"Nobody Wants To Be Boxed In" Juls Interviewed

"Nobody Wants To Be Boxed In" Juls Interviewed

Up close with one of the UK's pivotal producers...

Juls has orchestrated the ultimate brew of transatlantic sounds, encapsulating diasporic rhythms, Black British culture, reggae and everything that would happen if these entities had a rhythmic orgy. Welcome to his world, a tight-knitted community of musical exploration that allows the pot to runneth over and spill the voices of those who use music as healing, escape, and passion.

It almost felt like a long time coming for Juls’ gates to discharge the volt of musicality, considering the British-Ghanian producer/DJ has sprinkled virtually every genre. As one of the UK’s most in-demand composers, Juls has worked with Mr Eazi, WizKid, Burna Boy, Sango, GoldLink, Lauryn Hill, and many others.

Yet new project ‘Sounds Of My World’ functions as Juls’ definitive statement. The journey to ‘Sound Of My World’ was first teased when Juls released his ‘Happy Place’, ‘Fufu & Grits’ and ‘Soweto Blues’ EPs; creative experiences which dabbled in the pan-African instrumentals and gave listeners a taste of the sweetness that is a Juls and Jaz Karis single.

At arms-length from its sudden popularity, Juls was amongst the first producers to taste-test amapiano rhythms to a diaspora audience. When trapped away, unable to travel and do his usual Dora the music explorer routine, Juls’ London studio became his HQ, and the beginnings of ‘Sounds Of My World’ were formulated. Minus his iconic “Juls Baby” producer tag, the composer has managed to certify his stamp on 15 tracks. Even without a nod, a Juls track contains particular nectar of composition - very few in his class have mastered this.

‘Sound Of My World’ is a rich cream of the crop, welcoming artists such as Dreamville’s Bas, Fireboy DML, Manny Wellz, Haile, Sauti Sol, Oxlade, Kojo Funds, to name a few. Having charmed some of the music market’s most sonic palettes, the gumbo that is the project, offers the right seasoning and jazz for the Michelin star music restaurant it has set its eyes on.

Juls has conjured his very own United Nations music conference.

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Tell me about the making of this project. Did it start as a quarantine project and then move to an outside project?

I got a studio of my own in 2019 after I put out my mixtape. And I built it from scratch, created in a way where it will literally be a habitat for myself... like a bit of home. I started making a lot of music in there, and in the process I made two EPs that I put out in 2020; ‘Fufu & Grits’ and ‘The Happy Place’. Then I was also able to create a space where I can learn different genres of music from different cultures - I was also able to revisit some stuff I used to listen to when I was a kid. Embody all those elements and try to flip it sonically in my mind and make it sound different to everything else that’s out there. And it’s literally an album which is an expression of my mind sonically and immensely, and that’s why I called it ‘Sounds Of My World’.

Your sound is very much international, and you always tap into African sounds; how far did you go this time around?

You could say, I feel like the other projects I have dropped, I wanted to put out a lot of music put for people to vibe to; with this album, it’s a bit more international than I’ve ever tapped into. I’ve gone to Kenya, Congo and some islands on there Indonesia, America, Uganda, Nigeria... It’s kind of like the United Nations Conference - the only difference is we’re getting stuff done.

When I write, I try to find a stamp in my language that allows people to know it’s me without seeing the byline. You have your producer tag, but I think without that, listeners can still tell it’s you. How do you do that?

I have no idea, to be honest. Have more comments about a drum sound. I wish I knew… it's probably the fact that it's unapologetically African and smooth and contains elements of my homeland, that’s probably why people would say that. But I don’t have any particular production style. I try to be a bit different with everything. I do like like my drums to knock and I like minimalist sounds. It’s probably the vibe.

With so many countries covered on the project and this having been a quarantine project, were some of the tasks via Zoom?

Most of them were studio sessions. Some of them weren’t here like Bas and Manny Wellz, But the rest with Wiz, Jaz, DarkoVibes.

And do you have any memorable sessions?

I think my collaboration with DarkoVibes and JB was the most fastest song we made. We were just jamming; I made the beta from scratch, this was at the beginning of the year. They were doing a whole back and forth type of thing, just jamming.

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How was your summer? Some people saw you around the amapiano events; what did you get up to?

Yeah, I’ve been at a lot of these amapiano events, reggae… I just like to catch a vibe and see what’s hot; check out some DJs. When I’m DJing as well, I can take an approach and switch it up for [different events]. This summer has been alright I’ve literally just been putting stuff for the album, spending time with my Mrs and family and planning stuff for 2021.

As the year rounds of can fans expect any visuals for the album?

Yeah, we shot a video for ‘Summer’ yesterday, which should be cool. Fireboy record will be out, and I just want to see what everybody gravitates towards. I want to shoot something with Haile for ‘Makossa Riddim’.

Streaming platforms like to put music into different genres, and as you said earlier this album is kind of like your world. So would you be comfortable it being boxed into one genre, or do you expect it to fit into several?

Nobody wants to be boxed in. I want the music to circulate; the record with Haile I feel can sit in R&B, the record with Bas can sit in hip-hop... So I just want all the songs evenly spread so that they can reach the biggest target of people.

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'Sounds Of My World' is out now.

Words: Thandie Sibanda

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