Behind the Music: Sixteen Records Interview Series: Interview with Dokkodo Sounds

‘My setup is pretty versatile as I want my music to be anything other than just pressing play.’

Photo credit: Szymon Nieborak

Describe your music style in no more than 5 words:
  Minimal dance music for headphones.

How old are you and where are you from? I’m 23 and originally from Derby, UK. However, as there isn’t an electronic music scene there, I like to think of myself as a Leeds native now haha!

Which instruments do you play? Can you play the computer? I played classical guitar for 8 years, completing all the grades. However, as soon as I heard electronic music, I was hooked. The Dokkodo Sounds project is focused purely on sampling, synthesis and sound design really!

Who else is involved in your music? It’s just me! I mix and master everything too (although Lotte mastered the Sixteen Records Album). I am involved in a few other projects, but the Dokkodo Sounds moniker is purely for my own escape!

Where is your go-to place for writing new tracks? Definitely the ‘music room/cave’ in my house. I wouldn’t call it a ‘studio’ but the room sounds great and it’s got a skylight, which is pretty ‘vibey’. Over time, I’ve discovered that my writing process is very solitary so I feel most at home in my own space. Although, sometimes you come up with great ideas on the move with headphones on!

Do you have any releases and/or performances coming up soon? I just released my debut single called Halcyon and also a remix of Luna Pines’ single ‘Medics’. I’m still finding the sound (no pun intended) of this project, so I’m mostly writing new tracks at the minute. I do have one track that I will probably release in September. The summer is a bad time to release music haha! Performance wise – obviously the gig for the Sixteen Records album launch but that is about it! It’s so hard to do Electronic Music ‘live’. My set up is pretty versatile and revolves around Ableton and a whole table of gear. I wanted it to be anything other than just pressing play.

What has it been like getting signed to Sixteen Records?
It has been a great experience! I think the role of record labels is changing nowadays as you can pretty much do everything yourself as an artist. So I think this idea of community is where it’s at! And this first compilation is such a strong embodiment of the Leeds electronic scene.

Which other artists on the Sixteen Records roster do you know/have worked with before? So many! I have remixed Luna Pines, which was really fun. ‘Loris’ (Charlotte Jones) is actually in my other project, Laminate Pet Animal. Imi is a close friend and part of bibliotek, we helped release her single ‘Margins’. Ryan Hawkins is also a friend and I have seen JOULE live, they are amazing!!!

How do you think being signed to a label will help you develop as an artist? In all honesty, probably not too much in terms of artistic direction! The track on this compilation was a bit of an odd one for me. ‘Sara’ is definitely the heaviest thing I’ve written so far and the darkest. I feel like the sound has definitely mellowed out a lot since I wrote that track. I must have been listening to a lot of techno at the time. I think I have subtracted even more from the sound. However I think being signed to a label will help me to grow the project in terms of the community and the image. Being surrounded by great people is only a good thing!

‘The community in Leeds is such a great family to be a part of and I’m really lucky in that sense.’

Do you prefer performing live or recording in a studio? 100% composing, hands down. Whilst I do enjoy performing live, I kind of see it as a necessary evil! I get super nervous and it’s not very natural for me. I always have lots of fun, but with the ‘Dokkodo Sounds’ project it’s just me on stage so it is quite exposing!

Why did you become involved in music? It was just a natural progression really! My family are not musical at all, but I was always into making stuff. Drawing, building things and music. I started playing the guitar and naturally fell into music production. When I realised you could make sounds with a computer it was the real game changer. I felt confined to one sound with just a guitar. Almost trapped. Thinking back, I probably picked up a guitar to try and impress a girl or something stupid like that too!

When did you first become involved in music? When I was about 10 I think. I actually wanted to play flute, but the teacher at my school said my mouth wasn’t the right shape! I’m not sure if that is even a thing, but I picked up the guitar soon after. Probably out of spite! I got into electronic music very late, only about 3 or 4 years ago. I really wish I had learnt about it sooner.

