With several collaborations already under their belt, including 2017’s esteemed Implications EP, Gruuv-bosses Audiojack and American-talent Kevin Knapp make a return to Crosstown Rebels in February with “Under Your Skin”. The release forms the first single from Audiojack’s forthcoming album and includes a club edit, as well as a remix and dub version courtesy of Hessle Audio mainstay Pearson Sound. We’re very pleased to have caught up with Audiojack ahead of the release of Under Your skin, here’s how it went!

Hello Audiojack! It’s great to speak with you guys today! First off, how are you doing and where are you both based at the moment?

Rich: we’re both based in the UK. I’m in York although Jamie is in Ibiza at the moment. How are you doing is a difficult question to answer right now isn’t it. I’m trying to focus on things I’m grateful for, like being able to weather this storm from the comfort of home. I’m glad I can cook, still exercise, and that twenty years of living an often isolated music life has equipped us with some great tools for lockdown survival.

Jamie: I’m in Ibiza, feeling as good as can be expected in such uncertain times, especially for those who are in the music industry. Still, Ibiza is a very nice place to be during all of this so I can’t complain.

Your 2021 release schedule is set to get off to a brilliant start with the release of ‘Under Your Skin’ featuring Kevin Knapp; the first single from your forthcoming album on Crosstown Rebels. Can you tell us a bit about the idea behind “Under Your Skin” and how it came together?

We wrote the album as a continuous piece with a loosely interpretable storyline, a bit like an audio movie. The scene for Under Your Skin takes place in an apartment where a man is scrolling endlessly through TV channels, but on every channel is companies trying to sell something or push some self-agenda. The lyrics are about the way we are manipulated by companies and governments, often subconsciously through various forms of media – the subtle steering of our thoughts and decisions that often happens without our awareness. We came up with the concept and wrote the lyrics which we then sent on to Kevin with a brief and as usual he nailed it.

Kevin Knapp is an artist you have worked with frequently with exciting results. What’s it like working together?

We’ve been friends with Kevin for a long time now and our working relationship has always been super easy and flowed well. There’s never any awkwardness around us explaining to each other what we want to get out of a project in terms of sound and delivery and we know how to get the best out of all our respective inputs into what we do together. Sometimes Kevin writes his own lyrics and sends us recorded vocals for us to work with and sometimes we write the lyrics and send a brief which was the case with Under Your Skin. Sometimes we use reference tracks to help explain what we want, on the first track we ever worked on together we sent him Marvin Gaye – Trouble Man. For Under Your Skin we rapped the lyrics ourselves and gave that to Kevin for reference. Hopefully that recording has now been destroyed though.

The single ‘Under Your Skin’, also features a ‘Club Cut’ version from yourselves and two awesome remixes from Pearson Sound. What did you guys think when you first heard Pearson Sound’s takes on ‘Under Your Skin’?

We’re best known for our house and techno but the album is very diverse in styles and genres so we wanted to show with the first single that we aren’t just doing the same thing people might expect. The Club Cut is there for the 4×4 club DJs and it was important to us that the other remix was a more eclectic version, something a little more left field. Pearson Sound did exactly what we were looking for so we’re super happy with his mixes and the overall diversity of the EP as a whole. 

We’re excited to hear the full album when it arrives in May. What can we expect from it?

The album was created with inspiration from the great listening journey albums where you can put on a pair of headphones, close your eyes and get lost for an hour. It was written as a single piece with cinematic sound effects and binaural surround sound techniques to make it feel like you’re listening to an audio movie. It’s actually taken us over 3 years to complete; as well as writing the songs and getting vocal performances we’ve been out making field recordings around the world, in cities, riding on motorbikes, in cars, at subway stations. We’ve commissioned voice actors for bits of dialogue for the cut scenes in between the music and made it all flow as a single immersive journey. It’s a rebellion against the short attention spans of the modern humans who are listening to music whilst watching Youtube and sending messages on their phones. It’s about switching off from all of that and focusing just on your ears and letting your imagination fill in the gaps left by your other senses.

Towards the end of last year you released your nine part ‘Isolation Tapes’ series via your label Gruuv. We loved the idea behind this project and really enjoyed listening to the series. Can you tell us a bit about it and what it was like working on it?

The lockdown of spring 2020 was an uncertain and scary time, especially in Spain where you were not even allowed to leave the house except to buy groceries or go to the pharmacy. Not being able to do much else we decided to throw ourselves into something productive and make some new music. As tracks began to take shape it became apparent that they belonged together, as part of a single entity documenting the music we made at that strange time. As we had no income from gigs, releasing the project on our own label meant we had the best chance to earn a return from the release and improve our chances of financially surviving this situation. We were happy with the response to the series and it’s something we feel confident we will repeat in future.

What do you have planned for Gruuv for 2021?

We don’t have any releases planned at the moment. Our main focus for the next few months is our album on Crosstown, but we also can’t afford to take risks right now so we’re being very selective about what we sign. Unfortunately it takes a strong release to break even these days and whilst in the past we’ve taken many punts on new artists just because we like the music, we’re not in a position to do that right now. Most established artists seem to be releasing on their own labels as we did, giving them control and immediate returns rather than having to wait a year for a much deducted royalty statement. We’re still listening to demos but haven’t been excited enough to sign anything recently. Where is the new talent hiding? We’re also busy in the studio writing new material for later in the year so maybe we can do an Isolation Tapes follow up then, let’s see. For any artists who’d like to send us a demo, we are still listening – hit us up on demos at gruuv dot net.

Thank you both for speaking with us today! We wish you all the best for the year and look forward to catching up again soon!

Thanks for the interview, nice chatting with you too.

Audiojack feat. Kevin Knapp – Under Your Skin (Crosstown Rebels)
Released 5th February 2021
Pre-order here: https://lnk.to/CRM247