Cain is one of contemporary dance music’s most exciting talents. Based in Scotland, he has put out stellar releases on acclaimed labels such as Huntley Palmers offshoot Highlife. He also has a phenomenal live Boiler Room, and chops in the booth to match: he has a background in scratch turntablism and has supported the likes of Ricardo Villalobos. With a unique production style, and an incredible live set, 2018 looks to be his biggest year yet.
He presents an hour of music that consists of much of his unreleased material. It opens with twinkling chimes, chugging toms and dreamy vocal harmonies that stack hazily over each other. A passage of South American folk music follows, with 12 string guitars and marimbas snaking around arresting vocals. At 15 mins, the intensity rises, as a 4/4 kick and UK funky rhythm underpin the ever present percussion. The energy continually increases: sampled strings, flute stabs, and South Asian vocal hits create a heady atmosphere that perfectly counteracts the primal percussion. 40 mins sees an unexpected shift into a vocal trap cut. The airy pads and rolled hi hats lead into into a 2-step workout, with a breathtaking switch back into a 4/4 rhythm, before more haunting folk piece brings things to the end. This is the sound of an incredibly talented artist displaying his ability to dig deep: don’t sleep on it.
- Was there a theme or underlying concept behind the mix?
“There wasn't a defining theme, but I wanted to include quite a bit of South American music that I love. I also wanted to vary the tempos a lot, I hope I did this in a way that worked well.”
- Your productions feature a lot of African and South Asian sounds: what inspired this?
“I'm from the Highlands of Scotland and I actually used to be a professional bagpipe player. I grew up competing in bagpipe competitions and I was exposed to a lot of Celtic music. I find the melodic structures and pentatonic scales in Celtic music have a strong crossover in other folk music in the world, and I think I'm naturally attracted to that. Also, I'm obsessed by rhythm, and I find that a lot of folk music really focuses on this. There’s reason that certain musical forms have lasted for centuries: they tend to have a timeless appeal. Finally, I love imagining that I’m in distant lands, I've always been a daydreamer and I like to try to create music that evokes this.”
- What made you decide to begin putting together a live set rather than simply DJing?
“I used to DJ hip-hop, I was obsessed with turntablism. When I discovered music writing programs though, that completely took over. I love DJing but I don't have enough time in life to focus properly on that whilst also writing all the music I want to work on. I've got real respect for very skilled DJs, so I don't focus on that too much, as I think my strength lies more in being a producer and presenting my own music to audiences in live sets. There's nothing better than testing out new tracks for the first time with an audience on a decent sound system. I feel like an excited toddler every time I get the opportunity to do that!”
- This mix contains some of your upcoming unreleased material. Can you tell us a bit about it?
“This mix has music from an upcoming Fine Grains EP 'High Call’. The records will be pressed in the next couple of weeks I think so it should be coming out very soon! I've also included a track which will be on an upcoming High Life release - also coming soon. Then there is a track I am working on that I've not quite finished or shown to anyone yet.”
- What’s next for Cain?
“Got a lot of potential new projects upcoming, including a lot of collaborations and potentially starting work on an album. I'm also going to be adding many new elements to my live set, possibly using an electronic bagpipe chanter as well…”