Hailing from Camden, now situated in Leeds, Charlie Baker (or Breaka, as his alias) creates floor filling, percussive footwork tracks that are far from sub-standard. With a background routed in samba drumming, experimental jazz and breakbeat drum and bass – it’s clear from the offset that his music aims to push boundaries within electronic music and fuse influence from a variety of different genres. We meet on a Sunday afternoon at a local pub and when I ask him what he’s drinking, Breaka clarifies he’s still wading in the depths of a hangover from the night before – I order a beer, he goes for a coffee, and we start to talk music.
So lets talk about what started this infactuation with music off in the first place – What was the first record that started the ball rolling and began your interest in producing?
I started producing when I was sixteen I think. I’ve always wanted to be a musician, but what made me veer towards producing was definitely the jazzy drum and bass on Hospital Records from the 2000s. Records such as London Elektricity’s ‘Million Dollar Gravy’.
You’ve approached music from an academic viewpoint, just currently finishing up an undergrad in Physics. How do you think this has (if at all) changed how you view music, and do you believe that this has changed the way you look at, make, and listen to tracks?
I’ve got a lot of mates that study music and I think that not being forced to make music all day really helps with inspiration. I make beats in my down time rather than for assignments. Without studying music, it can be difficult for me to make things sound tight sometimes, but its way more fun this way.
Talking about drum and bass as a umbrella term – what was it that particularily attracted you to the style? Do you think your experiences as a percussionist have influenced going down this avenue in your production?
I see it as the king of dance music to be honest. Its bpm just really gets people going in a different way. The stuff that I rate the most will have multiple different grooves all going at once. In the drums you have the rolling 170 bpm feel with cross rhythms underneath and in the bass and melody you have this halftime feel which gives it a real groove.
Currently living in Leeds, how do you think the music scene around Yorkshire has influenced your creating and mixing of tracks?
Living in Leeds the last few years has really opened my eyes to a bunch of different styles of dance music and how different elements will really get people going in the dance. Nights like Subdub especially. Otherwise, I’ve just been rinsing the ridiculous house party scene here in Hyde Park. Playing on massively overpowered speakers to rooms of happy people is great for trying out new tunes I’ve been making.
So let’s talk about your latest work on Modern Ruin – It’s clear from the offset that ‘express your groove’ has influences rooted in jungle and footwork styles, but which artists in particular would you say you’ve taken inspiration from?
I’m a massive fan of old school jungle which puts an emphasis on those massive euphoric chords and classic soul and funk sampled vocal hooks.. So artists like LTJ Bukem, Higher Sense, Peshay etc. In terms of drums and grooves, the whole halftime footwork jungle genre has obviously been a massive source of inspiration for me. Music from labels such as Exit, Cosmic Bridge and Astrophonica.
Is there a record in particular that directly influenced your production style in Express Your Groove?
I wouldn’t say so. These tracks had been in the works for at least a year and there were a lot of points for all three of them at which something new would inspire me to take them in another direction. Also after hearing Itoa’s music, especially his self-titled EP, I knew I really wanted to have him on board for a remix.
Where does the title of the EP come from?
It comes from the names of the breaks I sampled in that track. It was gonna be called ‘Express your Grooveclip’ from ‘Express Yourself’, ‘Catch a Groove’ and ‘Ashley’s Roachclip’ but I thought that sounded kinda dry.
What’s next for Breaka?
So I’m currently getting together some more Autonomic halftime stuff similar to my remix of Ghadimi’s ‘Dune’. Also wanna keep the ball rolling with this hyper 160 business.
Thanks for your time Charlie, just a couple of quick fire questions to round up.
There’s also a milkshake called Breaka: Is this where the influence came from for your alias, or do you reckon the drink company are fans of the music? Could there potentially be a sponsorship on the cards?
I’ve never actually tried the stuff! Although I didn’t know it existed before I decided the name, I was glad to learn that a milkshake was the only thing I was plagiarising with my name. I’m sure we could find some kind of middle ground for a Breaka x Breaka campaign of some sorts.
If you had one piece of your wax collection to end a set with – what would it be and why?
Probably Victory by Dubkasm because I’ve always meant to.
Which labels would you recommend to look out for before the close of 2017?
Bun The Grid, Gutterfunk, Vandal LTD, Beat Machine, Iberian Juke, Diffrent Music, Halogen Music.
And what can we expect in regards to your own releases/collaborations before the end of the year?
I’m hoping to be getting a couple of Breaka releases out, as well as some collaboration work on originals and remixes for Good Street and Modern Ruin.
Express Your Groove is out now on Modern Ruin records