Razors Through Flesh Cuts The Mustard
Razors Through Flesh has just come onto the EDMR radar making her debut with us following the recent release of ‘Xenobiology Detected.’ If like we were, you weren’t aware of this emerging electronic dance prodigy before then you had made the same mistake we did. And boy, are we glad we have now rectified it.
Whilst the unsettling pseudonym evokes a dark image of pop culture horror noir characters, we thought of everyone from Jack The Ripper to Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees, there’s actually a more poignant meaning behind it. However, we go into that further within our Q&A feature which accompanies this review article below.
As a producer, Razors Through Flesh lives up to her name and her penchant for horror and sci-fi movies can be heard and almost felt within her distinct, nightmarish sound. This is compounded by a no-frills black and white artwork aesthetic featuring a red splash of colour to signify her producer alias.
When listening to the tracks available on her Soundcloud page it’s evident that she is a profoundly talented young artist who has a firm focus on what she wants to produce. Loosely labelling herself as a drum n producer her music incorporates various elements of EDM along an almost rap-metal like influence making for a truly intriguing musical amalgamation.
In our review laboratory is Razors Through Flesh most recent studio effort, ’The Song At The Centre of The World’ which is also set to feature on forthcoming album ‘Take Drugs, Kill Your Boyfriend!’
‘The Song At The Centre of The World’ is just what you’d expect from a track that takes its name from a quote from Hellraiser. An eerie introduction beckons on a dysfunctional bass which has been squashed against waves of 80s horror movie influenced synths. As the first drop breaks a marching, almost undead army of vocals reminiscent of a ghoulish church choir overrun the beat before a mutated guitar riff slices through the track’s multi-textured soundscape leaving everything for dead in its wake.
As an artist with so much to offer, we thought we should sit down with Razors Through Flesh to find more about what drives her to produce, the true meaning behind her name and what’s in store for the not so distant future.
Razors Through Flesh sounds dangerous. When was the last time you cut yourself?
Starting off with the tough questions, I like that. The regular self-injury is something I struggled with throughout my teenage years, but I managed to go into recovery from it when I was 19. I’ve had brief recurrences of it in the darkest moments of my life since then. However, to answer your question, it’s been 8 years since I regularly self-injured. To anyone out there still struggling, there are people out there who can help and who won’t judge. To Write Love On Her Arms is an amazing organisation and they run 24-hour helplines if you need to talk.
Can you tell us a little more about your name, its origin and how it relates to your distinct brand of drum & bass?
Well, on one level, as I mentioned above, it serves as a reference to my personal struggle with self-injury. I wanted to capture that darkness; the hopelessness and the despair I felt in those moments. On another level, like much of the album its taken from, it’s a cinematic reference. Specifically, it comes from a quote from Hellraiser 3;
Pinhead: “Unbearable, isn’t it? The suffering of strangers, the agony of friends. There is a secret song at the centre of the world, Joey, and its sound is like razors through flesh.”
Joey: “I don’t believe you. Pinhead: Oh come, you can hear its faint echo right now. I’m here to turn up the volume. To press the stinking face of humanity into the dark blood of its own secret heart.”
I was watching that movie right around when I had the idea which spawned Razors Through Flesh and when I heard that quote, especially the second half, I thought, “damn, that’s exactly what I want to do musically.” The goal of Razors Through Flesh is to be a dark mirror held up to society, much in the same way that horror and science fiction cinema has done so.
What’s the story behind your track ‘Xenobiology Detected’ and it’s slightly sadomasochistic vocal sample?
This answer gets a bit dark. I’ve always loved film, especially horror and sci-fi, and I tend to see my own experiences through the filter of a cinematic narrative as a result. Each of the tracks on the latest album, “Take Drugs, Kill Your Boyfriend,” including Xenobiology Detected, takes inspiration from a specific film which I love and from the experiences in my life which I associate with that film. ‘Xenobiology Detected’ is inspired by both the movie Alien and two of the times I’ve been sexually assaulted; one when I was in my early teens and another when I was 24. The vocal samples throughout the first half are meant to serve as the voice of society at large, attempting to mitigate and downplay the actions of the attacker. A voice which I argued with internally in the aftermath of both assaults. The samples in the second half evoke my experiences with people around you attempting to explain away the sudden change of behaviour without admitting the obvious answer. They also reference the way people will sense something isn’t right about the attacker, but won’t act or intercede in any way. The samples in the last section of the song reference how I felt dehumanised, like a research subject under observation; somehow I had been changed and all they did was study me to try and figure out why without bothering to talk to me. In my teenage years, this feeling of being alien, the psychological stress of the assault, and the way I felt like it was being covered up kept building up until it eventually culminated in my first suicide attempt, at 15, by a poisonous plant I was familiar with. The gasp in the drumbeat in the last few bars was meant to be reminiscent of my laboured breathing after I poisoned myself.
