This latest 1 More Mix is brought to you by the cutting-edge sounds of Crypticz. Hailing from punk and Prodigy loving family, his interest in electronic music has taken him on a sonically varying journey which shows no sign of letting up any time soon.
We recently spoke to Crypticz, who established himself at Diffrent Music, a label that’s been at the forefront of pioneering electronic sound since 2010. These progressive sounds are showcased in their latest album Revolution of the Giraffe, which features tracks by label veterans like Arkaik and Lakeway.
A lover of vinyl and a wide range in music taste, Jordan Parsons’ Crypticz project has been in a state of flux lately. Having not played to a live crowd for a year now, the Bristol-based artist believes a self-indulgent approach to his music has seen a decline in club bookings but his recent return to the recently-resurrected SWU radio station means he’s back on the airwaves regularly shelling out leftfield bangers.
A deep-digging mix requires an equally deep interview so read on as we delve deep into Jordan’s roots and influences and the nurturing ethos of Diffrent Music which has been renowned for bringing breakthrough talent to the electronic limelight and giving artists Crypticz space and freedom to spread their sonic wings and diversify their craft.
This truly is an almighty multi-genre trip down Crypticz Lane. Press play and read on to see what really makes Diffrent Music truly different to the rest.
How did your journey into music begin?
Basically, I was super into music from a very young age. From three years old onwards, it was straight up vibing to tunes and stuff like that. My first journey was guitar based, playing in bands from like the age of twelve. With my dad being into punk music, a bit like anybody who was a fan of rock-adjacent music at the time, he was a big fan of The Prodigy, so I was like, “What’s all this electronic business all about?” By the time I was sixteen, dubstep was really starting to pop off so I was really interested in making more electronic stuff. So from there onwards, more than twelve years ago now, I’ve been making tunes in an electronic format and just through natural progression and getting involved in scenes, I kind of moved from dubstep into footwork. That’s pretty much how Chris from Diffrent came across me and I slipped into the drum & bass scene and here I am.
Love that! How would you describe your sound?
That’s an interesting one, so the Crypticz project is in a bit of a transitional state so I kind of talk about Crypticz in the past tense now because it’s not something I’m doing too much at the moment. We had to think about this when we put out my debut LP Transition Of Eye out on Cosmic Bridge. Really it’s a jungle-adjacent sound. The outer perimeters of jungle. I suppose generally over the years people would associate dub production techniques with what I’ve done, more at the deeper end of the spectrum of course. Very low end focussed, spacious, cosmic. I’ve heard all kinds of terms thrown around.
A very descriptive range there! You’re known for being a forward-thinker within your sound, are you delving into other genres with your production?
Yeah I’m kind of all over the place, it’s been a real full circle journey. Initially, when I first started producing, it was all about making music in any shape or form. As I’ve gone further down the rabbit hole I got quite into the idea of being challenged, I used to hold the strong belief that traditional instruments have been explored, so I was very into the thought of something new, fresh and making cutting edge sounds. At the moment I’m juggling a few projects that I’m hoping to get off the ground. One of them is very post punk, gothic orientated with some dub elements but leaning with live instruments and electronic drums. The Crypticz project is a really tricky one for me at the moment because it’s what I’ve done for over a decade, I’m very proud of some of the stuff I’ve released but it feels like it’s almost become self-referential and that I couldn’t progress as a musician because it felt very limited in terms of what I could do with it so I’m interested in stripping it back to basics and just letting the music come out of me.
Absolutely, it’s natural progression for yourself and your sound. I did see that you weren’t pushing any Crypticz material in the near future?
Yeah it’s tricky because there’s a few die-hard fans of the material which is absolutely great, it’s an honour. I get people dropping me messages saying “when’s your next vinyl coming? I’ve got all of your other stuff!” and it’s like I almost don’t have the heart to tell them that I haven’t got anything Crypticz-wise right now. I don’t want to kill the project off and I do love jungle music so I do want that door to be open just in case some jungle falls out of me.
Go on! So let’s talk about your 1 More Mix, what have you got in store for us?
So there’s some less expected selections in there but I also wanted to represent some of the stuff that I find really interesting within the 170 sphere. There’s a whole area in the mix where it’s more techno, I’m finding that area really cool and some of the tracks I’ve pulled for the mix, they go back years. So when these tunes landed like seven or eight years ago, at the time when I heard them I thought they were ahead of the curve and listening to them now, they’re still super relevant eight years down the line.
Quality! So is this mix similar to what you’d push out to a live audience?
I think the last live set I played a year or so ago now. I think the problem was that the Transition of Eye LP was a very self-indulgent release, I’m very proud of it but I guess it’s not very club-orientated. Gradually, as I fulfilled my own creative needs, things got a bit spacey and less clubs were looking for that kind of thing. But this mix would most probably be the area that I would explore in a live set. It’s a little bit deeper, darker and left-field. Normally what happens when I play a live set, the last fifteen to thirty minutes, the jungle will come out because it just has to, it’s rude not to.
So being more true to yourself has caused a decline in bookings, do you think this is a common trend at the moment where social media heavy artists are getting booked left, right and centre?
