With a new EP on 1080p out now, we talked to the Canadian producer about jungle and how Montreal influenced his music.
Photo by Chantal Africa
When it came time for Montreal-via-Ottawa producer Riohv to choose a name for his second release on Vancouver-based label 1080p, it's hard to imagine him picking a more fitting title than Green Room. Like an area for performers to relax before or after a show, the artist—whose real name is Braden Thompson—makes music that's equally suited to chilling or letting loose. His 2014 cassette Moondance was described in one review as "bedroom dance vibes," and while his work displays a propensity for dreamy pads and moody atmospherics, he's since expanded his mindset to creating tracks for use in his club DJ sets.
What's made Thompson's music appealing to so many is that it wasn't built to specifically serve a dancefloor—it sounds just as lovely on a long drive or coming out of your laptop speakers while you drift off to sleep. This musical diversity is evident throughout Green Room, which contains a myriad of influences from IDM to ambient to breaks to house, and yes, even jungle. Listening to the six-track EP, one gets the sense that the producer had a lot of fun making this, likely because he was creating what he wanted to hear.
To celebrate the release, he's made THUMP an exclusive hour-long mix of breakbeat, downtempo house, and plenty of white label material, which you can listen to below alongside a brief interview with Thompson.
THUMP: Congratulations on your new record for 1080p! I've been obsessed with the breakbeat influence that's quite evident on this release. What made you decide to go in this direction and away from your earlier, more house sound?
Riohv: I've been listening to jungle for a few years now. And there's consistencies in dance music that I really like, certain elements, and I love, love, love pads. They create such an amazing atmosphere and that's something that I feel is really accomplished well and best represented in jungle music. So I was kind of trying to do that with house tracks and I felt like it was translating, but there's something about a long stretched out pad and the frantic rhythm of a 160 BPM breakbeat, as well as the fat bassline that just mesh so well together.
When I was making that release I was listening to a lot of 2 Bit Crew, Regelbau, you know those guys and how they're bringing that sound from the 90s back—not "back," but trying to recreate that with a modern flair. And I think they've been very successful with that. So I guess it was just me acknowledging that and trying to put my own twist on it. [With a lot of dance music] you'll have a basic house beat, which is like a kick on the half beat and hats in-between. That's cool, and there's a lot of diversity that you can have there, but just the way a break fills up the sound of any track is really special if it's done well.
How much do you feel that you have to produce music similar to the of music you've already released and are associated with? Do you ever feel restricted to a particular genre?
Not at all. I understand how a lot of artists feel that way, where they have a name associated with something, and they've built a reputation around a particular sound that is unique to them. But for me, I just want to make what I want to hear. Whether that's an ambient track or jungle, house, techno... I've made hip-hop beats with what I would consider my twist. If I want to make it and someone is down to put this collection of tracks together in the way that Richard [McFarlane] was, then why not? Richard was so enthusiastic about the different styles on it. There's a house track, there's a lo-fi techno burner, a jungle track, and the last track "Sun Shadow," I don't even know how to put a genre on it, maybe IDM or something like that.
I was worried when I put it out, because the first release on 1080p [Moondance] was what I would consider lo-fi house music, and going from that to where I'm at now... I felt like once it was announced, people were going to be expecting something that they weren't going to get. But I hope they can understand that I haven't put anything out in two years, and two years is a long time for taste to develop and change, and this is just a representation of how my tastes have changed over that time.
What made you decide to move to Montreal after living in Ottawa? How does the city influence the music that you make?
When I was in university, I went to Toronto so much more and I would see shows and think, "Wow it's so amazing all these acts are going through there!" I always had this strange intimidation of Montreal, I don't speak French and if I go there and something goes wrong, I'm going to be fucked. But it's pretty much like anywhere else in Canada except some people speak French. It's had the biggest impact on my music, just being around all of these people who are down to dig. Some of the stuff that they find, the influences that they draw from, how that makes me want to work hard, find these weird avenues of electronic music, funk music, etc. I guess it's just expanded my scope of what dance music is and made me want to push that envelope a little bit more.
When I was living on Ottawa, I had a very narrow scope of what dance music was. For me it was like L.I.E.S. and other underground labels, but I never really went past that, it was still very contemporary music. I guess it took being around a lot of the DJs here to realize that some of the older stuff is really worth the dig. For instance, when I came here to play at Datcha with Project Pablo, he asked me if I had any disco and I was like, "What, disco? I hate disco!" I was playing with him that night and he was playing Kerri Chandler and some vocal house, and I was like "Vocal house? What's that? I thought people hated that!" Moving here expanded my line of vision so much.
Tell us about your mix for THUMP. Would you say it's pretty representative of your DJ sets? How much does the music you play out in clubs influence your own records?
It's a collection of records I picked up recently that I've been feeling. Most of them are records I would play out in a club setting. For me it could go either way though, it's also just a mix you could vibe out to at home. I guess I was inspired by a lot of tracks I've been finding lately that share that somewhat spacey feel, which has in turn had a an influence on the music I make. I've always considered the music I make, especially the first tape on 1080p, not the best suited for playing to an audience or a dancefloor. When I imagined people listening to that tape, it's just hanging out at home. I think I read a review and it was described as "bedroom dance vibes," like dancing alone in your bedroom up in the middle of the night, and I totally resonated with that.
DJing was something I got to do as a result of making the first tape. Prior to that I think I had played maybe two or three gigs. Since moving to Montreal, I play two or three gigs a month, which is huge and it's been so much fun. It's made me want to make dancier tracks that I could play out, that could serve as an effective tool on the dancefloor and make people want to dance.
Small Fish With Spine - Meiko
World Of Apples - The Cows At Jordell Bank
YMC - Slugs
Anthony Teasdale - Sensual Emotions
Anorak Trax - Get On (In The Groove)
Nav - Space Chase
Subtech - Coast To Coast
Iberian - Aurora
Riohv's Green Room is out now on 1080p.
Cindy Li is on Twitter.