Working within a scene that so heavily relies on quick releases, four-track EPs and remixes to keep itself and its DJs relevant, releasing an album can often be a daunting prospect for a house producer. Wolf Music graduate Medlar has subverted every expectation and created a record that is not only playable but also emotional, seeming to reveal new sides of itself on every listen. Like the work of sample collagists such as Madlib and The Avalanches, Sleep is woven from innumerable segments of jazz, classical and dance music. Its layers are indefinable and fleeting, foreign and familiar, creating something addictive and infinitely discoverable. Stream the album below, complete with tripped-out film noir visuals from director Letty Fox.
Dazed Digital: How would you describe your album?
Medlar: It was definitely aimed for people who weren’t house purists to get into. It uses a lot of samples, so it’s got a hip hop aesthetic to it. It’s house in more of a hip hop context. None of it was really aimed at the dancefloor but it would be great to know that someone was playing from it.
DD: Did you feel like it was important to use sampling in your productions?
Medlar: It’s weird, there’s not a huge amount of people making sample-based house music anymore – DJ Dez / Andrés does it really well – so I thought I might as well make a record almost exclusively out of samples, generally obscure things that I hadn’t heard before I came across them. A lot of the records I play are made exclusively on synths and drum machines, very synthetic sounding, but I love that as well. I think I almost wanted to get sampling out of my system and move on to some different stuff. I think when making music you just have to do something that you’re inclined to do right at that moment in time.
DD: How does it feel to release an album?
Medlar: It’s definitely more of a personal thing I think. It took quite a long time for it to come out; I spent a lot of time sitting on it, thinking about it and waiting for it to be released.
Did producing take its toll on your work as a DJ?
Medlar: I don’t think so. It was really refreshing actually because there were sides of the House scene that I wasn’t really sure about– whether I liked it or not– and I’d had some weird DJing experiences. That album was almost an escape from the clubby side of house music. I think I made it almost as an antithesis to a lot of the dance floor stuff I wasn’t really enjoying.
DD: Do you think the concept of DJing actually inspired the format of the album?
Medlar: In terms of the structure of it: yes. I was thinking quite a lot about the structure of albums, DJ sets and even songs on a macrocosmic scale of an album. I found when I was playing hour-long sets (I haven’t in a while) I’d try and open fairly upbeat; go a bit deeper; go a bit weird and then melodic towards the end. So I tried to mimic that in the structure of the album. It definitely inspired the progression of the whole thing.
DD: It feels like a dream sequence. Was that always the idea, or was the title born from the productions you were making?
Medlar: The title of the album, and the titles of a lot of the tracks came from the video as well. I didn’t actually name any of the tracks until I absolutely had to. "The Escape" is named after the scene happening in the video, as is "Tides". Me and Letty were bouncing album names off each other and finally decided on Sleep. It was simple. The video was based around the idea of dream sequences, so it was Letty’s idea that we ended the album on the same point it starts, to make it cyclical.
DD: So were you and Letty Fox working closely together on the music and the video? It seems like an uncommonly cohesive effort.
Medlar: I submitted the album in January, and since then Letty has been producing the video. Because were only doing a limited vinyl pressing– which is mainly for DJs and collectors– the video was made to get the album out to more people. We might give out a continuous mix of the album in the future, but we’re really excited for the video to be the primary way that people see/hear it. Hopefully once it’s up, people will immediately associate the album with Letty’s video.
DD: So what’s next?
Medlar: I’m planning to finish a couple of different EPs, and experimenting with some new equipment (a Roland SH-101 Monosynth, a Juno 60 and a Korg VolcaBeat). I’m really trying to work more outside of my computer.
Follow Henry Morris on Twitter here @thesoftmusic