To say that London-based electronica maestro BEARCUBS has been busy as of late is a bit of an understatement. In the past year alone man-behind-the-moniker Jack Ritchie has released an EP, a handful of singles and a whole bunch of remixes. He is currently gearing up for the release of his new EP with his latest single, the intoxicatingly glitchy title track ‘Underwaterfall’, which sees him croon over understated schisms and skittish beats; it made sense then that we stay ahead of the game and get an insight into what we can expect from his new music. Read on to discover more, and find out what artists inspired his love of electronica…
You recently debuted your new track ‘Underwaterfall’. There are a lot of intriguing sounds at play; can you tell us a little about composing the track and what inspired it?
The main concept of the song was to create something that described the feeling of being underwater, like free diving – theres a kind of peace and tranquility but also a feeling of fear that goes along with it. It’s something that everyone can relate to but each person has their own ideas/experiences attached to it. In terms of sound, I wanted to use an instrument that had an organic quality to bring a warmth and a realness to the track, so I used the steel drums to contrast with the electronic elements.
We hear echoes of your contemporary James Blake in the murky vocals and whirring tones. What do you draw influence and inspiration from when creating music?
My inspiration comes from a lot of different things, not just music but also art/film/life in general. I was brought up on jazz and hip-hop, so that influences my musical output significantly. Vocally, I’m inspired by old and new soulful artists mainly, anyone who does things in their own way and speaks with a true voice.
‘Underwaterfall’ is the first track taken from your forthcoming EP of the same name, which is released on 10th March. What can you tell us about the release and why should we be excited about to hear it?
It’s my second proper EP release, which is exciting because before I was thinking about my music more as separate singles, whereas in creating an EP or an LP you need to think about the project as a whole. It makes you look at the sounds and themes you are choosing to focus on, and what they mean together – essentially what describes you as an artist. With ‘Underwaterfall’ as an EP, there is quite a lot of variety with the songs, but they work together sonically, with an underlying theme. With each release I feel like I move forward in my understanding of what I’m trying to achieve creatively, so it’s a great feeling when new music comes out.
Underwaterfall follows your previous EP, Chroma, which was only released last December. Are you constantly working on new music? What do you do to ensure that the quality of all of your output stays high?
I am constantly working on music! Whether it’s my own, or producing for other people, there are times when I work on music less after an intense period – then I just need to chill and have a beer, but I’m usually trying to absorb and cultivate ideas from other things in these times. I usually know instinctively when something I’m making is good and when it’s not, there’s always doubt there too, but things seem to fall into place when I’m feeling the music and I’m pushing myself slightly out of my comfort zone.
You remixed Bastille’s recent single ‘Blame’ for the EP. How did that collaboration arise? Have you worked together previously?
I was lucky enough to be chosen by them to make a remix; we’ve never worked together before, maybe one day!
On your Chroma EP you collaborated with Secaina Hudson and Beau Young Prince. What do you enjoy about working with others on your music? Are you planning any other collaborations in the future?
Collaborating is a great way to become inspired, I think. Everyone’s got their own way of working and their own perspective, when these come together in the right way amazing things can happen. I’ll definitely be collaborating with other artists on future releases.
Chrome saw you gain a lot of airplay by tastemakers Annie Mac, Zane Lowe, Danny Howard and Monki, as well as appearing on BBC Radio 1’s Introducing playlist. How does it feel to be getting this kind of recognition? Has it surprised you at all?
Yeah it has surprised me to be honest, it’s quite surreal hearing my music on the radio and seeing it spread online. It sometimes still feels like it’s just me who knows about my music, I just need to get used to it being out there in the world.
In late March you set off on a UK tour, which culminates in a show at Berlin’s Badehaus. What can people expect from your live show? What made you want to end it in Berlin?
It’s a fully live show, so I’ve tried to avoid computers where possible. I want it to be really engaging for the audience, and for the atmospheres I’ve tried to achieve in my songs to come across and fill the space. A lot of the songs I made at night and had live performance in mind when I was writing them, so I think the set translates well into a dark environment. Berlin is one of my favourite cities, so I’m well pleased to be ending the tour there, hopefully see some of you there!
Bearcubs new EP Underwaterfall is out on 10th March
Listen to some of the tracks that made Jack love electronica below!
Gold Panda – ‘Vanilla Minus’
This track was a kind of gateway song into house for me, It’s repetitive but still so melodic.
Baths – ‘Animals’
Baths basically opened my mind to the possibilities of electronic music, I couldn’t quite believe the sounds when I first heard them, which instantly made me want to start producing.
Flying Lotus – ‘Breath Something / Stellar Star’
Another artist that I couldn’t quite believe at the time, how unique his music is, an innovator who is still innovating for sure.
Prodigy – ‘Diesel Power’
Probably the first British electronic act I heard when I was about 7, I remember being blown away by the energy and their ridiculous videos.
The Knife – ‘You Take My Breath’
I like how poppy yet weird this simple song is/they are in general, they have for sure been a great influence on me.
Shlohmo – ‘The Way U Do’
Such a nice of use 808s, I used to rinse this pretty hard.
Massive Attack – ‘Tear Drop’
Everyone knows this song, it’s so powerful yet so simple, which is often very hard to achieve.
Bjork – ‘All Is Full of Love’
I had a heard and enjoyed Bjork when I was younger but I got into her properly when I started making my own electronic music, her soundscapes and non-conventional pop structures have been very inspiring to me.
Lapalux – ‘Jaw Jackin’
Not the easiest track to listen to but the meticulous construction of sounds in it are insane.
Weather Report – ‘Teen Town’
More prog than electronic but Jaco Pastorius’ bassline almost sounds like a synth and it has great harmonies and a moodiness to it. I’ve always been fascinated by this kind of music which is why I think I’m so into vintage synths and analogue electronic sounds now.