I think that topic on the whole is interesting. The most important message to get across from myself is music can be created for a variety of reasons. As a musician, an artist, producer, DJ or whatever you label yourself as I think it’s hard to stand on your own two feet if you want to do something a bit more left-field. I understand that there are people out there that just get that buzz of playing to an absolutely humungous crowd and maybe what they do is play a different stye of music so they can achieve that. Something I’m a big believer in is authenticity, but if your end game is to play shows like that then fair enough. I was always a producer/songwriter before I was a DJ and people were wanting me to play a live experience and the go to way to do that was to get behind some decks and play some tunes so I had to learn how to DJ out of necessity. If you’re wanting to play the music game to get live performances that’s fine but realistically there’s now a fast track method and that’s social media. One of my challenges with the clubs is that there is an element of expectation from the crowd, like what role do you play? Do you be that amazing club DJ that gives the crowd what they want to hear or do I want to do something more dynamic?
It’s a ticky one isn’t it? Let’s talk about Diffrent Music for a second. What makes Diffrent Music, different to other labels?
My induction to the label I found the most sense of welcoming, community and family vibe that I’ve ever felt, I’d never really experienced anything like it. Upon signing to Diffrent, Chris made a super concerted effort to not just put my tunes out but to get involved in the Diffrent brand. I owe Chris an awful lot, he introduced me and Liam Lakeway who signed around the same time to the entire gang. He got us to do livestreams, got us bookings for gigs and really made us feel a part of something, I’d never experienced that before. The other thing is quite simple, the music. Their output is something you never expect and it’s something I’ve always respected and liked Chris for, he always defies expectation. I feel that for a period of time there is always a core Diffrent Music sound, then you become accustomed to those parameters and before that sound can even establish, Chris would do like a 180, a left or a right and put out another type of sound. He’s always evolving the label and changing it which I think helps it stay true to its ethos.
That is awesome! That must play into your hands as a progressive artist?
Yeah it really is awesome! Chris came across me through an artist who played one of my bootlegs and got in touch with me. The first experience of writing a record for Diffrent was a little bit more guided because I was still quite a young artist and I was throwing out loads of stuff and he was hand picking certain tracks. But then as my sound started to mature he pretty much let me do what I wanted to do with the second EP. Lakeway would be another great example, he’s had a lot of freedom to do what he’s wanted to do over the years and Chris has fully supported that.
There’s been a lot of talent breaking through at Diffrent over the years, there seems to be a real nurturing element there right?
I used to like to look at myself as being one step ahead of everything, but Chris is always two or three steps ahead. I remember a funny story actually, it was either late 2014 or early 2015 and I was sat in the studio at the time his inbox was full to the brim with demos. He would flick through a demo and most tunes would get three or four seconds of play and he would just know what to do with it straight away. If it didn’t pass the four second test, it was skipped. He would skip to the meat and bones of the tune and be like “nah, not fore me. Next!” So he’s like a real consumer of music who can take it in at this incredibly rapid rate.
So you’ve got a bit of a passion for vinyl records, you recently highlighted the closure of UK distributors. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Speaking from the experience of an artist, take the Transition of Eye LP, that was delayed quite significantly because of the Covid/post Brexit situation was causing cutting time delays. I think what a lot of keen vinyl buyers aren’t aware of are things like re-presses from big bands like your Led Zeppelins, your Lana Del Reys and stuff like that, those jump the queues significantly because the bulk orders come in and that pushes all of these independent artists to the side because these major labels need it by a certain time, they wave the money in front of their face and then the indies just get pushed back further and further. The LP on Cosmic Bridge, we only got that out when we did because a pressing from another label got cancelled and the bring forward slot got offered to us and they pounced on it which helped us drive the release forward. I absolutely love vinyl and for me there was a particular period of time where as an artist releasing music, I felt like solidifying it in a physical medium that you could hold was the best thing you could do.
What challenges have you faced on your artistic journey? Any advice you’d give to an up and comer?
I used to believe in a kind of illusion that a lot of people were able to make it a full time thing and if you can that’s absolutely amazing. But if you want to make it a full time thing it is going to be a ridiculous challenge and it depends on what you’re trying to achieve. What’s been the biggest awakening for me is that it’s nice to have a decent full time job which pays my bills and looks after everything I need to look after, then my music can truly be an outlet for myself. If you’re an artist where you want you musical output to be as true to yourself as possible, just make what you want to make and it will come. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself questions, I think it’s important to be challenging yourself in some shape or form. Times where I’ve really struggled to write and create music are times where I’ve not challenged myself to do something new and exciting and that’s what’s led me down this path.
So lastly, what’s in store for you in the future?
So there’s no Crypticz stuff in the cannon apart from the SWU show, super cool that Rinse has been able to work with Ollie to bring it back. My first show was October 1, it felt really good to play the role of DJ again. In terms of my own musical output I’ve been releasing stuff under my own name which is Jordan Parsons. What I’m trying to release by the end of the year is a load of gothy, dubby, guitar driven post punk tunes. I don’t really know what guise I’m going to put them out under but I really want to get them out there. I’m just trying to bounce off the back of what Crypticz was and open up what I’ve been doing with electronic music, taking everything I’ve learned over the years and writing some cool stuff. There’s a few things flowing along the lines of techno and jungle but a bit more deconstructed and strange, maybe it’ll feel right to be a Crypticz release but who knows?