Belfast: not exactly the white-hot epicentre of grime.
Northern Ireland’s first city has its cherished musical exports – electronic music veteran David Holmes and rising house duo Bicep spring to mind – but it takes a fair bit of sleuthing to find any that have infiltrated the rambunctious mainland grime scene. All the more reason to keep an eye on Bloom – Belfast’s great gully hope, and the man behind one of 2012′s most remarkable debut singles.
Issued by Mr. Mitch’s Gobstopper label and supplemented by neat remixes from Slackk and Starkey, ‘Quartz’ hit like a ferric boxing glove. In a year that saw some astonishing instrumental grime releases – Preditah’s ‘Circles’, Champion’s ‘Crystal Meth’, Logos’ endlessly delayed ‘Kowloon’ – ‘Quartz’ is the pick of the crop. The track was less a bolt from the blue than a bona fide electrical storm, a convulsive experiment in deconstructed eski cobbled together from police sirens, shattering glass, and the sound of corrugated iron meeting corrugated iron.
Bloom’s discography is small but highly promising: ‘Maze Temple’ sounds like it’s been produced using Fruity Loops and timpani, and ‘Juniper’ is the audio equivalent of a particularly vigorous game of Quasar. In his first interview, FACT caught up with Bloom to talk Dusk & Blackdown, future plans and “really raw, harsh noises”.
“I’m from Belfast. I’ve been making music for quite a few years now. Mainly grime, but I used to make kind of R&B-esque kind of stuff – a bit more colourful, sense-driven kind of grime stuff about a few years ago – R&B instrumentals, things like that. But I just got a bit sick of it, and started making darker kind of stuff, raw-sounding stuff.”
Even though there’s a lot of different stuff going on in your music, it’s probably fair to say there’s a real nod to grime in your sound. Has it been a big part of your musical development?
“To be honest with you, it has – but I don’t just listen to grime. I’ve been listening to loads of different music. I actually used to play house and techno, about four or five years ago now. I was brought up on house and techno because Belfast is mainly a house and techno scene. There is no grime scene at all in Belfast. So I was just looking stuff up through the internet, through Rinse and stuff like that, getting inspired to make grime that way.”
Obviously you’re some distance from the urban centres where that sound was born and raised – what was it like engaging with the music from so far away?
“It’s a strange one. It was fresh, I was blown away by it when I first heard it. It was such a fresh sound for me because I wasn’t used to hearing anything like it. It was interesting that way. It’s not just grime – people who’d mix it up a bit in those Rinse shows, like Dusk & Blackdown, just people who mix up house, techno, grime, whatever. Just interesting electronic music, I suppose.”
It’s interesting what you say about people who “mix it up”. Listening to your music, I really detect the same sort of unpredictability of people like Rustie, or Baauer – it has that exuberance to it. There’s so much going on.
“That’s right. When I first started to make music, I did try and make something with a ‘wow’ factor. Really raw, harsh noises. I just wanted to make people’s reactions go ‘What the hell is that?’. Just experiment with different sounds, trying to come up with something really…weird. [laughs]”
Talking of the “wow” factor: your work is spotted with samples of gunfire…
“Those grime sounds, definitely.”
…and those console bleeps and squeals…where do you pull those sounds from?
“I don’t know, I pretty much just experiment. Just mess about, trying to come up with some new ideas or whatever. It’s really about trying to mess about with things, and just experiment, basically.”
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