AVNU follows up his fantastic recent single on Ellum Audio with a long-awaited and hugely adventurous new album, ‘Tough To Love But Worth The Effort’.
AVNU (UK) is based on the East Coast of Scotland and has been deeply immersed in music for twenty plus years. He has a love of everything from rock, soul and blues to disco, electro, techno, trance and rave. All of that comes out in his innovative sounds, which range from sweat-inducing club tracks to hooky and feel-good grooves. This album finds him working his magic across 15 tracks that bring plenty of fresh perspective to house, electro, synth, techno and pop. They add up to a storytelling record filled with left turns and tracks that work in a range of different contexts.
‘Surprise!’ opens with a glossy electro beat and shimmering 80s synths that set the tone for the whole record. ‘I Love You’ brings a French touch influence with plenty of filtered synth loops and crisp drums under a soulful vocal, then ‘Supaflake’ cuts loose on an old-school funk vibe with nods to early Daft Punk. This most colourful of records plays out through the likes of sombre cosmic techno offering ‘Bad Karma,’ the longing chords and heavy-hearted electronica of ‘Odyssey Jam’ feat Mariel Ito and distorted bass of ‘Phlegm In The Street’ which comes with laser-like synths and menacing vocals.
The future styles continue on ‘Yo E, Check This Out’ which collides jungle breakbeats with brain-melting sine waves, while ‘Wilkie’ is a moment to catch your breath amongst bright and shiny synths and deeper drums that suspend you in a celestial sky. ‘Proud You’re Mine’ is a perfect electro-dance-pop gem that has potential to be a summer festival anthem and the title track closes down with six minutes of enchanting and mystical synth lines and hypnotic drums.
‘Tough To Love But Worth The Effort’ is a spectacularly broad and accomplished album that lives in a world of its own.
Scottish artist AVNU (UK) has been one of the highlights to come out of Maceo Plex’s Ellum Audio in recent years. Now the DJ & producer has a uniquely eclectic debut album in the dropping and we caught up with him to discuss his music and more…
WWD: Welcome to When We Dip Adrian, and thanks for chatting with us, how has your year been so far?
Thanks for having me! The year has been good. Just working away in the studio writing new music and finishing up the album. A few gigs here and there but I’ve remained fully focused on making music.
WWD: ‘Tough to Love but Worth the Effort’ is coming out on Ellum Audio very soon and is a fantastically varied album. Where did the inspiration for the project come from?
This is the debut album I’ve wanted to write for years. I’m inspired by so many different genres and it’s always been the plan to showcase that. I’m glad it comes across. The title of the album refers to me. It’s the universe’s way of describing me I think! I heard it on some cartoon network show and thought it was sweet and pretty clever and catchy. The front cover is a picture of me and my friend when we were maybe 15 or 16. Taken by another friend. Smoking at school. As you can see I was a poser then and still am. For literally decades I hated that picture. That stupid hair and that stupid pose, so embarrassing! My friend would always threaten to release it to the world. Then I was like Nah, I’m gonna make it my debut album artwork and be done with it. Own that shit! HA!
WWD: Is there any particular hardware crucial to your production process?
No particular hardware. Though the Deepmind 12 and Behringer Odyssey feature quite heavily. Also, the Prophet 12 I received from Maceo Plex features as well. ‘Systematic’ was made solely with that synth. Beautiful sounding. I’ve not long moved into a new studio and I’m planning on expanding my set-up. A few dream synths I have my eye on and some hardware processors.
WWD: Did you have any goals in mind when setting off to make this album? Do you have any tips for artists thinking of creating their own LP?
I just wanted to create something as honest and as personal as possible. To show my influences but be as original as I can be. In terms of advice, I’d say don’t just put a bunch of club bangers together. Try to tell a story. All my favourite albums have dynamics. Each song is different. It’s good to have a couple of stand out hooky tracks that can be put out as singles. But don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Try something new. A lot of dance music can sound samey. Don’t follow trends and be yourself. Do what you love and you can’t go wrong I suppose. Also, be patient. It can take time to develop as an artist. It’s not always the case, obviously, and you can be super original from the get-go. But it might still suck. So put the grind in and trust yourself.
WWD: You fuse a lot of different genres making it very hard to pin you down as an artist, could you please cite some influences? How would you describe your style?
I’m a big fan of Daft Punk and French house. Early Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers. I’d like to say my style sits somewhere in between all of them. My big clubbing experiences were with acts like Justice, Boys Noize, Vitalic. So the electro days of 2007 kinda seep through in my music. To be honest, I went through a stage of trying not to do that, and I lost my way as a producer for a few years. Before realising, nah this is me, I just gotta be myself and go with the flow. I became a lot happier and my music became a lot better and more original.
WWD: The monologue at the beginning of Still Slingin’ Jams is great, where does it come from?
That’s a voice message from my cousin. He’s always trying to wind me up. That was a good one and had to be added to the album. Still makes me laugh. It won’t make much sense to someone who isn’t Scottish. Or from Dundee in fact. He’s basically getting on at me for ignoring him ahaha!
WWD: How did you get into DJ’ing and production?
I started djing when I was 16. I used to listen to Ferry Corsten’s Trance Nation and was fascinated by the transitions. Then my friend got decks and I was hooked. Production was a natural progression. I got belt drive decks for my Christmas and learned to DJ using trance and techno records. If you can mix on belt drives, you can mix on anything!
I started promoting nights in my home city in my early 20’s. Good fun. Anyone who is just starting out should try promoting nights in their home city. Always a great way to learn how to DJ properly, warm up etc. Also networking. Be proactive. And it’s a blast putting on nights with your friends.
WWD: You come from the East coast of Scotland, what can you tell us about the place you live and Scotland’s music scene in general?
I’m from Dundee. One of the smaller cities in Scotland. Scotland in general has a healthy music scene. A lot of really cool festivals and clubs. Though most of it is concentrated in Glasgow or Edinburgh. A lot of the DJs and producers are based in the bigger cities for obvious reasons. I think I will eventually move. But for now, I’m happy chilling in Dundee. I’m looking forward to seeing more acts coming out of Dundee, to be honest. It’s full of talent.
WWD: What’s next for AVNU? Are there any more projects in the works?
Hopefully more albums! I’ve got a lot of material that I’d like to eventually release. I want to produce music for other acts too. Maybe write something non-dance music. Cover as much ground as I can. There are also plans for a string of my edits to be released on vinyl. I’m working with a few of the boys from Ellum Audio on the Jupiter Jazz project. Which you’ll hear more about soon. That’s exciting. And collaboration with Raxon. Again on Ellum. That’s all I can share right now I’m afraid.