Artist in Focus: Sixth Ape

1624296_10203230965405291_1518239265_nFintan Larpoon aka. Sixth Ape is a London based artist and someone we’ve kept a close eye on since discovering during our piece with DubApes earlier in the series. His tracks were played during their mix and instantly captivated me, carrying that extremely ancestral aura, basing the main structure of his tracks around the percussion and ensuring an eastern vibe was implemented throughout.
He tends to use a variety of instruments alongside recorded sounds during his production which give his sound a different dynamic and more depth.

We’ve been meaning to get a piece down with him for a while but thought we’d wait until his ‘Arctic Chills EP’ was set to release. In anticipation of the release, we thought we’d sit down and discuss his EP in detail alongside some other questions to help give some insight into Sixth Ape’s mind:

Spectrum: Alright Fintan, hope you’re all good, really delighted to finally get down to having a chat with you. We personally know a substantial amount about you but for people who may not, just tell us about yourself as an artist.

I’m well thank you. I’m looking forward to this also. Okay, so I’m a producer/DJ from South West London. I’ve been in to production for maybe 4 or 5 years now, flirting with genres from Blues, Trip-Hop, World Fusion to Reggae. It’s only been the past 12 months that I’ve realised the direction I want to go with my compositions. At the moment I’m focused on forcing my way into the 140 scene. Deep minimal sub music combined with real instrument recordings. Spaced out pads & lingering textures, often combined with common world musical instruments. Indian Bansuri, African Djembe, Didgeridoo to name a few, but I’m also a fan of western instruments as well. I’ve been playing keys for maybe 8 years now so I often find room in the mix for some pleasant piano playing. I’m really enthusiastic about linking modern day music technology with ancient music with the idea to create something completely new and exciting. So although this 140 scene is very much computer based, I still remain in love with meeting musicians, running recording sessions and writing music from scratch.

Spectrum: I love that instrumental input you have; it certainly adds a different element to your tracks. But when did you first get involved with the electronic side of things?

Admittedly, not that long ago. In my early teens I listened to my fair share of Grime and Hip-Hop but even a lot of those instrumentals were built around strings or jazz samples. Only recently have I fully indulged with analogue synths, drum machines, samplers and the rest of it. In all honesty, although I listened to a lot of early dubstep, it’s only the past 2 years or so that I’ve fully embraced electronic music.

Spectrum: Are there any specific reasons behind the alias ‘Sixth Ape’?

Hah, Result! I finally get to answer that.  The name Sixth Ape is a product of my ongoing passion for science, life and especially the evolution of primates. It comes from the fact that there are 5 ‘Great Apes’ that walk the planet: Gorillas, Orangutans, Chimpanzees, Bonobos and us, Humans. I liked the idea of using Sixth Ape as a way to describe the type of music that me and others are creating. Almost like it’s a new breed of music, like I said before, by combining modern day technology with abstract recordings & Ancient music to create the next ‘Great Ape’.  Maybe I’m just getting a bit too carried away.

Spectrum: Switching to the topic of your EP, which you’ll be releasing online very soon. The EP itself is strongly based around Iceland in which you’ve taken influence and ideas for the tracks during your visit. What was the process behind taking these ideas and imprinting your sound on this experience?

That’s right, I feel as if I get the best out of my self musically when something inspires me. It could be a documentary I watched, a conversation I had with someone but more commonly it’s my experience at a certain location. I really enjoy going somewhere and absorbing the atmosphere, listening to the sounds and analysing how that place makes me feel. I then translate the location and my emotions into a piece of music. Icelandic people are spoilt when it comes to stunning landscapes, waterfalls, volcanoes and not to forget Aurora Borealis. The idea was to go there, breathe the air, absorb the ambience and capture some organic recordings, then write an EP based on the experience. Each of the four tracks on the EP are based on a specific location. On every location I brought a portable microphone and tried to capture the sound of the place. For example, ‘Lava Tubes’ is a dark cave, there was a stunning natural reverb there and the vocal that’s on the track is actually by our guide, David.

Spectrum: There are plenty of influential places all over the globe which can certainly have an effect on an artist’s approach to producing but why did you specifically choose Iceland to visit?

One of the main reasons was to witness the Northern Lights; it’s something that I’ve seen on TV documentaries and photos online. It’s truly mind blowing, standing under the night sky whilst it’s lit with bright rays of green and purple. ‘Solar Storm’ is the song inspired by The Northern Lights. Another reason why I wanted to visit Iceland was because there is a healthy population of wild Orca (Killer Whales) that roam that part of the North Atlantic Ocean. I was desperate to go and see some as I’ve been enthusiastic about Orca since Free Willy days! Unfortunately due to storms, the whale watching tours were cancelled. Stunning volcanoes, lava tubes, Northern lights, waterfalls and hot springs made up for it though. Iceland certainly lived up to my expectations, in fact it exceeded them.

Spectrum: Throughout the release there are numerous interesting sounds you’ve recorded yourself. How did you decide on what you’d record and how exactly did you go about recording these and shaping them into your tracks?

Well for me, music is just a combination of sounds. It’s something that I’ve been experimenting with for a while now. I often bring my portable microphone with me and record anything I think might work well in a song. A train going past, traffic, birds in the forest, wind, thunder, anything in all honesty. So I took my microphone with me everywhere and recorded anything I could so that I had a large selection of samples I could work with once I got into the studio. Often it’s easy to bring a certain sound in to the mix as in this type of minimal atmospheric style of music we love, there’s so much room for experimentation. A bit of EQ and reverb will help many sounds feel welcome in a mix. Also music technology is insane these days. The things you can do in plug-ins to shape a sound you’ve recorded are outrageous. I will often make the tiny loop in a sound so that all you can here is a single tone. I then fiddle with the attack and release times and add some FX to transform that tone into an atmospheric pad type of sound.

