Melbourne based artist Prequel is back to continue his love affair with renowned UK imprint Rhythm Section, this time in the form of his debut album ‘Love Or (I Heard You Like Heartbreak)’. He’s joined on this long play by several collaborators as he navigates through the contrasting themes and raw emotions of love.
Throughout this album Prequel stays true to his infectious style of production that we are familiar with, only this time his Jazz influenced, sample laden productions are supplemented by the live work of the albums collaborators. We’ve been excited to get to chat to him to explore more about the release and the man behind the music.
Was ‘Love’ something that you always had planned to write and release, or was it a product of having more time available to dedicate to writing because of the Covid-19 Pandemic?
I didn’t even really set out to make an album at all, it just happened that on the back of a writers blockade I started making music more consistently and the theme of Love kept coming up and the narrative slowly started to reveal itself to me, so I went with it. This album was fully completed way before covid hit so there wasn’t really any tweaking to the material. I did (when it was unfinished) turn the album in to Bradley Zero and about a month later I sent a follow up email saying I needed more time with it as I wanted to take it to the next level and add all the live elements to it.
You’re a long time collaborator with Rhythm Section, can you give us an insight into your relationship with the label?
I owe (more than anyone can imagine) a lot to Bradley and Rhythm Section. Bradley believed in me and my music way back when in 2013 (before “Polite Strangers” was released in 2014) and he continues to believe in me. That’s not to say he says yes automatically to anything I send him, but I have his ear and he trusts me. Without him and RS I honestly don’t know where I’d be musically speaking. He’s not only cultivated a fantastic and world wide community through the shows, the radio and the label, but he’s always surrounded himself with a great team too. Back then is was Anu and Morrell working with him and Mali and now the amazing Emily and Amelia have joined him and Mali working on the label. I’m also very lucky to call Bradley a friend of mine too. We’ve travelled the world DJing together, he’s exposed me and introduced to me so much amazing music, amazing people, amazing places and amazing musical communities. We’ve had (and continue to have!) deep conversations about everything under the sun and he’s made a very large and very positive impact on me as a DJ, producer and human. I stay at his place when I’m in London and we hang when he’s down under and speak quite regularly even when it’s not about RS/Prequel music stuff. RS has been going from strength to strength ever since the label started. Through the music they have put out, artists they have exposed the world too, gigs they have put on with bands or lesser known DJ’s, stages at music festivals, radio stuff on NTS and BBC1, merch collabs, the list goes on. There is no Prequel without Bradley Zero and Rhythm Section.
How did your approach differ when writing this album as opposed to shorter length releases?
I didn’t start the music making process with writing an album in mind at all, I just needed to get back to actually sitting down and making music. When a narrative begun to reveal itself to me a few tracks in I was very much focused on making a cohesive album that reflected my “sound”, my influences, but also I really wanted to step it up a notch with all the movie references, live instrumentation, deeper messages, artwork and video assets. The actual making of 90% of the music was very much about being focused, dedicated and putting the solo time in everyday but with the understanding that whatever came out, would come out. I certainly had a feel and/or “mood” in mind for the album after the first few tracks were sketched out so apart from my normal process it became about creating a long form consistency. I hadn’t really explored this much, as my other production efforts were more short form and perhaps only loosely following a narrative, if at all.
We’d just like to touch on the music videos that accompany the album; do you feel that the visuals help you to express your themes and ideas alongside the music?
I originally had another idea for the first video but due to covid was unable to execute that idea at all. We had a label zoom meeting and I had made 12 mini promo clips to accompany each song that were scenes from different movies that tied in overall with the theme of love/heartbreak but also were specifically suited to their respective song. I can’t remember who actually said it in the meeting but it was suggested I make a video clip in the same vein but perhaps with many different movies. My head exploded when this was said as it’s VERY much up my alley. Music, movie scenes, editing/sampling etc. I’m really proud of the 3 video clips and the 12 promo clips I edited and I do feel its another angle to help express and, dare I say, deepen the meaning of each song and album overall.
With the “Love Is” clip those scene snippets (about 65 from about 63 different movies) that accompany each line of Cazeaux O.S.L.O.’s lyrics are very very well thought out and considered. I didn’t just throw any old “love story” scene from a movie in and call it a day. They are specific choices and even though some clips may only seemingly match their respective line in the song, if you know the movies they are taken from, you can start to further understand why I chose that scene and what was happening in the movie at that time which really deepens the narrative of the song and the album overall. With the other two clips, because they are made from one movie (respectively) it was a different type of challenge editing it for each song. I only had one source material I couldn’t pull out other movies to fill a gap if needed. I also waited because I knew I wanted to do two more clips but needed to have the right movies for each song. I watched A LOT of movies in lockdown last year and when I cam across those I knew with a lot of editing they would work for their respective songs.
Do you feel that collaborating with other musicians helped to add another layer of emotion to the album? The string section at the close of ‘When Love Is New’ was so raw and powerful it literally made the hairs on the back of our necks stand up!
Thank you for saying that, I’m glad it did! The live work of Tamil Rogeon, Horatio Luna, Javier Fredes, Josh Kelly and Cazeaux O.S.L.O really took the album to a bigger and more refined place and I’m so grateful I could work with them all as they are all firstly, amazing people, and secondly amazing at what they do. There was nothing particularly “wrong” or “bad” about the version of the album without them but I felt, being my debut, it really needed to be operating on the highest level I was able to achieve. Plus, I just wanted to work with those people and they fit what I was doing so perfectly. Also, having my dear friend and WILDLY talented painter Seth Searle make an original piece for me for the cover was something I had always wanted too. We were meant to do it for another release a few years back but it never happened so having her on board for my debut album, helping represent the visual side of the project, was really important to me and Bradley was down for her involvement too.
After speaking to other artists, it’s apparent that Covid has impacted their creativity in different ways. How has it impacted your creativity?
I guess it made me creative in different ways. I chose to make those clips so I had to teach myself final cut pro again during lockdown and switch my brain to ‘movie mode” instead of “music mode”. It’s been challenging though; I have a funny relationship with creativity at the best of times. I certainty wasn’t a creative powerhouse the whole of Melbourne’s lockdowns but I got some good stuff in there. It’s what it is.
In what has been a year filled with negativity, are there any positives that you have been able to draw from this period?
There has obviously been a lot of negativity yes, but certainly some positivity too. A few positive things on a more personal level which I won’t go into but also I put out the album and that’s been a really amazing and positive thing for me, it feels so good to finally have it out in the world and getting nice feedback and a bit of love from the people so that hits me in the feels. I guess the overall positive is that I can endure, to some degree, what life throws at me, and I’m a little bit more at peace with my relationship with creativity and my personal creative process.
With the world now on a footpath to reopening, what does the immediate future look like for you?
I’m lucky enough to be playing a music festival called Meadow on the 24th of April so I’m super pumped for that! Been back playing some club shows which has been a blast and hopefully more on the horizon. Might be doing a little launch party for the album here in Melbourne and hopefully just more club shows, interstate stuff and festivals once summer comes round again on this side of the world. I’ve got an EP coming out on Lumberjacks In Hell called “Don’t Let Me Be The Last To Know” so I’m excited for that to be out in the world too. A remix coming out which I’m pumped for and hopefully something else too this year, fingers crossed!
Buy/Stream “LOVE” now.
Interview by Myles