A product of a youth spent tackling instruments, the Manchester based producer, Werkha, makes music that incorporates both his passion for live music and soundsystems. Throughout the correspondence around this feature he comes across as incredibly enthusiastic and it’s a trait he seemingly shares with his music. His ‘Cube & Puzzle’, a blend of walking bass, ascending percussion set to a 4x4 beat, feels reminiscent of Dorian Concept with the showmanship toned down, but tunes like it and ‘Le Roitelet’ are so insistently and frankly danceable that it’s no surprise his music has found favour with tastemakers like Gilles Peterson.
Ahead of his upcoming appearance here in the Hit & Run hosted Room Two takeover Werkha took the time to put together a mix that encapsulates both his taste and the way he plays, so we framed it a call and response conversation designed to get to know him a little better…
Difficult question first, how would you describe the music you make? I mean, there’s a lot of influences in there (which are neatly outlined in the mix you made for us)…
Well I can only describe it from my side of the controls… but I basically make what I want to hear, so something with a level of musicianship that is made for a sound-system. That is also what I look for in the records I buy. I want to hear instruments and bass-lines, grooves and the sound of a live kit, interesting harmony and rhythm. I suppose that is just my taste.
You’ve already garnered support from people like Gilles Peterson at 6Music and on your FB it says like ‘honestly enjoying music’… how did you get into making tunes in the first place?
I have a lot of time for Gilles and his approach to music, so it does mean a lot to have him onside. He's a good listener. As for making music, I grew up in the countryside where I filled my time jamming for hours with my mates Alex and Tom. Ee still talk about some of those jams; there was the feeling of something clicking, like your instinct patting you on the back - that's what I still strive for in music. I got into stuck into producing over the last couple of years, and now I do my Werkha stuff. To get that instinctive feeling, I’ve got to be honest about it. It's my music, I want to show you what I love doing, but I’m not going to lie about it, so I make my truth and you can decide whether you like it or not.
Similarly what is it that keeps you motivated to make it? Do you still enjoy it as much now? You seem to make a bunch of different styles… does having a certain stylistic openness help do you think?
I will always enjoy music. There's a whole world of it, and there's so much to explore, that motivates me. I think that 'stylistic openness' is a part of most people; we have to come to terms with that, it'd be wrong of me to throw myself under a particular banner. I saw some online thing about Skream 'quitting' dubstep and switching to disco - that's obviously what he wants, which is completely cool, but personally, my music is what I make, so while you can hear me in the record, expect a variety about the music.
That openness seems to be something that’s quite well received in Manchester… are you appearances going down well up there?
Manchester is hard to beat. There's so much good stuff going on here it keeps you on your toes. It's that being true about your music, that's very Manchester. I feel like I can dig into all sorts from my collection. Every time I play I feel like I've got to do the place justice, so I hope it goes down well!
How was your debut, Cube & Puzzle, received? Were you happy with how it went down?
It was received much better than I anticipated. CKM were set to release that EP before they had even heard ‘Cube & Puzzle’. Then a couple of days before mastering I sent it to them, as a 'just in case' production for the EP. Now it is the EP. So it was nice of them to see something in me. It was fun to make so I’m glad people enjoy it, it has been really interesting hearing what people have had to say about it.
What’s coming up next for you?
Gigs such as fabric and some festivals (Gottwood, Kendal Calling, Dimensions and more). In the meantime I am looking at getting some more tunes out. Compilations, remixes, and a next EP which I am plugging away at now that I have finished my degree.
Can you tell us a bit about the mix you made for us?
It is mostly wax, but with the aid of a dodgy CDJ, and through a mixer that was salvaged from a skip. Obviously the music is the important part, and that is an insight into the records I buy, the stuff I spend ages trying to justify being able to afford. It is the music I listen to, I love stuff with a bounce to it; something we can all move to.
Werka – FABRICLIVE x Hit & Run Mix
Janet Jackson - If (Kaytranada Remix) [Alternate Version]
Dean Sunshine Smith - Auburn Avenue 2012
Carter Bros. - Full Disco Jacket (Nebraska's Old School Mix)
Les Sins - Fetch
Werkha - Lapwing
Kay Suzuki ft. Fatima - Something To Say
Ifan Dafydd - No Good
Flying Lotus - RobertaFlack (Martyn's Heart Beat Mix)
Ramadanman - Blimey
Werkha - Le Roitelet
Flying Lotus - 1983
Ta-Ku - Hey Kids
Werkha - Bottle Trick