We couldn't think of a better way to start 2021 than with a mix from one of our own, unperson.

The experimental sound designer from the Steel City has quickly gained a reputation for his unique lane of deeply atmospheric and percussive bass-laden electronic production. We released his EP 'The Ghosts That Gave' on our label at the start of lockdown and he recently contributed to Crack Magazine’s esteemed mix series with a brilliantly conceptual social commentary.

But now with new music creeping around the corner he takes a deep dive into the fog, with a carefully spliced collage of sound design and delicate ricochets.

We should probably start by talking about your last release, ‘The Ghosts That Gave’. A record that we proudly put out together at the very beginning of this crazy period in history (sadly having to cancel a shindig with yourself, wordcolour and Breaka b2b Soundbwoy Killer in the process). Despite the circumstances the release seemed to connect with a lot of people and see support from a heap of respected DJ’s and publications. As we approach the EP’s 1st anniversary, it would be cool to hear what that collections of songs meant to you.

Sure. I feel like that release represents a somewhat turbulent period for me. I'd moved to London and was trying to navigate myself in the big smoke. It captured some highs and lows from that time and definitely shaped into a collection of music that expressed a sort of sense of yearning. For me, making music is about reflection and creating a feeling of escapism. I think what's interesting about this ep was that I was pretty restricted in how I produced the music. They were some of the last tracks I made on my old laptop which was slow to say the very least. I had to wrestle with it in terms of how much processing I could manage. But limits can be a cool thing in certain situations.

You’re from the Northern powerhouse that is Sheffield, one of the biggest hot beds for forward thinking underground UK electronic music over the years – having been a epicentre for the Bleep scene and given birth to WARP Recordings, as well as many more respected artists. The steel city and “industrial North” at large has long twisted the influence of it’s harsh surroundings into escapist art, but do you personally feel that where you come from has a big influence on your sound? If so, is it something that you are aware of and push to incorporate or more of an unconscious, natural occurrence.

I think being exposed to music played on proper soundsystems at a pretty early age had a huge impact. The physical expirience of it all really captured me and made me think about sound and music on different ways. I don't think I conciously try to incorporate a sense of industrialism into my music because I obviously grew up in a post-industrial Sheffield. Pre-pandemic, in the last few years, Sheffield has started to bubble up again as really interesting place for creatives. But I think naturally all places that were de-industrialised entered into a bit of a lull that hungover for some time and lots of the interesting things were happening in the darker, less known corners and spaces in the city. In my expirience of Sheffield, its always felt like a bit of an introverted city. It has a lot of cool stuff to offer but it's not really bothered about what outsiders think. I think now in the last few years it's starting show itself off a bit more which I don't think comes naturally to people here, people don't take themselves too seriously but as a city I feel its starting to recognise that it has a lot to offer to people all over.

Your debut vinyl was released via Bristol-based imprint Only Ruins ‘ONRU002’, tell us a bit about how that came about and your relationship with Bristol’s music scene over the years.

I went to Bristol to study music production and met a load of interesting and talented people. I started a radio show with my mates and really loved the eclecticism of the scene and was exposed to all sorts musically. I remeber vididly seeing Ossia blend a gabber tune into that Phil Collins tune with the drums. Pretty jokes stuff. That kinda giving no fucks kinda vibe was pretty infectious. This time for me was definitely a period soaking up all kinds of styles and aesthetics and not caring too much about what was trendy or whatever. Taylor/Lorson/Only Ruins was on my course so that was all pretty organic, we became mates, he was starting a label and showed a lot of support.

Drift - unperson | Only Ruins (2018)

Your CRACK Mix earlier this year was outstanding. Using the tagline of Machine Ghost Existentialism, you took the approach of creating a “high-concept patchwork of sounds” that operated as much as a warning and distinctly specific social commentary on the current human experience, as it did offer a space us to release from it. Could you tell us more about it?

Thank you! All sounds a bit fancy eh? I basically just wanted to create a theme based around a reflection of the relationships between humans and machines. I wanted to tap into different angles and points of view on these relationships explore the beauty and terror in equal parts. I really wanted to scupt a narrative structure. The start of the mix is like the birth of the machine, I used the first recorded synthesised computer voice to represent this amongst other things. Then it goes into a bit of an exploration of various machninic sonics. Then it starts to fold into this section where we can hear examples of deviant machines, then they start to malfunction before completely dying summarised by Kubrik's Hal 9000 last words and song. It was a lot of fun to piece together. Though there's obvious notions of caution I was thinking about the whole thing in quite an emotional context as if machine's are like siblings to humans who we have complicated relationships with that are full of anxiety and trust issues but we have this eternal kinship with. The whole thing is like a eulogy. I guess it a very human way to look at it haha.

unperson | CRACK Mix (2020)

Although there is a lot of layering and sound design in the CRACK Mix, this feels quite different – please talk us through what you set out to do with this one?

With this mix there is no real narrative or concept. I just wanted to create something to get completely lost in. There's a lot of acousmatic music which encourages the listener to just concentrate on the sound itself, don't worry about the source or the context just soak it up. So yeah I guess I wanted to just elicit a response of zoning out, eyes closed business. But to be honest who am I to tell you how to listen, bump it on your run, do you.

We often close by asking artists what’s next so that they can promo the shit out of their next artistic endeavour, so chose what you say next wisely…

New music very soon with some really lovely people! Few more projects on the burner. :)

Hehe :) soon soon...

unperson’s ‘The Ghosts That Gave’ EP is out now via Negative Space [Ma].

Purchase here.

NSMA-Mix Artwork ‘Untitled’ by Grégoire Becot.