Track By Track: Ruf Dug – Island
If we were ever picked to be on Desert Island Discs (hint hint Mr BBC…) we'd be hoping that the island we were taken to was conveniently the same island that Ruf Dug conjures up with his latest LP. From sunrise to sunset, the sounds of Island could fill the air for days on end and we'd never tire of drowning our minds in this distinct aural pleasure. In fact, we love the album so much we decided to ask Mr Dug to talk us through it, one track at a time;
This was the first track I made; I had been watching lots of sunsets and listening to a lot of Japanese new age type stuff, plenty of marimbas and sunshine basically. I found a great marimba patch on one of my synths and went for it. The name came later – it's the name of a spa up the hill from where we were staying. The most amazing spa anywhere – views out over the ocean, trees all growing through the pools and things like some Ewok village vibe…
I definitely wanted the second track to be markedly different, to make sure people knew immediately they weren't just listening to another chill-out CD… Thinking cinematically, I wanted go from the mellow open straight into the chase scene. I'd been listening to lots of Steve Moore who also makes great soundtracks and that informed the arpeggio. There's a shitload of drug smuggling in that area of the Caribbean, it's really close to Venezuela and so pretty much all the time there are speedboats coming in at night with tons of cocaine. Seriously, in the paper there every day it would be 'police find 100 kg of cocaine in a boat'… so yeah, get that vibe in your mind when you listen to this one!
I'd already written the music when I contacted Nev Cottee to see about doing some vocals – we agreed to write something together but I sent him this track over and he liked it. He ended up coming up with this mad story about Lionel who's a bit rum-soaked and at sea and going on about the old days. I really like the Spanish/Manc accent he's got going on here, he's pitched it perfectly.
There were a few full on tropical storms while we were there – I made this track during one of them. That's a recording of Guadeloupe rain all the way through.
Never known mossies as bad as out there. Ended up wearing pyjama bottoms, socks, long sleeve shirt and a cap for most of the day. Little fuckers get their own song but only 3 minutes, you little bastards.
This is the one that the DJs are playing out, it's got a good chuggy beat going on and the wave noise isn't a sample, it's pure FM synthesised beauty: this is the key to the track I think. I was smashing Miami Vice Season 2 on Netflix at this point.
A few beaches down was a beach called Rasta Beach. Apparently there are a few rasta beaches on Guadeloupe but I only went to this one. They had a bar/cafe that only served ital food, no alcohol, everybody rolling fuckin' rocketship joints and people all ages just havin a nice time and a dance and they would have great music at night sometimes. One of our lot lost his iPhone there one night after blazing hard with some old rasta dudes and went down the next morning looking for it and it was just sitting on a rock on the beach in a plastic bag all wrapped up to keep it dry.
Le Rayon Vert
My Sister-in-law told me I had to write a song with this title; Le Rayon Vert is a little green flash you see as the sun sets. Everything has to be just right to see it – I managed it a couple of times while I was there. I wrote the chord structure and then sent that, together with the title, back to Manchester to Nev Cottee – he bashed out these killer lyrics and over a few weeks of emailing we got the tune together. I haven't really worked that way before – it felt nice to have this link back to Manchester while I was so far away.
Thank You Wally
Wally Badarou was the single greatest influence in making the album. Echoes is one of my favourite albums of all time and was the blueprint for Island. What was weird was how Wally would appear from time to time… A Level 42 track came on the radio once. Somebody out of nowhere recommended the countryman soundtrack to me and the only other music producer I met out there straight up asked me if I liked Wally Badarou within about 2 minutes of meeting him. So after all I took from Wally in making this album it felt appropriate to give him some thanks. This, I think, is my favourite track off the album, it's the one I made last. It felt really nice finishing it.
Island is out now on vinyl, digital download is released Friday 14th August via Music For Dreams.