032 - Cain

Sitting somewhere amidst the ever evolving worlds of UK Bass, House, Tribal, Grime and Footwork is our latest contributor, Scotland’s Duncan Grant, aka Cain. Born and raised in the vast Scottish highlands, one might not expect to hear the wealth of African, Indian, Latin and Eastern European influences that come through his wonderful productions to date. Yet two thirds of the way through a trilogy of EPs for Fine Grains Records, we’re beginning to see a producer comfortable wearing many hats, able to reference a wide range of musical cultures whilst maintaining his signature aesthetic.

Where his excellent ’Mora’ EP, inspired by ’the haunting landscapes of Slavic nightmares’, calls to mind the dark surrealism of a Zdzisław Beksiński painting, using breathless poly-rhythmic percussion and baroque style instrumentation, his follow up, ‘Savan’ focuses on the sounds of India, with chants and … used to inform the EPs more uplifting aesthetic. Both EP’s however retain an eclectic sonic outlook, flicking between styles and showing off an incredibly rich and versatile palette.

Both EPs are exceptional and I was understandably delighted that Cain was keen to produce a mixtape for our project. His contribution is an enthralling percussive assault featuring a string of unreleased material, showcasing amongst a plethora of different sounds, his musical affinity for the work of Mala as well as the excellent Principe Discos imprint. Bouncing between Bass, Grime, Tribal, Dancehall, Haitian Folklore and South African House it’s a mix that begs you to dance but also asks you to listen close.

Alongside his fantastic selections sit a handful of new cuts by the man himself, showcasing some new material, including forthcoming releases for Highlife and Fine Grains. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for these releases, as well as some exciting UK shows later this year. In the meantime sit back and enjoy an excellent contribution to the Métron Musik Mixtape series. Thanks Cain!

I caught up with Duncan to talk about his days playing the bagpipes, and what he has planned for 2016....

JH: Hey dude, thanks again for putting together this mix for us, it’s fantastic. There’s quite a bit of new material of yours on there, can you tell us a bit about the new tracks?

DG: The first track on the mix is a new one I started a week or so ago. It's not quite finished yet and I don't have a name for it. I've been really into working with psychoacoustic sounds recently - and I use these quite a lot in this. The fifth track is a remix I did for Auntie Flo - of his tune 'Hewal3' from his recent album. It was my favourite tune on this album so I was really happy to work on it.

Then I have a track called 'Eshu' which is due to be released on Highlife later this year. It's pretty heavy - tested it out a few times now in clubs and gets a great response. The final track on the mix is called 'De Profundis’. It's a dark atmospheric tune that will be released on Fine Grains. When you don't have to fit drums in a track, or worry about a groove you have a lot more room to do harmonic movements and theme changes.

JH: You just moved to London from the Highlands, how are you finding it?

DG: It's great in some ways - I've been to a lot more gigs. I really miss the mountains though. At the weekends I used so spend half my time in the studio, and half the time marching up hills on my own. That was utter bliss...

JH: To me, your music has such a strong tribal feeling to it, do you think this comes from having lived in such a rural, less urbanised and sparsely populated environment?

DG: I grew up with world music. I used to be a professional bagpipe player. I definitely think that the pentatonic scales I worked with, and the sort of raw honesty found in so many different local musical traditions has been a massive influence for me. This combined with the sense of inspiring landscapes and an obsession with rhythm are probably my strongest driving points when I'm writing tunes.

JH: On Savan, which I love, there’s a lot of overt Indian influences - was this inspired by a trip? How did the references come about?

DG: Savan was inspired by a trip to Karnataka, India. I had an amazing time there. However, I've always loved the scales and tones that you can hear in so many different varieties of Indian music, so I was already really into that before I went out there. I think the trip just cemented the feeling I already had.

JH: Speaking of the Highlands, I read that you used to play he bagpipes professionally - is this true?

DG: Yes - I grew up playing in the international solo bagpipe competitions. Not many people realise how seriously competitive those are! I will always feel bonded to the international 'family' of bagpipe players, and I might get back to competing again at some point. Getting the pipes going really well though, and my fingers properly up to speed is a lot of work....

JH: What have you got planned for 2016?

Another Highlife release, hopefully a Fine Grains release (my first vinyl one on Fine Grains), and some other releases and remixes that are in development for later in the year. Quite a lot of gigs as well.

JH: We always ask for some recommendations - perhaps some records you’ve been involved with or stuff that our listeners might have overlooked?

DG: Like a lot of people I've been really enjoying both Gqom stuff and Principe Discos releases - for the infectious rhythms. However, in terms of recommending something different to listen to, I would suggest going through all of the Hawk and a Hacksaw releases. Some of the tunes are ludicously beautiful. Start with: 'Bury Me In the Clothes I was Married.'  Listen to it and struggle not to cry...

CAIN - Unnamed (not yet finished)
Mala - Markos Swagga
Put Adriano - Estilo Underground
Mala - Inga Gani
CAIN - Hewal3 Remix
Mala - Take Flight
Kamixlo - Lariat (Visionist Remix)
DJ Lilocox - La Party
Kouslin - Suga’s Drums
Les Loups Noirs - Pele Rien
K30 - Hora do FL
CAIN - Eshu(forthcoming on Highlife)
Okzharp and Samrai featuring Ruffest - Woza Uzova
DJ Mabheko - Syagwaba
LV - Get a Grip
CAIN - De Profundis(forthcoming on Fine Grains)

Original artwork for the mix created by Jack Hardwicke.

Métron Records 2018. Hampshire, UK.