For a burgeoning producer, anonymity is a real commitment. You get all the accolades, but no face time. You’re on every magazine cover, but no one wants your autograph on the street. And if you’re SBTRKT, you have to wear a very burdensome mask.
SBTRKT (pronounced “subtract”) is London’s latest anonymous producer. By now, we more or less know who he is (a guy named Aaron Jerome), but we recognize him mainly for the huge native mask that obscures his face. During shows the mask hovers ominously over his MPC while a long straw beard grazes the knobs. Set to dark disco soul, this all becomes a much more impressive spectacle than an average British guy twiddling behind a table. Whatever his reasons for wearing it, we’re glad he’s so committed.
SBTRKT began his career as a DJ in the east London club scene. He dropped singles for three years, as well as an impressive remix collection featuring MIA, Basement Jaxx, Modeselektor, and Mark Ronson. Eventually, he penned a deal with UK indie label Young Turks, home to El Guincho and Gang Gang Dance.
However, it was his 2011 debut album SBTRKT that really put him on the international radar. The slithering, creepy electro-soul track “Wildfire” spread across the Internet like — well, we won’t say it. In “Wildfire,” Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano soars over SBTRKT’s minimal, but decisively evil electronics. The track went viral, earning stellar reviews and a remix by Drake (yes, that Drake). It was immediately clear that SBTRKT’s new album had pop appeal, sophisticated production — and just the right amount of mystery.
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