The UK’s undisputed King Of Grime, Skepta, has released his long awaited fourth studio LP, Konnichiwa, today. Since releasing his debut mixtape, Joseph Junior Adenoma, in 2006 Skepta has been a driving force in London’s grime scene, and has been credited with bringing the genre to the mainstream music industry and the world stage. Worldwide touring and association with international brands and acts, namely Drake and Kanye West, has helped propel him and his music from underground emcee to global phenomenon.
Today marks the end of an almost two year wait fans have had to endure since the release of the album’s first single ‘That’s Not Me’ featuring Skepta’s brother JME, which was released in June 2014. A further three singles followed over 2015-16: ‘Shutdown’, ‘Ladies Hit Squad feat. D Double E & A$AP Nast‘ and ‘Man’. The R&B tinged Valentine’s Day release, ‘Ladies Hit Squad’, was mixed and partly re-cut by Miloco engineer Darren Jones in The Bunker, The Red Room London and our flagship studio, The Square, which closed earlier this year.
Of the twelve tracks on the album, nine were recorded and mixed at Miloco including ‘Ladies Hit Squad’. Miloco engineer Jake Gordon worked with Skepta on most of Konnichiwa, mixing, recording or re-cutting vocals on eight tracks and interludes, including ‘Konnichiwa’, ‘Lyrics’, ‘Corn On The Curb’, ‘Crime Riddim’, ‘Man’, That’s Not Me’, ‘Detox’, and ‘Txt Me Back’.
All the recording was done at Angelic Studios throughout November and December of 2015, with all of the mixing done in The Red Room London throughout March 2016.
“Skepta is an absolute gentleman to work with and well up for trying to create different and interesting sounds,” says Jake when we asked him about the recording process. “90% of the tracks I was involved in were recorded at Angelic, and the rest were recorded in The Bunker or The Bridge. All the mixing was then done in The Red Room.”
As an artist that produces much of their own material, the recording sessions always had a clear direction, Jake tells us. “Skep had written all the songs in logic and knew exactly what he wanted them to sound like, so while exporting the parts, a lot of time was taken over seeing which effects should stay and which we could re-create – any sounds that we could make better without changing the original feel of the sound were changed.”
In terms of the the title track, ‘Konnichiwa’, the original midi piano sound from Logic was changed to sound more unique. After trying a couple of combinations of sounds and effects the final sound was a combination of Jake plucking the strings on a grand piano which then went into a Roland SRE-555 Chorus Echo, which was then layered up with a pitched up Dulcetone. On the same track the baseline was also altered from an original soft synth to a KORG MS20, which ended up being used in some form or other on most of the tracks Jake worked on.
Jake spent a lot of time recording or re-cutting the bulk of the album’s vocals on a range of different mics. “The vocal chain was a Neumann U87 into a Neve 1084 into a Empirical Labs EL-8 Distressor,” says Jake. “We did try him on the Neumann U47 & the Korby Kat 5 but the U87 came out on top for his tone.”
Given that they weren’t always in the studio consecutively to work on the mixes, Jake tells us that for ease they were all done predominately in the box.
“If I did come out of Pro Tools it was generally for some sort of effect like the EMT 140 Plate Reverb, Eventide H3000 or the Roland RE-201 Space Echo. The only thing I compressed out of the box was the lead vocals, they went through a Tube-Tech CL-1B.”
Click the link above to buy the album on iTunes, or stream on Spotify here.