Explain to us your music in 3 words.
Dark, defiant, sharp.
Talk us through your creative process when making music?
Generally, I start with an experience I want to capture musically. From there, I sit down at my keyboard and just play on it until I find a chord progression which sounds about right for what I’m trying to capture. I’ll refine that progression a bit, tweaking a few chords here and there so that it has clearly defined phrases, tweaking the individual voices of the chords so that they follow some of the basic guidelines of music (don’t cross parts, avoid parallel fifths, etc.), then I’ll head into a DAW and start choosing the settings for the various synths I’ll be using. I start with the layers and chords, writing sub riffs within each acoustic range. Then I do the same thing for the bass parts. I usually have an idea what I want the beat to be like in each section of the song by then, so I bang most of it out on a midi pad and hand write the remaining parts. Then I’ll generally choose the settings for my lead melody synth and sometimes play along to the song a couple of times to practice some riffs, but most of the time I’ll just improvise a melody on a midi keyboard and tweak any notes that don’t sound right when I listen back to it. Then I add any samples I’m using, layering and chopping them up so they sound the way I want. Then I’ll mix the song so it sounds just right, adding the various audio effects as needed, moving stuff around
to create a vivid soundstage, EQing the parts for minimal interference etc. If the song will be released as a single, I’ll bounce it and master it by itself then and there, if its part of an album I’ll stick the mix in a folder until the rest of the album is done and master the whole album at once.
What set up do you use when producing?
When I’m at home I use an iMac as my main machine, with an Akai MPD218 beat pad and a Novation impulse 49 as my keyboard. On the go, I use a MacBook pro, the MPD218, and an Akai MPK mini mkII as my keyboard. I produce, mix, and master in Logic Pro X. I’ve been meaning to pick up Ableton too, but I haven’t had the chance yet. I use Massive or Reaktor for my synths, Battery for my beats, and Kontakt as my sampler.
Within a relatively short space of time, you’ve put out a fair amount of material, as is evident by your Soundcloud page. But what’s next for Razors Through Flesh on the production front?
I’ve been absolutely blown away by the number of people who are hearing my music. I’ve been taking a couple of days off but I can’t seem to stay away from music for more than a couple of days. I’ve already started on the first couple of songs
for a second album, we will see when that gets done.
Where would you like to see yourself as an artist is 5 years?
Well, I’m hoping to be able to quit my day job and devote myself fully to pursuing music. I’d like to start performing live by then too, and I’ve got a plan in motion already to get that ball rolling.
Do you have any advice for young producers/artists about to start making music?
Haha, I’m pretty sure I actually still count as one of the young producers. I’ve only been producing for around four months, although I’ve been listening to and playing music since I could walk. My dad was a folk musician, a singer-songwriter, so I pretty much grew up in the independent local music scene. Sometimes I think I spent more time as a little girl playing backstage than I did indoors. I absolutely loved it.
o those about to start making music, though, I would say to stick with it through the times
where you feel like giving up. Whatever places your life takes you to, dark or happy, music will always be there for you, to carry you and let you express your feelings when you can’t speak. If you give your heart over to the muse, she’ll carry it safely through the pain.
Any messages for your fans before you sign off?
“Take Drugs, Kill Your Boyfriend” should be available for purchase or streaming by Wednesday the 21st of March. We will also have a website up in the near future if it isn’t already up by the time this is posted. Make sure to check us out! For the latest releases, follow me on Soundcloud. I generally put things up there up to a week before they go live on any other services. Thanks so much for listening!
If you or you know anyone affected by the issues raised in this interview then help is available. Feel free to contact any of the EDMR team and we’ll direct you to websites and charities which are there to help such as To Write Love On Her Arms.