R3liks is the alias of Birmingham-based electronic producer Adam Furmage. Drawing inspiration form across a range of genres, echoes of a variety of artists can be heard in his productions, from electronic titans like deadmau5 and Pryda and trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack and Portishead. Far from simply emulating these artist however, R3liks has meticulously crafted a unique and striking sound, one that straddles the boundary between the underground and the mainstream with aplomb. Self-releasing singles 28 Hartnell, Intoxicate and Something Blue via Kobalt’s AWAL label, R3liks has already clocked up impressive numbers, with hundreds of thousands of streams across all platforms.
His latest single is On You, which lands on AWAL this October. With hard-hitting 4/4 beats, an evocative looped vocal and snarling, rave-ready bassline, On You is a relentless, hypnotic club track that kicks like a mule: a guaranteed-party starter wherever you are. With the single out this week, we caught with Adam to get the lowdown on his history, approach to production and plans for the future.
What’s the first record you heard today? And do you have any new musical discoveries this year that we should be checking out?
I think my first track of the day was ‘You Wish’ by Nightmares on Wax. I’m really into the whole trippy sound at the moment. RJD2 is another artist I like with a breakbeat style along with DJ Shadow. As for new discoveries, I might be a little behind the times with this but I recently stumbled upon an artist called i_o. I really like his deeper, darker style of writing. The way he uses polyrhythms and delay is superb.
What first got you into electronic music, and when did you seriously consider a career in it?
Being honest I come from a rock background first playing bass guitar in Metal bands. It was only after one of my previous projects ended I really started to pursue a career in Electronic music. I love the freedom and expression a synth can give you. It feels similar to an artist with a paint brush to me. I’ve always listened to electronic music throughout my life though. My dad would listen to Jan Hammer’s ‘Crockett’s Theme’ when I was a kid and I would listen to Zombie Nations’s ‘Kernkraft 400’ on repeat when that came out. The first track that truly opened my eyes to electronic music has to be ‘Saltwater’ by Chicane. Electronic music has never left me since.
Who are your musical heroes?
I have so many it’s hard to choose! I’d have to start with Pink Floyd. They were the first band that introduced me to progressive music. Their song Echoes is a masterpiece. A 20 minute song that doesn’t tire. I’d have to mention Deadmau5 next. Some of his songs sound like an electronic version of Pink Floyd to me so to speak. I feel ‘Strobe’ is a perfect example of that. An honourable mention would be Incubus. Ben Kenney on bass is the bomb!
Tell us about the new single… was it all produced since the coronavirus pandemic started? If so, do you think the situation influenced the record at all?
’On You’ is a funky bass driven electro house track with a catchy vocal to get any party/floor moving. I think I first started on the track back in July. It came together really quickly (my most popular tracks seem to be the ones that come together like this). Coronavirus has probably influenced me in a way that’s allowed me to really put my head down and write music. Obviously the live scene is a little quiet with lockdown so it really gave me time to focus in the studio.
Your releases so far all have a very recognizable sound. Do you have any go-to bits of studio kit or hardware that you always find yourself returning to?
I always start with a mix bus compressor on the master channel, I feel it sets you on the right path from the start. It’s totally free for all after that. I probably do a few things similar from there on out which might give me a certain style of sound. Nothing is intentional though, it’s probably more of a subconscious thing. I do tend to use more analogue style sounds than digital styles. They sound a little too polished for me. Saying that, everything has its place.
Do you use reference tracks when you produce? Or do you prefer to start from a completely blank canvas?
I always start with a blank canvas but I tend to add a few go to plugins/compressors straight away before I do anything else. I find it really helps with the workflow if you have a few basics set up you know work. I write a lot of my ideas on piano before switching to synths. Most songs start as a bunch of happy accidents though. I never really set out to write a song, I just get into a state of flow and they somehow end up complete.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year that we should be looking out for?
Who knows… With the live scene on lockdown at the moment what’s going on, I’ll just keep pushing forward with more tracks. I’m aiming to get more music out on a regular schedule. I have a few tracks in the bag ready and packaged to go as we speak. No release date yet but I’ll keep you posted. Hopefully you’ll have me back and I’ll get to speak with you again at some point!
Finally, if covid-19 was a record, what would it be?
Oooh good question! Pulse of the Maggots by Slipknot maybe!?