We Talk To Will From Mystic State About His New Label The Chikara Project

Posted by Adam on 24th February 2017

New labels are ten to a penny these days and, in reality, most of them are not very good at all but every now and again a great one comes through and The Chikara Project is exactly that.

The label, which has been set up by Will (one half of Mystic State), launches with the If I Could EP and I can tell you first hand that it’s very, VERY good. I caught up with will ahead of the label’s debut release to chat about the project and what we can expected from The Chikara Project.

Hi Will, how are you mate?
Hey Adam! Yeah, all good here thanks. Busy, but can’t complain!

Why don’t you start off by telling us a bit about yourself and how you got in to Drum & Bass?
I’m a 22 year-old, devastatingly handsome chap from the South West of the UK, just outside Bath. I’d describe myself as a pretty standard guy who is just really passionate about music. I got into dance music in my early teens, as a lot of people in my friendship circle had started to discover it. Prior to that I only really listened to American hip hop and quite a bit of Nu-metal and Punk. When we all discovered dance music – starting off with mid 2000’s dubstep (Skream, Coki, Benga, Rusko, Plastician etc), it started to broaden our horizons slightly. The GetDarker podcasts were pretty much the soundtrack to our days for a year or so! A few months later, my mates brother lent us a copy of More Than Alot by Chase & Status and one of the Nightlife CD’s and from then on I was pretty much hooked.

My friend Mike, who I now make music with under Mystic State, was on the Drum & Bass thing from early as well, he ended up buying a copy of Perez’s 1984 and it opened up a new world of musical styles to us. We picked up a pair of battered turntables (there was shit-all else to do in my hometown) and taught ourselves to mix, in the process learning more about the Drum & Bass history day by day.

You’ve just started a new label called The Chikara Project – what made you decide now was the time to go it alone?
I’ve been fascinated with record labels since I started making music. The artwork, the different styles for each imprint, and the business side of things appeal to me hugely. I actually had this idea a long time ago, but decided to hold tight on the idea and try and learn a bit more about promotion, get some strong tracks lined up, and make some more contacts within the scene. It would have been really bad to go in unprepared, fire out one release, fuck it all up because the tracks weren’t quite right, or the promotion wasn’t right, or the artwork wasn’t right, and then not be happy with it. I wanted to make sure everything was perfect.

Why’s it called The Chikara Project?
Chikara roughly translates to power, strength, or influence in Japanese. The idea of strength and influence carried through a musical vessel is something that seems quite nice. I’ve been fascinated by Japanese culture and phrases for a while now, their words always look and sound beautiful. I’ve tried to work a bit of oriental style into the label design as well. I could of kept it fully british and gone with ‘The Power Project’, but it sounds slightly too much like a protein shake company.

Tell us about the labels debut release, the If I Could EP, does this set the tone for what we can expect from the label in the future?
Yeah, pretty much. There’s always a bit of room to experiment, but the main vibe of the releases are going to be these airy, flowing melodies with razor-sharp drumlines and a little bit of a nod to old jungle tracks. However, all of the roster like to delve into slightly darker territory, myself and Mike especially, so there will be some more industrial flavours peppered across future releases. We’re trying to keep a solid Drum & Bass backbone to the releases, but it’d be cool to make some stuff that is a little bit more accessible to people that maybe aren’t hugely into the genre. A lot of labels in the scene now want to cater for just a particular demographic, but it would be nice to cross territory and draw elements from other popular music.

You’ve worked with a couple of other artists on the EP, including Third Degree on Blue Velvet – how did you end up hooking up with him?
I went to school with Dan, he lives 5 minutes from me, and he comes round at least twice a week to eat my food and smoke out my studio with his peach-flavoured vape so it was a fairly natural hookup. We’ve made approximately 5 billion tunes together over the last few years, but this is just one that ended up seeing the light of day. Both Third Degree and Elias will feature on every Chikara release, wether that’s in colab form or with solo tracks, so expect to hear a lot more of them soon!

Do you have any long term plans for the label…perhaps even an album?
I’m sitting on enough nearly-complete material from the roster that we could probably put out a couple of albums, but for now it’s gunna be singles until we hit a milestone. For the 10th release it would be cool to do something special. I’m also going to look at some vinyl releases in the future, and also maybe some merchandise. Trying not to get too ahead of myself at this point though!

Thanks man, is there anything else you want to tell us about?
Nope, I’m all out of words! Just a big thank-you to everyone involved in this project, the artists, Bob Macc over at Subvert Central Mastering for doing such an amazing job, James Cobbett for sorting the designs out, and my family for putting up with the sound of Drum & Bass pounding through the walls until the early hours every night! Oh, and a shout-out to Ninja Ninja too. x

Mystic StateThe Chikara Project

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