Interview: Cholombian talks new tracks and a newer, more intense direction

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Drawing on a colourful spectrum of influences, from hip-hop and grime, to metal and classical scores Cholombian, otherwise known as Mitchell Stevens, has crafted something special; a sound that melds cleanly cut beats with contemplative ambiance. Cholombian’s output is a masterclass in restraint as he deftly crafts emotive soundscapes. Come Sunday 24th May Mitch will be making a welcome return to Southampton and taking to the recently announced Uncommon Stage at Rob da Bank’s latest festival venture, Common People.

With a catalog of collaborations to his name, Cholombian’s success is due in part to how he has immersed himself in a rich hub of creative talent. With choice guest vocalists, visually innovative live shows and original remixing abilities, the London-based producer has cultivated support from artists across a diverse range of backgrounds. Last year saw Cholombian release his first commercial EP on Silver Bear, a sub-label of Rob da Bank’s Sunday Best Records. Mitch kindly took the time to check in with Sotonight to bring us up to speed on all his recent endeavors and future plans, ahead of his upcoming appearance at Common People.

Over the past few years you’ve played a range of festivals, having made an appearance at Glastonbury in 2013 and also performed on the Bestival main stage. What is your greatest festival memory to date?

Playing at festivals usually brings out the best in the shows themselves. I feel like I need to prove myself when it’s a space full of people who may or may not have stumbled upon you. All of the best memories that I’ve had at festivals have come from Bestival. That’s as a performer and a punter. I have two as a performer; warming up for The Roots, an act I’ve always loved and respected, on the main stage in 2013, and replacing Flight Facilities last year on the Invaders of the Future stage. People filled the tent expecting them to play, but were open minded enough to stick around and lose their minds a bit. That’s the best thing about the festival, everyone just appreciates good music.

At Common People you’re playing at the Uncommon Stage which Rob has specifically curated with the intention of creating a platform for local acts and rising talent. Are there any South Coast artists that you think should be getting more exposure right now?

Yeah there’s definitely a few. K1R3Y and BITR8 are two of the best party starters I know and I’m outraged there’s not more shine for them. I love what Jaycek is doing – glorious, shimmering beats that are great to nod your head to. I also love Pale Seas, and something tells me huge things await him/them this year. Big up all the South Coast acts doing stuff right now though, there are so many great artists there, it’s definitely become a force to be reckoned with in recent years.

What advice have you got for aspiring DJs and producers from Southampton and the South Coast to get themselves noticed and their music heard?

Talk to as many people as possible and be enthusiastic about your craft. It’s all well and good acting cool and staying in your room making music, but nothing beats going out and being inspired by music how it’s meant to be experienced: Right in front of you. That goes for bands and DJs too. Also, push your music on to anyone who you think may dig it. It may take some time, but eventually the right people will listen.

Your sound is often described as cinematic, have any particular film scores been influential upon your sound?

Danny Elfman’s work has always been a huge inspiration to me. In particular, his work on Edward Scissorhands really took classical music to a different level in my eyes. In my opinion, that film is one of the greatest cinematic works in history, and it’s really down to how his score brings out every emotion, even though there’s not a huge amount of dialogue from the main character’s part. The music is gigantic, but it still conveys this isolation and sadness in the delicacy of it’s delivery. That’s something I have aspired to achieve. It’s beautiful.

You’ve now had releases put out on Silver Bear, one of the two offshoot imprints from Rob’s Sunday Best record label, how did your signing come about?

I was introduced to Rob through my university lecturer, Martin James. As someone who regularly visits Southampton Solent Uni as part of educational events, Rob was very close to Martin, who was able to introduce us. It’s been the most fruitful link of my career so far so I’m eternally grateful to both of them for everything they’ve done for me.

Recently though I understand that you’ve been slightly frustrated to find yourself sitting on a lot of music that you want to get out. To an extent you’ve been working around this by releasing tracks more organically through your SoundCloud, but does the turnaround of releasing through a label still pose a problem for you?

One thing about making music is that you get excited about what you’re currently making. While you still may love it a year down the line, sometimes that excitement can get somewhat muted. I think that having a label support you is the greatest thing, and I will still be regularly releasing with labels this year and beyond, I just think that it’s healthy to just get things out there sometimes while they’re fresh. I’m so grateful for every label that has released or even enquired about releasing my music though. That’s crazy to me. I won’t stop releasing music through them, I’ll just be dropping more loose tracks online between releases now!

You’ve recently started up your own label, Limited Health, which has a very unique aim behind it. The label aims to raise money for Research Autism to further their research into the use of music therapy to assist people with autism. What inspired you to pursue this cause?

Autistic Spectrum Disorder is a condition that directly affects people close to me. While the condition itself can be inhibiting to those on the autistic spectrum, it certainly doesn’t hinder their ability to enjoy music. Personal experiences with music therapy have shown me that it really can improve development within autistic people, especially adolescents and children. It’s such an underrepresented form of treatment, yet it provides real proof, at least to me, that music connects things, even within ourselves. I felt like if I can help a cause that’s been so great to someone I love, whilst introducing the world to artists that I love, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

You have been frequently praised for the complementary visuals that you have used in past performances, the product of just one of your frequent collaborators, Morgan Hislop. The pair of you often work together on both audio and visual productions; last year you put out your split EP, Healthetica, have you got any more plans for the year to come?

Me and Morgan now live together in London, so we’re constantly working together, bouncing ideas off of each other and stuff. We’ve got some things planned for this year that we haven’t really told anyone about, but that will come in good time. Before then though, Morgan’s got an insane debut EP that’s dropping this year through one of my favourite labels, and I’m writing a new record as we speak.

You’re both playing at Common People, and you’ve mentioned that you’re debuting a brand new live setup and accompanying visuals, can you tell us a little bit more about what you’ve got in store?

It’s going to be a little less static than my last bout of live shows. I really want to see people move. I’m showing off some new tracks and a newer, more intense direction. I’ve reworked some old ones to suit this too. The visuals will be arresting. I don’t really want to say any more than that, but it’s going to be great to show people what I’ve been up to.

Lastly as something of bonus round question, I enlisted the help of Rob da Bank himself to quiz Mitch a little further and finally get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the origin of his stage name.

‘Hello Mitch! How did you come up with such a ridiculous name which is so hard to get my head around and pronounce, and what does it mean?’

HEY ROB! The name comes from a conversation me and Morgan Hislop had whilst working in Bedford Place, Southampton. The Cholombians are a South American sub-culture that have these crazy hair cuts and run around together. I needed an alias at the time and no one knew what they were. It was meant to get changed, but things started moving a bit quicker than anticipated and now I feel like I’ve come too far with it to drop it. I think I’ve overtaken their Vice article when you Google the word. Does that mean I’ve repurposed their meaning?


Day and weekend tickets for Common People can be purchased from the festival’s official website. The full line up for Common People’s Uncommon Stage curated by Rob da Bank in collaboration with Southampton’s Joiners and Southsea Pie and Vinyl is as follows.

Saturday:

Jaws
Pale Seas
Wild Smiles
Science of Eight Limbs
Dead Rabbits
Rickyfitts
The Boy I Used To Be
Black Kat Boppers
Somahigh
Subgiant
The Novatones
Bel Esprit

Sunday:

Dexters
Sean McGowan
The Rising
Brother Goose
Sacha
Cholombian
Morgan Hislop
Charley Macauley
Fever
The Costellos

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