it would be relatively easy to say that vancouver-bred producer and DJ nathan shaw’s sound is the distillation of his bc roots. windswept with dreamy atmospheres and skittering scattered beats, grounded in rugged percussion – such a description wouldn’t be wrong, but for the producer, best known by his stage name ekali, it would be underwhelmingly oversimplified.
having first broken ground as the bassist for van city’s indie rock-folk outfit said the whale three years ago, shaw got into beatmaking very recently. he famously remixed 10 said the wale songs and released them in a performance at a cbc what is this session – a mix of live instrumentals and vocals with a stellar live pa. a selection of those tracks went on to be dropped in an official remix ep.
his work as ekali is challenging. he says it embodies the space between bass music and soul. i call it a rendering of what’s become known as post r&b, but deeper, more complex, and with stronger beat elements. his reimaginations, like his edit of dpat’s “bloom,” tinashe’s cover of drake’s “days in the west,” and “another girl” (his collaborative effort with aywy) are unabashedly sensual in some way – the tinashe cover has quickly become a guilty pleasure of mine (the only time i can stand anything related to drake). his “unfaith” – both the original mix and the instrumental version – slow things down a notch; the result is a syrupy soundscape with trippy, chopped up highs. magic.