Producer Jack Ritchie doesn't want to simply create tracks, he wants to construct an immersive, intoxicating world.
Using the name Bearcubs his work across the past three years has been spread through EPs and one off singles, veering from lo-fi house to future garage and more, each delivered with a painterly touch.
Debut album 'Ultraviolet' is his most ambitious project yet, and the sheer breadth of his achievement is staggering.
The sheer technical skill of the record is something to be marvelled at, with the layers of sound building into something quite remarkable.
An intriguing sonic realm that exists slightly outside of the norm, 'Ultraviolet' is imbued with sharply defined colour and moments of personal poignancy.
An imposing first full length, Bearcubs kindly agreed to break down the record for Clash...
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'Ultraviolet' in the context of the album describes something that is there, all around us, but cannot be seen by the naked eye. It's like every person has hidden emotions and desires, everything has a code or pattern that makes it what it is. So to see in ultraviolet is to see beyond the surface, into someone else's world, or perhaps to find beauty in hidden flaws.
Do You Feel
I wanted to capture that moment when you first realise that you like someone. There's no doubt or overthinking, you just go with it. The song is supposed to follow the journey from this first moment to further down the line, when you might become unsure of whether to stay with someone or go.
Sometimes my ideas for songs come from thinking visually about some made up story or just a cinematic mood. For 'Slow Highs' I wanted to express a sense of being stuck in some kind of loop. For example the line 'been listening to dial tones, every time you pick up the phone, trying to find a way home’, it's like you are calling people and looking for answers but for some reason you end up going round and round in circles. I guess it could also be a metaphor for finding your way in a complex world.
Alone With You
I wrote this song with the talented Clem Douglas from Kudu Blue, she already had the melody idea for the hook so we wrote lyrics and layered up harmonies, it all came together quite quickly. The inspiration behind it was to write a bit of an old-school garage/R&B track, but with a dreamy atmosphere.
I didn't really realise until after I had finished the album but I've sort of collected the different genres I've been working in over the past few years and parts of them have found their way into these new songs, even when I've been searching for new sounds. So I've inadvertently created a musical summary of my life over the past couple years I think.
It's about doing something for selfish reasons, whether it's related to love, money, greed or whatever. Basically finding the dark side of yourself.
One of the more instrumental tracks on the album. The disjointed lead and chopped vocals are supposed to create a disorientating, drunk-like feeling, in contrast the lyric 'it unfolds, it rolls on', is my way of saying just go with the flow and take things as they come.
For 'Landslide' I'm singing the song kind of as a narrator watching someone's story as it happens. I wanted to paint a picture of someone washed up on a desert island, in a dream-like state, things are scrambled and they can't think straight. It supposed to represent going through hard times and literally feeling like the ground is being pulled from beneath you.
The title came about because I like using references to nature in lyrics, after all we are connected to and affected by the natural world around us, and I think it gives a grandeur and power to the emotions connected with the words.
This was an another collaboration with my friend Lawrence Allen of the Brighton band Loyal, we had a writing session one day and came up with the Search. It's a nostalgic story looking back at past relationships and how things have changed since then. To make the sounds reflect this feeling of nostalgia I used 60s style organ sounds and 70s sounding breaks.
It's a bit of an ode to Portishead and Massive Attack. I wanted to try a slower a song, using slightly more organic elements like the piano to add a human-ness. It's a little different vibe to my other songs but it allowed me to explore new areas lyrically and experiment with a different potential direction for my sound.
It's in the name but flipped, the song's my attempt of describing when something good happens and you should feel happy about it but for some reason you don't.
'Vapourised' is my take on an R&B slow jam, but with some weirder, experimental electronic elements. I see it sonically as a follow up to the lead track of my previous EP 'Underwaterfall'. At first I was considering including 'Underwaterfall' as part of the album but in the end it felt right to have a fresh start.
All the songs on the album were written in around six months from my warehouse studio in Seven Sisters last year, I think because they were all written in such an intense period they basically sum up that time in my life like a snapshot, which is what I always wanted the album to be.
The final song on the album and the first song I wrote for it, it describes being lost in someone else for a moment, 'when we're in the moment time seems to slow down', it's a loss of a control but in a positive way.
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'Ultraviolet' is out now. Catch Bearcubs at London's Oslo venue on March 29th.
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