Since I could first speak English, the term “shackles” has had a negative and imprisoning connotation to me, no matter its context, literal or metaphorical. In these last few weeks however, I have surprisingly come to redefine this seemingly restraining term, and the reason is all because of the artist who works under this moniker, UK producer Shackles. He has exercised immense freedom within every single facet of his production, and is currently redefining the 808-based genres of electronic music we are listening to today. Having been featured on The Dankles before, Shackles created a massive mix for our Twerkin Trap Tuesday #53, and since then he has certainly been on our radar for artists to look out for in the 2013 year. So, without further adeu, let’s delve into the unique life of the young and talented Shackles!
Howdy Shackles! Firstly all of us at The Dankles would like to thank you for lending us some time to learn a little more about yourself and your music! To get the ball rollin’ and clear the air for the fans and followers, can you give us your real name, age, and where you’re currently located?
My name is Tom Shackford, I’m 23 and I’m from Sheffield, UK.
Did you play any instruments as a kid? How did that affect your interest in electronic music production and what made you push your talents from bedroom producer to touring artist?
I played electric guitar for years when I was younger, was in various metal bands etc. Started off making grime, that turned into dubstep. I always tried to incorporate my metal music influence into my electronic music. From this though I found that the concept of ‘metal-step’ was like marmite. Some people loved it, but a lot of people weren’t really feeling it. Got signed to Jakes’s label H.E.N.C.H but nothing really took off. Then I took a break from music altogether, working full time, other commitments etc. Now I’ve got my mojo back I just decided to try something new and it’s going pretty well thus far.
Going from bedroom producer to more than that is something I’m still working on and is pretty tricky. You’ve got to have a lot of patience. Some people get a lucky break and it’s all go from there. If not, it’s just finding the right balance for your music and keep pushing it.
Do you have a preferred DAW that you like to produce with? Are there any tips you give to the all struggling producers out there?
I produce on Cubase 5. I have been meaning to move over to logic, or Ableton for a while but I know Cubase so well now, there’s no reason to move! I would just say to people out there – Check your mixdowns before you send music out to dj’s / other producers. I used to send out tunes to people thinking they sounded awesome, when in reality they sound awful and no one was ever going to play them, even if the ideas in the songs were good. The only way to improve is receiving feedback from more experienced people who’s judgement you trust! In the beginning anyway…
From your first EP release on Trapdoor Records to the arsenal of singles found on your SoundCloud, you exude a unique mixture of heavy bass, soft soundscapes, and catchy vocal samples; how would you classify your production and how do you think it reflects the current trap and future bass crazes in the electronic music scene?
Well I would like to think I don’t have a specific style, I just like making music that’s fun. Maybe this is a bad thing? Who know’s. I could make 10 tracks that all sound similar to ‘Big Weight’, but I just like experimenting with new blends. I’ve got tunes like ‘Cloudz’ & ‘Let You Know’ which I really like. I would call some of it ‘trap’, some of it is like fast electro house? Then I’ve got tunes like ‘Sunrise’ which has elements of dubstep in there, so I think I just try to keep it a little different each time?
Coming from England, you must be exposed to a variety of sounds and genres that we in America don’t necessarily see as prominently; how does the UK music scene influence the way you produce your music?
We have a fair bit of grime music over here, and those styles do come into my music sometimes. Because most of the music I listen to is worldwide, mostly USA, I’m not sure if many of my influences are even from UK music. Blogs like trapdoor / AllTrapMusic open my ears up to some of the latest UK Trap music which is cool, there is a contrast between the UK stuff and the American stuff. Always nice to hear different takes on music!
Do you have any songs that you’ve been especially keen of lately? What about up and coming artists that we should keep an eye out for?
One tune that just gets me hype every time I listen to it is ‘Gents & Jawns – Turn Up’. There is a UK mc called proton, he’s definitely doing his thing right now featuring on UK trap tunes. Mr Carmack, Djemba Djemba and Arnold are all doing some great things. Then on the more chilled side of music I’ve really been admiring work from artists such as ‘STWO’ and ‘Jai Paul’.
For Twerkin’ Trap Tuesdays 53 you provided us with a fantastic 45 minute mix of future trill, trap, and other heavy bass tunes, also featuring a plethora of tracks produced entirely by you; what was it like making that mix and how did you choose the tracklist?
It was pretty fun making that mix. Thing is that I wanted everything to be in key and blend nicely without pitch shifting any of the tracks, so the mix did take longer than your average. Sometimes I like mixes sounding like one big piece of music, and when you blend 2 tunes, it should sound like one. There is various mixes out there from people and its 100% trap bangers from start to finish, which is cool but I wanted some more chilled stuff in there with more substance.
On a more personal note, when you aren’t in the studio crankin’ out beats or on the stage throwing down, what can we find Shackles doing for comfort and leisure?
Do you have any pets? How about a girlfriend? If you had to pick one, which would it be?
Abella Anderson would be the one for me, gad damn. And pet wise, it would have to be a Doberman pincher, that’s just a boss dog.
Looking ahead to the summer and rest of 2013, what can we expect from Shackles? Anything big for us Americans overseas or locally we should be preparing for?
Well I have been working away on a Mixtape. It will be around 8 tracks of trap / future bass music. This next one is still experimental, but a bit closer to home with the stuff I have been producing of late. There’s some bangers in there, couple remixes and definitely a few summer tunes as well! I’m pretty excited about it so I will have to just see how it is perceived. This mix tape will be dropping for free as always. Most of my music is free so go grab it from my Soundcloud!
I will also be having an EP release on DJ Shiftee’s label ‘Hot Mom USA’. This label released my first mixtape, this was entitled ‘Celestial Showcase’. This mixtape was me experimenting with deeper music. Inspired by ‘The Weeknd’ ,’Clams Casino’ etc. So if you get a minute check it out! I’m going to try and get across the pond this year to do a couple shows so we shall see what happens!
:: Rapid Fire with Shackles ::
Favorite vacation spot?
Last concert attended?
Absolutely no idea.
I am a big fan of Katy B & Jessie Ware’s vocals – So I’d love to make some beautiful music with them. I’d love to do a tune with Kanye West called ‘Fish Sticks’.
Conducted by Smokey