still slipping vol. 1

Joy Orbison

still slipping vol. 1

Twelve years after Joy Orbison’s “Hyph Mngo” upended dubstep and forever changed the course of bass music, the UK DJ/producer, born Peter O’Grady, has yet to put out his debut album. In fact, “I’ve never wanted to write an album,” he tells Apple Music. So, Still Slipping Vol. 1, the most substantial offering he’s released yet, might present something of a conceptual hurdle: Its 14 tracks and 46-minute runtime would seem to have all the outward trappings of a bona fide full-length. O’Grady, however, insists that it is not. Instead, he claims, it’s a mixtape. “I listen to a lot of rap mixtapes,” he says. “There’s something quite playful and a little bit more personal about them. Dance albums always feel very put on a pedestal. But with hip-hop tapes, there’s so much energy and excitement. It feels really fresh and unpretentious.”
A similar energy runs through Still Slipping Vol. 1: Though its muted production constitutes some of the most experimental material in Joy Orbison’s catalog, it’s propelled by lithe garage and drum ’n’ bass rhythms, and it’s stitched together with Voice Notes from O’Grady’s family members. Reminiscing about his grandfather, laughing about a weekend of daiquiris, or even, in the case of one charming recording of his mother, simply praising the young musician’s production chops, these spoken bits lend an intimate air; you feel like you’re eavesdropping on his private life.
O’Grady made the record during the 2020 COVID lockdown; cooped up at home, he saw no one for months, communicating with his family only via FaceTime. That sense of isolation bleeds through into some of the record’s darker tracks, like the gothic trap of “Bernard?” or the bit-crushed textures and paranoid jitter of “Glorious Amateurs.” But the spirit of collaboration also courses through the music. Working with an array of rappers, singers, and fellow producers—at first socially distanced and eventually in person—O’Grady took the opportunity to try out new sounds and styles, folding in the grit of post-punk on “’Rraine” and the reflective tenor of dub poetry on “Swag W/ Kav,” a flickering UK garage floor-filler. Here, he explains the backstories behind selected songs from the mixtape.
“W/ Dad & Frankie” “My dad’s not a massive talker. You’ve got to get stuff out of him. He didn’t know he was being recorded; he was just in a good mood with his brother. My dad was a bit of a mod in the suedehead era, and they’re talking about clothing. I liked it because it’s a nice moment between my dad and his brother, but it’s also painting a picture of something that I find quite interesting. I’m quite influenced by post-punk, and kicking off the record, I was thinking about that; there’s a guitar sample in there.”
“Sparko” (feat. Herron) “Sam Herron and I did all of this just sending loops and ideas back and forth. I’m really into vocals and vocal melodies, but also the industrial side of things—I’m always trying to bring the soul out of something that’s quite abstract or a bit tougher. This track is him pushing it one way and me pushing it the other way and, hopefully, getting this interesting balance. It came together really quickly; it’s probably one of the last things I did on the record. I like it because it has this really good energy. It’s quite danceable. I play a lot of stuff around that BPM range when I DJ longer sets. We all come from a broken-beat background at 140 BPM, which maybe seems less interesting to us now. At slower tempos, you have more space.”
“Swag W/ Kav” (feat. James Massiah & Bathe) “I was listening to a lot of 2-step and garage again. It’s something that I’m really influenced by, but I’m so sensitive about doing it, because I hold it in such high regard. Now there’s a throwback aspect, and the trend is really popular. But I think it’s hard for people now to imagine how sophisticated it seemed. I wanted to carry that sophistication on; I wanted to carry that energy into the track. I wanted to write a garage track that you could play like a minimal house track—something you could slip in at the right party and it wouldn’t be a throwback.”
