a single, so releasing this will lead to a bigger body of work. I’m thankful for being able to release music I have creative control over and that it’s something I enjoy and am passionate about.
JGrrey: That’s a bad boy thing to hear! I’m really pleased that this is the lead into the bigger body of work you were talking about. I’m gassed for that.
Conducta: I remember when I finished working on this tune, I was in Portugal and I sent you a voice note saying: “I want this to be the lead single off my project.” You replied and said: “Yeah, sick!” I’ve had accolades and amazing moments in my music career, but for now, I’m thankful to be in this position and that’s why it’s the best. I would say that the worst and most stressful thing was going through that label stuff and getting really low. I really didn’t want to live anymore. I didn’t want to exist anymore. Even though everything I’ve learnt at this stage I’ve had to learn the hard way, I wouldn’t change it. I feel like with music, you’re always going up and down. I think it’s conquering that self-doubt and believing in your own ability and knowing you can always better yourself and your next happy moment is just round the corner.
JGrrey: I’m so glad to hear that you’re in a better space. People come up to me, family members or people who aren’t as clued-up about the industry, and ask me: “Are you signed yet?” I tell them: “No, but that’s sick because look at what I’ve achieved without being signed!” There’s this misconception in the music industry that your music career starts when you get signed. Sure, a record deal would be great—I’d love some money—but also, I own everything I create. Like you just said, you can find peace of mind knowing that everything you put out into the world is all yours.