Sometimes the best DJs and producers are practically under your noses, and you’d wish you’d discovered them a long, long time back. Rupert Ellis is one such man who we discovered about a year ago on Soundcloud and were instantly down with his output. Hardworking but also incredibly talented, his is a sound that ticks many boxes: minimal but also equally like to be melodic, techno-facing or driving, it’s little wonder his myriad influences are beginning to see him make an impression that extends far behind his native United Kingdom. A full-time music professional, his latest work has been remixed by highly-respected underground figured such as Liquid Earth (a producer with a strikingly similar aesthetic and sound demeanour to Rupert himself), Rupert’s Circa Groove label is well worth a gander, as is his output for labels such as Winder Records and Daydream Records. Simply put, we’re very excited to see where this guy goes over the coming months. What’s more, he also turned in a killer mix for us which you can also check here…
Hi Rupert, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. How’s your year been so far? Many highlights? And what’s the plan for the summer?
Hey! 2022 has been great so far, I’ve released two full EPs, two remixes and a single track so there’s been a lot going on. One of the highlights would be releasing on iO (Mulen)’s Winder Records. This was a massive confidence booster – iO is highly respected as a producer and label owner so it was a real privilege to be able to work with him. Some of my favourite artists have released on Winder so to be alongside the likes of Priku, Livio & Roby and Costin Rp is an incredible feeling. Another high point was being able to release my own EP on my own record label, that’s something I’m really proud of.
My plan for summer is to focus on writing some new EPs and keep pushing my sound.
We’ve been following your music for a bit and have long been impressed. The Pilgrimage to Paradise EP was killer, and we loved the Liquid Earth remix. So let’s start off with that one. What was the vibe you were going for with that one? And what influenced it?
Thanks! I’ve always wanted to be considered as a versatile producer and DJ, I don’t like to pigeonhole myself and stick with one particular ‘sound’. With the PTP EP, most of the tracks are around 130 BPM which is much faster than my usual tracks. I wanted to explore a 90s sound with electro influences, something a little more peak time. At the time I was quite inspired by some of the stuff Quest plays and also Franceso Del Garda, so some of those influences have made their way into those tracks.
Can you tell us a bit about your label, Circa Groove. What was the motivation behind starting it? And can you talk us through your future plans for it?
I’ve always wanted to have my own label to use as a platform for releasing my own work and also to be able to work with artists that I really looked up to. Myself and my partner Will set up the label back in 2020 and we’re now on our 7th release. We pressed some limited edition vinyl for my PTP release and we’re looking to continue pressing vinyl for other releases, as well as throwing some parties over summer, but we want to get it just right and we’re not going to rush into anything.
You’ve already released on a bunch of brilliant labels such as Winder Records, Daydream France, Blind Vision Records, Key Records and more. Where does this one rank in terms of your achievements? Or do you think of things in those sort of terms?
Each release for me is a stepping stone and I’m proud of every one. Developing my sound and trying new production techniques is the most important thing. I will say that it was a great feeling being able to self release my own EP on my own label though – I really enjoyed being across everything from choosing the remixer, working on the artwork, visuals etc.. An overall great experience!
Do you make yourself goals then? Is there anything in particular you’d love to achieve musically?
I set myself targets at the beginning of each year. Usually they involve people that I’d like to work with as well as labels that I’d like to release on. I always write things down on paper to help visualise my goals. My ultimate long term goal is to get to the point where I’m DJ’ing every weekend and working full time in the studio in the week.
Ok, let’s go back a bit now. Can you tell us a bit about how you first got involved with music? What were some of your early influences?
When I first got into electronic music as a kid, I started with Dubstep and Drum & Bass after my brother played me a Rusko CD when he was at uni. Through that, I started to discover channels like UKF Dubstep and then labels like Spinnin’ Records and the early EDM stuff. Then as I started going to clubs, I discovered the underground scene. Starting off with labels like Moda Black, Hot Creations, I was hooked.
