Boy 8-Bit is back with a spooky, cinematic follow-up to his mighty The Suspense Is Killing Me EP. ANDY McCOLGAN talks to Dave Morris, the man behind the Boy, to find out all there is to know about Baltic Pine…
Distinctive. That's the word to describe Boy 8-Bit's music. Its sounds like it lives in a world of its own, one inhabited by the ghosts of soundtracks and wandering lo-fi orchestras. Little surprise then that Dave Morris's tunes have been wowing anyone who listens. And with his latest offering – the four-track killer which is the Baltic Pine EP – he's been wowing the likes of Touche, Annie Mac, Diplo, Plump DJs, Brodinski, Crookers, Sinden and Scratch Perverts. Dave exploded onto the scene in 2005 with his first EP on Touche's Bodyclap imprint. Since then, he's released music on Drop The Lime's Trouble & Bass imprint and Diplo's Mad Decent, and has remixed the likes of Arthur Baker and Dave Clarke, Chromeo, Midfield General, Lethal Bizzle, Mika, Hybrid and The Black Ghosts. Now he's turned to This Is Music Records, the record-releasing arm of This Is Music, which manages Simian Mobile Disco, Little Boots and A-Trak. So is he ever going to settle down? What inspires the other-worldly sounds that rattle through his head? And when is that long-awaited album going to drop? We spoke to Boy 8-Bit to find out the answer to all these questions and more…
How has the Baltic Pine EP been received so far?
The response has been really good. I didn't really make this EP with anyone in mind – they were tracks I had been working on for a while and had been playing out to good response – but people seem to be into it on the whole. Different tracks on the EP seem to appeal to different people, which is cool. It managed to make Pete Tong's Essential new tune which is a demographic I never thought I would appeal to. It's really interesting to see. I hope it means I have put together a varied EP. I think a few people were a bit thrown by the slight change in the sound and a couple of the responses stood out. Someone accused me of being “out of touch” with what was going on, and someone said it was “dubby and minimal - Boy 8-Bit at his worst”. But I'm not really bothered to be honest. You can't please everyone!
Do you think it takes a massively different direction from your previous releases?
Personally no. It's just another evolution of my sound. It's still melodic like a lot of my work, and it's still quite bass heavy. If anything, this EP reflects my DJ style more than the production work. I can play something like Balitc Pine, then go deeper and more techy with Wolfen or Chapel Of Ghouls, and if I want, I can go more clubby with tracks like City Under Siege.
There’s a lot going on musically on the EP in terms of ideas and influences. Does this come naturally or do you conscientiously aim to push boundaries and mix up genres?
I think it comes out of having a short attention span and wanting to try new things. I got fed up of writing the kind of records I was making a couple of years ago, so I wanted to try something new. I wasn't trying to push boundaries – I still think it sounds like me. My influences are pretty broad and they all tend to seep into the production process, though I don't really aim to “mix up” genres as such. I still make house-tempo house music.
Tell us a bit about your influences in general and any specific to you recording these four tunes.
Baltic Pine was me wanting to make a simple bumpy house record with big breakdowns and some sort of pay-off in the last third of the track. City Under Seige is influenced by Baltimore club music. Wolfen is influenced by messing about with the sample I used – I just wanted to make a weird atmospheric track. And Chapel Of Ghouls is influenced by the kind of techno Oliver Huntemann and Stephan Bodzin make.
It’s your first release on This Is Music, right? Why the move from Mad Decent?
It was just a matter of timing and schedules. We wanted to put something out sooner rather than later, and it wasn't going to fit with Mad Decent. I'm definitely hoping to release more on Mad Decent in the future and to continue working with them.
Are you working on any new remixes at the moment? Does your approach in the studio differ when it comes to remix work as oppose to your own output?
I have just done remixes for Florence And The Machine, Invasion, Fake Blood and Booka Shade. My approach differs in the fact that with a remix you (hopefully) have a hook or a melody of some kind to work with. This definitely makes the process easier – I hate to say more enjoyable. But other than that the process is the same – it's taking those ideas and working them into something that reflects my style and that I think I can play out in a club.
Are you working on an album at the moment? What can we expect from it?
Yes, I have an album in the works. The plan is to make it more of a listening album, rather than 10 dance tracks in a row – or 14 if you do three-minute radio edits. I want it to flow like a mix tape or, heaven forbid, a concept album. A couple of older tracks will be on there, but probably in versions different to those that are available now. The plan is to do 12” mixes of album tracks and release them separately. I'm not really into the whole vocalist collaboration thing to be honest, so I don't think I'll be looking for the latest “hot” MC or singer, or dragging some has-been out of the closet. But we'll see. I might put a couple of people on there – I'm sure marketing will want at least one vocal single. Ha!
You’ve been releasing stuff as Boy 8-Bit since 2005. Were you involved with any musical projects before this at all?
My first official remix as Boy 8-Bit was in 2004 and I've been making music under this alias since around 1995 when I started messing about and making drum & bass tracks on my Amiga. I started doing it seriously again when I left university around 2002 and got my first proper work around 2003. I've also played in various bands in my youth, cover versions and the like. Pretty standard stuff.
You’ve got a busy touring schedule over the coming months. Any other plans on the imminent horizon or ambitions you would like to satisfy in the near future?
The near future is nothing but touring and album work, so my main ambition is to get them over with. I'd like to go on one of them storm-chasing holidays too, or shark diving. Maybe go to the zoo in San Diego and see the pandas and take up calligraphy and buy some new shoes and stuff…
The Baltic Pine EP is out now on This Is Music Records. Visit www.myspace.com/boy8bit