Makaze is on a one man mission to bring back Donk music from Scotland. Robbie Tolson is a young producer eagerly learning from others, as much as he develops his own unique style of house. A rising star in the Scottish scene, Makaze is earning himself a solid reputation by taking on the XY events in Edinburgh, a signature night out of the Scottish music scene that's been established for years. EARMILK caught up with Makaze to hear his history in the industry, how he keeps active in Edinburgh, and more about his influences.
The single "Shoop" takes an ecstatic turn towards house music at its rawest elements. Makaze strips down all traces of the original genre leaving intact an energetic song that doses you with an off beat breakdown. The minimalistic mood is complimented by a deep voice guiding you into a dark frenzy. Check out an exclusive first list of the track below.
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To further understand the song, "Shoop" is a piss-take of the genre Donk that was big in Northern England around 20 years ago. If you got on a bus, you would hear the youth of the day at the back of the bus blasting Donk music. The sound is similar to happy hardcore. People still play it for a laugh, like Jackmaster and Hudson Mohawke.
Makaze explains the back story to me from the balcony of his apartment in Edinburgh. The music scene in Scotland's capital was a bit lacking a few years ago, but they held a Boiler Room, “Stay True Scotland: Ballentine Takeover” in one night. After that Edinburgh emerged anew in the dance world, with bookings everywhere.
At that point Makaze decided to take over the monthly big night, XY, which he had been residency at. He explains how it's important for him to make book stunning support slots now, since you can meet great artists to inspire you. I inquire how he balances his time between running XY nights and producing music. Makaze DJs full time, so he gets practice behind decks a few nights a week. He'll spend a few days in the studio and then one day organizing business for XY. Ultimately Makaze wants his production work to overlap playing shows, where he can take what he makes in the studio and bring it down to the dance floor.
The studio where Makaze works is in collaboration with the 131 Crew. Makaze met the owner, Billy, on a night out and they decided to work together by producing and mastering, sharing equipment and space, and more. The space is sublet from Young Fathers, a hip-hop duo based in Edinburgh, who inspire everyone by talking about music career strategies. Our conversation gradually flows into Makaze's own musical history and the opportunities he's had to bring him to present day. He explains,
"When I was finishing university, I started working for a record label Glasgow Underground. Kevin Mckay, the founder of the label, asked me to come help after hearing a mix I submitted. It was helpful to listen to demos because when you hear music thats been released, it’s often a few months behind. Yet when you play demos, you’re hearing what’s happening right now, which as a DJ is great since it’s inside info to where music is going."
Afterwards Makaze took up a course at Point.Blank music school. They teach musical skills you don’t even think about. He find writing music really easy, but doesn’t want to rely on someone else to finish his music. To be a good artist, you need to know how to do both to be able to last. At the end of last year he started working with Ultra Europe. The job was finding new popular sounds, like club hits. It was taking up a lot of his time and energy, which resulted in not spending enough time on himself as an artist, which is fundamentally the goal of any artist. Record labels are a good start to get contacts, but at the end of the day people are going to book you because of your sound and not whom you know. "So what can our audience expect from you later this year?
"I want to narrow my style by choosing a couple songs to put out though an EP. I’m not rushing it by any means, rather taking time to develop my sound. I have people helping me out like Mark Mackenzie as well. We’ve jammed around in the studio, but nothing big has happened yet. His production skills mixed with my music ability to write a melody works really well. I asked him to jam once and he was up for it; the rest is history really!"
"Mark Mackenzie is a producer and DJ from Inverness, Scotland. His sound is really distinctive, so if you hear a Mark Mackenzie track, you instantly know it’s his work. He’s on the rise as a house artist with an upcoming release via Fly Boy Records. Definitely an artist to keep your eyes and ears on. Makaze and I finish our conversation talking about his musical upbringing and introduction in electronic music.
"My musical inspiration spans years because I was brought up as a classic trained violinist. I turned to Folk music playing the fiddle with bands, I've always had a drive to make music. Yet since it was all graded, I didn’t like the pressure to perform and be criticized: music should be about expressing yourself. I started getting into dance music in my late teens and the first DJs I liked were trance based. At the moment now its DJ Haus and his label, Unknown to the Unknown."
It's safe to say that Makaze and his song "Shoop" showcase a distinctive taste of talent from Edinburgh. Follow the artist for more house releases and new styles as he moves forward to develop his production.