Erik L is a Swedish producer best known for his work with the groups Supersci and Favorite Flava. Today he will release his solo debut album “The Soularp Suite” on his own imprint Soularp Records. Don’t miss this album if you’re into futuristic funky hiphop based beats ’cause this album is extremely wicked.
Hey Erik, how thing’s today?
Hey I’m fine! How are you? (All good here/Pierre)
You’re about to release your debut solo album any day now. Can you tell me the story behind it, why did you choose to record a solo album? As a member of the hip hop act Supersci, do you feel that the music you make under the name Supersci doesn’t satisfy your musical output, ergo the solo album?
I have been releasing my solo material since early 2008 and I did my solo album because I make alot of music. I had already put out a digital free EP, the Favorite Flava album (me and producer / singer Stray), a vinyl EP with US rapper Cerebral Vortex and worked with a bunch of American emcees so it was a natural thing to do and I know people want to hear a full length Erik L album. No we are working on the new Supersci album right now, and we are taking it in a new fresh direction, still the jazzy vibe but maybe a little more soulful and funky sounding and not completely sample based, that’s how I would describe it.
When you produce for Supersci you and Arka goes under the name Flyphonic Beats, why did you make the choice to distance yourself from Flyphonic and release an album under your own name?
Arka have been working on his things and besides Supersci, producing for a Swedish rapper called Mangemyt among other things and I have been fortunate enough to be able to work almost full time with my music the last 2 or 3 years and when you work in the studio almost every day you keep getting alot of tracks! Plus I wanted to go in a little other direction with my music. Keep the musicality but a bit less jazzy compared to Flyphonic and a little heavier and more funk driven. I have always loved funk, listened a lot to jazz and funk when I was a kid and also played saxophone in a jazz-funk band. Lately I almost stopped sampling and instead play all the instruments myself. I get tired of myself after doing the same style or sound for too long. Im always looking forward and have a hard time listening to stuff that I made a while ago, which could be a problem when I have unreleased tracks laying around and starting to get old (for me).
The album will be released digital on your newly founded label Soularp Records, how did you come up with the idea to start your own imprint? So far you’ve released two albums (not counting your album), please inform the readers about these two.
I started the label because me and Detroit producer Illingsworth had an album laying around that we have been working with on and off since 2007, and 2009 we were going to have it released on a label on vinyl, CD and digital but that didn’t happen for some reason so I decided to release it myself digitally. The CD will be out on Still Siblings Ent, which is the Swedish rapper Numb’s label (I produced his latest CD except one track). So Northern Connection was the first release which have been working out better than I could have imagined with a lot of buzz and airplays, and in February we released my man Stray’s (from Favorite Flava) album. It’s a soul album going in a few different directions from pop to electro funk. He makes great songs and has a great sense for harmonies and chords.
You have invited some guests to take part of your album, namely Frank n Dank, Cerebral Vortex & Paul Mac Innes & Stray. Did you know that these were the artists you wanted to work with before you started to record the album or did they come along during the duration of the recording?
No that just happened. I have a bunch of tracks recorded with Frank n Dank and I took 2 of them to the album. I wanted one last track with rap and Cerebral Vortex did a verse on a track called ”Ascension” I asked Paul to sing on it too and he did something super quick which I think sounded great. The album is mostly instrumental though.
Talking about Stray, you’re also involved in the “future soul”(?) project Favorite Flava with Stray. So far you’ve released one album. Shed some light on the project for the readers.
I checked Stray’s myspace page maybe early 2008 and was like damn, this is some nice music and asked him to sing on a track with Kissey Asplund for a free EP I was doing and it turned out fine so I sent him some more beats and he recorded to alot of them and he was very fast too, just like me and I guess we decided to do an album instead. So we did, and we had a couple of labels interested but settled with Ubeat Records which seemed like a fresh new forward thinking label run by Jay Scarlett and Onur Engin. We got some great feedback on the album and a lot of airplay around the world.
Going back to your album, one can spot influences from a broad spectra of music may it be hip hop, soul, electronica & folk music but how do you personally describe it? Do you have a particular label that you use?
No, instrumental (space funk) hip hop… at least on my latest album. I try to have my own sound harmonically.. or actually it comes naturally because I’m not super trained in musical theory so I do it in my own way. I do think I have a good musical ear though and a feeling for what type of things that works rhythmically and what doesn’t, plus I can improvise on any instrument I play. That helps me alot coming up with something unique musically. Of course I spend a lot of time on the drums, try to come up with something fresh.
You play most of the instruments on the album yourself. Are you a schooled musician or have you learned to play on you own? And which is the ultimate musical instrument ever?
I started playing the drums when I was very young, my father taught me but he could only play jazz so the first things I learned on the drums were to swing, you know on the ride cymbal and small improvised fills on the snare. Then I took piano lessons when starting going to school, but I thought it was boring until I learned how to improvise on an instrument, after that I started to play the saxophone when I was maybe 13 and played it kind of seriously for a number of years. I also liked to play electric bass and borrowed an old Stingray and I remember I used to play to a Herbie Hancock tune called ”Spider”, that was the type of music I was listening to when I was around 14. In the little place where I grew up most kids were listening to heavy metal. Late 1998 I made my first beat. Later on I practised bass every day and almost stopped making beats for like 2 years.
You’ve produced a lot of other artists as well during the years. Swedish artists like Organism 12, Fjärde Världen, Fattaru, Kissey Asplund etc. as well as some foreign names (Cerebral Vortex). What does the future hold for you as a producers for others? Do you have any artists you would like to work with?
Who I would like to work with, I would say Erykah Badu, Gerogria Anne Muldrow, Bilal and Steve Spacek. My main goal now is to focus on my instrumental music. I think that’s where the most interesting music is made now, like the whole beat scene that is getting bigger and bigger.
If we shall go back in time a bit, 2007 you released the Flyphonic album which has been grossly overlooked by the listeners. Why is this you think?
Don’t know really, I think it’s a good album but maybe because it was only distributed in Sweden and Scandinavia I think and not promoted anywhere else, and it is probably a bit too leftfield for most Swedish hip hop listeners. Sweden is a small country.
What kind of music do you listen to yourself these days?
I try to check some of the new beat makers coming out and there are some cool ones out there. I also listen to classical music sometimes when relaxing, I love Estonian composer Arvo Pärt that’s some deep minimalistic shit. Hip hop producers that try to take it forward that I like are for example, Sa Ra, Flying Lotus and Georgia Anne Muldrow.
That was all I had this time. Finnish of by telling what the nearest future holds for Erik L, Supersci, Soularp Records and Favorite Flava.
The Supersci album is coming out probably some time after the summer, me and a rapper called 7even:Thirty have an EP, where we have Hezekiah featured on a track. It’s coming out on Soularp. We have some new Favorite Flava material in the making and me and Paul Mac Innes are going to work on new material, I’m really looking forward to that because he is one of the best soul voices around if you ask me. The Favorite Flava album will be released in Japan this year on the label Wonderful Noise with a vinyl EP coming out in May.