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Letta's Taking Sino Grime to Skid Row on "In Black"

Meet the American producer who sits somewhere between LA, Bow E3 and outer space.

Josh Baines

Josh Baines

"I moved out when I was 13 and I've pretty much been on my own since then. I spent most of my youth in Arizona, which is a hub for all the drugs coming up from Mexico. I was a junkie for years and sold a lot of drugs - it was a super violent, hectic time. The fact that I made it out of that alive and the fact that I've stayed clear of drugs or even thought about them in the last five years is a miracle. Unfortunately, I can't even count five of my friends that made it out like I did, but I always clung to my music. No matter what was going on in my life and what I was involved with, I was always making beats — it's the only reason I'm not dead already."

If that hasn't grabbed your attention, I'm not sure what will. American producer Letta makes thick, woozy, futuristic, clanking, viscous, metallic club music that sits somewhere between the outer reaches of experimental instrumental grime, deep space techno, and the ghost-in-the-shell stylings of avant-R&B. His soon to be released album — the first full length to see the light of day on Coyote Records — Testimony is a haunting and haunted thing. It creeps and crawls into the listener's head, positively oozing with malevolence.

Check out our feature on Coyote here

Speaking to Letta, you get the sense that he's never going to be dropping summer smashes for the Croatian set. This is dark music that comes from a dark place. "After a while, I finally made an effort to get my shit together and was on methadone for a few years before deciding to go to the desert - five miles north of Mexico - and made myself stay there until I was better. It was the most agonising time ever. I tried to just stay out of trouble and focus on music, which is a lot easier said than done. Luckily, I've always had homies putting in work and after another run getting involved with the wrong shit in Arizona, I finally just said 'fuck it, I'm too old for this', packed up my stuff and bounced to LA," he says.

"In Black" which you can stream exclusively above here on THUMP drips with melancholy and resignation. It sounds like the end of something. It sounds heavy as fuck. It sounds like exactly where it comes from. As Letta explains, "I crashed on couches until I got my act together and ended up living in a warehouse in the middle of Skid Row - just a huge, open, raw warehouse space. So that's what I do now - I smoke a lot of trees, make beats all day and hang out with my cat. I think being on Skid Row and seeing so many people that remind me of my past has really helped me reflect and take my music to where it was supposed to be. I feel like this record is just the first chapter in me trying to channel years of sadness and horrible memories. I feel like every track relates to a specific moment in time, with a specific person, in a specific place. This is just me channelling stuff - it's not beat making, it's not grime or hip hop or whatever, it's just me."

Testimony is released in September on Coyote Records. The 21st of August sees the Coyote crew throwing a party to raise funds for War Child. The event, which takes place at The Waiting Room in Stoke Newington, features the likes of Last Japan, Silk Road Assassins and E.M.M.A. Head here for more information.

Follow Letta on SoundCloud