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!