Cork-base Irish producer Bantum, aka Ruairi Lynch, recently released his brand-new EP, New Leaf, following on the heels of last year’s popular singles, including “Gully,” “Tower,” and “NGLA” with Loah. Blending electronic elements with funky savours on New Leaf, Bantum embarks in a different sonic direction than his previous offerings. The title – New Leaf – articulates Bantum’s foray into uncharted territory.
According to Bantum, “The title is a direct reference to how I feel about this like I’m turning a new leaf sonically.”
An ardent collaborator, Bantum has released music traversing hip-hop, soul, and R&B. In 2016, his album, Move, was nominated for the RTE Choice prize. Along with performances in the U.S., the UK, and Ireland, he’s played at Electric Picnic, Body & Soul, Sounds from a Safe Harbour, and It Takes A Village and shares the stage with Jon Hopkins and Janus Rasmussen of Kiasmos.
Shimmering with effervescent dance colours and electrifying funk zest, the three tracks on the EP – “New Leaf,” “Give You Up,” and “Stutter” merge heady layers of textures guaranteed to get listeners up and moving.
XS Noize spoke with Bantum to find out more about the person behind the music, how he got started in music, his influences, and how he utilizes themes in his creative process.
How did you get started in music? What’s the backstory there?
I picked up the guitar at age 11, learned the “Smoke on the Water” riff and was instantly hooked! Through my teens, I joined as many bands as I could and played in bands during college. After that, I picked up the laptop and started making little electronic jams and ideas. I always loved electronic music alongside rock music, so the transition was seamless. I slowly started to release EPs online, followed by albums, followed by more EPs, and I have not stopped since.
Which producers influenced you the most?
It changes from time to time, but right now, I’m heavily influenced by the Dewaele brothers of Soulwax, Daft Punk, and even Prince. Jon Hopkins is another huge influence.
What inspired your just-released EP, New Leaf?
This came from a very productive period last November/December. I was actively looking to make some more upbeat and funkier music than my previous work, so I bought a new guitar and started jamming some ideas. I can say that picking up the guitar again after all these years was a heavy influence, and it led me to write more funky, upbeat music.
What do you hope your fans/listeners take away with them when they listen to your music?
I really hope this can be a bit of a summer record for listeners. It’s a short EP, but I’m hoping these tracks can go on repeat to get people moving. The tracks were written for the dancefloor.
How do you keep your sound fresh and avoid coming across as derivative?
I try to have a different theme for every record. The theme for this is ‘dancing in a club that doesn’t yet exist’ as everywhere is closed due to the pandemic! I had that image in my head as I wrote the tracks, and it stuck. It’s always good to have an image to lead you when creating your work.
You’ve released music in a variety of genres, including R&B, soul, and hip-hop. What motivated you to delve into the funky dance sound of New Leaf?
I have always had a love for early French Touch/French House music like Cassius, Air, Daft Punk while listening to the likes of SAULT and Jungle, so it was a natural progression for me. The guitar is my main instrument, so it’s a ton of fun for me to write this sort of funky stuff while mixing it up with the electronic element. I’ve been loving Nicolas Jaars’ Darkside project, which was a heavy influence. It’s a mix of guitar and electronic elements that hasn’t really been done before, and it’s a direction I’d like to take in the future.
Which artists, in your opinion, are killing it right now?
I’m biased, but a lot of Irish artists are killing it! Royal Yellow, Denise Chaila, Boku, Daithi, and Loah are releasing amazing material right now, so please check them out!
What’s the music scene in Ireland like?
I’m constantly inspired by the Irish music scene that I’m proud to be a part of. Everyone I know is so supportive and enthusiastic that it tends to rub off on you and keep you going. Ireland has been known for its rock bands over the years, but it’s become a real multi-genre/cultural scene. You’ll hear as much Irish Hip Hop, Dance and R&B on the radio as you would rock bands nowadays.
Why do you make music?
Music is my passion! It’s an outlet of expression that I hold dearly, and I’m always curious. I’m a creative person at heart, so I have to be making new things all the time, and music is that thing.
Looking to the future, what’s next for Bantum?
I’m working on a hip-hop EP with an Irish speaking rapper called Suil Amhain. We have some tunes already on Spotify, which you can check, but we’re working on more to come. It’s something different for me!