Vanilla has always been a mystery to me, or at least to this day. It was around the time when I first stumbled upon his 2015 released album Origin when I felt the growing love towards love for instrumental hip hop and sample beats music.
I had forgotten about the UK producer until his latest release Moonlight which contains by far one of my favourite track discoveries this year - "Snowdance". Months after discovering the tune, it still gives me the ultimate goosebumps. Anyways, lets stick to what's important now. I am extremely excited to share with you my interview with Vanilla and the awesome mix he crafted for us.
I'm really happy to have discovered a bit more about him and I feel you guys will enjoy this a lot too, regardless if you were familiar with his music before.
Before the interview, would like to ask you about the mix you've crafted for us today. What was the inspiration behind it and how would you describe it in a sentence?
These are just some tracks I’ve discovered recently and thought they might go well together. I think there’s stuff from Brazil, Japan, Korea, the UK and the states here but really they’re all bound by good grooves.
So, you're pretty much off the grid and most of the social media networks. I imagine that's a deliberate decision, but what's the reasoning behind it?
It’s a combination of things really. I’m quite a private person in many ways and I always found the social media element of being an artist in this day and age distracting in all honesty. I realise that means I may be doing a disservice to fans who want to know more or stay up to date, but I’ve always sort of naturally gravitated to this approach and even though I’m not prolific it does mean I’m always thinking about the music first and foremost. This may change in the future as I have now have to consider the future of ‘Vanilla’ and where I want to take it.
You're one of the best proof that huge social media presence and PR are not necessary to be popular and share your music with thousands of people across the world. Were you surprised by your growth and popularity?
Absolutely, and I genuinely feel blessed and honoured that I’m at a stage where I only have to go as far as announce a release and the online community takes it from there and spreads the word. That’s not to say I haven’t worked hard for that, and I suppose it’s proof that you don’t have to bombard social media accounts to get your stuff heard by large numbers of people.
Do people around you (in the everyday life) know / listen / follow Vanilla or it's something you keep rather online & mysterious?
Most people I’ve met probably don’t really know that I do Vanilla. Those close to me obviously do but in my day to day life it doesn’t factor in all that much. I’m appreciative of those who want to know though!
Where does the name Vanilla come from actually?
It was a nickname from a while back based on me having blond hair and if memory serves I just liked the fact it rhymed with Dilla. Obviously not the best name to google but it’s actually worked out pretty well thus far.
You play a bit of piano and guitar - do you still prefer a sample-based driven beats or you try to expand into creating your own sounds?
I can’t really help but gravitate towards sampling; I love composing original stuff and I have a lot of unreleased sample-free music, but I just love the whole process of taking something that exists and seeing what you can do with it so I usually end up focusing on that.
I’ve been working on a sample-free album for some years now so I really hope I can get that out there some day, it’s a world away from the sample stuff.
Vanilla is not a full time thing for you right now. However, are you looking into expanding into other sound fields or music will be (at least for now) a fun side thing?
I’ve recently become very interested in sound and music for film, which is where I’ve been putting a lot of my recent time and energy. Vanilla is always going to be happening but I’m at a stage now where I really need to figure out the next step, and I find film to be a fascinating medium which I want to become more immersed in.
What do you do in your day life besides beat production?
I’m a pretty ordinary dude really. I like films and good food. As I mentioned above most of my time outside of music is taken up with film sound stuff.
If you have to choose someone to collaborate with on an EP who would that be and why?
I’d love to work with DOOM or Ghostface not only because they are incredible rappers but they would push me as a beatmaker to do something really creative and different from my usual stuff.
Who have been the most influential musicians for you?
The two pillars of my production aesthetic are definitely Nujabes and Dilla. I have been obsessed with both of these artists for some time and both have been hugely influential on the way I sample and program beats and think about large-scale projects.
Are you thinking about doing live shows any time soon and what are the Vanilla plans for 2017?
The live thing is tricky. I’m not ruling it out of happening at some point but it’s a whole thing I really need to get to grips with first, so I wouldn’t expect anything there anytime soon. My main plan is another album for 2017 which I am currently working on. Without saying too much I’d like to channel the spirit of Origin with this one and see where I can take it.
Thank you so much for the interview! Any last words / shoutouts etc.?
Only to say thank you so much for the interview and giving me a chance to externalise my thoughts! I appreciate it.