I’ve always been into all types of genres, listening to everything from Indie bands to Hip Hop, Ambient, Rock etc. and find a lot of inspiration from those artists too. Right now I’m listening to bands like Low Hummer and Wet Leg and a 90s hip hop group called Main Source. DJ wise, I’m listening to lots of Lamanch’s stuff as well as Nick Warren’s old mixes.
How big of an influence has the UK scene been on your tastes? And how would you describe your own style?
I wouldn’t say the UK scene has had a huge impact on my production. I’d say most of my favourite producers and DJs are either French or German so I’d say they have probably had more of an influence. However, living in London there is a great music scene here so that keeps me inspired. I’d describe my own style as acidic, trippy and techy.
Was there a point with your sound and productions where you’re truly confident? Are there areas of production you still feel as need to work on? And is a true producer every really satisfied?
I was really confident after making my EP for Pathway Traxx, which is yet to be released. I also noticed a huge difference when I moved into my studio in Netil House. I use this studio as my mixing studio as the space is perfectly acoustically treated so I can get tracks sounding super tight in here.
I have the attitude that everything can always be improved, I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% satisfied. I’m always trying out new ways to start tracks, new sound design tricks, I’ll always consider myself a work in progress.
So, let’s chat a bit about production. What’s your setup like? And how often do you get to the studio?
My set up is a Macbook Pro with Logic Pro X (sometimes I use Ableton for audio work as it’s much better than Logic at processing audio), I have 2 Yamaha HS7s, a moog Sub 37, Eleketron’s Analog Four, TR8, Electribe ER-1, TD-3, Bass Station II and a Arturia Beatstep Pro which is my main sequencer.
I get in the studio properly a few times a week at the moment. I set myself a target of doing 15 minutes a day which is always doable, and usually tends to go on much longer. I’ve recently moved into a new apartment and am in the process of building myself my own studio in there which means I can spend any spare moment focusing on my music.
Is music a full-time thing? And does your status here dictate your approach to it?
I work in music full-time as my day job, but I’m not a full time producer and DJ yet. However, I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by electronic music all day which is amazing and keeps me inspired and offers me great opportunities to make connections in the industry.
How do you maintain a balance between music and other aspects of your life? Is this something that’s important to you?
It can be difficult sometimes but I always want to try and prioritise music. It’s important for me to keep my focus and I make sure music is my number one priority. My friends are all into the same sort of music scene as me so its not really a question of having to choose between my social life and my music as they often intertwine.
You keep a very discerning, dare-we-say ‘underground’ ethos online. Is this something you’re conscious of? Do you think too many DJs and producers give away too much these days?
I wouldn’t say it;s a deliberate decision or something I have consciously decided, I think it’s up to the artist what they want to do and how they portray themselves. For me, I don’t see myself making tiktok videos for example as part of my online presence. I like keeping it organic and about the music – that’s really important for me.
Where do you stand on the role of social media in the modern scene? And the idea that DJs pay these big Instagram channels to push their music, as though it was “organic”?
It doesn’t bother me at all. It’s just the nature of the game these days, in any industry. There’s a lot of artists who are social media stars (and thats great!) but it’s not for me. The music I make is for dancefloors and the dancefloor is always best when it’s stripped back – a good DJ, a good soundsystem, a good crowd and a good bar. That’s what it’s about for me.
Onto the mix, what setup did you use to record this mix?
This was recorded on 1 x audio tehcnica turntable, 2 x CDJ 900’s and a Allan and Heath Xone 96 mixer! I recorded it straight into my Mixbox Pro which is a super cool bit of kit that allows you to record directly into your phone – it’s really useful when sampling vinyl as well.
Did you play only new music for this set or a mix between old and new?
There is a mix between some really old stuff, some new more modern releases and also some unreleased stuff from me. A bit of everything! Vinyl and digital. I don’t really pay much attention to what era the music I play was made in, some house records made in the late 80s sound as good if not better than some released today! In my opinion anyway!
You can listen to Rupert Ellis Nightclubber 170 exclusively on our Soundcloud channel