Jim Coles’ genesis into the world of wonkily moving basslines and dub-worshipping drum patterns was more quietly substantial than most. An oxymoron maybe, but his remix of Joker’s headjerker, ‘Digidesign’, as Om Unit in 2010 subtly helped to introduce the now much used stammering beat and sliced synthline formula. Yet the South London native’s musical discography pans back way further than his current Om Unit moniker.
Originally a junglist teen, he was known as Nyquist; not releasing anything but instead maintaining bedroom producer status and chopping up breaks for fun. Then, he transformed into DMC team champion and hip-hop head, 2tall, working with the likes of Dudley Perkins and Georgia Anne Muldrow on some ethereal soul. Yet it is the Om Unit moniker that has caught the most attention with the likes of Plastician’s Terrorhythm imprint, Fabric Records and Dublin’s All City all releasing tracks over the course of 2010.
The love for his latest mark is still swelling and with his latest Civil Music offering in ‘Aeolian EP’ on the horizon the swell is set to enlarge. Clash caught up with him to talk about favourite tracks from his own back catalogue, straying across musical boundaries and meditation.
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You never fear to stray across musical boundaries in your work but what’s your secret to making them work in harmony?
There is no secret really it’s a natural thing. But I don’t think I reach that far across genres. I agree to a certain extent but there’s so much diversity out there I still feel contained within a certain niche. I do see where you’re coming from though; genres are ingredients in what I do.
How do you keep yourself constantly inspired?
I don’t think it takes much effort to be inspired, I think it’s about trusting your output and being open to intake, just being open minded to finding the good stuff within any art form whether it’s audio or visual.
Do you still meditate?
Sometimes, I’d recommend bringing that kind of practice into everything though, it’s about more than sitting and breathing ultimately but I’d recommend meditation to every person who feels the urge.
How did you end up working with Tamara on ‘Dark Sunrise’?
Me and her manager are old friends and associates, ‘pure luck’ maybe but she’s on a level. She’s got something to share that goes beyond your average vocalist so I am very happy with the track. We recorded it in part at the Red Bull Studios in London.
What exactly inspired the off kilter, hip-hop rhythm that’s on show with ‘Fumes’ and ‘Lightworkers Call’?
Years of hip-hop beat making, and production as 2tall. Check the albums I did called ‘Softer Diagram’ and ‘Beautiful Mindz’ (with Dudley Perkins and Georgia Anne Muldrow) in terms of influence, I’d say hearing my musical peers and taking that feel and putting my own twist on it.
Why both Reso and Sweatson Klank on each of the remixes then?
Again, friends and label associates really. They are both well-developed producers with a sound of their own, so I thought they’d be perfect for it. Reso is on Civil as well so it’s good to support the team too.
What exactly do you reckon they contributed to the track?
Reso twisted it up so nicely; he pushed it fully over the edge into Jungle territory. He found it hard because of the subtlety of the music but he really came through and gave it more of a charging tear out feel.
Sweatson is such an underrated producer and he owed me a remix so I felt this project deserved him, he has a great ear for sound design and layering samples so coherently that it’s hard to notice what is a written line and what’s a sample.
Looking back over your catalogue of tracks, what would you say is your favourite self-produced track and why?
I like most of the back catalogue but that’s too hard to answer properly! But I keep coming back to ‘Lightgrids’ on All City Records.
Finally, what’s the next move after the EP is out?
A 20 or so date tour in the US in August and more music after that.
Words by Errol Anderson
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Om Unit’s new EP ‘Aeolian’ is out now.