What has music enabled you to do? So so much. It sounds cliché, but it really is my life. I have made all my closest friends due to music. The community in Leeds is such a great family to be a part of and I’m really lucky in that sense. I have done some travelling with other musical projects – which I am thankful for – but I think the other main point is just having a focus in life. Music gives me direction and enables me to just express myself I suppose. I never have any deep reasons for writing music; I just can’t imagine myself doing anything else!

What was the first concert/gig that you were involved in? Oooo, probably some awful show at my old school but one that stands out for me is my first electronic gig… I have another project called Laminate Pet Animal. It’s a three piece now, but for a while it was just me. The LPA tracks are more like ‘songs’ as opposed to instrumental electronic tracks. I got asked to play my first gig as LPA, and I agreed not knowing how on earth to perform the music. It was so bad! I was triggering sections from the track, playing guitar and keyboard, launching samples and singing. It must have looked terrible…the worst one man band ever! Although I am so glad I did it because it taught me how not to perform electronic music.

What is the most recent performance you did? I actually recently did a house show! I have an amazing friend called Jon Headley who is releasing his first album. He is such an amazing guy. He has been putting on a few special house shows to showcase some of the tracks on the album. He asked me to do a performance. I wanted to challenge myself and some of my tracks are quite ‘four to the floor’. These shows are a ‘sit down and listen’ vibe, so dance music probably wasn’t the best. I love ambient music, artists like Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer, so I decided to put together an ambient set! I was on the floor with some synths and electric guitar, creating drones with lots of reverb and delays. It was really fun and pretty much improvised!

Who was the first musician/band you saw live? Jack Johnson! I used to (and still do) absolutely love him! It’s all I used to listen too which is hilarious because listening to my music you wouldn’t be able to tell at all! I went to see him with my Dad. Jack had bought his family on tour with him so at one point his kids ran on stage and the mum had to run on to get them off…in front of thousands of people! It was awesome.

Who are your inspirations? Well the first electronic album I listened to was ‘Lucky Shiner’ by Gold Panda. That album honestly changed my life and inspired me so much. I didn’t even know what sampling was until that album! With my other project, Laminate Pet Animal, we actually got to support him at his Leeds show. He was so nice and I nearly passed out being a fan boy. Others have to be Jon Hopkins, Koreless and Four Tet. There are so many haha. I love techno, people like Daniel Avery and more House stuff like Kink. Future bass artists (I hate that genre name) like Flume and Droeloe. Also ambient musicians like Taylor Deupree. Everything on his label, ‘12k’ is gold!

What is the point of music? Deep question! I guess on a communal level it is to bring people together. Like I said, my whole life is shaped around music. I think everyone’s relationship with music is different though. Personally, I just make music because it is natural to me. Obviously I use it to express myself, however there is not some grand, deeper meaning to why I make music. A lot of the music I make focuses on sampling. So I look for sounds that evoke meaning to me. My music is very selfish in that respect.

Any other creative talents and if so do they influence your music in any way? Hmmm, I think all my ‘talents’ revolve around music in some way haha. I mix and master all my music, so I guess that shapes the decisions I make! Outside of music, I am very into creativity and productivity as a subject. Yup, I am one of those! I love learning about good habits such as getting up early, meditation and all that jazz. I feel so drained by today’s society of constant social media so I think my music being very minimal is a conscious form of escapism from that.

Any interesting facts about yourself you would like to share? Oooo that’s tough! A big one would be I am part of a Leeds community label that I helped set up called ‘bibliotek’ where we put out all our friends music, mostly focused on electronic music. It’s great because I get to help all my friends and build a community around their music. We recently released a video for our artist Mountain Range for his single, ‘Partings’ which was exciting! I’m not sure if this is interesting, but I am a pretty big nerd at heart. I love Marvel, anime, Star Wars…all that good stuff haha!

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Listen to Dokkodo Sounds on Spotify.
Find out more about Dokkodo Sounds’ music at: Album Review: Sixteen Records: Volume One

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