GET FAMILIAR: ONES
London based creative ones is really someone worth watching out for. After their last release entitled "gratitude always" was met with critical acclaim, they are back with a new single "Blessings" so we thought this was the perfect time to tune in, lock in and get familiar with the emerging young artist. We dive in to themes of collaboration, mental health and the power of community.
First of all, how are you?
Yooo, yeah I’m alright. Lots moving and going on but feeling good about it all!
Can you introduce yourself to our readers and let us know what you do?
I'm Primo, a 26 year old songwriter / producer originally from Hounslow, now living in East London. I write under the name "ones" and I don’t really stick to a particular speed but my music is very percussive and has a lot of soulful influences.
How did music first enter your life?
The first moment I really clicked with music, I was in primary school. My music teacher ms. Brace introduced us to building rhythm in a drum circle and I was really taken by that. After that I actually had a big disconnect from music, but I was always surrounded by it. My mum was the one on the fourth floor flat always blaring tunes when I was coming home from school. I’d be ringing the buzzer waiting for the track to finish so she could hear me and let me in. My Dad is a musician/drummer and always loved and listen to all kinds of music and rhythms, any car journey was his time to listen to his CDs and I’d listen when I got carsick from playing my gameboy colour in the backseat.
What record(s) would you hear growing up that made you want to make music?
I remember I was in geography in year 8 and I heard someone listening to fabriclive 37 Caspa & Rusko (2007). I got them to send it over Bluetooth and I just listened to it on repeat on the train home. There were moments on that record / mix that really drove me towards wanting to listen more to music, especially electronic stuff. I wasn’t really listening to anything at that point. Paris Club Music vol. 1 (2013) by ClekClekBoom was another one of the most influential compilations for me in terms of beats. I just really loved the bounce and the sound design, it was refreshing to me. I grew up finding it hard to understand my emotions but feeling them quite intensely, so listened to a lot of sad music because it gave me understanding and clarity. When I was going through a really tough spot in 2017, I used to listen to “Sonder Son” by Brent Faiyaz and just run until the album finished. Got me mad fit and helped me to process a lot of things in my mind.
How did you get started?
I didn’t really have many people I considered friends at school. I was put into a group because of how I physically looked, but I never really felt apart of a circle. As soon as found myself listening to music, I became obsessed with finding pockets of different music from around the world, at the time mainly club music. I used forums like FunkySoulz and YouTube channels to find new music. I started as a DJ for underage events when I was 15. I’d actually lie and say I was 17 and had to sell a load of tickets to get an opening slot, but I ended up playing some pretty mad venues at a young age. I hated school and had a lot going on at home, so it became my life really. I was always messing around on FL, it started as a thing to do to fill the gap between coming home from school and having dinner, but never played my beats because I knew they weren’t good enough. I got to a point where I didn’t wanna get booked for being a DJ, so I took some years out to work out what that sounded like to me and also just to grow up in general. It changed a lot over the years and I guess I realised, my music was quite aggressive as I had a lot I wanted to say but at this point, I didn’t have the understanding or the words to make sense of it all.
How has lockdown affected your creativity?
First lockdown, I actually feel as if I blossomed. I was writing the best music with the person I felt most comfortable with. Unfortunately covid and it’s pressures added a lot of stress and fear into my life and we lost what we found during that time. My music is really driven by where my head is at, and that falling apart really threw me so far away from myself. In that journey back to myself, I’ve written some music which helps me pick up the pieces. I guess lockdown completely changed my creative process, I ended up writing about how I felt rather than how I wanted to feel.
You have a very unique sound so for the gear nerds out there, can you let us know what you’re working with?
Fruity loops till I die with a dumb amount of automation and a load of percussion on top. I think I felt like a lot of club music lacked human movement but on the dancefloor but also in its elements. I really wanted to explore that and found recording my own percussion added an element of mistake which drove new ideas.
Who’s the production team behind ‘Blessings’?
I really have to thank Clayton Vomero and Nathan Tettey for all of their help in forming the team to bring this video to life. It really wouldn’t of been possible without their initial help. Also, Freddie and all the team at untold for all the effort, craft and time they contributed to the video. Seb Tabe is someone I’ve always admired as an artist and now friend, I’m so proud to have him apart of this with me. He came around to mine and I played him the record and explain where it had come from and he just had the vision.
The video for Blessing, directed by long time friend of Team Patta in Seb Tabe, features a lot of familiar London based faces - what does community mean to you?
Hold tight Seb, the guy is a genius and I was honoured to have him onboard and to be able to continue to work with him on visuals for the next record. You know, all of the faces in the video, are friends and family - it was nothing more than that. Everyone in the video is someone I respect in what they’re doing in their own lane. This video wouldn’t of been possible if it wasn’t for the community that was formed in developing / creating the piece. I owe it to each end every person involved, and am forever grateful. I guess over the years I’m trying to work out what I wanted to say whilst working so much, I lost touch with friends and just people in general. I really got into researching and archiving on Instagram to help me understand where I placed myself in a visual aspect. I came across Seb during that time and a continue to use it as a way to connect with independent artists I admire.
How did the Ministry of Sound thing come about?
Whilst working in a pizza place, I was writing my project ‘Gratitude Always’ on the side. A sound piece which explored the breakdown of my parents relationship, weaved together by edits and voice notes from my parents, which I made during a time of not knowing where I was going. I feel as if it was the project which drove me more towards being an artist rather than just a producer. It fell into place as it came together. I discovered a lot of the conversations I needed to have with my family to move forward in my own life and mental battles. It was an honest expression with no real expectations, but I guess the right people heard it and connected with it. I met Dipesh, the President of Ministry Of Sound and within minutes of meeting the guy, he told me how much he enjoyed the project and what it meant to him personally. I was really taken back by him, and the rest of the team when I met them a little while later. I’d gone from feeing like I was crazy in my room making beats, to being surrounded by an amazing team I really respected and who equally, really believed in me. They gave me the opportunity and support to push my ideas. I’d only written the first demo of Blessings at that point, but they saw something in me, which I didn’t at that point. I was able to leave my job and work out how I wanted to sound, what I wanted to say, how I wanted it to look, and they encouraged every idea. I really really appreciate everything they’ve done and continue to do for me. That’s my team right there.
I’m in Amsterdam right now but I would really love to join you in the studio to hear what else you are working on - what does the future hold for Ones?
Dude I’m here, you can roll through whenever just let me know. I’m actually sitting on a lot of tunes right now, just trying to piece it all together correctly. Been working on this project for the last year, it explores the relationship between dance music and mental health. Not going to say too much but I’ve got loads of things lined up. I’m doing this full time now, so just trying to get everything right. Looking to have the next single out in November but the dates still waiting to be confirmed so keep an eye on the socials
Are you still on your ones?
Yeah man, it be like that sometimes.
How important is the current mental health conversations that we are finally having within the diaspora?
If we want more people to be around, we need to know how best to support and understand one another. If we can dance together, we should be able to cry too. It’s just unfamiliar and weirdly that freaks out a lot of people, but that’ll change the more we openly embrace it together.