- 24 Jul 20
Embracing a fiercely DIY ethos, Uwmami is fast becoming one of the most compelling producers in the country. She tells us about her influences, the state of Irish hip-hop, and her stunning new single with Sélu, 'Satin'.
Your background is in guitar – how did you expand from there into production?
I started recording my guitar just on my phone out of curiosity – trying out different effects and layering them over each other. It was fairly messy, but being able to manipulate sounds and make something new drew me in. I switched over to a laptop set-up, got a mini MIDI keyboard and drum pad, and started studying sound engineering, which gave me a bit more structure to build on. I've always been interested in the creative process behind my favourite albums and songs, so being a part of that process for other artists was really appealing to me.
You’ve listed Thin Lizzy as one of your influences – how does that come through in your sound?
Most directly in the effects and tones I'm drawn to. I use a lot of chorus, phaser and flanger effects on guitars, keys, synth, and even drums sometimes. Those layers can add so much warmth and depth, and I think Thin Lizzy really utilised that well, in bringing a softness into even those really big, high-energy songs. Their music has a real honesty and spaciousness that I hope I've taken onboard.
What was the inspiration behind your new track with Sélu, ‘Satin’?
After I sent Sélu over the instrumental idea, he came back with these amazing vocals that I was really excited to build around. He has such a unique style, so the song became much more cinematic and immersive. Something I'm looking at more lately is letting a song exist in its own world, and informing my production and mixing choices on sticking to the texture of that world. So, with this one, I kept to that satin texture as much as possible – for the sound to be shiny and colourful, but also light and delicate.
You’ve collaborated with hip-hop artists like ØMEGA and RTL.Bluuwoods recently – what do you think of the state of Irish hip-hop at the moment?
Irish hip-hop is in the best shape it ever has been – but with a lot of that being built around gigging, it could be hard to keep the momentum going. It'll be interesting to see if some of the more live-orientated artists shift their focus to releasing full-length projects, and whether that brings the whole scene forward over the next few months.
I've been excited to see more genre-melding developing over the past year. There's more of an appetite and appreciation for all those different, less commercial strands of hip-hop that would be well received outside of Ireland, but haven't really found a market here yet.
We’re seeing more of a spotlight on Irish rappers and R&B artists, but is there enough attention being given to producers in those genres?
I wouldn't say that getting attention is a major driving force for many producers, but being credited for your work and respected enough to access opportunities is important – and I don't think Ireland's doing too badly on that. Mango and Mathman are a good example of a rapper-producer partnership standing on equal footing, and I think a lot of smaller artists see how well that works for them and have taken note. They've set a good precedent.
You’ve used your platform to speak out and share information about the Black Lives Matter movement – is that important to you, as an artist inspired by hip-hop and R&B?
It’s very important to me as a person first and foremost – but that sentiment of not taking the rhythm without the blues is definitely important to be conscious of as an artist and as a listener. There's a sad irony in seeing white hip-hop artists being inactive or even combative around these issues, while expecting the world to care about their new song. That really goes against the roots of the genre. There's still so much ignorance and apathy on the go at the moment, and it’s essential to counteract that in any small way we can.
You’ve embraced a real DIY ethos. How crucial is that independence to your sound?
Independence is definitely integral to my sound. There are hundreds of different decisions to be made at every stage in the production and mixing process, so the more of those that I make for myself, the more room there is to create something unique through an amalgamation of all those small choices. That goes for collaborating as well – as long as there's autonomy to bring an idea to fruition the possibilities are endless.
Obviously things massively are up in the air at the moment, but what are your plans for the next couple of months?
I'll be working on more collaborations and finishing up some side projects before the end of the year. I’ve been experimenting with different live set-ups, so I want to explore that side of things more – but I'll have plenty of time to figure that out, with how things are at the moment!
‘Satin’, featuring Sélu, is out now.