Sole Stars - Tropics

In association with Lacoste footwear
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The system works. Or at least it did. In a few years the phrase ‘I got discovered on MySpace’ will confuse children - but that’s exactly what happened to Southampton’s Tropics.

Two years ago Jamie Vex’d, a man who likes to construct very destructive bass, stumbled across Chris Ward’s music online. He quickly suggested to his Planet Mu label boss Mike Paradinas that this young voice called Tropics was well worth a listen. Fast-forward to an awkward phone call a few days later: “I just presumed it was my mates and wouldn’t believe him for a while,” laughs the twenty-two-year-old producer. “It sounded like a total wind-up; I couldn’t believe it when I realised it was true.”

Whilst Vex’d made possibly the most visceral bass music around, Tropics does exactly what he sounds like he should: warm, exotic, pulsing electronic music. “It’s always been atmospheric and ambient,” admits Chris. “It’s got a lot of pop elements to it: those sort of aesthetics. Ideas come to me before sounds. I spend a lot of time getting inspired by old sounds, normally from the ’60s; when I wrote the album it was loads of psychedelic songs from San Francisco.”

His debut ‘Parodia Flare’ is a colourful affair riddled with sunshine and dreamy rhodes keyboard lines tempered with sultry, buried vocals and experimental drums.

‘Mouves’, the first full-length track after ‘Navajo’ has introduced us to the sounds of Tropics’ paradise, combines chimey instrumentation with echoey, ethereal vocals and plenty of reverb. Once title track ‘Parodia Flare’ begins it becomes clear that this is not just true of the track but sets the tone for the entire album, albeit with some tracks showing off more ambience than others. ‘Going Back’, ‘Wear Out’ and ‘Figures’ showcase Tropics’ vocal talent with his soft whispers presented intermittently in between chilly electronics.

Much of the patchwork of exotic collages arrive to the listener like dawning memories, or like thoughts swelling up from the bottom of a happy imagination. “When I am starting to make the music I always start with something in mind that has a warmth to it,” the producer concurs. “this needs to have a particular energy to it that then sticks with the song through the entire process, so its always had a summery vibe to Tropics.”

‘Parodia Flare’ is released on Planet Mu this September.

Words by Matthew Bennett
Photography by Harley Weir


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