In Conversation: Loraine James

In Conversation: Loraine James

London producer discusses new album 'Reflection'...

London artist and Hyperdub regular Loraine James has crafted her own brand of anxious club music, and it couldn't have arrived at a better time. As the clubs slowly begin to open we should be demanding changes to everything, from line-up diversity to the very sound that enters our ears, and one thing we can definitely get behind is playing weirder.

On 'Reflection', James tested the boundaries of experimentalism and pop sensibility; working with a host of artists from Iceboy Violet to Nova on a record that spans drill, glitch, IDM, ambient and pretty much any other electronic associated sub-genre you can think of. It's a triumph, and a testament to the beauty that can be found within the rough.

Following its release, we sat down with the artist herself to chat about free-flow sound, white IDM and potentially exploring the pop environment more.

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I read that you were always intrigued by melodic IDM, where did you source the inspiration to mesh the UK aesthetic into this to create something so new and fresh? Is it simply living in such a multi-cultural environment, or something more?

I think its definitely the fact that I live in London and its very multi-cultural. I'm always inspired by the stuff that's happening in the UK, as well as the American IDM artists I begun listening to as well as Japanese electronic musicians. 

You have said yourself that your music is a bit rough, in many ways I feel it almost represents anti-music in the same way that the baggy clothes junglists were anti-fashion in the face of the expensive Italian fashion that dominated the early UKG scene. It feels like it represents the anxious generation, those who aren’t as polished as we’re told we should be and represents something alternative to that. What is it about the free-flow form of your sound that attracts you to it so much?

I hate things being too confined, even in general life too. I don't like things being too clean in my music. I think that also goes back to the days when I was listening to a lot of math rock bands through bandcamp from around 2012 and a lot of them were DIY and unsigned so there was a lot of roughness in the recordings which I loved. 

I’ve seen your sound described as glitch and IDM, but I feel it doesn’t really do it justice. This isn’t IDM created in the traditional sense - in a predominantly white artist scene with predominantly white people dancing to it - this is something more. You get a real sense of your identity, background and anxiety throughout it. Have you experienced challenges in coming up in this associated scene due to its white majority, and how does it feel when people try to group you into a single genre?

I feel like at times my music isn't described as IDM or glitch etc, because I'm Black. I get boxed in a lot even when I've said in interviews about what this record and past records were inspired by or I say what my music is, I've gotten genres that I weren’t directly inspired by, and I think I get all this cos it's easier to box me as I'm Black, and IDM is a very white space.

There are many collaborations on the latest record, many from some of my favourite artists such as Xzavier Stone and Iceboy Violet. What was the method in collaborating? Did you have a clear vision for each artist, or was it very much left to interpretation?

I basically just messaged them via Twitter and Instagram. I generally don't really like to give someone a proper brief on what they should and shouldn’t do. I like leaving space for the artist to interpret it and base it on feel.

More melodic tones and textures seem to be entering your work. It was detailed in the press release that the 'Nothing' EP for Hyperdub unlocked a pop sensibility within you. This seems to have progressed into the latest record. With the meteoric rise of pop sub-genres such as hyperpop, do you see yourself exploring that path further?

I have no idea. Probably? Possibly? It's very hard to make pop music, but I really like putting my own spin on things like drill and pop, so I may explore that more.

The latest record dips in and out of many thoughts and feelings, from your insecurities about playing on stage to out of reach equal rights and lockdown anxiety. Now that the record is out, how do you feel and what do you hope others take from it?

I'm just very grateful for all the support I've gotten from this new record, and I just hope to be able to play it out this time because I didn't with 'For You And I'.

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'Reflection' is out now on Hyperdub.

Words: Andrew Moore
Photo Credit: Suleika Müller

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