June 15, 2015

On a sunny afternoon in Dalston, we sit sipping beers with London-based electronic music producer, Royce Wood Junior. Ahead of the release of his debut album, The Ashen Tang we chat disillusionment, debt collectors and erm, music.

UO: Are you excited for the release of your debut album, The Ashen Tang?

Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. It’s been a long time coming so I’m relieved to be putting it out to the world.

I started work on it about three years ago and I got it to a point where I was reasonably happy with it. But then a weird amount of time went by, and I didn’t like it so I threw it in the bin and tried to start again. Fortunately someone tried to get me to finish it off and I got to the end.

UO: Tell us about the title, The Ashen Tang

It’s a way of saying bittersweet. Ashen means ashes; things that have turned to ash. Tang means tanginess. So you have a mouthful of tangy ashes, which is how life is. All of the tracks on the album follow ups and downs really.

UO: Which tracks, if any, did you have the most difficulty with?

All of them! I struggled with a lot of tracks, but I struggled the most with the last track from the album because of how much there is in it. It has something like 200 channels of audio. You can’t even look at it on a screen; you need a map to look at the arrangement. It’s difficult to keep hold of what’s going on.

UO: You play all of the instruments on the album, which is pretty impressive.

I do yeah, except for the drums. I’m a self-taught musician. Predominantly guitar, and then I figured out how to play piano by bumbling through it. Anyone who’s a pianist and who looks at me playing piano just laughs, because it’s all wonky and weird looking.

UO: If you play the majority of instruments on the album, how does that translate to a live performance?

Well, the live performance doesn’t sound exactly like the record when we play live, but the guys I play with are really really good. So it doesn’t matter how shit I am because the foundation is brilliant. I guess in the space of a record you can use any sound, but live there’s only four lads so we can’t have 200 different things going on. Only 47 things instead. It’s a more stripped out sound.

UO: What’s it like taking a record you’ve worked on privately into the public space? Is it daunting?

Yeah, it’s mega daunting. It’s like being naked in front of loads of people. It feels embarrassing but you’ve just gotta be naked.

UO: Were there any particular experiences that inspired the tracks on this album?

A lot of personal failure. A lot of debt collectors. But also a lot of successes. Just all of the good and all of the bad that happens in life.

UO: Do you think our generation has a sense of personal failure? Why do you think that is?

Well, everything is incredibly competitive. You get told you can do anything you want, that it’s a meritocracy. If it’s a meritocracy then it means the people at the top deserve to be at the top, but by the same token the people at the bottom deserve to be at the bottom. That’s kind of brutal.

UO: Do you think social media might play a part in that too?

Yeah definitely. When ten years ago you might have had a thought, you now let the internet have thoughts for you. You go on Twitter or you go on Instagram, and you look at a goat that sounds like a man… it affects creative output because people aren’t thinking in their minds any more. Everyone’s just looking at Twitter instead.

The Ashen Tang is out June 22nd