As with many things, we need to expect the unexpected. If the last couple of years has taught us anything, plans don’t always fall into place the way we’d all anticipate or like them to go. 40 Winks, the Belgium duo of Padmo’ and Weedy, is no exception to the rule either. They’ve spent years toiling away creating unadulterated instrumental Hip-Hop, that’s also merged within other influences so no one could be quick to categorize them. But the pandemic seemed to allow an abundance of fruitful creativity.
The duo first met back in the 90s and began DJing together. They later focused their attention on making instrumental music combining a wide array of genres. Throughout 2002 to 2011 40 Winks ran amok releasing a healthy dose of albums, singles, etc. but hadn’t sat down together long enough to create a new album since. Fast-forward to 2020, and the duo took the opportunity to focus more on its music. This September 3, 2021, will see the first album by the group in 10 years. Field Recordings (Project Mooncircle) dives back in headfirst delivering 17 tracks that are heady, soulful, and hit with meaning. 40 Winks debuts its new single “The Weeping Soul” and also discusses life outside of music while also remaining within.
You’ve been creating music for some time and have built a healthy catalog of music. What are the challenges you’ve found within instrumental Hip-Hop?
Thanks to this gigantic evolution in music production software, possibilities in making beats are endless. In a way, this evolution seems to make it much more difficult to make organic and live-sounding instrumental Hip-Hop. A lot of beats sound very clean; a little too perfect. Of course, that’s a matter of taste and not everything has to sound organic. I love all kinds of beats. But keeping the soul in your productions intact feels like a challenge to me.
The last year and a half have been challenging for many, how did 40 Winks navigate through it, and as the world opens, what are the plans for the next couple of years?
Like everyone, the lockdown demanded a lot of flexibility in our jobs and social life. Music-wise, I must say it had a positive side-effect. Making an instrumental album is a very individual activity. So, this isolation gave me more time and focus to work on new projects. We have a lot of plans and dreams for the coming years, but nothing specific yet.
There was a long break between your last set of original works, 2015’s Deluxe Edition of Sound Puzzle and the new Field Recordings LP. What accounted for most of that break time? What has the group been up to during that time?
We both had kids around 2015. I think a lot of musicians will recognize the difficulty in finding a new balance between family life and the creative process of making music. Especially as we can’t live from our music and have a full-time job. Padmo’ stopped making music for a while. I took time to deepen my musical knowledge, learning piano and picking up my guitar again. I made a lot of new music but never got past the demo phase. When making an album I need to get fully absorbed by it. I want to get in a certain vibe where I’m not thinking about anything else day and night. The whole lockdown situation ironically gave me more space to be in my home studio more, which is what eventually led to the new album.
“The Weeping Soul” has a base that’s infectious in its delivery, what does the song represent to you and how did the fundamental elements of the track develop into the final version?
For “The Weeping Soul” I wanted to create a soulful live feeling. Like you’re standing in a smoky soul bar in the late sixties. The subtle response from the audience to the vocals was the first idea. It was when adding the faded-in horn section together with this violin sound I thought “hey, this might go somewhere!”. The name of the track is a playful nod to the Nick Cave song.
Is there a general motif or direction that was planned with the new album? How does the song fit in within the context of the LP?
On the one hand, the title, Field Recordings, stands for the ‘on the road recordings’ that are implemented into the album. Rain, wind, birds; you‘ll even hear my kids and cat on the album. On the other hand, I see a more metaphorical meaning. The album reflects inspiring music that I’ve come across throughout the years. You’ll hear Hip-Hop, Jazz, Gospel, mindful harmonics, and more. I wanted to pay tribute to the music that I love. In that context, “The Weeping Soul” is my homage to the sweet soul I listen to a lot.
What are some of the most memorable moments surrounding the recording sessions of Field Recordings?
The first thing I think of is the recordings of my children that are on the album. It makes it very personal and brings back great memories. When we were on the road with my portable recorder, they really went in with it. Another moment I think of is the recording session of the Gospel tune “We’ve Come This Far.” I had lots of fun recording all the claps and screams. This song might be a strange twist in the album, but it quickly became one of my favorites.