Tropics Talks Inspiration, Artistic Evolution and the Making of ‘Rapture’ [TMN Exclusive Interview]



The “chillwave” movement has matured phenomenally in the last couple years with acts like Toro y Moi and Washed Out evolving their sound from lo-fi bedroom productions to beautiful and complex musical compositions. UK producer and vocalist, Tropics, has architected his own chillwave aesthetic that, true to its name, features a vibrant sensibility and deep sonic textures. On his debut album, Parodia Flare, Tropics put together a beautiful collection of colorful compositions and began experimentation with his voice, but his recently released follow-up, Rapture, feels like a true breakout project. With stripped down organic instrumentation and a newfound focus on vocals, Rapture proves a cohesive, deeply emotional and soulful project that reaches new depths without losing the glowing energy of its predecessor. We had a chance to catch up with Chris Ward, the mind behind Tropics, about his musical background and influences, the evolution of his sound and more. Check out the interview below and, if you like what you hear, head to iTunes to grab a copy of Rapture.

TMN: What was your first experience with making or playing music?

Tropics: The furthest back I can remember was this little early learning centre tape player with a microphone attached to it. It was really kid-like and colourful. I remember it having this weird echo which probably sounded quite cool. I used to record songs off the radio. Then my first memory of playing music was getting a drum kit at around 10.

TMN: You studied music in university and are a multi­-instrumentalist, right? How integral has that been in allowing you to bring your vision to life? Or do you feel like you’ve learned more from just from experience?

Tropics: I wouldn’t say I’m a multi instrumentalist, I’m a producer, who like most of us can play keys and a strum out a few jams on guitar, drums. I feel I’ve learned a lot from experience but some more theory and things about the industry when I studied music, but to be honest; I didn’t do a lot of studying, I just wanted to go to university with all my friends and have all the free time in the world to party, take recreational drugs, have lots of sex and make as much music as I could.

TMN: The colourful aesthetic in your music definitely brings some influences to mind. Who are some artists you grew up listening to that you feel continue to inspire you today? Any ones who’ve influenced you in unexpected ways?

Tropics: I think there’s influence from a lot of 90s electronica, in my sort of ‘go to textures and sounds’. My older brother played me loads of Leftfield, Massive Attack, Faithless and Underworld when I was around 11 or 12, which I ended up getting back into quite a lot at 16 and 17.

 I think one of the great things back then was that the Internet wasn’t so revolved around the music industry, or if it was, I wasn’t aware. So I’d get records/albums, without taking interest of reading into when they were released or how current they were . If I connected with it, I just connected with it and it became my new love affair. I feel I’ve lost this a bit ­or, a lot of us have, with the pressure to keep up with this quickly moving industry with 100 new flavours and artists coming through a month!
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[Deep-House] Need & Necessity – So Listen

Need & Necessity
So Listen (Original Mix)

As is the case with so many past Hump Days, we had a bit of a hankering for some jackin’ dance music. Luckily, Denver based underground house unit Need & Necessity came through at the most serendipitous of moments with a brand new original “So Listen”. After last stopping by TMN with a self-released subteraranean house edit for The Internet’s “Dontcha”, the assiduous duo have returned to the throne they helped co-found, Night Supply Records, with a bullet. Riding the intoxicating pitched down vocal chops from Timbaland’s “The Way I Are”, “So Listen” bolts out of the gate with an army of Roland TR-909 tipping bass and a lovely interplay between shuffling cymbals and crisp claps before Need & Necessity’s hooky synth progression usurps the entire movement as its primary focal point. We’ve been on top of Need & Necessity’s career arc since the beginning, and seeing the clearly adept pair begin to assume a warranted spot near the top of rising house acts has been nothing short of taste affirming for us Ninjas. “So Listen” is available exclusively through Beatport for those wanting to add this to their personal libraries or DJ repertoires, but since we’re already here, go ahead and stream this deep groover above.

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Lido’s SF Debut at Rickshaw Stop, 3/12 [Event Review]


Lost (feat. Muri)

Over the last couple years, Lido‘s diverse compositions have played an important role in defining “Future” music, a broad term used to categorize the post-EDM wave of electronic artists. The young Norwegian producer’s sound defies definition by spanning from unconventionally jaw-dropping remixes to soulful, downtempo originals and everything in between. Lido’s versatile inspiration and talent makes for an eclectic live performance, which we were lucky enough to witness at his first ever San Francisco appearance at Rickshaw Stop last week.

