CDR Preamble: Henry Rafael

Occasional host of our CDR Audio Show and a producer who has been humbly creating innovative and excellent music for years, Henry Rafael [Keen] will be showing his skills for CDR Copenhagen June 27th (alongside Mo Kolours). Ahead of then we shared some Qs and As. Read on… 

When and where did you first attend CDR? What do you recall?

My first CDR experience must be around 10 years ago now. I’d heard from a friend about this great night where you could go and play your music in public. I’d been making music with my brother Olly whilst back in Dorset on the family set up but after moving to London and buying my first computer, I’d started to fiddle around with my own ideas.

This seemed like a great opportunity to see what these early ideas sounded like out loud, in public. So I went to this place called The Bridge & Tunnel in Shoreditch with my track, feeling a bit nervous, but excited. I met Tony and Gavin and a host of other friendly and creative folks and my track got played. It sounded better than I’d imagined and a few people were actually dancing to it! That was it, I was a CDR devotee from that point onward!

What do CDR audiences at Culture Box have in store for them when you represent in Copenhagen on June 27th?

I did think about trying to prepare some kind of live set but I’ve not done that for a while and don’t really have much new material that I could represent in that way so I’ve decided to do a DJ set. It will be split into 3 parts. Firstly, in true CDR style, some new beats and works in progress from the Soundspecies camp. Secondly, some new music that is inspiring me by friends and family in London. Thirdly, a mix of some of my favourite vinyls from my collection. Not sure what the CPH people are feeling, but I’d like to try and get them dancing if possible.

Do you consider your music reflective of London sounds, and/or UK scenes?

Umm, good question. I don’t think my (or any Soundspecies) music has really reflected any London scene, unless you’d consider CDR a scene! The reason I’ve always felt at home at CDR is because I never really stay on one vibe for too long and CDR has always encouraged a very diverse range of music. My musical taste is pretty eclectic and I’d get bored just making hip-hop beats or electronic stuff all the time. However, it’s nice to be part of an extended group of friends and family in South London who are making music that inspires me to stay creative.

When did your and Mo Kolours‘ paths first cross? 

I met Joe through my good friend Paul White. I’d met all the Deenmamode brothers a few times briefly at gigs in London over the years and thought they were lovely chaps. I’d also heard some great beats that Paul had played me. I guess we started seeing more of each other when Joe started working with Paul when he was putting his first live shows together, and then even more when I moved down to Peckham, where they were living.

You and Mo Kolours both have brothers with comparative sonic skills, how does this aid your crafts?

I guess we kind of take it for granted but I suppose it’s not that common to have multiple siblings that are all into similar things, and actually get along pretty well! I’ve always seen my brothers as the people I most want to impress with my music because I really think they are great musicians. I come from a DJ background, and I admire great musicianship! I always support what they are doing. It’s nice that we’ve been able to collaborate in the studio and perform live together over the years, although it hasn’t always been easy because we all have slightly different visions and approaches. Fortunately, with Electric Jalaba, we have all found common ground and it’s really fun to be working together on a project that we all feel inspired and excited by.

Who/What has been on heavy rotation on your audio player of late?

Funnily enough, mainly music from the Keen and Deenmamode families! No, honestly! I am blown away by the new Flying Ibex LP, Habits, which is out now through Bomb Shop. A couple of tracks in particular are stuck in my head. Also, loving the latest Jeen Bassa beat tape, beautiful rhodes-heavy beats for the (non existent) summer. The Tightface & Al Dobson Jnr Japan project (free download via One Handed Music) is well worth grabbing too. And my housemate Paul White is just getting ready to drop the Watch The Ants EP. Been enjoying hearing that develop and I’m excited to hear the finished product!

Please talk us through the track you last [cmd] ‘S’d ? ([ctrl] ‘S’ to PC users) [in other words, last project you saved]

After taking a break from sampling for a while to do the Room Below stuff, I’ve recently been fiddling with some vinyls I’ve picked up in Greenwich. Just made a beat using samples from two different Brazilian records..

Finally, have you any advice or words of warning for producers/musicians developing musical works in progress to play at CDR?

No words of warning because there’s nothing to worry about. CDR is the perfect platform to test your ideas on a great system and you’ll probably hear frequencies you won’t at home. You might even see some heads nodding or get a ripple of applause, which is always encouraging. If you are feeling self conscious, just submit the track under an alias, and then nobody needs to know. And remember, there’s probably many other people there that have the same worries and insecurities about their music. Just get yourself down, and bring a friend or two!

Connect with Henry at The Room Below or on FB.


Read on: Henry speaks of a favourite piece of studio gear in Why…? Moog Rogue.

Photo of Henry by Joanna Natalja Gourley.