BONBON caught up with producer Taruqin who has been a pioneer in his avante garde grimesque productionis and worked with the likes of Jammz as well as recently bringing out a beautiful n ICYYYY collaborative album with Fake Laugh. We get down to the fundamentals like what it means to be a Tarquin and how much can we hide our true feelings behind 90s abba swedish pop bangers.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself - where are you based etc?

Currently sitting in my parents house.. above their garage in east sussex where ive been for the past year and half since lockdown, i was living in london..

How did your music making begin?

It began on my grandads mac many years ago playing with the loops, thinking I was a genius arranging those pre-existent musical pieces. If you wanna go back further learning to play piano from around 8 years old I think

My first real tunes were fantastically weird drum n bass tunes made with too many narrated voice samples, this wont see the light of day..

Your music has quite an avante garde sound - its quite grimey but it has a lot of strange elements in it that go against usual standards of grime music, how did this develop?

Well before I got involved in the ‘instrumental grime’ thing I was writing an EP based around a track called ‘C-mine’, I wrote with Neana. Who btw has the best sense of rhythm of anyone I’ve worked with, the dude exudes rhythmic prowess. I was adding grimey quirky weirdness to his club tracks. After amassing lots of tracks like that I then ended up sending those to Dj’s in that Boxed grime world like Slackk and Murlo who then supported on NTS and Rinse.

I think the avante garde thing comes from a desire to push the boundaries. I try and make things I feel I haven’t heard. Coupled with my listening habits informed by friends who would send me stranger things that would blow my mind at 17/18 years old like the interesting ‘post dubstep’ stuff like Peverilist , Zomby, Benga, James Blake. This sparked a general interest in the more experimental sides to any genre of music. I’ve also a penchant for anything pushing the envelope be that film, food, pictures or NFuckingT’s.

How would you describe your sound?

“I’m very inspired by uk centric club music as well as classical music, classic songwriting and a memorable melody.”

I think I’m quite a cheeky soul, lol, so I guess that cheekiness, playfulness and quirk comes through in the music. All of those descriptors lend themselves I think to experimentalism / avante garde. I Love music that exudes cheekiness, anything that perks your ear up, maybe even makes you chuckle, anything unexpected. I think humour and cartoonistic tendencies are there.

I’m also a massive fan of close dry staccato crispness with the odd very contrasting drenched out in fx track(s), coupled with lots of space, via minimal amount of tracks and sparsity roaming into full expansive maximisation. I love drama and contrast. I’m not someone who’s intro creating an atmospheric wash of sound as much as I think that can be very cool, it’s just not me. I’m very inspired by uk centric club music as well as classical music, classic songwriting and a memorable melody.

I guess I do a lot of things in a track out of insecurity. Like writing really simple music is incredibly hard first of all and takes a lot of confidence, my music is very often the opposite of that hahaha

What things inspire the sounds in your records?

I think whatever you’re listening to at that time is so often what comes out when you sit down to write. For the longest time its been trying out a certain vibe I’m really inspired by and often those styles have tropes and particular samples and instruments so I’ll use them. Bassline music had quite a big effect on me a decade ago too, frequent trips to Sheffield were a lot of fun. I spoke of that 2010 period earlier in uk bass music. I think that was a special time.

Sometimes though it’ll be as simple as trying a new technique like re-amping/running drums through an old amplifier and recording them or trying a new mixing technique. I embrace the accidents and the process so often a track will develop from really liking a sound I’ve managed to discover somewhere somehow.

These days with more focus on harmony chords melody sometimes it can be about matching a cool chord pattern with the right sound. I’m also not that subtle when it comes to sound selection. I think this adds to the brash cartoon impression some tracks give. If im inspired by a genre ill go ahead and slap that genres most exciting thing in the mix with no tasteful consideration of its appropriateness.

How did the name Tarquin happen?

“I think anyone legally named Tarquin deserves some interrogation”

Ironically whilst in the university Rowing club (one of the poshest sports there is) the Cox (tiny person shouting orders at the front) thought I looked posh, so she nicknamed me Tarquin. I named my music project Tarquin shortly after without much thought to the connotations. Sometimes people tag me in ‘Fuck off Tarquin’ things, stickers and the like. I think its an anti-gentrification movement in the north..

Do you think tarquins get a bad repertoire? 

This is incredible ^ hahaha

I think anyone legally named Tarquin deserves some interrogation

Ideal 5 guests for a poker game?

Joni Mitchell
Francis Bacon

We read about Boxed in London being something you were involved with - is there anything going on now which inspires you in the same way?

No but I think I was just in a place personally where the electronic club dj thing was very exciting to me and Boxed felt by far the most inspiring and unique world. It was very liberating the scope of output I felt you could play create and send within that Boxed grimey thing it was huge to me.

Other club worlds like Bala club, Even the strong hard drum things are very cool

What inspires me most now is creating songs with words its a new challenge! In that vein hyperpoppy, jagjaguwar sounds and classic vibes are floating my boatways

What bought you together with Fake Laugh for your collaborative album?

We both liked each others output and were friends from afar for many years. I think we agreed to collaborate when he came into a pub I was working at, we were both drunk (it was a nice job) but the intention was sincere. I’m really enjoying the challenge of songwriting and Fake Laugh has been a pleasure to do that with. 

What does the cover art on your project with Fake Laugh represent?

We felt the whole record was quite glacial and icey and a naturalistic theme ran throughout the album so Doug Stewart our trusted art director created those brilliant pieces.

We tried to make each piece for each of the singles and the cover fairly abstract, so hopefully everyone can take away something different from the images..

About your track ‘only fear’ you said it was about being scared of losing everything under the guise of a late 90s Swedish pop banga...
Do you think 90s swedish pop tunes are a good way of masking our darker feelings? Why?

To be fair if you go whole hog dark moody and depressing with every musical component its a bit much for me and its boring. Perhaps this is why it might be effective. If you want to talk about some dark things why not contrast that and create a more interesting concoction. I think Cobain was good at this. I get a lot of fun from Nirvana despite the obvious darkness 

What other genres do you think would be good for hiding things?

Heavy metal and lyrics about sipping pina colada’s and getting caught in the rain

What is your ‘attics’ physical form?

At night by the riverside meditating

What are the thoughts in your attic?

The rivers depth is inevitably expanding dude to sea level’s rising. Music is cool and fun and that but should I be concerning myself more with combating climate change?

How do your more abstract and masked/secret ideas influence your creative processes?

If I’ve got an abstract idea I’ll think about playing a character. This often helps me get out of myself and adapt to an idea bigger or detached from my personal experience.  You can hide secretive thoughts in a character. For instance writing a song as if you are a glass of water. I’m gunna do that!

What/who is hiding under your bed(s)?

Dead relatives

The year is 2050 civilisation has crumbled and balloon animals have taken over the planet - you must provide one skill that is not music related to not be destroyed - what would it be?

Needle / pin sharpening service - to pop any threatening balloon animals