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Photo by Leila Collins
With a series of releases on Sub Skank, Trax Couture, Tight Knit Records, and his own label Sans Absence, UK Funky and percussive producer Akito has proved to be a vital, versatile figure in London’s club sphere securing shows on some of the most prolific radio stations like Radar, and currently: NTS.
Showing support for a plethora of talented DJs and producers from across the world, Akito’s affection for hard, splattering percussive anthems along with the melodic, jocose sounds of Kuduro and Baile Funk has caused him to be held in the highest esteem by friends and fans alike. We caught up with him ahead of our Nervous Horizon takeover to talk about his roots, how he got to know the label, where Acid Fantasy came from, and the personal process of writing an album.
Give us some Akito history. Where did all the music start?
We were at secondary school: my best friend Jason (CDNephew) – I’d always go back to his house after school and stuff – his dad had given us a copy of Fruity Loops and we’d always be in his attic pumping out beats. Like they were shit, don’t get me wrong, but that’s how it started.
Then he bought a pair of decks and we started mixing. We were obsessed by pirate radio as well, so that was the main influence in what we were doing, and then obviously the production and DJing just stemmed from that…Not really having that accessibility to music and then just really hunting for it. That was the main thing.
What were you listening to on pirate radio at the time?
Well, I live in Harlesden so I couldn’t pick up Rinse or anything, I’d always have to swap tapes in school from people that could get Rinse. Because obviously that’s the big one.
It was like Delight FM, I was listening to a lot of DJ Digital, some of the best Dizzee Rascal dubplates ever and stuff like that. East Connection had a show on there as well, and Jookie Mundo who was my favourite MC at the time.
Was that Grime based or did you get into the Funky influence from pirate radio as well?
Nah, not at all. That was through work actually, that was like waaaaay, way, way after, When I was working at Westend DJ, my mate Richie started playing all these tunes and I was like “what the fuck is this?” and he was like “it’s UK Funky”, and that’s when I got obsessed with Apple and shit like that.
I borrowed his CD wallet, I copied every single CD overnight and I gave it back to him…like ‘I can’t get enough of it’ sort of thing. I was searching through and through on the internet and I couldn’t find anything, so I was playing more house-y bits to try and accommodate for that sound. I’d try put in what I thought would work with it, rather than being a direct influence of what I had taken from his CD wallet.
Can you tell me a little about your involvement with Nervous Horizon?
I’d known them through partying initially, and obviously I heavy fuck with their music and what they’re pushing. As for Acid Fantasy: Wallwork, TSVI…I guess that was the connection, we started a night with Loom and that’s where we bonded really, just through that. I’ve also been promising a release to them for like five years as well, for a long time!
Were you there when the label first started out?
I think I knew them yeah, but we weren’t close.
Okay, so you started fucking with each other more doing Acid Fantasy?
Acid Fantasy, yeah. That’s the thing that brought us together.
Nice, was there a particular ‘vision’ for Acid Fantasy?
It was Loom that drove the whole thing really, it was Loom’s baby. He said “let’s do a club night, we’re all obviously pushing quite a particular sound, individually, and as a group.” We all obviously get on super well and shit, so we were like yeah let’s do the night, let’s programme it, let’s all decide in terms of the line up and stuff like that…Yeah, it’s a similar vision.
Jammz, Wallwork, Nico Lindsay, Akito and Jack Dat @ Acid Fantasy, photo by David Brimacombe
Is it a collaborative process?
Definitely, 100%. We have a group chat and run literally every idea between all of us just to clear it out.
Great! So with Acid Fantasy, do you think you’re creatively aligned in terms of sound, or is it the party aspect that drove it forward?
Part of both I think, we all love to party. The sonic aspect sells it, but the be all and end all is having a great party.
Your album is coming out-
And obviously, leading up to now you’ve usually been releasing EPs. Do you have any different feelings to this project being…you know, longer and probably a little more conceptual?
I think it was a lot more personal, in a sense that I was going through a rough stage when I was writing it and it even took me three months to start it. It was a really difficult process having that blank canvas and not being able to touch on it, because it was bigger than anything I had done previously. ‘Cause I’d written EPs previously- like EPs are a piece of piss, it’s just three, four tunes, but this was creating an actual body of work.
It’s a mental thing, nothing more than a mental thing, ‘cause I slumped myself out because I didn’t know where I was going and I didn’t have a particular direction at the start. But I was working into it and all the ideas came together, it panned out I guess.
So there’s a strong thread, or a set of themes which runs through it tying all the tracks together?
Definitely, I would say so yeah.
Akito + Rushmore on Radar Radio, photo by David Brimacombe
You said it came out of quite a rough stage, with that in mind can you see yourself making albums regularly?
I think that’s my preferred format…now! I say that, and I’ve only written one album, but I think in terms of my future projects it’s going to be more album or mixtape based. Like if I have an EP, it’s like belter, belter, belter, I don’t necessarily wanna write belter, belter, belter, or attempt to write belter, belter, belter.
I’d rather have the space to be experimental…not like, experimental in terms of what exists, but what’s experimental for me.
Do you think it’s been a learning curve, in every sense of the term?
It’s definitely taught me a lot, in terms of chilling out and it got me to calm down a bit and write music, rather than club tune, club tune.
It gave you something to focus on?
Oh, one hundred percent. It took me away from a lot of the fuckery.
How long have you been working on it?
10 months, I think?
When did you finally listen to it and think “I’m done”?
Probably around three weeks ago. I’ve been mixing it down at HUB16 in Dalston, been there like every Monday, Tuesday for the last month just trying to finalise everything. Really working into the tracks and being at a point where it snaps and I can’t do anymore.
When can we hear it?
14th September on Tight Knit Records.
Are there any excitable post-album plans?
A couple launch parties, an Asia tour off the back of it, and then fuck off abroad for a bit. Away from London!
The Keep Hush x Nervous Horizon takeover went off. Catch up here on the sets from Marcus Nasty w/ Mic Man Frost, Akito, LR Groove, Lockhart, and more. Peak moment: Akito topless for TSVI x Wallwork x Luru.
For more wild manoeuvres, come to the next Keep Hush event: become a member for free here.
– Interview by Saagar Kaushik, @_saagark –
– Background photo by Asia Ella Huddlestone –
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