A new editorial series between us and the artists we love.
Ahead of his debut on Inspected with the “Northlands” EP, we asked RefraQ a series of quick-fire questions.
1. Tell us everything there is to know about your new EP, “Northlands”
Northlands is a small group of tracks detailing part of a forgotten mythical realm. Each track is about a different creature or place within that realm. I've been working on this project and the lore concept as a whole in some way shape or form since early 2015 when I put out an old version of Necromancer on Soundcloud. I wrote The Phasmid in early 2017 and developed it into being about a shape-shifting alien creature later the next year when I started experimenting with visuals.
Since then I've been exploring ways to elevate the project to something more well-rounded. I felt like my intentions with my music were primarily to impress with sound design or to be a "great producer" rather than finding something which felt authentic to me. As a result, each track has gone through a stupid amount of versions and redrafts as my tastes and mixing abilities have changed, which has made Northlands a sort of time capsule of me exploring old and new parameters of my sound and figuring out what I wanted RefraQ to be. Also Voices of Aorr used to be a completely different song until I re-did every section piece-by-piece until it was completely new. So I guess it's also a bit of a reflection on my obsession with getting things right aswell.
The visuals came about as part of this new direction I wanted to push the project. Setting out an entire universe and creating different occurrences and stories within that universe has helped give context to each track and develop the concepts a lot further. Every track on the EP has a small story attached, and I'm glad I'm able to portray a glimpse of it in the video work I've been doing.
2. What’s the most useful piece of equipment or software in your musical toolkit?
Has to be Soothe 2 by oek sound. It's basically taken away the pain of trying to remove harsh frequencies and resonances, just put it on your master channel, job done. The only downside is the latency on this plugin, you have to use it sparingly because it scoffs up your CPU. Another contender is Spectre by Waves Factory, a really smart spectral enhancer, basically EQing with different saturation algorithms, super useful for adding harmonics and colour to a sound.
3. Why RefraQ with the capital “Q” at the end?
Wish there was a proper reason, when I was 11 I thought Refract wasn't edgy enough and neither was Refraq so had to capitalise the Q.
4. What’s your most played song this year?
It's gotta be Two Way Mirror by Loathe. Been a massive sucker for the heavy shoegaze type stuff recently and these guys have a really unique sound. Also been listening to loads of dnb recently aswell, artists like Buunshin, Gyrofield, IMANU and The Caracal Project are making some ridiculously fresh stuff and when I'm on Soundcloud I usually end up rinsing their tunes for a while.
5. What obsessions do you explore in your spare time?
Listening to loads and loads of different music or playing Minecraft, both equally obsessively. I usually love getting out and exploring around where I live too, and playing with my band Pitcher but we're all quarantined so I've barely made it to the shops down my street.
6. What is something that you believe that other people think is insane?
Aliens invented the iPhone. Nah um, the world doesn't need anymore superhero movies, fight me.
7. If you could merge 2-3 musicians/artists into one super musician/artist, who would you choose?
Really tough question. I wanna hear a Bon Iver and Lapalux type crossover, I think there's a really great marriage between folk and experimental electronic that needs to be explored more (and that I want to start exploring). Periphery and Joe Ford would be legendary too..
Northlands EP is released on June 17th as INSP041.