Clad with keyboard, microphone, beat pad and electronic drum set, Lido’s stage set up features enough instruments, including his voice, for a full band allowing him to put on a performance that transcends categorization. Original tracks like “Money” and “I Love You” transformed beautifully live, but it was truly the unexpected turns that made the night. At one point, Lido broke down into straight gospel from his childhood–it was a moment when fans seemed to look around with a bit of confusion before being drawn in to its soulfulness. With such a broad range of styles, the transitions may have actually been the single most impressive aspect of the set. When Lido dropped his throwback original  ”She Cried Ice,” which few realize is the piano sampled in Cashmere Cat‘s “With Me,” and merged it with “Lost,” the crowd completely lost it. The reactions aren’t what you normally think of at an electronic show given the emotional depth, which fostered an atmosphere of awe and positivity all the way up to his triumphant closing remix of Kanye West‘s “FourFiveSeconds.”

Check out some pictures, courtesy Justin Yee, below along with a video of Lido’s “She Cried Ice” performance from the show by Scott Benton

Lido-7 Lido-1 Lido-9 Continue reading

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[Sunny] Joman – Paddy’s Theme (Ultimate Edition)

Paddy's Theme: Ultimate Edition

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, ninjas! In honor of this legendary drinking holiday, we’re paying tribute by highlighting one of our favorite fictional pubs, Paddy’s.

If you’re new to the site, you probably don’t remember when Denver-based producer/DJ Joman did an absolutely mind-blowing remix of “Day Man.” The song and accompanying video went viral, getting approving nods from everyone who heard it, including the cast. It’s been a few years since that came and went, but Joman is back again with another remix and video, and it’s just as good as the first.

Taking a crack at the “Paddy’s Theme”, this producer has once again impressed us and furthered our admiration for IASIP. Starting off with a firm grip on nostalgia experienced from 80′s TV sitcom intro songs, this remix walks in with the original score remembered from Charlie’s tune. From there, we’re welcomed into some rolling cymbal hits that bring in the iconic Joman electro house sounds we’ve become accustomed to. From there on, it’s an epic journey complete with ample samples from the cast and a heavy dubstep breakdown.

Raise a glass of green beer, press play on either the track or the video, and take a minute to salute all the glory that is IASIP. And cheers to Joman for putting something like this together once again.

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[Multi-Genre] SLDGHMR – Grid Living EP


Grid Living is the latest EP from the Los Angeles meets Miami duo SLDGHMR. Their eclectic tastes come out in a big way with six originals, along with two remixes. Included in the originals are collaborations, one with Crywolf and one with Chuck Inglish and K.Flay. SLDGHMR show off their innovation throughout, especially with tracks like “Rocket Fuel” and “Saccharine.” Even with their more traditional sounds, they still manage to keep things interesting and meritable, without a doubt. If we were to pick personal favorites, I’d have to roll with “Lombardy” because of its dark, yet energizing sound. It’s a little trashy, and we love it. The whole EP deserves two thumbs up, and if you feel the same, then you can go ahead and purchase the project for yourself, or gift it to a friend.

Rocket Fuel
SLDGHMR & Crywolf
We Could Be Heaven
How It Works (ft. Chuck Inglish and K.Flay)
Hell Is A Four Star Hotel
We Could Be Heaven (Bad Catholics Remix)
We Could Be Heaven (Fukkk Offf Remix)
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[Hybrid Trap] Mark Instinct & LUMBERJVCK – The Block ft. Strap Deez

Mark Instinct & LUMBERJVCK
The Block ft. Strap Deez

Los Angeles producer LUMBERJVCK makes his way back to Kannibalen Records, this time with Mark Instinct and Strap Deez. The two producers join up for a booming hybrid instrumental called “The Block,” which gets murdered by raps from The Block Society owner, Strap Deez. With all three together, the final product is a straight up beast that is likely to end up attacking the upcoming events in SXSW and Miami. LUMBERJVCK and Mark Instinct are some of the most distinct bass producers in the game, and their coming together shows just what they can do playing off another’s talents. Get yourself a copy of “The Block” here.

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[Soul] MAALA – Touch


Little seems to be known about newcomer, MAALA. The only information that we can muster from his single release, “Touch,” is that he is bringing some serious talent to the table.

Imagine The Weeknd having a play date with Chet Faker before listening to debut track, “Touch.” The steamy production intertwined with MAALA’s soulful voice sets a sensual mood that will have you yearning for some romance. Unshakable memories about an old flame and some seriously deep feels are provoked with the lingering lyrics of “Touch,” making this track one in which the nostalgia will be unescapable. So Ninjas, get ready to be turned on to MAALA.

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