Two of the most exciting UK producers and DJ’s, O’Flynn and Frazer Ray, joined forces recently to deliver one of the albums of the year, Shimmer. Arriving on Ninja Tune imprint Technicolour, the album serves as an ode for their love of the UK dance music scene, showcasing various elements from speed garage to breaks. A heartfelt and nostalgic homage to iconic UK nightclubs and the escapism they provide, Shimmer also see’s both producers explore new musical territories, escaping their usual sonic spheres to experiment with new genres and techniques whilst nodding to the past. We caught up with both artists about their brand new project.
Congratulations on your forthcoming project ‘Shimmer’, how are you feeling ahead of release?
Ben: We’re massively excited. The album is a big departure from both of our sounds and is definitely a project that wouldn’t exist if we were working alone. I think after both our first albums we needed to take a breather from our own work – once you throw your all into everything it’s very difficult to just pick up and start again on a similar thing. So it has been super fun to explore something different.
Frazer: I think the album’s super cohesive and really fits as a body of work. We’re really proud of what we’ve created and the reception to the singles has been brilliant. Can’t wait for the full release!
How did this link up between you both come about?
Ben: I was record shopping in Sounds Of The Universe (Soho), heard music I liked over the speakers and asked the guy who worked there who the tracks were by. He told me it was by Soundbwoy Killah (Frazer’s old alias). I was fairly certain Soundbwoy Killah was a battered old-age raver..
Frazer: You weren’t far off… In a bizarre coincidence I happened to be living with a mutual friend of Ben’s at the time who tagged me in a photo online. We organised a meet-up when I moved down from London and within our first 2 pints together I’d signed my track “Burning” to Ben’s label Hundred Flowers.
Ben: We’d been good friends for a while then decided to sit down to have a jam together (no release or anything planned – maybe just a track to play out in sets), but whenever we sat down music would flow so naturally and fast that in the end, an album was inevitable!
What’s the overall inspiration behind the album and why the name Shimmer?
Frazer: Over lockdown we both missed going out and diving head first into club culture and the excitement of music around it.
Ben: We were trying to create the sound, feelings and journey of clubs in the music. In terms of the album name: The music is a Juxtaposition of dark and light – like it’s glistening or ‘shimmering’
Frazer: It also shares the name with a reverb we’ve used all over the album.
Ben: And a percussion plug-in!
Which tracks in particular should we listen out for?
“Love Fading”, “You Need Me”, “Kolfax” and “Katara”!
Describe your new LP in three words.
Beers, tears and gunfingers.
Ben: The idea of this track was to make some synths sound like they were waking up – almost a synth booting itself into gear. The synth at the start was made with the Prophet 6 and the OB 6 both being sent the same midi pattern at the same time. I could then manipulate the synths simultaneously whilst the audio was being recorded into the laptop. I think once we decided that this project would turn into an album – we wanted to make the opening this beatless epic synth thing that would immediately put you in the world of the album and set everything else up.
“Call For Noise”
Frazer: This was the first track we wrote for the album – before we even knew what the project would be like. We were jamming around on a rainy autumn afternoon trying to make a speed garage track – the music flowed thick and fast and most of the track was written right there on that day.
Ben: The first track we wrote over Zoom. It took about 4 months of blunt force to get it finished – the project wouldn’t even play for the final 2 months so we would have to make changes without being able to hear anything, then bounce it out to hear what we’d done. It’s still one of our favorite tracks, so clearly this hasn’t left too much of a bad taste in our mouths. Flume and Sophie were both big influences on this – especially the euphoric breakdown in the middle.
Frazer: We wanted to try and sum-up the UK hardcore-continuum into one track. With the main hook we tried to give a grime-influence, harking back to the ‘eski’ days of gliding squares and choppy drums.
Ben: Our attempt to make the Berghain cry. We’d been listening to a lot of Osgut Ton stuff in the weeks before making Holsten. Once we’d finally nailed the beat down, the melodies and vocals followed quickly after. The synth outro is a section of a 20-min synth jam recorded on a cold, dark evening.
Frazer: 2-step is a style of music we both absolutely adore. Nothing beats the feeling when you finally get bass and drums to communicate with each other in a groove. We wanted to make the track have dizzying highs contrast against face-screwing lows. The bass hits super low on this one so make sure you play it on a decent system.
Ben: This originally started as some 2-step track with a big drop – we kept working on it but it never felt that special so we decided to try and switch it up a bit. We then made that vocal line and gave that a new bass and suddenly it felt more special. This track was written during the summer whilst we were enjoying beer gardens and linking up with pals. Hopefully you can hear the joy we were feeling in this track.
“Rosetta Ft. Byulah and Ekhe”
Frazer: This track was our first attempt working with a vocalist – the extremely talented Byulah. Ben introduced me to Byulah’s music and we decided we absolutely had to get her into the studio and collaborate with her. We were just starting a collaboration with our long-time friend Ekhe at the time too and this track felt like a perfect way for all of us to come together. Big shouts to Byulah and Ekhe for their work on this.
Ben: Tando was a studio-jam written one afternoon with myself and Frazer constantly switching places in the studio to create different parts. I was trying out some bass lines on the keyboard whilst Frazer was making the sound on a wavetable synth in Ableton. We recorded about 5 mins worth and then picked out our favourite loop from it. From the bass line the whole track was then written.
Frazer: Katara was actually originally a massive extended outro for Love Fading. It was so epic that we felt we needed to make it a separate track so it could flourish on its own. Once separated, Ben set to work adding synth after synth to mould it into Katara.
“Light It Out”
Ben: Light it out is a 3am heads-down, hoods-up roller. It’s probably the darkest moment on the album and something we wrote channeling the harder sections of some of our favourite DJs late night sets (shout out Ben UFO and Joy O).
“You Need Me”
Frazer: We set out to write the biggest possible track we could. We wanted to make something that could be played in massive, epic venues. We feel like this one is a true reflection of the balance between light and dark… and our perfect closer to the album.