Over the past year there’s been an uprising in melodic sensibility. A particular hybrid sound has flourished from a plethora of different scenes and has made it’s way to the forefront of both the underground and mainstream charts. By channeling styles of Hip-Hop with Trap, Bass, RnB & House a new form of undulating electronic soul has been born, and with it producers like El Train are making waves as the movement’s future.
By fundamentally seeking to bridge the gaps between Hip-Hop, House & RnB, a bourgeoning beat scene has been born that encapsulates innovation as much as it does the key elements of Hip-Hop & House. It’s what ‘Soulection’; the pioneers of the movement call ‘the sound of tomorrow’, and a quick scan of El. Train’s Soundcloud exhibits everything that’s good about futuristic electronic music; a wealth of bouncy hip-hop instrumentals, dreamy styles of bass-driven pop and summery house vibes.
Hailing from Brighton, El Train (real name Luke Nyeke) has been on our radar for some time and has been making waves this year initially with a succession of laid back, sultry remixes that have dominated our playlists consistently ever since. It’s the feel-good nature and sheer diversity of his productions that reminds us as much of Kaytranada as it does of a Flying Lotus record, and it’s this penchant for a soulful sound which is why we’re delighted to have the artist in question in for a chat to discuss the El Train sound as well as everything from its origins and influences to the importance of online music platforms and working with major labels. Ohh and not forgetting a shared love for the Neputunes.
The Brightonian has also been kind enough to supply us with the next addition to the ATB Guest Mix Series. As expected, it’s a perfectly multifarious session full of Bass, Hip-Hop, Trap & Soulful House that typifies his passion for the commercial sound as much as the underground. No doubt it’s a tricky balancing act to pull off but rather like his production, this is 40 minutes of accomplished execution.
[Track list can be found below]
- We’ve been massive fans since the beginning so we appreciate you taking the time out to talk to us, first off we have to ask how did the name come about?
Very random story to be honest. It all originates from a program I used to watch on UK TV channel Trouble called ‘City Guys.’ There was a character on there called El Train. So basically I used to play wrestling games on the N64 with friends and we would make our own characters, I’d always call mine El. Train. From then on the name seemed to stick and as much as I hate it now, I think I’m stuck with it!
- Can you tell us a bit about your background, was it a musical one and were you always interested in music growing up?
Not so much, I’ve got the usual story of having a few music lessons whilst at school (piano, recorder etc) and hating it and giving up. It wasn’t till I was about 15 when I got a guitar for my birthday that I started to get interested in music really. From there I used to write and record songs with a friend and that introduced me to recording software firstly Acid Pro, then FL Studio and finally onto Logic which I still use now.
- Do you remember the first ever record you brought and was there a particular song or artist that drew you in from an early age?
The first record I remember buying was Sweet Like Chocolate by Shanks & Bigfoot haha, I must have listened to it about 1000 times! The first time I fell in love with a record though was the first album from NERD ‘In Search Of….’ That was actually something my sister bought though. I think that’s the album that got me into production, I use to watch hours and hours of videos of the Neptunes in the studio on Youtube (something I still do to this day!)
- We were first made aware of your productions from the excellent ‘Lucid’ EP, was this your first major release and what was the inspiration behind it?
I actually have quite a few EP’s on my Bandcamp as well as an EP that I released on French label Laruche this time last year. The ‘Lucid’ EP was never really meant to be an EP as such, it was just a collection of tracks that I thought fit together quite well so I decided to through them up on Bandcamp. If I’m being honest all of the EP’s I’ve released so far are just building up to what I’d call my first proper release which will hopefully see the light of day towards the end of the year.
- Music is a spiritual thing to most producers and there’s a distinct style that can be heard from your releases, is there a particular message you set out to convey through your productions?
I’m not really sure if that’s the case for me. When I sit down and make music, I’m usually inspired by something that I’ve heard that day. I have such an eclectic taste in music and I think that’s why my music spans so many different genres.
