INTERVIEW

COMPANY POLICY: Every summer needs a downbeat electronic album for the hot nights. London producer SLIME’s was made by disguising instruments and avoiding samples

slime

Slime is a gob of phlegm expelled from the throat of an uncouth stranger onto the pavement. It is the coagulated mixture of leaves, moss and rainwater left in your gutters after winter is done. The word ‘slime’ suggests something abject and amorphous, and producer Will Archer – whose debut album, ‘Company’, is due for release on August 14 via Weird World – wouldn’t have his pseudonym any other way. “So many people are immediately put off by the name,” he admits via a Skype video chat from his hotel room in Singapore. “It challenges you right away and tells you to turn off.”

Archer is something of a slippery specimen himself – he crafts sensual and elusive electronic music that defies genre classification, but is well timed for downbeat, muggy summer nights. There are shades of R&B and trip-hop littered across ‘Company’, but definitive influences are difficult to trace. He cites Miles Davis’ “progressive” attitude towards composition and collaboration as a standalone model for his own ethos, and, clichéd as it might sound, Archer appears indifferent to the concepts of mass appeal or chart success so long as he continues to develop as an artist. Of course, scads of musicians promise to keep their integrity intact, especially early in their careers, but it’s abundantly clear that Archer isn’t merely giving me lip service. Stagnation is the enemy and intrepid listeners won’t be deterred by his unsavoury nom de plume, nor the terse titles of his tracks. A Slime fan will know how to tolerate ambiguity. In return, ‘Company’ promises to be a mercurial mixture of textures and rhythms unlike most bedroom electronica made in recent years. “One thing I hope that is a strength about the material is that it would almost be impossible for it to become a trend,” he says. He wants to be able to “take pride” in the record’s inimitable qualities. The highly personal nature of ‘Company’’s creation looks to be the stuff of electronic music legend and will undoubtedly provide insurance against mimicry.

Archer recorded approximately 400 tracks between 2012 and 2013 inside the confines of a windowless Hackney studio, only for a mere 10 of these songs to make it onto the album. He reasons: “If you make 400 plus songs, not all of them are gonna be very good,” and says: “I would never go about making music the same way again.” That’s not down to shame or self-deprecation – more that Archer seems incapable of standing still. He’s something of musical jack-of-all trades – a multi-instrumentalist incapable of devoting too much time to a singular musical pursuit.

He began playing piano at his grandmother’s house when he was a small child and, by the age of ten, had picked up both the saxophone and drums. The latter held his attention throughout his teenage years, but once a friend had purchased a set of decks and started DJing he became infatuated with the prospect of making electronic music. “I remember thinking to myself that there are just endless possibilities. Zero limitations.”

Ultimately, Archer’s commitment to playing a particular musical instrument was trumped by his love of sound as a wider medium. Now, a degree in Sound Art and two EPs later, he uses tangible instruments to add colour to a song’s rhythmic backbone. “Choosing a tempo, that’s the first thing,” he tells me, “and then just slowly filling in the gaps.”

These so-called gaps are where Slime’s music gets interesting and, sometimes, perplexing. Archer has amassed an impressive collection of instruments for the purpose of featuring them in his tracks, but he often distorts their signature sounds until they are wholly unrecognisable.

“I had a clarinet,” he tells me. “There’s a lot of that in the record, but it’s pitched-down – you can never tell it’s a clarinet.

“Saxophone is in most of the songs, but it’s not obviously a sax. There are many different things you can do to an instrument to get it to sound completely unlike it.”

Electronic music has proved liberating for Archer, allowing him to experiment with different instruments without having to reach a level of technical mastery. He recalls his excitement at buying an Ehru – a traditional Chinese string instrument – during his recent excursions in Singapore. It’s something he intends to feature on his new material, although, “it’ll probably end up sounding nothing like an Erhu,” he says. “But it’ll be in there somewhere.

“You don’t need to be able to play anything perfectly,” he says, as a strong believer that virtuosity is not a prerequisite for creativity. “You don’t need to have great technique, you just need to have ideas.”

The singles already taken from ‘Company’ (‘My Company’ and ‘Hot Dog’) are an indication that Archer has access to a wellspring of inspiration. As a general rule, he doesn’t use samples in his songs. “Every single thing you hear has been made by one person, in maybe two or three rooms over the course of two years,” he nods. He even makes two varied vocal cameos on ‘My Company’ and ‘Hot Dog’. The former contains elements that wouldn’t seem out of place in a contemporary downtempo EDM track, while the latter showcases some alluring blues phrasing. However, venturing a guess as to the precise sources of Archer’s sonic vocabulary on ‘Company’ seems audacious.

“That’s probably the biggest compliment I can receive,” he says, “for somebody to say, ‘I don’t really know how to describe this, but I like it.’”

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