In the most recent addition of Cultivation Interviews we spoke to the insanely talented and dedicated iO, a producer hailing from South London who has seen incredible success in the last year.
The development of the popular new wave of UK music, which has seen the rise of ‘Afro-Swing’ and ‘Drill’ music, is underpinned by the instrumentals that form the base of the tracks, with specific sounds and patterns that are synonymous with both genres.
Without the people behind the beats none of this would be possible, and iO has undoubtedly played his part. Despite only being 25 years of age, iO is certainly not new to producing, as he revealed in a previous interview with Link Up TV. He began producing at the age of 14/15 years when boredom led to him stumbling upon FL Studio and his mother got him his first keyboard.
Both 2017 and 2018 have proved fruitful for iO, with his greatest successes to date. He produced NSG anthem ‘Pushing Up’, which features Not3s and has racked up over 5.7 million views on youtube. And his presence evidently does not end here, his collaborations with Harlem Spartans’ Loski have proved popular: ‘Cool Kid’ has reached over 4.2 million views and ‘Forrest Gump’ (a personal favourite) is currently sitting at 7.1 million views. Huge numbers.
Arguably his greatest achievement so far is his contribution to the 2017 J Hus album Common Sense, which was rated as the best UK album of the year by Complex, as well as being on the shortlist for the prestigious Mercury Prize and achieving gold certification status. iO produced 3 tracks on the album (‘Leave Me’, ‘Sweet Cheeks’ and ‘Spirit’) alongside in-house producer Jae5, the latter reaching the top 40 on the Official Charts. It’s undeniable that iO has had a key part to play in the recent UK music scene, through his versatility and infectious sound.
In our Q&A with the man himself, we were given an insight into his career, influences and ambitions. See below:
KK: When did you realise that you could pursue production as a career?
iO: I realised I could pursue music as a career about 4/5 years ago when I was in second year of university. That’s when I realised yeah I want to do this thing for the rest of my life.
KK: Many popular genres are developing in the UK currently (Drill, Afro Swing), you are at the forefront of these. How does that feel, and how do you think they will develop?
iO: This whole Afro thing has been going on since I was in university to be honest, it’s just now become popular/cool and back then I couldn’t even get a foot in, so it feels good to now finally be in the mix of things & also at the best time to be doing it too! If i’m being honest I don’t know how long this afro wave will last, but whilst it’s here I’m gonna do what I can before it dies down.
KK: What programme do you use to produce and why?
iO: I use Logic Pro X. I use it because I moved onto to Mac when I was younger and Logic Pro was the go to DAW on Mac so I thought let me give it a try.
KK: Do you have a favourite plug-in?
iO: My favourite plugin is Omnisphere by Spectrasonics
KK: If you could give yourself some advice 5 years ago what would it be?
iO: If I could give myself advice it would be, it doesn’t matter what you use it’s how you use things. I was too focused on what I was using/doing rather than how I was doing it.. Does that make sense?
KK: Which producers did you look up to when you began making music?
iO: When I was growing up the producers that I was looking up to were (UK) Maniac, DaVinChe & in the US Timbaland, Dr Dre, Darkchild.
KK: What makes your sound unique?
iO: I think what makes my sound unique is just the way I go about doing things, the type of sounds I use, the way I place my sounds, the reverbs I use to put certain sounds in different spaces etc.
KK: You received your first plaque in 2017 and were recently awarded Link up TV producer of the month, what other achievements do you aim to attain?
iO: Definitely more plaques!! Definitely. That’s such an amazing feeling to have a plaque & To be honest, whatever achievements come my way I’ll be happy. I’m not really thinking “oh I wanna get producer of the year” or whatever, but it’s nice to be recognised.
By Kieran Kelly
Big shout out to iO and his management team for making this happen!