Originally meant to be a one-song, cloud-based collaboration, Olugbenga Adelekan (Metronomy) and Gareth Jones (Jumping Back Slash) found a musical chemistry that has blossomed into a longer creative partnership, their methods defying distance with the help of Ableton and messaging services.
Following the release of their EF1 EP, the duo spared some of their time to give us this interview about different
aspects of their music, their life and what inspires them.
Gareth Jones (GJ) and Olugbenga Adelekan (GB)
GB: I grew up in the church, like lots of Africans and black people around the world, really. My mother studied music and my dad played guitar, so we played music at home too. That was my first way in, mainly singing.
My older brother (who also went on to study music) was the first one I saw making music on a computer.
When I got a little older myself I started having a go at that too. I still have some of the files from those first attempts to be Aphex Twin. They are works of true horror.
Gareth and I clicked, I guess, because some of our musical touchstones are the same - Kate Bush and Anime soundtracks, particularly - but also because when I started really digging into contemporary South African electronic music 5 or 6 years ago for DJing, his Jumping Back Slash tunes would come up again and again in my sets.
GJ: I was in a hardcore band when I was a kid and after that I moved into kinda weirdo electronic music and then once I moved to South Africa, the Jumping Back Slash stuff started to happen. I’ve been here for close to 11 years. Working with Gbenga was an opportunity to try a different tack musically...once we started it gelled pretty quickly...
GB: We met about seven months after we started talking over the internet. We were already five or six songs in by that point. I got a grant from the Artists’ International Development Fund to fly out to South Africa so we could properly get into making an album. In the end we made an album’s worth of songs (and shot a video for a song on our next EP) but decided to put the music out over two EPs instead of an album.
Excerpt from EF1 EP
GB: We’re still figuring it out. Hopefully it stays that way! Sometimes Gareth would have a beat
idea that he’d send over and I’d write a vocal. Then what would tend to happen is the beat
would get stripped back and then stripped back again, kind of like reducing a sauce when you’re
We’ve both been making music for a while, and the thing about computer music is you tend to build up this big trove of musical unused fragments. I also have loads of text files on my laptop with lyric fragments. So sometimes we’d try and ‘remix’ some of our older stuff to see if we could make something new. But on many days we worked from scratch, Gareth playing ideas live and me freestyling vocals till we kind of hit on something that worked.
GJ: From a production POV I think that vocals should be very present and are essentially the lead part of any track..I think the production should respect that and aim to serve the vocal as much as possible...that’s obviously not true for all music, Steve Albini is a genius in how he almost buries some vocals in a mix..but in this case it’s about clarity of intention and getting a track, beat and rhythm and vocal to really lock together into something crystalline is very cool to me.
Song writing can be slow when u are working over the internet..the back and forth of it can make things seems blocky and arrangements (which is the natural flow of the song) become kinda problematic cos the process isn’t really natural.
That said the first EP which is primarily material composed across distance came out great..the second EP is the other way round primarily material written together when Gbenga came to SA..that’s has a different vibe it’s a bit looser and has maybe a bit more feel..and that’s 100% cos you are sat in a studio with someone interacting in real time.
GB: It must do. But it’s also not something that, for me, is at the forefront of my mind. Also, I feel like a musical outsider, like what Gareth and I are making is tough to categorise, but other people might look at how embedded he is in the SA electronic scene and say ‘how can you possibly be an outsider? You have Spoek Mathambo’s phone number!’ They might point out that I play bass in a fairly well-known band and say we were never starting from nothing when we dreamt up Eku Fantasy. So these things are all relative.
GJ: What Gbenga said..it’s all very relative. In creative terms there is value to working outside of convention or to not be connected to it...but how much value there is I can’t tell you...
Eku Fantasy has been supported by the Artists' International Development Fund.
GB: The six billion dollar question. I would say that music on its own can’t change people’s minds about things, but it can certainly nudge them in a different direction and set them down a different path. The biggest thing music can do is expose you to realities and perspectives different to your daily norms.
GJ: I think that politically engaged music can certainly open you up to new ideas...when I was growing up Fugazi were a very important band and whilst at the time they were from DC and I lived in North Wales they pointed me in certain directions politically and gave me an understanding of the bigger picture...but also Fugazi operated in an ethical DIY mindset that was a political act in itself against the music industry and that was maybe more of an influence on my thinking as a kid than what they were talking about in their songs...like Gbenga says music can open you up to new experience often seen through the eyes of the musicians making it. If you, yourself, are open and empathetic, it can change your life.
GB: With me, it’s my family and upbringing. The fact I moved around a bit and so had church music on one side and then friends at school listening to Metallica and Nirvana and then Chemical Brothers and Roni Size. I got into Radiohead and Godspeed You! Black Emperor around the time I first picked up a bass guitar.
The technology too - the music I made when I was playing in a room with bands at university is different to what I made when I started using Cubase on a PC and then Ableton on a Mac.
GJ: My life over here has had the most profound effect my music...having kids changes how you see what you do...my wife is also the first port of call for everything I do so if she ain’t feeling it then it don’t get finished...so in my case it’s probably my wife.
GB: We have an Aero Manyelo remix of ‘In Her Lifetime’ (from EF1) out in early September backed by a remix of our own. Then there’ll be the second EP, EF2, out in November. We’re planning to do a few European DJ shows around that release and write some more music to put out next year. It’s all happening.
EF1 EP by EKU FANTASY - OUT NOW