- You’ve been getting a lot of love recently from the likes of Soulection and Complexion who’s been waxing lyrical about your output of late, has soundcloud been a major factor towards your evolution and are you reaching a point now where your happy now with the attention the productions are getting?
Without a doubt, if a platform like Soundcloud wasn’t around, there’s absolutely no way anybody would be listening to my music. Not only does it allow people to post their music to a global audience, it also allows people to discover so much new music. I spend hours and hours trolling through Soundcloud for music that I can play in my sets and also for hidden gems that I can get in touch with to release on my label Shimmy Records.
I’m so grateful that there are people who like the music that I’m making but I know I’ve still got a lot of work to do if I’m ever going to be able to make music my full time job.
- With guys like Kaytranada, Sango, Esta, Lakim etc. absolutely killing the scene at the minute, which artists are you currently feeling? & is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
Kaytranada is my absolute favourite in the scene right now, everything he puts out is gold. A few other producers that are constant rotation for me are Pomo, Snakehips, Lindsay Lowend and these guys I just heard the other day Brass Tracks (if you haven’t already, check them out. They are incredible!!!)
- Out of all your productions is there one in particular you enjoy listening back to the most?
That’s a tough one, I’m not really a big fan of listening to my own stuff to be honest! If I had to pick one though I think I’d have to pick the collaboration I just finished with singer Iman Europe. It’s a really chilled track that you can just sit and relax to.
- We’ve had your ‘Paradise’ remix for Sinead Harnett on constant rotation this week, can you tell us a bit about that release?
Yeah basically with that track I had done a bootleg edit of her track ‘No Other Way’ and somehow it got into the hands of her management who contacted me about remixing ‘Paradise.’ I made about 4/5 different versions of that remix, but the one I put out I was finally happy with.
- As one of the most versatile selectors we’re hyped to have you as part of our Guest Mix series, what should we expect? Any exclusives thrown in?
It’s a real mix of genres and styles to be honest. I think there’s about 30 tracks in the 40 minute mix so there’s a lot of quick changes from song to song. Hopefully there’s something in there for everybody and I’ve also thrown in a couple of unreleased tracks from myself.
- Finally the all-important question, what can we expect next from El. Train? Any forthcoming projects you can tell us about?
I’m currently working with a lot of different rappers and singers on songs for my next EP, I’m not really sure when it’s going to be coming out but hopefully towards the end of the year. I’ve also got a remix that I did for Ivy Lab, which should be out on Critical music in the New Year. I’m also working with a few other producers on some collaborations and finally I’ve got a couple of tracks coming out on compilations in the near future.
El. Train’s ‘Paradise’ Remix of Sinead Harnett is out now, listen below.
Her – Unknown Artist
Sam Gellaitry – Waiting So Long
Pusha T – King Push
Ghost Mutt – 33 10
Lockah – Ayo Bonus Beats
Mikos Da Gawd – Love
Jaw Jam – The One I See In My Fantasies When I’m Dreaming (Mix II)
Disclosure – Flow
Milo – I Need You
Major Lazer x Tessela – Aersol Can/Helter Skelter (El. Train Blend)
El. Train – I Need You (Unreleased)
AWE – YYY
El. Train – Yoshi’s Island (Unreleased)
Sam Gellaitry – Powder
Alizzz – Collapse
813 – 256 Colours
Da P – Strike Out
Joe Goddard x Kidnap Kid x Moko – Let Me Go
Mya – Love Is Like (Jaw Jam Remix)
Kaytranada – At All (Sable Edit)
Falcons x DJ Hoodboi – Tick Tock
Carpainter – Reflector
Mura Masa – AK
Hudson Mohawke – Thunder Bay
Rustie – Attak (Feat Danny Brown)
Joe – Claptrap
Mele – The Boogaloo
Salute – Flightss
Hudson Mohawke – Thank You
D Double E – Street Fighter Riddim