Climpo ‘The Darker Skies’ Album Walkthrough
Breakthrough Drum & Bass producer Climpo got into DJing after he left the Army, as a way to help with his mental health. At the same time, he set up his own charity campaign DJ2CombatStress to help raise money for military veterans suffering from PTSD. He quickly found a knack for production, releasing his debut track ‘Valhalla’ in August 2019 and has now followed this up with an 8-track album ‘The Darker Skies’ which is out on Bedford-based label Captum Records on 29th May, with all sales going to charity. We asked Climpo to take us through his journey and inspiration for creating his dark debut album.
I’ve always loved heavy bassline music and growing up I went from Happy Hardcore, to Jungle, D&B and Speed Garage in my teens through to Neurofunk, Electro and Bass House today. When I first started DJing I found that D&B came to me very easily and I actually enjoyed the speed and creativity…I found mixing house quite slow and repetitive. So, when I first started thinking about production in 2019, I knew I’d make a D&B track but had no idea where this journey would take me…
The idea initially came to me that I could create a 4 track EP which would take my audience on my journey, suffering through mental illness, charting the highs and the lows. I quickly realised that a dark, neuro-grimey-electro style best suited the atmosphere I wanted to create. The chaotic nature really shapes the ups, downs and general chaos that occupied my mind for many years. Over my first 12 months of production my style and quality has evolved; the genre maybe niche but the story is powerful!
I was approached by an independent label based in Bedford called Captum Records (I had actually performed a B2B set in Ibiza with the label owner the past summer without realising) who liked my story, wanted to help and support me to release the first track. This relationship developed into a further 3 track deal before finally securing an album contract – all I can say is it’s a fantastic team to work with!
Although this is the last track of the album, it was the first I prodcued so thought it best to start there. In Norse mythology, ‘Valhalla’ is a place where those in combat are taken to upon death. So my vision was around a soldier going to war, with death all around him, but finally realising that the battle is not in the outside world but in his head; he is all alone in the world desperate for help.
I wanted this to sound menacing, create fear and highlight my darkest times, but I knew my knowledge was lacking on production so worked together with Austrian Producer Hertenfels to help further shape the creation. While I utilised some amen breaks and neuro-synths, Hertenfels added his signature industrial sound along with many effects to help build the suspense. Although this was the most basic of productions, it still makes my hair stand on end anytime I listen to it!
Valhalla (Riddnce Remix)
As someone still relatively new to the music industry, I was reaching out to people around the world getting tracks to play on my radio shows. I got talking to an amazing producer from Los Angeles called Riddnce; his dirty neuro-dubstep style really appealed to me and after telling him my story he was really keen to remix ‘Valhalla’. My only guidance to him was that I wanted it to be heavy and in his own style. He stripped the project apart and remade it in his own image; I was delighted with the outcome and have been eager to release this for months as it’s huge!
Following on from ‘Valhalla’ I kept with the Norse theme for my second track. ‘The Valkyries’ were sent to the battlefield to decide who would die and who deserved a chance of redemption. I felt like this applied to me, as someone who had received a second chance at life following my own battle.
As my first solo production, I wanted to take all of the lessons learnt from the first release and produce something with a more modern drum break (which I created from scratch with lots of mistakes) that still had some punch and eeriness around it – it was an amazing feeling for this track to reach number 6 in the Hypeddit dnb chart!
I wanted to keep the same electro-neuro style for this track but was keen to show a happier more jovial side to me. ‘2022’ is something called an Angel Number which is a sign of success. As someone that was always very driven in my early life, it really resonated with me.
Following a more uplifting start to the track, the second half becomes slightly darker as I begin facing up to adult life. I was never completely satisfied with this track as it lacked some low ends when I’ve performed it live; but have been pleasantly surprised by it being my highest performing track reaching 5th in the Hypeddit dnb chart.
This track was produced to highlight the other end of my journey, the what happened after. Like a phoenix rising from the flames, I had moved on from my battle, found inner peace and was discovering my place in the world.
There are changing styles in this track as I am ‘trying on’ the new me in real life. Following on from my previous track, I probably added too much sub on this one during production, but it certainly blows the speakers on performance!
‘Dark Destiny’ is the one track that didn’t necessarily fit my story, but having been part of the Corona-Virus lockdown I had some inspiration to create a song that highlighted what the new world may look like as it may never be the same again; it’s our dark destiny that lays ahead.
This track was slightly rushed and looking back it’s again missing a bit of mid-low end, but while I was being critical, it was my third top ten track reaching 9th in the Hypeddit dnb chart, so not all bad!
The Darker Skies
I decided that while I had originally wanted to release an EP I was now telling a bigger story so targeted an album release. Following discussions with the label, we agreed that I’d need 8 tracks for an album and also they challenged me to up the production quality to fill more of the frequency range. I employed the help of the Soundflow Music Academy production tutors to teach me some more advance techniques and decided on the style I wanted to follow. AMC, Turno and Drum Sound & Bassline Smith have been my more recent influences so I really started looking into the components of a hard-hitting neuro track, increasing my use of layering.
This track is a very hard hitting, fast track, with little build up. It’s designed to highlight the harsh realities of adult life, the relentless pace and the fact you may never really be in control.
Finally, I created my most recent track ‘Morse Kode’. I have found one of my biggest challenges in life has been communication and in today’s very mobile and social-media heavy world people have forgotten some of the basics and fundamentals of communicating with each other and their physical relationships. I think this is probably the track I’m most happy with; it fills the sound spectrum, there is plenty of low-mid bass, tension and release and is that quintessential neuro style that I’m trying to emulate.
Thanks for taking the time to follow my album and production journey, hope you enjoyed the experience!
Climpo’s ‘The Darker Skies’ album drops on 29th May, you can grab it from here. All album sales go to veteran’s mental health charities PTSD Resolution and Combat Stress!
Below is a recent mix Climpo did for our local venue Unit Nine, enjoy!
To support Climpo’s DJ2CombatStress cause supporting charities PTSD Resolution and CombatStress search for: