Words: Dylan Murphy
Dublin-born London-based crooner Clu has turned in a 2 track EP and he stopped by to explain how grime, drill and soaring melodies coalesced in his unique new offering.
Having shared tracks on Gobstopper Records and Murlo’s Coil Records Clu has released an emotive and forward-facing release in the shape of ‘Risky Roads’ via Beijing’s S!LK.
Landing alongside a run of merch that includes pillows, the release is the fullest realisation of Clu’s vulnerable and robotic sound. Highlighting his ear for melody and penchant for experimentation, ‘Risky Roads’ channels the UK underground whilst simultaneously calling on the songwriting of America’s sadboi trap scene.
Ahead of the release, we spoke to Clu about how the EP came about and how he flipped traditional ideas on their head for his genre-agnostic sound.
what were you listening to when you were creating Risky Roads?
The working title to this song was ‘Gran turismo‘ because at the time I had been delving into music in racing games, I always thought the arpeggios used in racing games where kind of cool so I wanted to make my own version of one but in my own style and interesting way, if you want to hear the main reference track for this type ‘gran turismo – Nissan dealer’ into YouTube, in the game each car dealership had its own track play as you tuned up your car, a funny little observation is hardy bucks also use this track to cut into some scenes & the viper used it when he was chatting to MPs in the UK.
Once I had the track down I just started singing some vocals I had written over it and coming up with melody lines to compliment the beat.
Is that a nod to the grime video series staple, or where did you draw inspiration for the name?
Yes it is a nod to that, I used to watch those clash videos along with channel u originally, I actually was introduced to grime in the Gaeltacht strangey enough.
it has always been an inspiration for me, particularly the instrumentals, tunes like “pied piper” and “functions on the low” where inspiring me making stuff on fruity loops back when I was in school.
I really like the name not only as a reference to this doh, but also is a nod to my background growing up which often at times felt intense and precarious.
Drill sounds are usually associated with cold, calculated bars lacking empathy, was it intentional to flip this on its head with the remix?
Yes it was my intention, drill music can be very one note emotionally but I love it a lot and drill and trap have been massive influences but I wanted to come at it from a different angle emotionally, to reflect a variety of other influences I have such as 80s ballads and alt pop, trance which are often very emotionally driven and I wanted to find a way to bring all these influences together musically.
Where did the merch ideas come from?
Started in 2016 when we created mood for gobstopper record which was inspired by Quasimoto madlib record which was very playful and I wanted to come at it from my own angle with video game influences and create my own clu-niverse of characters. This was built on with the Murlo release and the drawings and narratives we created. You can see these characters with my alter-ego Going Kayfabe and the latest merch coming out with Risky Roads is like his little sidekick, kind of like Navi in Zelda who helps you along the way giving you tips in the game.
Click here to purchase the tracks on Bandcamp and head below to listen to ‘Risky Roads‘:
Elsewhere on District: Kojaque reflects on insecurities in ‘Casio’.