“The inspiration came from RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan – how he uses old kung-fu samples is just mind blowing. The intro to ‘Da Mystery Of Chessboxin’ is in my opinion the best sample ever.“
Hailing from the rural suburbs of Manchester, Elliott Ogden defines his infectious, bone shattering sound through his acclaimed alias ‘Kontain’. Depicting rhythmically complex basslines, underwritten by thunderous drums and injected with infectious vocal loops, his productions are instantly recognisable through their signature components. The ‘Civil Unrest’ Co-Founder is drawing support from industry dons Dax J, SPFDJ, Perc, Kobosil and Randomer. His pre-eminent, forthcoming debut vinyl release on Cleric’s ‘Clergy’ imprint showcases Kontain’s ability to deliver an addictive, club focused, audio sensory assault. In terms of future productions Kontain is soon to be featuring on Amelie Lens’ EXHALE imprint and their forthcoming VA compilation that seeks to showcase a plethora of new and established talent within today’s techno scene. You can check it out here.
Can you tell us a bit about your musical background and how you first got into techno?
I didn’t have any sort of musical upbringing and I definitely wasn’t exposed to electronic music at a young age. I grew up listening mainly to UK hip-hop – but when I was around 15 years old one of my friends got his hands on two completely run down belt driven turntables and what can only be described as a knackered, excuse of a mixer, and set them up in his shed. When I think back I can’t believe it used to work at all considering the beatings it endured – I actually think he still uses the same mixer today haha. We used to practice mixing by just buying job-lot collections for like a tenner on eBay, but this slowly transitioned into Dubstep – labels like Deep Medi and Tempa. I remember being blown away by tracks like ‘DMZ – Anti War Dub’ and ‘Skream – Midnight Request Line’. I was attracted straight away to the really strong, prominent vocal samples and big subs that shook your bones on a big system. Around this time I started messing around on Logic stealing samples from YouTube and just trying to emulate some of my favourite artists at the time. The fascination with Dubstep started to lean into more UK Techno sounds with record labels like Livity Sound and Timedance. After switching to Ableton I started making more intense, direct techno – but still trying to retain some of the early characteristics of early 2000’ish Dub.
Having grown up in Manchester, how did the city shape your sound and influence your musical direction? Were there specific nights you attended and where would you recommend?
My friends used to run a Dubstep night at the notorious ‘Antwerp Mansion’ (anyone who grew up partying in Manchester has a funny story about this place). So this was the go-to back in the day. But as I said earlier this transitioned to Techno – there are so many amazing promoters in Manchester so we’re never short of parties. There’s the big hitters like Warehouse Project all the way to super intimate gigs, I’m lucky to have grown up in an area with constant exposure to great artists – I’ve also met my best mates through the scene here. The nights I was (and still am) attending were every ‘Meat Free’ and ‘Teletech’ party – the girls who run Meat Free are so amazing and supportive, they really do work hard to improve the scene here. Teletech always hit the mark with strong line-ups and make a concerted effort to work with local talent.
Recently you dropped “Fear Is The Only Darkness” via Clergy, what was the creative/production process behind the record and which track is your favourite?
My creative process is completely different from project to project – but it’s all tiedtogether by using templates and previously saved sample banks. I usually separate sessions into more creative endeavours where there’s no pressure, all just about trying new stuff or working with samples in a different way – and then more specific sessions which is stuff like building templates and creating personal sample banks for kicks, vocals, drums etc. My favourite one off this record and the one I’m most proud of is definitely the title track ‘Fear Is The Only Darkness’ – I’ve been desperate to use the main vocal in this track for the best part of two years, but nothing ever seemed to work. The inspiration came from RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan – how he uses old kung-fu samples is just mind blowing. The intro to ‘Da Mystery Of Chessboxin’ is in my opinion the best sample ever – I wanted to try and replicate this vibe in a heavier techno track.
As a close family member of Clergy, can you tell us a bit more about the label and how it has helped you grow as an artist?
Even when first getting into Techno, Jorden (Cleric) was always one of the prominent figures in the scene and obviously with the majority of his output being on Clergy it’s been a Record Label I’ve looked up to for a long time. There’s not much more to say about the label apart from it’s always released artists I seriously admire (Cleric, Dax J, Stef Mendesidis etc). I first sent over some music when he was close to finishing the Visions 01 compilation which had my track ‘Spitting Blood’ inside – he described this as the final piece of a puzzle he’s been trying to solve for a long time haha. I think I’ve learned more about the whole Techno scene since being involved with Clergy than the 5 years prior, Jorden (Cleric) has taught me a lot – he always spent a serious amount of time listening to the stuff I was sending over and giving really crucial, uncompromising feedback and helping me achieve exactly what I was going for. In my opinion, this is the single most valuable thing for a producer.
Where do you see yourself this time next year and do you have particular goals you want to achieve in the near future?
I can’t wait for the pandemic to clear off, clubs to re-open and normal life to commence. It feels like a ceiling has been placed over all the producers in the scene and although this means a lot more time in the studio, it can sometimes make for a pretty deep lack of inspiration – however I do think that this can be overcome by consistently making sure you’re spending time working on projects. The ambitions I have for the future revolve around some specific tracks that I want to find the right home for and also some solo releases that I would love to get finalised!
The label I run alongside my homeboys Kander called ‘Civil Unrest’ will also be making some waves in the near future. I wish I could talk more about this – but just know, we’re coming in hot!
Quickfire Question: Which?
Which song did you last listen to?
A m a r i – J. Cole.
Which track would you most like to hear live since lockdown?
I made the track ‘Neck Crank’ for Amelie Lens whilst in the first lockdown – I’m a sucker for a strong mixdown so the fact I’ve not heard it tested in a club yet winds me right up.
Which club night did you last attend?
Dax J & Parrish Smith at The White Hotel in Manchester – wow, that feels like a lifetime ago.
Which artist has taught you the most?
Which club would you most like to play at?
Anywhere in South America!
Which record would you save from your burning collection?
Adam Beyer – Character EP 1998 – This record belongs in every DJ set (Even though the record is like £1.50 on Discogs I’d still probably grab it first).
Which DJ is your favourite?
Which producer has released the best track of 2021 so far?
Kander on R Label 100% – this EP is special.
Which restaurant in Manchester is the best?
Cottonopolis – best Japanese restaurant about.
Which do you prefer, club nights or festivals?
Festivals – daytime beers in the sunshine and an early night sounds great to me.