Having stumbled upon the music of Alfa Mist a few years back via work with singer/producer Emmavie. I've been checking the uber talented artist's career even since, and with each release, there have been subtle changes in sound from the soulful mood of the Nocturne EP to the hip-hop bounce of his 2nd Exit project with Lester Duvall, but always underpinned by a jazz sensibility.
His latest work called Antiphon is in my humble opinion is his best work yet. Created around a conversation with his brothers the project finds Alfa blending forward-thinking jazz with alternative hip-hop and soul.
There's a whole wave of new modern jazz players in the UK at the moment, from Moses Boyd, Nubya Garcia, Project Karnak, Alfa Mist and more and if one thing connects them together, it's that the jazz their making pays a healthy respect to the past while being future facing and fresh.
We caught up with the East London producer to talk about his stunning new album, which artists we should be looking out for and a whole heap more. Get the lowdown on Alfa Mist below.
How did you first get into making music? Who were some of your early influences?
I started making grime and hiphop beats when I was in secondary school, so I was listening to artists from Kano to Little Brother. I always wondered why my beats could never even come close to the stuff 9th wonder, J Dilla and Hi-Tek were making, then I discovered sampling and through looking for things to sample I discovered a lot of other genres. I started listening to a lot of film sound tracks and Jazz and decided I need to learn how to play the piano.
What was your first big break as an artist?
I’m not sure that I have had a ‘big break’ yet, just a lot of slow and steady progress, which is all I can ask for really.
I read you created the Antiphon EP around a conversation with your brothers. Can you talk about the conversation and the process of making the record?
Yeah I sat down with my brothers and recorded a podcast and told them the two subjects we were going to discuss would be mental health and relationships. We spoke about what it means to be part of a family and whether or not a conscious effort needs to be made when it comes to checking in and meeting up. On one side its like, the love will remain the same we just need to understand that we all have lives and work that needs be done so there isn’t always time to meet up. On the other side it’s like, can you really be part of someone’s life if you go months without speaking at all? That was just a small part but it was stuff like that. It was very interesting to me I agreed with a lot so their opinions sounded like me debating with myself.
Although jazz clearly influences the EP, it doesn’t easily fit into one genre. How would you describe the sound on Antiphon?
Aswell as jazz there’s a lot of hiphop and soul influence in Antiphon as well. I think there’s this moody thread that ties it all together, I feel like that’s my sound, it’s got a lot to do with my surroundings, I reckon Antiphon would sound different if it rained less in London.
Is there anything musically that you’d like to do that’s very different from what you’ve been doing?
I’d like to compose music for film in the future, but in a weird way that’s not too far from what I’m doing already.
How did you meet up with the (We Are Live crew) Tom Misch, Barney Artist, and Jordan Rakei?
I went to the same primary school as Barney I’ve known him for years and years. I met Tom and Jordan through soundcloud, Tom thought I didn’t like his stuff at first but really I didn’t think two producers making a beat would work back then, so I was reluctant to collaborate since his beats were already good! like, what do you need me for then? haha but yeah we worked on stuff in the end and I learned that collaboration is important and the rest is history! Jordan sent me a message which I replied, but he apparently didn’t get it and thought I ignored him. So yeah not the greatest origin story but we got there in the end.
How did the 2nd Exit release come about and do you have any plans do a follow-up?
I’ve known Lester for a few years and we had a backlog of songs we’d start, say we’d finish and then just leave. One day we decided to remake them all and make some new ones and 2nd Exit was born. A follow up is in the works hopefully it’s just the beginning for that project!
You recently played at the highly regarded jazz re:freshed night in London, how’d it go?
It was amazing man, I’ve been going there for years so it was an honour to get to play there as myself.
Name three new artists, that we should be looking out for right now?
I need to mention Mansur Brown and also Kaya Thomas-Dyke, these people are ridiculously talented, both featured on Antiphon and I’m grateful. Also Kadhja Bonet is amazing.
What are your plans for next year?
Another project, and playing a lot more shows hopefully!
What is your idea of a perfect day?
Going to Asda, getting muffins and coffee, coming home, writing music then reading manga or playing PS4. Basically staying indoors where I can keep my poor communication skills to myself.
Big thanks to Alfa! Check out his Stereofox profile here.