Interview: Introspekt

Alonzo Hunt, more commonly known as Introspekt, is a producer from Los Angeles. Although you may not have heard of him yet, his sound is sure to resonate with you if you’re a fan of Grime or Deep Dubstep.

Introspekt has a distinct sound that feels reminiscent of Eskibeat. Fortunately for him and his following, I’m not the only person to notice his distinct sound, with strong support from U.K based Dubtribu Records as well as his hometown label Gourmet Beats. Head honcho Joe Nice backed up his long-term radio support by opting to feature Introspekt’s – Secrets – on the Los Angeles EP. A multi-artist, four track physical release, the 7th in the U.S label’s catalogue.

Alonzo’s sound, much like the rise of the now household name Gourmet Beats, is proof of just how far Grime, and in particular Dubstep, have spread and become part of various different cultures and countries whilst maintaining the same spirit at heart. Despite so many people claiming “Dubstep’s dead”, labels and movements have spawned across the globe, with numerous boundary-pushing producers bringing something fresh and exciting to the genre.

Alonzo speaks openly about his political beliefs (see below) and it’s that strong sense of self-identity, passion, awareness and disassociation with the system that I think could be a small contributor to Alonzo’s love for Grime, a genre that is largely a voice for the unheard.

“I really feel that my purpose in life is to dedicate myself specifically to the liberation of all African peoples across the globe and broadly to the liberation of humanity. Through organising and my study of revolutionary impulses throughout history, I’ve developed a worldview that understands white supremacy; capitalism, and European constructs around gender and sexuality to be the greatest threats to human freedom”

 

FULL INTERVIEW:

Hi Alonzo, I hope you’re well. 

Firstly, congratulations on your first physical release with Gourmet Beats.

How did you initially get involved with music?

“Thanks for supporting! I never really got involved with music as much as it got involved with me, I always grew up with music in the background [laughs]. I loved drum’s when I was a toddler my parents had this huge African drum that I would bang on whenever I needed to take a shit… The rest is history”

Can you remember when you first discovered Grime or Dubstep?

“It’s funny, I actually discovered Grime first, then dubstep through Grime. I came of age really when youtube and sites like that were first taking off so I kinda stumbled onto some Wiley and Ruff Sqwad stuff around then. Dubstep came much later and I’m a bit ashamed of the type of Dubstep I was listening to at that point so I’ll keep that to myself”

Do you agree with the comparison I make, comparing your sound to that of Eskibeat?

“Haha, I get that one a lot actually. I think that’s probably the most accurate way to describe my sound. Also, I’d say my music is a nod to Afrofuturism”

Dubstep is now fairly established in the U.S, with Grime catching on slowly as well, but how much of a scene is there in your local area? Do you get the chance to play live as often as you’d like?

“Back when I was in LA I was a resident DJ with a crew called B-Side (and I still plan on working with them whenever I’m home). For most of my career, it’s been difficult to get shows just because of my age; promoters would stay away from me mostly because I was like 16 haha. But also my sound is a little bit niche so it’s probably hard to market me to an American audience. Now I’m on the east coast in Washington, DC so hopefully, I have better luck out here. I know Grime gets a bit more cred’ on this side of the continent so I’m hoping I’ll be blessed by that”

Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations?

“In no particular order: Wiley, DJ Marsta, Danny Weed, Musical Mobb, Black Ops, Charmzy n them; pretty much anything early Grime and 2step haha. I also love hip hop and club music but that’s another story”

Could you give us a bit of an insight into what kind of set up you’re working with? (All “in the box” or do you have some external gear too?)

“Honestly… Pretty much all of my stuff is made in Music 2000. I also use Reason sometimes for my synths. I’m trying to get Logic Pro X once I get some funds, though”

Any go-to plugins?

“Nah, I’m technologically basic so it’s all just stock shit haha”

We spoke briefly about this feature beforehand and you mentioned the correlation between your political and social beliefs being a big part of your music, could you elaborate on that a little? 

