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Skenna & Riigs

Skenna & Riigs give us the lowdown on Londam

Launched in 2022, Londam was created by Jeffrey Raat (Skenna) and Mark Allin (Riigs). Passionate about emotional electronic music for the dancefloor and the soul, Londam releases music that will inspire and excite. Their first release landed earlier this year, Skenna & Riigs Underpass EP, the title track from which now gets a remix from Phil Anker. 

Riigs has been making electronic music for over 20 years and creates music for dancing and living. He works with a string of talented collaborators and has recent Beatport top 10 releases on Manual Music, Inward Records and Krafted. Skenna is based in Amsterdam and makes deep, emotional electronic music, with previous releases landing on labels like Manual Music and Another Life.

Connect with Skenna & Riigs on Soundcloud 

Thanks for talking to us today – how has the year been for you so far?

Riigs: It’s a pleasure.  Thanks for asking us!  The year has been good, if hectic. Obviously, the launch of the label has been a big event for us both and has taken time but been worth it as we are realising an ambition we have had for a while.  We also got the chance to produce together ‘live’ in the studio for the first time.  With me, in London and Jeffrey in Amsterdam, we did a lot on zoom and messenger, especially during the pandemic.  But nothing beats face-to-face interaction and creativity.  

Skenna: It’s been a busy year for me. With the launch of the label, there were so many new things to learn. It’s been a very exciting journey and all is going smoothly so far. Another thing that kept me busy was the funding for a studio in Amsterdam. A very exciting project as well and it should be ready somewhere next year. And at the beginning of the year, I did a remix for Jaap Ligthart, it was the first time I got a request for remixing and it was a big honour to do. During ADE I was able to meet him in person during the Manual Music gathering – that was a special moment.

First of all, we want to get to know you “from the beginning”. How did your history with music begin?

R:  Music has always been my first passion, as a pianist, listener and band player! I was raving in the 90s and began making music with Cubase and an Akai sampler like many of us.  I stopped for quite a while with work and family but came back to it in a big way 4 years ago.   Jeffrey and I met as part of the amazing Finish More Music mastermind program which was a huge influence on our creativity and mindset.  From there we began to collaborate on music and then release together on labels like Manual Music. 

S: I played the flute as a kid and after that, I took keyboard lessons. Besides that the journey to start producing started at a local dubstep party in Zaandam. This is where I experienced something I really liked and I wanted to be a part of that. So I bought a little mixing controller and made a dubstep mix on it. Shortly after that, I started to play at the same event. When dubstep went in a different direction I moved to play at drum and bass parties.

At the same time, I was finding my way into producing my own music and even had a release on a small drum and bass label in that time. When I started my studies and moved to Amsterdam there was not a lot of focus on music anymore. That’s when I stopped playing at events as well. I always missed it so I got back into producing again for a couple of years now.

For you, what is the magic of music? The thing that makes it such a big part of your life? 

R: Music for me is all about passion and expression.  It has been at different times an escape, solace, recovery and of course a level of madness and abandonment.  It has the capacity to move you to tears, make you dance uncontrollably or sit and reflect.  It is intricate and complex on one level and so very simple on another.  It is also endless – there is more music to hear and make than we can ever come close to.  A lifelong pursuit. 

S: For me, I can’t imagine a life without music, it moves me and makes me experience something I enjoy a lot. Why exactly I’m not sure, it’s a feeling and that feeling is so nice that I can listen to music all day! Sometimes I notice that the music is always calming me down and helping me to focus. I have ADHD and my thoughts can become very chaotic – when I listen to music I notice my thoughts start to organise and I can focus a lot better.

I have the same thing when going to a party, I feel alive and in the moment where normally my thoughts can run into 10 different directions and make me zone out. Maybe that’s the magic in music for me: To feel alive, focused and being present in the moment.

Are there any artists in particular who you are finding inspiring at the moment? 

R:  I am listening to a lot of ambient and dub music – Om Unit is making some incredible music right now.  Everything on the Hypnus label is amazing, currently, I am loving Birds ov Paradise, really deep and interesting.  My current favourite though is Loraine James, both under her name and her ambient music as Whatever the Weather.  Her new album is just so exuberant and experimental but also really groovy. 

S: Artists that have inspired me over time are Nthng and most artists from the Giegling collective. I like the deep and meditative touch they add to the music.

You launched Londam earlier this year – why did you feel the time was right to start the new label?

R: We wanted to find an outlet to express our creative ideas and to share that with artists we love.   We love the labels we release on – this was more about making a ‘home’ for ourselves, a safe place to explore ideas.  

Will Londam pursue a specific genre or music policy? What can we expect? 

S: We want Londam to be a place where artists can explore their sound and try something different, experimental or personal. Ideally developing as a collective to build connections and collaboration for our artists and listeners.  

We love the rave scene and want to kind of celebrate the history of our shared culture in electronic music – as well as the power of science and technology to be transformative.   Discovery and exploring new places either in our outside the mind is important to us.  Oh and we love deep, dubby, ambient music.  We love acid rave music and all the spaces in between. 

R: We hope to be a place for artists who share this vision, to explore their passion and to be an outlet for some of their creativity and exploration.  

You have a healthy discography as individual artists, so how does it tend to work when you produce together? Are there particular elements of production that you tend to each focus on?   

R: Not really, we both enjoy the melodic work, making drums, sound design etc.  We almost immediately found that we had an easy collaborative style where the other person just seems to know what would move the idea forward.  

S: Neither of us is precious about our ideas – we are happy when the other person improves them.  Or chucks them out!  You need that sort of honesty and trust if you make art together as it is a vulnerable process.  

What does your current studio set up look like? Lots of hardware, or are you a mainly ‘out of the box’ type producer?

R: I use Ableton. It is such a great playground and in recent versions, the random and generative capabilities and the world of Max for Live have made it almost like having a modular system.  That said I do have some hardware – Elektron synths, a Korg Minilogue and some effects pedals which I use for live performance as well.  

S: Really simple at the moment. I do everything in the box, once I get the studio space done I’m planning to add more analog hardware because I love the sound of it!

What is the best advice you ever received as an artist?

R: Make music a habit.  Do it every day so it becomes an addiction.  It doesn’t matter if an idea sucks, there will be another one along tomorrow. 

S: It’s all about falling in love with the journey and not the end result. 

What do you have coming up for Skenna & Riigs the rest of 2022?

R:  I have a fun gig to play in London on November 11th with some good friends joining me onstage.  Very importantly we have 3 remixes coming out on the label from our Underpass EP.  A deep groover from Phil Anker, a bliss-out special from LEV and some real experimentation and attitude from EkoCentrik.  We are also both remodelling our studios to be ready for a big year next year!

S: Setting up a new studio space for myself. It’s a big project and will probably fill half of the year. On ADE I got in touch with a vinyl pressing company so together with Mark we are considering releasing some music on vinyl as well.

Skenna & Riigs – Underpass (Phil Anker) Remix is out now on Beatport.

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