"Rucksack Records is a new label founded by The Find Mag. The tagline is "LOOKING BACK, THINKING FORWARD," meaning a focus on progression in beat-making while, also, giving an ode to the past. I've decided to start it because I want to support producers who take things a step further; who dare to push boundaries. Think of beat-makers who, also, do (Jazz) instrumentation, for example. I guess, beats are the core of it all, but to put it in a broader perspective: Rucksack Records is all about Hip-Hop, Jazz, and beats.
I [bet you'll] think, "why not The Find Records?" That's a deliberate choice. I want The Find Mag to remain the independent editorial music platform it is, to protect it from becoming a "label promo machine." [They're] definitely going to be closely related to each other, but I, also, wanted to start something fresh, which, over time can, maybe, even venture into musical directions further from The Find's identity. Who knows. The label officially launches in April, with currently three vinyl records in-the-works. 'til then, Robo Boy is today's kick-off release to give a first glimpse of what's in store for Rucksack Records."
- Danny Veekens (@rucksack_records)
Exhibit 0 - INTRODUCTION: Who Is Bobby Obsy?
"Nick Poulianitis (AKA Bobby Obsy) is a London-based music producer and designer. His versatile workflow in music production involves mainly synthesizers [and] sample-based sounds with the help of vintage samplers and live bass. His career as a designer compliments his music persona and is mainly focused on character creation and concept art. His vision is to create new Sci-Fi worlds through his music and designs. His debut album, Rusty Gate, released on November 1, 2018, via Vinyl Digital, on all digital platforms, and, also, on vinyl through Qrates crowd-funding. The vinyl record is available on various digital platforms, such as HHV.DE and even in record stores in Japan, Jet Set Records being one of them. His [performing] experience as a DJ varies from DJ'ing in bars in Greece and London, to performing live beat sets at Oslo, Hackney venue in London, and at the 2017 Reworks Festival in Greece. Here's his thought process: design, thinking, and concept art on his new release, Robo Boy, which [consists] of three instrumental tracks."
Exhibit 1 - MUSIC: About The Music
"Before it gets down to concept, meanings, and statements, here is my thought process on the music production: the tracks' groove pattern doesn't stay the same, you'll notice pixelated transitions from my SP-404, metallic sound design from my trusty AKAI & Ensoniq 12-bit samplers, dreamy galactic melodies, and, of course, my favourite singing bass Jazzy melodies. The tricky part was to still make them easy to listen to, without becoming too technical. I see many producers easily falling into that trap. I needed the tracks to be easily consumed by anyone. Imagine looking at the Robo Boy art; Pop Art colours, easy on the eye, kid-friendly design next to a super-techy drum-less Jazz composition full of [freestyles, complex harmonies], etc. etc. Doesn't really make sense.
Every track can be considered "Hip-Hop" because all three of them are mainly based on Hip-Hop groove patterns. However, the structure is not your typical 4-minute loop that dominates the Hip-Hop industry since the 80's. All three tracks are influenced by the classical sonata, as well as the legendary discography of Charles Mingus. I was listening a lot to Mingus, while working on these three tracks. Creating a decent Hip-Hop groove can be relatively easy compared to other genres of music.
Creating a timeless Hip-Hop groove, especially, nowadays (a classic) is extremely hard. There are so many good producers out there doing just that and there are so many decent/great Hip-Hop music releases dropping every day. Even in this lo-fi over-saturated scene, almost any beat is, at least, decent. They all sound the same, but they are decent. I wouldn't mind any lo-fi playlist playing on the background, though.
I wanted to move away from that. And the way I chose to do it is by moving away from that 4-minute loop production workflow. If you look at Rusty Gate, it is exactly that. 4-minute loops all over the place. Back then, I was a Boom-Bap "purist," that's how I fell in love with Hip-Hop in the first place. Boom-Bap is still one of my favourite genres to vibe to. After releasing my "purist" Boom-Bap album, though, it is about time to move away from that. This EP marks the beginning of my adventures towards a new sound, a new signature style combined with my nerdy designs."
Exhibit 2 - MUSIC: Track Breakdown
"'Starclimber:" This track is a trip. It starts somewhere, it completely changes, at one point, and it comes back to the main theme. What I love the most about it is the drum pattern, complex and solid. The track is full of atmospheric synth, metallic Rhodes, and groovy sound FX. It really takes me to space. That is why I named it "Starclimber." In terms of the concept, when creating the track, I imagined Robo Boy flying through the galaxy. He is a "star-climber" and I wanted to create that vast space surrounding him. There is a mysterious feeling to this track. A combination of happiness and sadness.