“Better” (feat. Léa Sen) “When I made this, I was thinking about people like Photek. I’m a massive Photek fan, and the way he approached house music and soulful vocal stuff always sat well with me. It’s uplifting but also melancholic. Drum ’n’ bass was always like that for me. But the nice thing about Léa is she’s 21 and she doesn’t necessarily know a lot of the things I was thinking about. I feel like her vocal is more like her doing a Frank Ocean vocal, which I love.”
“Bernard?” “This is one I didn’t make during COVID, actually. It was originally called ‘Amtrak’ because I made it on an Amtrak train going from New York to Washington. The reason it’s called ‘Bernard?’ is because of Bernard Sumner. I’m a big New Order fan, and when I made it, I was thinking, ‘What if New Order made a hip-hop beat?’”
“Runnersz” “This was one of the first Voice Notes I got sent where I was like, ‘Yeah, I have got to use this.’ Mia is my cousin; she’s also Ray Keith’s daughter—my uncle, who does the drum ’n’ bass stuff. I remember her being born, and now she’s 21 or something. She and her sister seemed to grow up quickly in lockdown, and it made me think about them now coming to clubs and falling in love and stuff like that.”
“’Rraine” (feat. Edna) “Lorraine is my mom’s name, but my dad never says Lorraine—he just says ’Rraine. This is a song that me and Edna wrote, and then it morphed into what it is now. I do a lot of sessions with rappers and singers, and this was one of the beats I was giving to rappers. I got a few different vocals on it, but then I did a session with Edna. She’s in a band called Goat Girl—more post-punk type stuff. Weirdly, she really took to that track. It became this sort of—I don’t even know how I’d describe it. I’m a big Cocteau Twins fan, and I guess I was thinking about that kind of thing, but it isn’t really that, is it? It’s definitely leaning into my emo stuff.”
“Glorious Amateurs” “I can’t even remember how this one came about. Someone once said to me that I write music like it’s coming out of a tube of toothpaste or something. This is one of the few that I would say I agree with that assessment. My manager didn’t really want to put it on the record, and I pushed. I said, ‘No, this one has to go on there.’”
“Froth Sipping” “This was quite an old one, actually. When we were putting the tape together, we were going through a lot of my demos and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s actually quite good.’ I don’t really remember how I did a lot of it. I feel like it was quite modular-based. I think it’s even got some of the same ideas as ‘81B.’ I used to do a lot of that—build tracks out of other tracks. Things would just morph into other things.”
“Layer 6” “I was with my mum and dad at Christmas, and my mum was talking about my radio show. She was like, ‘You should listen to Pete’s radio show. I think you’d like it.’ And my dad turns to me and goes, ‘It’s not for me though, is it? I’m nearly 70. Your mum can sit there and say it’s great, but it’s not really for her either.’ My parents have got really good musical taste, but they’re not musical people as such—they don’t play instruments. So, it’s kind of a sweet moment where my mum is trying to make sense of what I do and say something positive.”
“Playground” (feat. Goya Gumbani) “This one, again, is thinking about stuff like Cocteau Twins. There was that really interesting point in post-punk—if you listen to the first Bauhaus record, that’s pretty much like a dub record. That fascinates me. I was thinking about that a bit when I made that beat. Goya, who’s the rapper, just has a really good ear. He came round and I was playing things and he was like, ‘Oh, that one.’ He could hear what he calls his ‘pocket,’ where the vocals would sit. It changed quite a bit once he jumped on it. I had been working on it with this vocalist who I was thinking could be the new Elizabeth Fraser. I was envisioning myself in this goth band. And then I played it for Goya, because the track wasn’t working out. It was two worlds colliding.”
“Born Slipping” (feat. TYSON) “I like the idea of going out on a bit of a bang. It’s pretty straight up. It’s not trying to be anything particularly different, really. It’s quite an honest thing. It’s a bit garage-y, I love that. I’ve always loved a good vocal chop and a nice dubby synth. It’s the kind of thing that if I played it to my mates that I grew up with, they’d be like, ‘Oh yeah, why don’t you do this more?’”

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