Making his name through bootlegging Mavado's 'Dem A Talk' and performing on outlets like Rinse FM and Get Darker TV, Lancashire born Compa has to date had releases on Boka Records, Tuba Records, Lo Dubs, Area Recordings, Redshift One and he has an imminent plate dropping on the respected Kokeshi imprint. With that in mind, and an upcoming set in the Kokeshi hosted Room Three this Friday, we caught up with the young producer and owner of WR/WX (We Are Wax) to talk about his blossoming music career, something his illustrates perfectly with a mix made up of 95% his own unreleased music...
For those who may not be acquainted with you or your sound, can you introduce yourself and your music?
Sure, my name is Compa and I’m originally from Clitheroe in Lancashire, North West England. I'm currently residing in Manchester. I produce dark, heavy, atmospheric music with very heavy sub-bass.
How would you describe the music you make in more detail?
My music is built with sound systems at the front of my mind. The foundation of my sound is sub-bass, chest rattling frequencies, but the best way to describe my music is to say the words heavy, atmospheric, dark, moody and emotional.
Do you have a musical background other than producing electronic music?
In a sense, yes. Before building electronic music I played drums in various high school bands for a few years, like a lot of kids do, and I also DJed from age 13. My youth club got me on the turntables and I never stopped, playing – though it was house first, then drum & bass.
When I went to college, I studied graphic design and media and music pretty much went out the window for a couple years, but in my final year of college they put Reason music production software on the computers. One of my teachers taught me how to use it and I was hooked and ended up dropping everything and going on to apply for a music producing degree at university. I got in with the music I’d been making on Reason for about three months, somehow.
I'm finishing my degree as we speak, I’m finished in two months. Then it's into the 'real world'.
How did you get involved with dubstep?
Back in 2008/2009 when I was buying drum &' bass records, my mate offered me some of his old 12"s, and whilst I was around his house he played me 'Midnight Request Line' by Skream and a couple of old DMZ records. I was like “what's this slow drum n' bass?” and he explained and I was fascinated. It sounded amazing. He told me about Kode9, Burial, Mala, Coki, Skream etc. and that was it, I stopped buying drum & bass straight away, started researching this ‘dubstep' music and started buying a heap of random 140bpm-ish 12"s.
How does it feel being picked out by Kokeshi? Is it a label you’ve always respected?
It feels amazing. It feels very special. I'm proud to represent. I feel blessed and very lucky to be part of the family. I remember buying their Lung b/w Kryptic Minds 12" a while ago and that was how I found out about Kokeshi and I was hooked on their sound ever since.
Aside from Mala (at Deep Medi), Alicia at Kokeshi was the only other person I religiously sent music to, and I was blown away when she offered me a solo 12". I feel like my slightly more meditative music sits so well on the label going by the Kokeshi back-catalogue. I think it's important for your sound to 'fit' on a label and also have a personal relationship with the label owner. Music to me is a very personal thing so I have to know that what I’m releasing and where I’m releasing it is right, and this release ('Kalindi' b/w 'Antact') definitely felt natural with Kokeshi.
What have you been working on recently?
Aside from a mountain of university work I’ve been building new music, I’m in the studio all the time aiming for minimum eight tunes a month, but more recently I’ve been pushing my WR/WX vinyl-only label and brand.
WR/WX (We Are Wax) was originally setup as WX/WL (Wax White Label Series) to release my remixes on white label 12"s, but WR/WX will be an official label later this year for my own music and the music of my housemate and childhood-friend Brunks (who produces dark funky house).
Recently we printed WR/WX T-Shirts, which sold out in 24 hours, and we've just printed stickers to push the brand out, we're almost working backwards in that we're promoting what hasn't happened yet, since up to now we've only done club nights, but the support already behind us is incredible and I’m very excited to release WR/WX001 soon, which will be one of my tunes on one side, one of Brunks' tunes on the other. It will be out later this year.
Can you let us in on any of your forthcoming releases?
Yes, obviously my Kokeshi record is next in line, which will be out in March, and then I have a remix for a Tuba Records 12", a remix I’ve done for a Lo Dubs 12", a release on my WX/WL series which you should keep your eyes peeled for, a solo-12" for Tuba Records, and a really exciting release on literally my favourite label in the world, and one which my sound couldn't fit more perfectly on, which I can't announce. It's going to be a nice surprise for people.
Can you tell us a little bit about the mix you’ve made for us?
Sure, the mix is me drawing strictly dubplates from my record bag and the mix itself consists of about 95% my music. Every tune is currently unreleased with a handful of them forthcoming in the next few months.
What can we expect on the night in terms of your DJ set?
The mix itself is a great representation of what I will be playing at fabric this Friday in terms of progression and energy. I have a load of exclusives cut in preparation and I’ll really be able to test the sound system with my Kokeshi tunes too.
You play all vinyl/acetate sets. Explain why that is?
It's so much more simple than people think. People see me as an elitist or something but when I started DJing at youth club back in 2003-ish there were no CDJs or laptops. Everyone turned up with records, record bags and talked about the local record shop. It was like "I just bought this today to play to the seven of my friends down here" and "oh shit that's sold out already?" I wasn't on facebook, I didn't know what the word 'download' even fucking meant. It was records, physical music only. That's how I began, that's my roots.
Further into learning what dubstep music was in about 2009 I saw Mala and Skream playing these smaller records (10" acetates), I was like 'what are these small vinyls about?' After some research I found out about dubplates and Transition. I actually always wondered how DJs ever even played the music off their computer on turntables, and when I found out I started cutting. I used to cut a load of shit. Waste my wages on cutting 10"s and not even play them out as I had no gigs! There were no club nights anywhere close to my town where I lived, I didn't play a show for about six or seven years, I just always absolutely loved getting my music through the door physically. It's always been a passion. It’s that simple. I'm passionate about records, and I always will be. Its stress from time to time, heavy bag, needles etc but it's worth it for me. It's who I am. It's who I’ve always been.
What's next for you? What does the future hold?
Hopefully more bookings, more travelling around the world, more releasing my music and more learning and progressing alongside my friends and the labels that support my music. Look out for my next few releases; I have a lot coming out soon...