INTERVIEW: Itona

UK electronic act Itona releases his first new music of 2021 with You Are So: an effervescent downtempo cut that calls to mind the shimmering atmospherics of acts like Fatima Yamaha, Bonobo, and Flume.

You Are So is a downtempo electronic cut that uses a combination of shimmering synth lines, crisp, pulsing drums and intricate vocal textures to incredible effect. Warm chords are joined by a subtly pitched-shifted female vocal and evolving, crackling synths, creating a hazy, ethereal atmosphere.  

Hi James, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hey VENTS, nice one. I’ve been great thanks. Considering the world’s been upside down with the pandemic and my schedule has been massively switched up at various points over the last 12 months, with a young family too, my creativity has been through the roof – so I’m really grateful for that!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “You Are So”?

Yeah, so ‘You Are So’ came about on a total spur of the moment idea after vibing to tracks by ford. and quickly, quickly. The main synth chords came into my head and as soon as I laid them down the rest of the track literally fell into place. Some of the Itona tracks I make are a little more stripped back sonically, but with this one I was in the mood for something a bit brighter and upfront, yet still really chill.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Not the answer that’ll give me the most street cred… but if I’m being totally honest I find that it’s the kids bathtime which conjures a lot of ideas as I tend to put really chilled playlists on and tell the kids it’s ‘Bathtime Music’, primarily to stop my son splashing my daughter and losing half the bath water over the sides. I always find it’s a great time for my mind to wander as I’m not focusing on being creative as such, so it’s often the best time for ideas to flow, when you’re not trying too hard etc.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

I’ve got to say a big shout to Gianluca, aka ‘Bon-Psy’, the man behind the visuals for the tracks. He basically took the artworks of the tacks and transformed them into moving images that incorporate the overall vibe and feel for each track. The simplistic approach alongside the chosen colours and graphics really sit next to the audio perfectly and he has done a brilliant job across the board with this release.

The single comes off your new EP You – what’s the story behind the title?

The whole EP has a strong narrative of relationship throughout. The three singles are designed to bring out the emotion of feeling close to someone or something and that the binds there are strong. The title reflects that in the sense it’s all about the listener and their connection to the music. Hopefully that connection is deep and the music is a place they can escape, much like a relationship.

How was the recording and writing process?

I touched on this slightly earlier but ultimately my music under Itona is pretty effortless and totally driven by emotions and mood. The third track from the EP ‘I’ll Show You How’ was one of the first tracks I created since launching Itona in 2020 and it’s very much a journey of electronica from start to finish. It’s more complex than the other two tracks in it’s various layers and percussion, yet the other two tracks have just as much emotion and feel but from a more stripped back approach.

In saying that, the process for all my music is all ‘in the box’ using Logic Pro. I find that my workflow has been very productive for many years due to keeping my set up as simple as possible, meaning less distractions and less tangents that can send me down any unwanted rabbit holes while an idea is flowing. I like to get things down quickly without having to set things up, patch things in or wait for things to load etc. Within Logic I use a large variety of plugins but I do have some go-to’s when I am laying down ideas that feel like they are meant to be, but inevitably I also like to experiment and see where it leads to.

How has the pandemic influenced your writing?

The first full UK lockdown, which lasted around 7 weeks, was a very strange and challenging time in many ways. The prospect of losing work and elements of my music income was a serious concern. Also, not fully knowing the severity of COVID-19 was also a worry for my wife and I, in particular for our two kids – like it was for so many people, in and outside the music industry.

However, alongside these concerns, I felt many opposing emotions during lockdown too – which came from more family time and also, due to our living circumstances changing during this period, more time for my own personal musical projects.

Itona has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and that extra time during lockdown finally allowed me to pursue it. This project has allowed me to make music which brings me good vibes and a bit of an escape – and I hope for others too.

Having already done some music under another moniker – would you call this new venture a complete departure or rather opposite?

On one hand I’m a serious bass head and feel totally addicted to low end frequency pressure, and music that will set a club off which a lot of my ENiGMA Dubz material is aimed at doing. Yet on the other hand I love music which gives off deep, authentic emotions and has a real element of soul in there too. I do produce more vibey music under ENiGMA Dubz as well, but with the amount of ideas I have and the mixture of genres I enjoy, the new Itona project allows me to fully explore all avenues of electronic music.

There will be a variety of electronic genres I wish to explore with this project, but the mixture of feel good, warm, cosy, nostalgic, reflective and sometimes melancholic vibes will hopefully reach out to people and give off what they need.

It’s all about taking a few minutes to escape and enjoy the moment. That’s the main driving force behind Itona, music to help you drift away. That’s the lane I want to operate in – but there’s no limit to the genres within that.

What role does the UK play in your music?

The UK is always a part of my sound, no matter what genre I’m making I always find an essence of its influence in there and it’s hard to describe exactly what it is. I find the weather and seasons plays a big part in my mood and creative directions. Over the colder and darker months it has often reflected heavily in my music, but with the Itona project I’m not really focusing on any cold emotions and I’m more influenced by the warm emotions and a feeling of comfort or nostalgia.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

The inspiration for all of my Itona projects comes from escapism and good vibes. For the three tracks I wanted to conjure up these emotions and interesting textures. I often find a lengthy acapella or sample and then make various cuts from it and craft them into something fresh, taking its own form for the track.

What else is happening next in Itona’s world?

More music, more music, more music! Stay locked on my Spotify, Soundcloud and socials to hear what’s next.

You Are So  smarlink – https://smarturl.it/itona-you-are-so

Spotify: https://smarturl.it/itona-spotify

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/itonabeats/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/itonabeats

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/itonabeats

Bandcamp: https://itonabeats.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/itonabeats

Itona - You Are So [OFFICIAL AUDIO]

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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