Album Walkthrough: Redeyes ‘Selfportraits’
Toulouse’s master craftsman Redeyes dropped his fourth album ‘Selfportraits’ on Amsterdam imprint The North Quarter on 11th September to an astounding response!
Redeyes is known for his deeply detailed, emotive take on Drum & Bass. The French pioneer has a career spanning over 15 years. He’s had three previous projects on The North Quarter, including 2018’s opus ‘Broken Soul’. Redeyes has now returned with the profound ‘Selfportraits’. Written almost exclusively during the Covid-19 crisis, the album captures a time spent in sheltered reflection. Drawing on both musical influences and personal beliefs ‘Selfportraits’ is both deeply personal and touches on some important issues.
Quote from Redeyes about the album in general
“The album was made during the lockdown and it all came together quickly. I was just spending time at home with my kids, splitting time between making music and home-schooling. It was just a time where I felt sheltered and comfortable with the music just flowing naturally.
My music is not just dance music. I’ve always seen my art as something that transcends the dance-floor, and all the greatest artists in the world – from painters to singers to actors – have always been engaged in important fights. So why don’t we do it? Why are we not as engaged as our favourite artists from other genres are? Its time to make the difference, its time to be the change.
This album is musically what reflects the core of my Drum & Bass sound. But this album is not just my own self-portrait – it’s also one of the guests. They speak the truth from their hearts out loud.”
‘Selfportraits’ is a journey through vintage soulful Drum & Bass, soundscapes and beats and sees Redeyes at his most inspired. Through ten carefully pieced together tracks, we are transported through a mosaic of influences and emotions. With artists such as [ K S R ], Lovescene, Juga-Naut, DRS and DJ Flight featuring, an important narrative is added to the warm and serene instrumentation. Redeyes continues to uplift and inspire: a soft-spoken, gentle soul with a clear vision of music.
When I was approached by TNQ label head Lenzman to run a feature on Redeyes new album, obviously I had to say yes! I was blown away by ‘Selfportraits’ the minute I heard the opening track and have listened a few times now, each time it resonates with me a little bit more. Whether you’re a fan of Drum & Bass or not you should absolutely have a listen. It’s a work of art.
Redeyes also shot a whole film (on his phone) to go alongside the album. Check out the video in its entirety here.
Read on to find out what Redeyes has to say about each track!
I can’t quite remember how this developed, but it became a mix of two pieces of music I had. The jazz keys mixed with a trumpet loop (an ode to early 90’s Hip Hop) that fade into these dreamy rhodes and Brainfeeder influenced drums. I guess it’s like 99% of the music on this album: mostly instinctive. Just letting the heart speak through the music without restrictions.
A Thousand Times
When I made the instrumental, I loved how simple this track was, just an emotional soulful roller with a strong bassline. [ K S R ] made the difference though, he’s got such raw talent and he made it a proper song. I have so much admiration for him and all this new blood coming out of Manchester.
I really enjoyed writing all these interludes on the album. When I was listening to some older FD releases on The North Quarter, I was really inspired by his interludes and thought to myself, “why am I always adding drums on my tracks?”. I decided to make some really cinematic music, something that can tell a story without words. Something that can give you a certain stillness in your mind. I grew up around my dad’s video club, watching lots of movies on VHS tapes. I like how music can impact movies, it can be as important as the image in terms of taking you someplace.
For ‘Colours’, I asked my Toulouse friend Trail to play some guitar over the strings (if you know some talented people who can really play instruments, why not collaborate right?), and Sleepz came with amazing poetry, talking about what was the essence of the album concept. I hesitated a lot with making this part of the album intro.
Carry Me Home
This tune has a pretty simple build: a strong piano riff and a cool vocal. I guess this one is something that could work nicely in a club and I hope to be back on the decks soon. It’s definitely another homage to that early 90’s Hip Hop sound. Illmatic vibes.
I’m a big fan of Juga-Naut and he just murdered that beat with sick lyrics and flow. At first, this track had a really classic “Boom Bap” beat arrangement, but with the powerful flow of Jugz and the important content, I decided to give the track more of a live Jazz feel. I can clearly see it in my head… Jugz spitting in this small dark, smokey filled club, with a jazz band on stage, getting lost in their music.
