Words: Doug Phillips
It’s just as well that LDN caught Tribunal in the emergence of their discography, because their debut EP, ‘Circles Are Dangerous Shapes’, heavily implies that the colourful arrangements and daring approaches to production is simply the London-based hip-hop trio warming up. In this chat about their first project, Tribunal producer Razvan Matlinsche offers LDN some insights into the group’s workflow and his ‘family’-like relationship with vocalist Alex Meles and co-producer, Askur Odinsson.
What kind of time period was ‘Circles Are Dangerous Shapes’ made in?
We completed it during lockdown last summer. We started it in April and finished around the end of August.
At what point did you, Askur and Alex decide to all make music together?
Basically, because we were all friends, it all started with a basketball game [laughs], and a natural vibe. Right after that, we made ‘Cool With The Guys’, our first track.
Are there any particular tracks or specific moments from ‘Circles’ you’re especially proud of as producers?
For ‘What’s Your Story’ which is seen as an interlude, Askur’s sister is playing cello and it felt very nice to have a connection with her somehow, because right after she sent the recordings, I had to re-record playing the piano and mix it with her performance. We also recorded some other friends, students from BIMM, Bukky, Kanti and Jimi Koski helped us perform a choir in my room just by capturing some friends enjoying the summer for the final track, ‘No Body’.
How did you get the choir on ‘No Body’, it sounds so charming and warm. And the strings on ‘What’s Your Story’, they sounded too special to be midi, beautifully mixed with the dark piano.
There’s no midi in ‘What’s Your Story’, just pure audio.
There’s loads of different styles and approaches to production and songwriting feature on ‘Circles’, was it difficult to get them to sound so cohesive?
You know, it was difficult to get to the sound that we wanted, but the sound came out naturally. It was fun making it, but we were also treating it very seriously, also yep, some ‘family fights’ happened but we also learnt how to treat a project from start to finish.
Totally natural for fights to break out over the creative direction of the EP, I can imagine.
This built up a strong relationship. And we also learned more about ourselves and we put this in our sound. Just pure connection.
It really feels like there’s a synergy between you all.
We are all a family right now.
Have Tribunal made their performance debut yet?
Actually, we’re working on a livestream show, there’ll be more info soon on our instagram.
Where did most of the recordings take place for ‘Circles’?
The recordings took place in my room – everything was made there [Razvan and Askur share a house].
The recordings sound studio standard.
We did vocal recordings in the wardrobe. My room is quite sick to make music in [laughs].
Have you been productive over the Covid period with Tribunal or solo projects?
Yes, we also worked on solo projects. Askur is working on his own stuff, he got something out with Jinju [Uncia], another BIMM singer [and the sleeve artist for ‘Circles’], and I do have solo projects coming out soon, and yeah, Tribunal is preparing some heat and fire. After the first project, everything feels very different. We are more fast and efficient, we know each other very well and that makes it very natural.
Is there a full length project on the horizon for Tribunal? It sounds like you guys have a lot cooking up right now.
Yep, we’ve started working on it, we are developing it. Actually in ‘Leanin’, the intro is a snippet of a different track from the upcoming project.
Find out more at @tribunalmusic