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Kieren Gallear aka DELS is an artist journeying through a transitional period, coming to terms with his desire to create whilst making sense of an ever-changing world. This is what makes Petals Have Fallen, his second album, one of 2014’s hip hop highlights. Several moments in our chat at Big Dada HQ highlight the personal, emotional and political aspects that weave the inner fabric of this album, and his wider existence. “The title’s about trying to protect something precious that will ultimately fall apart. Where it came from was KWES’ young brother produced the beat (on the track of the same name), and when he sent it to me one of Ninja's (Ninja Tune) artist’s Offshore had just passed away. It really hit me and made me feel really fragile.” “I felt like I was going to live forever like you do when you're young but it just made me feel I don't have forever and I needed to be better with my time.” Petals is a document of his 'time' and 'identity' at this moment, a culmination of influences and events colliding with his recent history. But one that represents an artist in flux. In many respects this is a complete artistic vision. DELS in his capacity of graphic designer has laid out the striking visuals for the piece, drawing a complete line from his lyrical content right through to a decision on the release date. It was postponed till the autumn to better fit the title and mood of the release. Every element is considered as part of a whole and it shows. Despite this there's a restlessness about Petals, it constantly hopping between ideas and styles. From an early age, in the company of his parents, ‘music’ and in particular those artists pushing boundaries formed part of family life. “I didn't live in a household where we were all musicians or we had to go do piano lessons, we just loved music and we were always looking for the new thing. It wasn't like my mum was playing a load of old records, she was always looking for that new sound. She told me about Timbaland, Jay Z, Nas for his Illmatic album. My dad was really into rave music and house so it was always that thing of 'discovery'.” “[We’d] sit and listen to Busta Rhymes and be like 'listen to the beats he's rapping over' or Timbaland and Aliyah, those beats were crazy but it sounded like 'them'. I remember sitting there with my brothers and my mum and we'd be getting excited about the way Timbaland was using his snares on his late 90s tracks. It's almost sounded like a slowed down version of jungle, the way the snare sounded. My mum and dad used to love jungle back in the day.” This element of genre-hopping and the search for new sonic adventures, was there on his debut back in 2011 GOB - a grand opening statement, an EDM-infused, experimental take on the hip hop template, intensely personal and poetic but also backed with humour. Petals offers the same but with more consistency and sophistication, and a new body of collaborators pushing what the music of DELS is. “Even though they share certain sonic aspects, a couple of tracks like 'RGB' could be on the same album as 'Shapeshift', but then you have 'Falls' that is produced by Bonobo, and it doesn't sound like Bonobo and it's become this new thing, everyone's evolving and not trying to stay in their comfort zone. That's why I am so proud of this album because I feel people are pushing themselves to be different.” Along with on-going collaborator, Warp record wunderkind KWES for this record DELS has also brought Ninja Tune man-of-the-moment Bonobo to add his soulful edge. Aside from the production hook-ups what is a noticeable difference is the inclusion of vocalists, such Rosie Lowe, to add a new edge to the tunes. This extreme pull towards creative collaboration comes from strange, unexpected place from back in the fogs of social media time – Myspace. In its infancy it was an unguarded place for people to chat directly about music and creativity but without the mess of issues experienced in todays social media quagmire.
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