“Yeah definitely! My music is shaped by my experience and by extension, the oppression that my community faces in this settler colony called America. My encounters with in-your-face racism as well as the material conditions that are shaped by racism and class oppression have led me to activism and community organising”

“I really feel that my purpose in life is to dedicate myself specifically to the liberation of all African peoples across the globe and broadly to the liberation of humanity. Through organising and my study of revolutionary impulses throughout history, I’ve developed a worldview that understands white supremacy; capitalism, and European constructs around gender and sexuality to be the greatest threats to human freedom”

“So in short, my music reflects all of that and I guess it explores the emotions that come from that. I also use music to poke fun at myself from time to time ’cause sometimes my political commitments can be emotionally draining haha”

What can we expect looking to the future for Introspekt? Do you have any exciting news to reveal?

“I have some stuff in the works but nothing I can really reveal just yet but goals for this next year are more physical releases (specifically vinyl), hopefully, more shows, and most importantly a recommitment to all those values I talked about above”

Where will people be able to catch you performing live in the upcoming months?

“Hopefully around the Washington, DC area; nothing set quite yet!”

So you discovered grime quite a long time before it seemed to have crossed over into the mainstream over there, how do you feel about the recent success of Skepta and other artists bringing the sound to the U.S? Has it really ignited a love for grime in the U.S, or would you say its still only ‘hardcore’ fans, such as yourself, who have been listening before Drake’s co-signs? 

“Honestly Grime in the US (outside of small pockets) has lost a lot of substance. The main people who are consuming it here are upper-middle-class white hipster kids so there isn’t the same perspective as the more lower class or proletarian and ethnically diverse seen in the UK. Also in terms of how the US understands grime, it’s only in relation to hip hop/trap. So most of the stuff people will identify with out here is stuff like “That’s Not Me” rather than genre shapers like Pulse X or Iceberg. As for Drake, I hate him, he’s one of those responsible for the bourgeois co-optation of hip hop… But that’s off topic so I won’t go there haha”

Could you elaborate a little on the definition of Afrofuturism and any other artists who make that type of sound? 

“So put simply, afrofuturism is a cultural/aesthetic movement throughout different forms of media that centers African cosmological and epistemological themes with a nod to “futuristic” or science fiction motifs. The main goal (in my opinion) of afrofuturism is to search for something lost while simultaneously acknowledging our movement as part of a continuum that is driven by this “lost thing”. I use “our” in reference to children of the African diaspora”

“It gets very theoretical and more nuanced so I’ll leave at that, for now, haha. To give an example, though, genres like Techno and certain forms of Jazz developed out of an explicit afro futurist gesture; I’d argue that dub reggae and to some extent Grime (probably because of the large African population in London) itself has roots in afro futurist impulses. Some artists that could be considered afrofuturist could be Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sun Ra, Warp 9, etc. My afrofuturism is a little less laced with surrealism though and I think to some extent more overtly political than some haha”

Who are some of your favourite Hip-Hop artists? Have you heard much U.K Hip-Hop?

“I really love classic hip hop like Big Pun, NAS, Gangstarr, MF DOOM, Tupac, etc. Also, some trap is cool, although I mostly just enjoy it when the production is good. LA hip hop is also another guilty pleasure for me, I love the production of guys like DJ Bugzy. Really I think I just like obscure regional stuff outside of the classics. In terms of U.K. Hip-Hop, I’d say Section Boyz are pushing dope sounds right now”

Have you, or would you, consider working with an MC or vocal artist — (and if so, would it be geared towards raising awareness about the matters close to your heart? for example, working with someone like Rider Shafique who speaks about injustice, corruption, etc.) 

“100% I would love to work with Rider Shafique, that’s actually a goal of mine; I’m just very self-conscious about my music so I haven’t sent him anything haha. His analysis of global oppressive structures is something I haven’t seen from many MCs, much respect to him for that! As long as a vocalist has some critical messaging, I’d be honoured to collaborate!”

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

“Just shout outs haha. Thanks for the interest in my sounds fam! Shout out to all the Africans around the world making dope sounds and searching for freedom! Shouts to the First Nations peoples and everyone engaged in an anti-colonial, or anti-imperial struggle. Shout out to Joe Nice and everyone contributing to the Gourmet Beats label”

“Shout out to my B-Side fam for putting in work and throwing dope shows. Out to the Hexagon Dubs crew, Sheik, Drime and all of them. Out to my new neighbours Malleus, Djoser, Panch. And last but certainly not least, shout out to my wife King; you always push me in the direction I need to go!”

Thanks for your time Alonzo!