London-based producer Bearcubs, aka Jack Ritchie has previously been compared to the likes of Jamie xx.
His latest 5-track EP, Chroma, is a distinctly British, downbeat take on glitchy RnB electronica made popular by the likes of Snakehips and Flume.
It’s a mature sounding offering considering this is Bearcub’s debut full length EP – whilst he’s previously released two well-received singles, ‘Touch’ and ‘Paper Walls’, and collaborated with Tom Misch on the hit ‘Colours of Freedom’, Chroma made us really take notice of the young producer.
Can you introduce us to yourself with a little bit of background?
My name’s Jack Ritchie and I make music under the name of Bearcubs. I’ve been producing electronic music for the past few years but have been into all different forms of music/art for most of my life.
Who do you listen to at home outside of your own genre?
It varies dramatically from day to day – recently I have been listening to a lot of weird progressive and African jazz on vinyl. I’ve had Yellow Magic Orchestra’s ‘Background Music’ on repeat – it’s such an innovative and futuristic album considering it was made in 1981. Other than that, I always seem to keep getting stuck in Youtube caves finding nice techno and house tracks.
Your latest EP Chroma traverses a variety of moods – can you talk us through each of the tracks a little?
Yeah I kind of wanted an EP that conveyed a familiar feeling through different vibes and rhythms. The opening track ‘Chroma’ has quite a dark, trippy, downtempo feel. The idea was to create a track with a real building, club energy but in the context of a sad song.
‘Sirens Calling’ leads on from this but with a more upbeat and bouncy garage kind of beat, where I experiment more with rhythms and sonic spaces.
‘So Long’ was a collaboration with the talented singer/producer Secaina Hudson. It has a more pop feel but I like how her melodies interact with the track.
‘Peaky’ has a bit of a grime feel to it – it’s probably the bassiest track on the EP.
And ‘Fades’ closes the EP in a similar mood to how ‘Chroma’ starts, quite a chilled song about finding a path for your art/life in the noise of a big city.
How did you come to work with Beau Young prince on ‘Peaky’?
We met a while ago over Soundcloud. I was part of a collective called Cadence that initially linked us up. I’d been sending him beats over the past year or so, and when I emailed him the Peaky beat, I quickly got lyrical fire back.
You frequently use your own vocals – has this always been an aspect of your music production?
It’s really been the past couple years that I’ve been using my own vocals in my music. I used to rely on cutting up acapellas but then it got to a point where I was just like, why not just sing myself? It’s really interesting as I tend to use my vocals as another form of instrumentation to create the soundscapes.
How did you come to collaborate with Tom Misch on ‘Colours of Freedom’?
We found out about each other’s music online then got in touch. We ended up having a few writing sessions and then came out with ‘Colours of Freedom’ – he’s a really talented dude for sure.
You’ve just released a video for ‘So Long’ with Secaina Hudson. Is this the first time one of your tracks has had an official visual? How involved were you with the artistic direction?
This is now the second visual I’ve made, the previous video was for my single ‘Paper Walls’. For both videos I’ve been heavily involved – writing the storyboards, finding interesting visual references and directing. It’s really enjoyable to have another creative medium outside of music that enhances what you usually do. I’d definitely like to try directing another artist’s video in the future, just to delve straight into the creative visual process.
Does your production style differ to what you’d play out in a DJ set?
A little for sure! My DJ sets tend to be more dancey – house and techno mainly, but I feel like you can still hear my influences in the track selection. I’m always drawn to weirder sounds and songs that might be unexpected.
Lastly, what can we expect from Bearcubs in the coming new year?
I have quite a few things coming up really soon. New music is coming in the new year, I’m very excited about that. I’ll also be playing live again, with a new live set that I’m working on at the moment!