The anonymous Northern Irish producer Unknown drops an exclusive mix for Dazed
Unknown's trademark sub-bass, acidic synths and expertly swung percussion to evoke tension – reminiscent of the void the stage-name denotes. With the nameless Northern Irish producer operating incognito, not because of a vain marketing strategy, but so fans can focus on what's important – the sound. Those fans include most of the blogosphere, the tens of thousands of viewers on his Youtube channel. His August-released debut EP "I Cry" is available on iTunes via Champion Sound Music – it kicks off with a weighty slab of astral garage and mournful vocals, and you can stream it above.
DD: I’ve never been to Belfast, what’s the music scene like over there?
Unknown: The scene is really good, though it's mostly orientated towards house and techno, with other genre nights here and there, but it's definitely dominated by that. As a city it has always punched above its weight musically and there is a lot of activity at the moment. David Holmes, Phil Kieran, Space Dimension Controller, Boxcutter or Calibre could be names people may be familiar with–but there's also the shitty Geordie Shore type nights.
DD: Your stage name Unknown captivates people, what’s the reason behind the anonymity?
Unknown: It was just started to get away from the whole identity side of it, so the only thing people had to go on was the music itself. I think it definitely does that in a nice way. Though some people see it as some cynical marketing adventure, but it couldn't be further from the truth. I'm just a fella sitting in his bedroom making songs on his laptop and then we release them. It's funny to know that people suspected the exact opposite approach I was aiming for, and focus solely on who I am without mentioning the music, but that much is expected I suppose. I just want to make tunes and hopefully people enjoy them.
DD: Your track #008 has been gaining a lot of attention, I can see why, the vocals and bassline are so seductive. What’s it all about? Are there any themes?
Unknown: Thank you. I actually made it straight after I came back from my first trip to London, after we went over to meet a few people who'd been in touch. When I heard the sample I knew I had to use it – I'm such a sucker for nice vocals. I never really had a full picture of what the track meant whilst making it, but the lyrics and tone of it are quite sorrowful and sombre. I imagine one person saying them to another - the dissolution of a relationship. I suppose it can mean whatever you imagine it means really.
DD: Give us the lowdown on your desert island discs: what albums would be going with you?
Unknown: "Dr Dre – 2001". How could you go without hearing this ever again. "Jackson Browne – Jackson Browne" – an album I grew up listening to and one of the few my entire family agrees on liking. And "Rocky IV – OST" there's no reason too inferior for bringing this. Ultimate motivation.
DD: The last two tracks on your recently released EP ‘I Cry” nod towards the club vibe with a bass-heavy sort of house, is this something you’re going to be doing more with in the future?
Unknown: Yes definitely. Now that I have a live show I've been making more and more up tempo stuff as it's a tad boring having all mellow tracks, if there's no variation it can feel a bit stale. Some of the new stuff is without doubt the best I've made. Some are quite heavy - will maybe get some previews up soon. I am going to be out DJing more as Unknown over the winter – I like making music for people to listen to but also for people to dance to
DD: Are there any idea behind the mix?
Unknown: I wanted to include stuff I'd play in an Unknown Dj set, spanning from more warm up tracks to the heavier stuff. I also wanted to play tracks that I really like that people wouldn't necessarily associate with the whole Unknown thing. Variation keeps it interesting.