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Photography Louis Merrion

Conducta takes us on a sweaty, whistle-stop tour of London

To celebrate his newly released EP In Transit, we tested out every form of public transport with the Bristol-born producer

When I meet Conducta at Greenwich Pier on a swelteringly hot June afternoon, he arrives with a beaming, gold-toothed smile. Despite just finishing a gruelling US tour, the Bristol-raised producer is buzzing with energy, getting ready for a three-set stint at Glastonbury and the imminent release of his new EP, In Transit. Our plan for the day – in honour of the record’s title – is to take as many forms of London public transport as possible, and a Westminster-bound ferry is first to go. 

In recent years, Conducta has solidified himself as one of the most important names in UK dance music, with a multi-platinum single under his belt, as well as his own burgeoning label, Kiwi Records. “I’m doing what I love and I don’t need anything more,” he says as we pass under Tower Bridge. “Everything is being appreciated and things feel good.”

The past year has been a period of reflection for the DJ who has often struggled with intense touring schedules. “How do you dig for music, record music, and still maintain relationships? It’s tough,” he says. “It’s all about balance and boundaries, knowing who you want to be and what you want to do and then putting the plans in place to reinforce that.” Finding balance in life can sometimes feel near impossible and Conducta is candid about this, taking to Instagram on the same day as our interview to open up about his own mental health struggles, and his experiences with burnout, rehab and loneliness. “I’m 29 – it’s taken me 16 years to learn,” he explains. “One of the most important things in music, or in life, is to know when to say no and to know when to leave a party.”

Things have changed in the past year, though. In that time, the artist has moved from London to Stockholm, where he now resides in between his busy touring schedule. “Stockholm is the perfect ‘big small’ city. There’s enough going on if you want to be in the mixer, but it’s also beautiful. One of the big things I’ve come into touch with is nature and I enjoy just being more grounded and relaxed. I’ve always been nomadic, but Stockholm is home.”

Touring has also taken on a new meaning for Conducta. Although it can be overwhelmingly lonely, he says he is now trying to shift his approach, focusing on meeting new people, absorbing different cultures and being more present. “For me, the best part about touring can be the transfers from the airport. I’ve got loads of Uber drivers’ numbers and emails and it’s good to reconnect every now and again, genuinely just connecting with people.” 

In Transit was born from this transitional period, titled after the literal state in which most of the EP was made but also a noticeable change in direction for Conducta’s sound. “As a DJ, I’m known for a more upbeat, happier sound – with this [EP], it’s darker. I don’t think anyone expected me to drop a track like “3FALL”. That’s why I chose it as the single, I wanted it to spearhead my sound going forward.”

Moving away from his lighter, sunkissed take on UKG, In Transit begins immediately as a showcase of his icey, metropolitan sound. Within its five tracks, you can hear subtle influences from countless cities around the country. “In terms of the EP, it’s exciting to get it out, I’m anxious to see what people think, naturally, but it’s great to have a proper body of work out.” 

Conducta explains that standout track and lead single “Gold”, featuring Stockholm-based duo BIJI, is a clear example of these wide-ranging influences. “With [Gold] I wanted to capture the essence of the UK, alongside the Kurdish culture from Robin and Maceo.” The track (out today with the EP) comes with an Uncut Gems style video, shot in Stockholm and completed, DIY style, in just a few hours. The track also sees Conducta stepping out from behind the DAW to the front of the microphone, spitting a hard 16 over the rumbling bass and unrelenting breaks. “With exploring new styles and sounds, I’m able to depict more within my music, it’s fun and I feel invigorated to be making music again,” he says. 

No other city on the album bleeds through like London, however – a fact that becomes obvious as we disembark the ferry and make our way through the warm, packed streets and into Westminster tube station. “I feel like even though I made the EP on different continents and different places, the UK and London are running through it,” Conducta explains. “As shit as it is to live here [London] sometimes, the culture and the vibe is irreplaceable.” Tracks like “Get Busy With It“ featuring Novelist and “Vectra” featuring Paul Stephan hark back to his musical lineage, taking inspiration from the sounds of the golden age of UK pirate radio, and the iconic names of the era like DJ Slimzee. 

He’s happy and characteristically smiley as we venture through the rest of London, even when we take the wrong train and end up attempting to hail a cab. Eventually, we make it to Portobello Road, our final destination, and as we walk along the peaceful tree-lined streets of west, Conducta speaks once again about the increasingly heavy pressures placed upon the shoulders of musicians and DJs. From our time together, it’s clear that Conducta wants to keep pushing forward – both professionally and personally – but also, more crucially, that he can keep maintaining his hard-fought sense of equilibrium. “It’s a lifestyle choice, and it’s one that I’ve actively chosen,” he says, with another smile. “I try not to complain.”

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