Monty and I have been wanting to make a track for a long time. I watched him grow and he’s getting big. He’s really talented and he’s continuing the strong Drum & Bass tradition of Toulouse. I’m really happy with this track, which is the perfect blend of both our sounds.
I was really inspired by the music of the ‘Endless’ visual album by Frank Ocean with this one. Just some floating pads and sub-bass, riding together alongside the dreamy vocals.
I really tried to channel some contemporary R&B vibes on this track. I usually stick with my 90’s Hip Hop or early 2000’s Drum & Bass influences. But for this one, I tried to stick more with influences from the music of the moment, the vibes of current times.
I asked DRS if he could do one interlude on the LP. When I sent him a folder with some material he did 3, in just a few days. And then a week after that, the ‘Coloured’ EP was finished too. ‘Dad’s Hand’ is really special to me as a dad, and being really close to my little ones, it’s a really emotional piece.
I think this is the last track I wrote for the album. I really like how simple it is and at the same time, it feels complex too. It gives me both sad and hopeful feelings at the same time. It’s a track that’s guided by emotions and can tell many stories depending on who is listening.
Between The Waves
Jazz meets ambient. Close our eyes and light one up…
When I finished this track, which was in the middle of the LP process, I knew I was doing an album and everything was coming together naturally. The tracks were just writing themselves. On ‘Low Key’, everything I tried just fit together.
Sometimes when writing music, you can spend hours or days trying to find the right sounds or melodies. With this one, all my first choices just worked, sometimes it just happened by accident. I was cutting and editing the vocals and added them to the arrangement without previewing and it just worked – it was a really special feeling. I’d always wanted to make some tracks that sound like Calibre’s ‘Musique Concrete’ or High Contrast’s ‘True Colours’ and this track is definitely an ode to those days.
Slow Pace (Prelude)
Another cinematographic score influenced piece, blessed with DRS‘s talent.
This is the oldest track on the album, and it was made some time after ‘Broken Soul’. It didn’t fit with my ‘Unfinished Theory’ EP, so we saved it. I’m happy it made the album. It has a really funky, 90’s R&B feeling to it.
This was first supposed to be an instrumental interlude, but again, DRS came with the goods and it became a proper (short) track.
This is one of the first tracks I wrote after ‘Unfinished Theory’. I had a lot of gigs after the EP and also did my first US tour. I rarely make tracks thinking about DJing or dancefloors, but I think that the fact that I was DJing a lot influenced my writing on this one. It’s a really simple track, also influenced by that early 2000s Calibre sound.
I really liked making this track. I had a few different versions, but happy with how the final version came out. It’s got a lazy feel, a kind of blunted mood.
All The Reasons
This one almost didn’t make it to the LP. The instrumental was good, but not enough to make the final tracklist. We got in touch with Lovescene with the help of Fox, but during the early lockdown period, it was really difficult for artists to book studio time to record. When she sent the vocal for this track I was amazed by her talent, and it really felt like “she gave it her all”. The vocals really came from her core, she didn’t pretend, she really got involved. It’s def one of my favourite tracks from the LP, a little ode to the early 2000 Soul:R releases.
I can watch my whole life while listening to this one. I’m a big fan of Teebs and his stuff was a real influence in the making of the interludes.
I really liked the Prelude, which I made first, and I felt like the keys could also work as a Drum & Bass track, and I guess I was right. It’s got a unique feeling in my eyes, it’s got some classic soulful elements, but also some pads and other sounds that reminds me Detroit Techno like early UR. I’m not sure if I’d ever play this track in a club, but I think it’s a really good one to finish the album with.
In my eyes, DJ Flight is so important in this music scene. She was one of the first who supported my music on-air and the quality of her show was incredible. Her label was visionary, she’s a wonderful DJ and human being. I wish the music industry had more people like her. I can’t describe how grateful I am to having her closing my album. The message is beautiful, hopeful, but it is and will be a perpetual struggle, let’s spread the knowledge, the wisdom, the love.