"Astral Venture:" This is the "happy" track of the EP. There is this small intro, influenced straight from Japanese Anime intros. I even used Japanese harmony techniques to come up with that melody. I see it as the Robo Boy "theme song." If there was ever a Robo Boy Anime series, I would like the intro to be based on that beginning melody. "Astral Venture" is a song full of hope, full of sharp piano melodies to lead the track, and old school-style sampled repetitive trumpets. It represents Robo Boy's human aspect: him being naive and immature, in some ways.
"Electric Serenade:" "Electric Serenade" is the "heavier" track. This is the most Boom-Bap-y of all three tracks. I focused on the drums mostly. By focusing more on mid/low frequencies and the groove, I wanted to create that grounding feeling. The way I see this track is that it reminds me that the galaxy is black. Yes, it's vast and represents complete freedom from gravity and all that... but it's dark as Hell—and definitely dangerous. This track emits more energy than the other tracks. It is more like a "battle theme" for Robo Boy. It represents his powerful, serious mode, which he hasn't mastered yet."
Exhibit 3 - CONCEPT: Who Is Robo Boy?
"The album title refers to the character on the cover, who represents a concept of a new fantasy world. In that world, Robo Boy is humanity's last hope. We, humans, didn't take care good of our planet and today, the very core of Earth is collapsing. It's only a matter of time before Earth becomes uninhabitable. We invested all of planet's remaining resources in technology and with that being said, we created a highly intelligent and skilled cyborg, with the aim to travel the stars and find us a new habitable planet. This cyborg is Robo Boy.
He is designed with the highest-end technology and combines the power and intelligence of machines, as well as feelings and emotions. In our world, Artificial Intelligence uses machine learning to mimic human intelligence. The "computer" has to learn how to respond to certain actions, so it uses algorithms and historical data to start making predictions.
In this fantasy world, Robo Boy is an offspring of the highest level of Artificial Intelligence, but still needs to go through a similar learning curve. So, in non-machine terminology, he is still a kid. A naive teenager, who hasn't yet realised how important his mission is and how he can properly use his powerful abilities.
This is where the story begins. A naive cyborg teenager, travelling the stars, trying to find a new habitable planet in order to save humanity from [extinction]. He is enthusiastic for his upcoming adventures, but unaware of the dangers that come with them."
Exhibit 4 - CONCEPT: Purpose & Meaning of The Story
"It's pretty simple: I combined climate crisis and technology in one fantasy world. Robo Boy represents a potential positive outcome of the evolution of technology in the future. He represents freedom and hope for a better tomorrow. If you want to rock with Robo Boy, apart from the fact that he is the sweetest little cyborg character yet created, it's, also, because you want to be part of a bright future for mankind and for our planet.
Nowadays is as crazy as it's ever been. There is just so much going on. There is so much debate on how technology will affect our lives, while Australia is burning for two years straight. Let's all hope for the best and strive to becoming the best versions of ourselves. Robo Boy symbolises this idea of good change."
EXhibit 5 - CONCEPT: How I Came Up with The Idea
"I moved to London [in] September 2018, when I was about to release my debut LP, Rusty Gate. My life changed dramatically. I moved to one of the great cities [in] the world. Fast-paced lifestyle, multi-culturalism, [and] high-end technology in everyday life in a career-oriented culture. As you can imagine, coming from Thessaloniki (Greece,) I found this transition quite overwhelming in the beginning. Working as a bartender in Central London (yup, pays the bills,) I come across hundreds of people every day, having all sorts of convos. It was easy to spot two of the most popular subjects of discussion: 1.) climate crisis and 2.) the rapid growth of technology. These two subjects, along with my ever-growing need to progress and expand my arsenal of skills, in regards to the arts, influenced Robo Boy greatly.
"Let's create a robot character," I thought. And make some pixelated music, to send out a message reminding us to be aware of our relationship with technology. Also, the climate crisis is really happening right now and this sucks majorly. With my new release I thought, I [wanted] to present a new character to the world, which, through, music and design, will represent this idea of a brighter future. The reason why I care so much about just three tracks—investing my time building on a solid concept and creating bespoke illustrations—is only because of the over-saturated market in Instrumental Hip-Hop. This release is a statement.
My mentor and great friend, Propo'88, showed me the true, real way of taking care of business, when it comes to music production, [and] paying for mixing and mastering, as well as investing in good cover art. I have to give him credit for that and, I believe, that this is how every artist should approach his or her work. That's what I tried to evoke by working on an entire concept for Robo Boy. Feedmyego mixed these tracks and [Ivo] Statinski mastered them. Both of these professionals are a pleasure to work with."