DJ Duo Sepalcure Talks Influences
Autechre, Pete Rock, Untold, and more Inspire the bass duo’s Rattle & Hum.
The term "post dubstep" doesn't go over well with Sepalcure.
"If you consciously try to make a genre, especially if it’s some new trendy genre, you’re kind of missing the point," said Praveen Sharma, one-half of the bass music duo (he also DJs and produces as Braille). "You find a lot of people consciously trying to make post dubstep or whatever, and it usually doesn't hit the mark because they're trying too hard to create something that's trendy, which is fine. You can get influence from a trend, but just let that be one of the influences you put into your stew. Make it part of your repertoire, rather than just making it…"
"Define what you do," interjected Travis Stewart, Sharma's counterpart (who also DJs and produces as Machinedrum). Along with Hotflush labelmates like Mount Kimbie and Joy Orbison, Sepalcure helped to shape the landscape of bass music. But as Sharma pointed out, it can be frustrating for artists who feel pigeonholed by a genre they didn't even mean to mold or create. No doubt the pair's work has inspired countless bedroom beatmakers to explore rattling percussion, pulsing beats, and rumbling low end since the release of its first EP in 2010. Their latest, “Make You,” was just released on and is streaming below.
“Make You” draws on the staples of Sepalcure's distinct sound: rapid-fire percussion, swirling blankets of synths and low end, and voluptuous beats. Sepalcure's recognizable style is the product of an eclectic "stew" of inspirations, not just one genre, so CODE asked Sharma and Stewart to give us a taste of the ingredients.
Autechre, "Blows In"
Praveen Sharma: When I was getting into electronic music, I used to listen to this a lot in the car driving around. I remember it was like a switch flipped in my brain, and all of a sudden I just got it. All of a sudden it was like, “This is amazing, this is some next level shit right here.” I just love the way that they combine melodies and the insanely precise percussion.
Travis Stewart: Very polyrhythmic. I was in an African drum ensemble for about five years in high school and my first year of college, which really influenced the way I do my drum programming. At the same time, I was also in marching band playing marching snare, so the combination of both of those things definitely shaped and influenced the way that I do my drum programming. Hearing stuff like Autechre really just pushed me to push boundaries, to fit more, and not do things so statically. Things have changed since then. I think when I was younger, I couldn’t listen to anything that was four to the floor; it just disgusted me. Now, I definitely appreciate more of the house-influenced music. But that influence of polyrhythmic percussion still sticks with me. I’m trying to apply those same things to more standard beat structures.
PS: We were both really into a lot of Paul’s [Scuba’s] earlier releases. Some of the Untold stuff, some of his own stuff. I think even he had some Cosmin TRG releases on there as well.
TS: Mount Kimbie too. Praveen turned me on to a lot of the Hotflush stuff. I wasn’t really aware of it, and it was interesting. He was playing the stuff, and I quickly got attached to it, and around that same time, we started finally writing tracks together. We’ve known each other for years, and it took us a good seven years to finally start sitting down and getting serious about making some tracks. At the same time, it was like, discovering this Hotflush stuff, and within just a couple of months, we’re talking to them and releasing music with them. It happened really fast.
Pete Rock, "Play Dis Only At Night"
PS: I pretty much learned how to DJ with this record and some Q-Bert scratch records. But I remember it was the first record I ever bought doubles of. I just love his production; it’s sparse, smooth, and sounds really organic. It’s not so static like some hip-hop production.
Cosmin TRG, "Broken Heart” (Martyn Remix)
PS: I remember putting this on the turntable and playing it for Travis, right before we started working together, which then became Sepalcure. It was one of the most influential records that made me and Travis feel at home in dance music again. There was a sense of emotion, melody, and intense percussion, not just minimal techno, that boring vibe that had taken over New York at that point. It definitely retained some sort of DJ-ability, while most music at the time that was DJ-friendly was really boring, really long build-ups.
TS: There were not a lot of home listening qualities [in minimal techno], so that kind of gave us a spark in a way to make dance music, but in our own way. We go all over the place influentially, but when it comes to making dance music, we wanted to do something that wasn’t just a DJ tool. Trying to entertain people, you don’t want 32 measures of a hi-hat. Sadly, there’s a lot of music that’s like that, and it almost seems like they don’t consider how it would be sitting with your mates at home.
Africa Hitech, "Light the Way"
PS: Around the time we were starting to write the album, Travis was really obsessed with this release. It took me way too fucking long, but I finally got around to listening to it, and turned out to be a huge influence when we sat down to write the album, and just in general, a lot of their faster percussion, and their sense of little big melodies.
TS: It’s kind of the same reason as the Autechre, but more modern. It almost allowed us to be like, “Okay, other people are still doing this, taking this approach to making electronic music and it really works.” When you find that stuff still works, and people are still doing their thing and putting it out, it gives you validation for what you’re doing. That was definitely a big record for us.