Spectrum: Now that your Iceland based EP is complete, what does the future hold for you and your next project? Will you start sending tracks off to labels or do another venture for your personal fulfilment?

The problem I have with sending tracks to labels is that I feel like, if they agree to release it, they think there doing me a favour as opposed to it being a joint collaboration helping one another progress. The idea was to put this EP out on my own, create some recognition and then be in a position where labels might begin to approach me. However, saying that it is certainly a good way to get your music heard by some leading labels in the industry, so it’s something I’ll need to think about more.

As for future projects, I have loads of fresh ideas for tracks and EPs. I think in the immediate future I’ll be putting tunes out every month and marketing them correctly and then seeing where I am in a few months. But I definitely want to continue doing projects similar to the Iceland one. I love traveling, meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. Might well be a Thailand trip coming soon. I think that’s well over due giving that I’m half Thai and haven’t been in 21 years.

Spectrum: I saw you down at System on NYE; a night which is all about sound system culture and the line-up contained a few originators of the scene. Personally I find you can’t beat some of the old-school tracks but do you prefer the original or more recent futuristic sound?

Ah yes, what a night to kick start 2014. I love the early 140 productions, and when it’s dropped on a brilliant system by a well-respected originator, the response and atmosphere is second to none. What do I prefer out of the older and newer stuff? Myself as a producer will tell you that I love the newer stuff as it contains so much detail. So many sounds flying in and out of the mix, for example tracks from the likes of Biome hold so much depth.  I’m a sucker for detail, it fascinates me. I must admit though I’m not a fan of all of the new stuff coming out. I often get the impression that it’s all about jaw dropping basslines and hard hitting snares.  I’m into this type of music for the space, energy and depth, not just ‘filthy sounds’.  However, myself as a raver might tell you something different. I’m not sure I prefer anything much more than some old school wobbles on a beast of a system. Admittedly there’s plenty of space in my heart for both of the styles, long may it last.  I’m fascinated to see where the genre flies next.

Spectrum: I’m exactly the same, sometimes you can’t beat the original sound but I’m so enthralled with the direction the scene is taking currently. If you had to choose what would be your top 5 tracks of 2013?

Kaiju – ‘Close Break’ is, for me, genius. The power of the sub is ridiculous, plus it still maintains a melodic bounce. Vocals, sub and drums proving you don’t need 60 tracks in a tune to make it great. The VIP is pretty special also.
Biome – ‘Mystery’: Biome is the king when it comes down to synths and space, in my opinion. This tune is minimal at its finest for me with sounds flying in and out of the mix with stunning fluency and no snare necessary.
Dub Apes – ‘Last Flute’: I love the Indian Bansuri (flute) in this. It’s actually an instrument I play so I’m totally in love with the sound. The track has a great combination of Bansuri bliss and deep energy through use of synths.
Catabombs – ‘Organism’: Really Dark! I can’t help dropping this in a set. The high mids have been automated to precision. I love how it compliments a dark warehouse full of ravers.
Wayfarer – ‘Reflections’: I’m not the only one in admiration for this one. The vocals are splendid, really creates the mood. The energy the African percussion provides on the drop just makes me want to bounce as high as possible.

Spectrum: Nice selection. So who would be your top 5 current artists?

Biome, Kaiju, Killawatt, Congi and I’m loving Skeptical at the minute.

Spectrum: Finally, you sent me a few of your tracks over, ‘Lam Lam’ and ‘Native Spirit’ being my personal favourites. Have you got any plans release wise for any of your tracks this year?

I haven’t no. Those two tracks you mentioned are some of my very first songs I’ve actually finished. I’ve been holding back for ages, trying to make sure I got the music right; I didn’t want to rush it and put out any old thing I cooked up. So the idea was to get this Arctic Chills EP completed and then get behind it and push to get some establishment in the scene and then I will look to push on with some releases. I feel as if I’m right at the beginning of my career. Off course I’ve been working on music for years trying to get myself in a position where I feel confident in my sound. Now I’ve reached that point, the next step is to force my way into the industry and I can’t wait to face that challenge.

Spectrum: One last thing, when is the EP out?

Friday the 14th of February so if you check my Facebook page, you’ll be able to find any news on the release.

Spectrum: It was really nice talking to you Fintan and we hope everyone enjoys the interview as much as I did. I’ve got high hopes for you in the future so keep safe to your sound and keep plugging away. Thanks again for wanting to get involved.

Thankyou!  It’s been great speaking with you. I’ll be in touch.

If you don’t know the works of Sixth Ape, he recently gave away ‘Untold Passage’; a collaboration with C-Side viaFatKidOnFire. You can download it here –
https://soundcloud.com/fatkidonfire/sixth-ape-c-side-untold

Also, here’s the video for ‘Red Rocks’ which features on the ‘Arctic Chills EP’. It’ll be out 14/02/14 and will be free from Sixth Ape’s soundcloud:

Artist Link’s:
Soundcloud – www.Soundcloud.com/Sixth-Ape
Facebook – www.Facebook.com/Sixth-Ape
Twitter – www.Twitter.com/Sixthapedub

Video edited by Chocie Freidburg:http://www.lumiavisuals.webs.com
Photography Aaron Mundow

Mastering by Matt Mars: info@addedmusic.com

Written by Drew Jones

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