Following the release of the synth-laden ‘Suffocate’, rising British electronic duo UHURU blend experimental elements with a catchy pop formula on their latest track, ‘Thirsty’. The band’s sound resembles many pop songs, but members Robert Jones and Connor Daniel have given it their own spin through the production, which echoes the more aggressive side of hip-hop. The group has a new EP coming soon and is set to perform at the Isle of Wight Festival this Sunday and ‘Also Known As’ in Banbury on 21st July.
We caught up with UHURU to talk about their latest single and future plans.
How did you two meet and when did you decide to form UHURU?
Rob: We met in college when we were about 18 or 19. Connor was making his own music before he got to college but he’d always said he wanted to take the electronic music he was doing live with a band. So over that first year we got talking and eventually decided to get a band together
Connor: At the time, It was mostly DJ’s playing electronic music on big stages. I really wanted to form something that had the live chemistry of a full band on stage whilst still delivering the same energy of electronic music.
Why did you choose that name?
Connor: I’m half Kenyan and really proud of my roots. ‘UHURU’ means ‘freedom’ in Swahili so it’s actually become a really fitting name as we’ve been extremely cross-genre right from the start.
What are some of the influences that have shaped your sound?
Rob: Over the years there’s been a lot of different pulls musically that have influenced us, but I know Connor has definitely taken an interest in a lot of Pop production and started putting his own production spin on that, which I think you’ll hear in Thirsty and the other tunes that are coming soon.
Connor: Yeah definitely! I had a phase of listening to loads of underground ‘Future Hip Hop’ producers found in the darkest corners of Soundcloud! Their production ideas are incredible and I think it’s contributed to my aggressive production style found in the choruses/drops. Looking more towards Pop though, I love writing songs in an almost formulaic way, whilst matching this with the emotion of that particular song. I know that some of the best writers work this way so I try to emulate that. I’m hugely influenced by the work Pharrell and Justin Timberlake have collaborated on through the years.
I love the experimental hip-hop elements on your latest single ‘Thirsty’, particularly the driving bass. Is this something you wish to keep on future tracks?
Connor: Thank you very much! If you look at my Spotify it’s like 90% Hip Hop and when producing ‘Thirsty’ I really wanted the sounds to be punchy and driven. I’d say ‘Thirsty’ is the most aggressive track sonically, but actually is one of the slower ones. The drops in the other tunes will still hit you for sure.
Rob: I’d say a trademark of Connor’s production are the bass elements as well as his use of drums, if you like that there’s definitely a lot more coming.
How did you go about recording your first EP? Are you still working on it?
Connor: I write and produce everything at home until the tracks are at a decent demo quality. I converted our spare bedroom to my studio so I’m in there most days banging out beats. Then comes the decision-making of what we believe are the strongest tracks and should be singles.
Rob: After Connor’s done writing at home we tend to take the tracks to our friends at Numen Studios and re-record vocals and get a mix and master done. As far as the EP is going, it’s very much still in progress. I’m pretty sure that we still haven’t got a final track listing nailed down.
Are you excited about playing the Isle of Wight festival?
Rob: We’re always excited to be playing anywhere but there’s always that added excitement when you’re playing at bigger festivals. I think it’s that thing of like a festival you used to go to watch, and you’re now there playing.
Connor: Yes of course. It’s one of the most prestigious festivals in the country and we’re super grateful to have been asked to return for the second year running! Also, its always nice to play with some familiar faces in other bands like our pals Nakamarra!