The internet is a wonderful thing. It initially got me started with FatKidOnFire, got me my first job (and subsequent beginnings of a career – more on that later) and has been the supporting skeleton of pretty much everything I and the FKOF crew have achieved in our almost four years of working together.
We are fortunate enough to talk to exciting brands, musicians and people on a daily basis – and are privileged enough to be sent all kinds of wonderful things. I was recently contacted by a young musician, who grew up in Cyprus and is now based in Bulgaria. Andreas ‘Rat’ Hadjipandelis had recently finished a music video that he thought we’d like (and he was right, it’s definitely worth checking) but he also let slip he was working on a concept album entitled ‘Around The World In 80 Riddims’.
Now, having grown up on various flavours of world music and having been bowled head over heels by Mala’s ‘Mala in Cuba’ long player (an album that combined his foundation sound with the excitement of Cuba’s local musicians), when Rat told me the album was world music from a bass music perspective I sat up and took note.
And then he sent me the demos.
I can honestly I’ve never been so excited about being sent music. This album is ridiculous, it’s brilliant, it’s inspired. And today, through FKOF, it’s available as a free download…
Rat, how are you? Hi Wil. I am doing great man, thanks. Really excited about finally releasing the album!
For those who don’t know you, can you give us a quick rundown of your history? I guess it all started around the time I was 12 years old. I started taking classical guitar and music theory lessons around that time. Four years later I was the lead guitarist in several local cover bands in my home town of Larnaca, Cyprus. Eventually I started composing my own music, which led to the formation of a hard rock band when I was 18, and saw a glimpse of success with festival appearances and a record contract. I got into music production when the band split up in 2009, while I was studying Sound Engineering in the UK.
I finally found myself musically as ‘Rat’ in 2011 while undertaking a postgraduate degree in Audio Production. I guess that was when I acquired the skills to be able to produce the sounds in my head.
What’s the inspiration behind the album ‘Around The World In 80 Riddims’? World music has always been a major inspiration for me. I have always loved the sound and timbre of traditional instruments and percussion as well as the variety of musical scales and rhythmic progressions within it. One day I was at home working on track no. 5 – ‘Koto’, and that’s when I had the idea to create a concept album as a tribute to world music.
Is the album a homage to world music through the eyes of bass music or is it your take on what world music could be with a bit more bass? How would you describe it? I would say it is a homage to world music through the eyes of a bass music producer. My intention was to create an album with raw elements from all around the world, not directly maintaining their respective genres, but use these elements as tools in my creative process.
How did you produce the album? The album obviously involves a lot of sampling, as well as several spontaneous recordings with my portable recorder. As my background revolves around performing, I always like to record myself perform in my songs, so there is a lot of me playing drums, MPC, a variety of analogue synths (which I was lucky to get my hands on) and some guitars. I have a collection of analogue gear which makes it easy for me to get a big sound while working inside the box.
I guess the weirdest moment was when I attended a service at a Russian Orthodox Church and ended up recording the choir, which was hauntingly beautiful. I got a lot of weird looks I can tell you that! Some of the recordings ended up in the first track of the album, ‘Intro – Shadows’.
Which of the continents have you visited? If you haven’t, how did you research local music? I was lucky enough to travel to several European countries growing up but so far, I have never been outside Europe. Most of my research happened online, looking for weird traditional instruments and understanding rhythmic patterns within world music.
The European section of the album comes from countries I have either lived in or visited. The rest come from music I was listening to growing up and some were sparked due to a specific sound I heard during my research that just did it for me.
From the 12 tracks, which is your favourite – and why? I am not sure I have a favourite. I would say that the intro and outro are rather special as they feature me performing various live instruments. I can’t pick one out of the lot as a favourite though!
Are there any plans to play this album live in any form? This idea has been in my head for a while now. Initially, I explored breaking the tracks down into various elements and seeing what could be played live, and what could run as a loops. I am still in the process of deconstruction, but I think I may need to recruit a couple of members in order to get the benefit of a live performance.
I’d love to play this album live at some point.
Given the overwhelmingly positive response to this project, are you or will you be working on any other concept pieces in the future? I’m currently working on a series of EPs that are part of a concept, but would also work individually. I think conceptualised work keeps me focused and I don’t allow myself to get derailed from the main idea. Maybe in the future I’ll create another concept LP, if all goes well with this one…
Any final words? Thanks to those who helped make the album possible and for being part of the journey with me. Thank you all for the support!
You can stream and direct download the 12 WAVs via the SoundCloud set below – or you can download the entire 320 album in a zip (keep scrolling for that).
For the audiophiles among you, the WAV zip is ~800MB but I’ll upload it if there’s enough demand. Drop me a message on the Facebook page or on Twitter (@FatKidOnFire).
Enjoy what might just be one of my albums of the year…
Thanks and love to Rat, Alyn, Olaf, Matt and everyone else who’s been involved in this project. It’s been a good few weeks/ months/ years in the making but it’s been oh so worth it!