Under duo alias Mock & Toof, Nick Woolfson and collaborator Duncan Stump have gained worldwide support for their music, released two widely well-received LPs and countless singles that collectively span a range of electronica. Nick Woolfson is now launching his own more house-orientated solo project, AKRA, with a release on his own label Teng coming very soon. We asked Nick about the technical and practical differences between the two aliases, plans for Teng, forthcoming material and more – read the interview, grab ‘Hear To Create’ at the bottom, and buy the full release here.
- AKRA, first please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about what you’re doing music-wise at the moment?
My name is Nick Woolfson and I am currently working on my next AKRA release, which will have the totally original title of AKRASounds vol 3! I guess I will have to come up with something more original for future EP’s…I am also one half of Mock & Toof but more about that below… I have also just done my first EP with Neville Watson as Red7 called ‘Loves Fading’ which is just about to come out on German label Housewax and I also co-wrote and produced a downtempo / electronica album project as ‘Sounds From The Ground’ for US label Waveform and my own label Upstream.
- What made you want to set up your Teng label?
I set up Teng because I am used to releasing music on my own labels and had distribution already in place, plus I wasn’t sure if anyone else would want to release my EP’s so I twisted my own A&R arm and signed my life away in perpetuity to…. me. These days if you can do it yourself and you are willing to put the effort in then the rewards are yours.
– What do you think makes a good record label?
I think quality control and consistency are key to a successful label, and a bit of belief and confidence in yourself helps.
- What’s next for your other alias, the duo Mock & Toof?
Our 2nd album came out on the 1st October and are really excited about it. It has been a couple of years since our 1st album was released so we are raring to go! At the moment, we’re working on our new live set to support the album and concentrating on getting in our remixes for the next single and generally making sure our press, promo, distribution etc. are all coordinated.
- How much does your production process differ when your making music as AKRA to Mock & Toof? Is there different equipment involved?
With the new Mock & Toof album, we wanted the music to sound warm and analog even though we were working in Logic so we spent a lot of time working on our drums and sounds. We also fired up our arsenal of old synths and drum machines and wanted the album to sound cohesive like it was recorded on the same limited equipment and in the same place like bands did back in the day going in to a studio to record an album and I think we achieved that. We also collaborated with Swiss vocalist Ghost Ape on this album so there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing of wavs until we were all happy. My partner Duncan lives the other side of London so getting time together was always difficult and drawn out. As AKRA, I am on my own so can work whenever I want or have time. I occasionally buy some new software or hardware to boost my inspiration as something new is always a buzz and gets me excited. Currently I am working on Native Instruments ‘Maschine’ which is a new addition and I have just got right into it, so that is pointing me in a completely different drum and loop programming direction. AKRA is mainly software based at the moment that has freed me to work in the house instead of the studio and means I can get working whenever I feel inspired. Of course I could get bored of that and end up back in the studio using all the synths etc….. but not yet, as I’m still excited about making music in the spare bedroom and only go into my studio to mix the tracks.
- What are the technical differences in the music?
Mock & Toof is deliberately hard to categorize and is all about experimenting with technology, melody and simplicity. It is all about not conforming to specific genres yet being musically accessible, caring deeply about the music we make and presenting ourselves as an experimental lo-fi band with more than a nod to dance and electronic music. AKRA is about deliberately writing in different musical styles, as and when I want but still being experimental whilst working within the box…and gives me a chance to do some deep house and techno which I love.
- What do you like, and not like, about working alone? Do you get lonely in the studio?
I enjoy working with other people and am very used to that. It is good to have second opinions and 2 pairs of ears working on a track. I find working on my own harder and am sort of out of my comfort zone but it feels good to do it and I get a real sense of achievement and satisfaction when I get a good AKRA track on the go. I used to have a studio in a complex in the centre of London but now my studio is in my back garden (my office) so I have to be self-motivated. Sometimes I do need some company when I’m working on my own so I go out for lunch or walk the dog.
- Is the track you’ve kindly given us off your new EP, ‘Hear To Create,’ fairly typical of what you’re making at the moment?
Sort of…. it is the first track I put a vocal sample on so that takes it in a slightly different direction but the beauty of doing AKRA tracks, is the freedom to do what I want.
- And finally, please complete the following sentence: Get Some…
cotton buds, clean your ears and everything will sound creamy!