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Exclusive Interview with wAFF

From humble beginnings in the underground scenes of Leeds and Hull to gracing the stages of iconic festivals and clubs worldwide, wAFF's journey is a testament to relentless dedication and unwavering passion. His creative canvas extends to his label, NATURE, where he intertwines music with a heartfelt mission to support animal rescue efforts. In this exclusive interview, we delve into wAFF's multifaceted world, exploring his musical odyssey, his spiritual connection to creativity, and his vision for the future of NATURE. Get ready to embark on a journey of inspiration and insight with one of the electronic music scene's most enigmatic figures.

-  Hi wAFF, it's a pleasure to have you for this interview! How are you?

I’m great thanks, just got back from a sick weekend in Germany and Switzerland so I’m pretty tired, but apart from that I’m doing good.

-  Your journey in the music industry has been quite remarkable, from the underground scenes of Leeds and Hull to playing at major festivals and prestigious clubs worldwide. How has your approach to music evolved over the years, and what keeps your enthusiasm and attention to detail alive in this relentless schedule?

Well, I have been touring now for nearly 14 years, which is crazy when I think about it. But I have been through many different stages in my career and with my approach to music as a whole. I started out just wanting to play main set big room tech house / techno and I didn't really have any skill or interest in playing any different back when I first started. But now I can play at any time at any event and be comfortable. I can do a great warmup whereas when I first started there would be no chance, I'd do a warmup haha. I play so many different styles now and I feel I've become better as a DJ all round. As for enthusiasm well…that’s something I really do struggle with constantly now.

I think the lifestyle of a DJ is quite intense for me, I really don't enjoy travelling at all and I just crave peace and quiet a lot so when I’m touring and playing a lot it really takes its toll on me now. When I get home, I just want to relax and not even listen to any music. But then the problem is I need to get into the studio and make music or find new music for my sets which I find very difficult to get into the headspace for that. So, it's a constant challenge for me to keep motivated and enthusiastic about everything. However, I still love it and still have my goals and ambitions of where I want to be in my career so that keeps me motivated. I love playing shows more than ever and I'm in a really motivated creative place right now, so I just need to try to keep that energy for as long as possible.

-  You're the only British artist to record for three techno hubs - Cocoon, Drumcode, and Desolat. Can you share some insights into how these experiences have shaped your sound, and do you have a favourite memory or moment from working with each of these renowned labels?

Yeah, that was a goal of mine years ago, I had seen that there weren't any artists that have released on all of these labels so I set out to become the artist that managed to do all of that and I did so I was really happy with achieving this. Back then though, Desolat, Cocoon and Drumcode were the perfect labels for the sound I was producing, but now my sound has changed a bit. It’s still me but I’m not making big room rollers that much right now, although I still love it and do make music similar still. Back then though that was my sound. I wouldn't say being on those labels shaped my sound, as they were all very different. I just set a goal to be on each one and made music I thought would suit them and yeah… it just worked out for me.

-  You’ve launched your label NATURE back in 2022. What inspired you to start a label focused on environmental issues, and how do you see it making a positive impact in the music industry?

I just wanted it to mean something to me and to everyone who was a part of the label more than just music and a business. It was never about business really to me, I just wanted to be creative and have my own label where I can easily put out my own music and of course sign other artists and give them a platform, at the same time using this new project to help the planet in some way which for the moment we have been focusing on saving animals, specifically dogs. But I'm aiming to help people next and other animals of course. Even help with just environmental stuff like deforestation and preservation of nature, which will all come in time. I'm not sure what impact this will have on the industry but I'd like to hope that it would inspire other labels would follow this and give something back to the planet too.

-  NATURE not only promotes music but also supports a dog rescue with each release. Can you tell us more about this initiative and why it's personally significant to you?

I just love dogs!! I love them so much and it breaks my heart when I see dogs suffering all over the world. Dogs are like angels that are sent here to take care of us. I feel they are so unconditionally loving that I just can't bear seeing them suffer in any way so my main focus would probably always be dogs but like I said I love all animals equally, so it won't always just be dogs we rescue.

For the moment though, I become friends with this wonderful women in Bali who dedicates her life to saving dogs, so we just spoke one time, I decided I wanted to help her and it really works great together as she is always out every day looking for new dogs to save, she will send me videos and pictures of some dogs that are trapped in cages or being sent to slaughter houses, so I just step in when I can and send the money over to her to pay for the dogs freedom and vet treatments, plus for them to be housed in the sanctuary with food to get stronger, which eventually they will be healthy enough to be adopted to loving families or people.

- Your association with Jamie Jones' Hot Creations label and Paradise brand is well-known. How has this collaboration influenced your artistic journey, and what does it mean to you to be a part of the Paradise family?

Jamie has always been my favourite DJ, so getting to play for so many years alongside him has inspired me a lot. My music has gotten better because of listening to Jamie so much and I've also experienced quite a lot of things together with Jamie, so I feel close with Jamie, I really care about him a lot and am very grateful for everything he has done for me. But I’m also so close with everyone who has been part of Paradise, it's been a huge part of my career since the beginning. So, it means a lot.

- Beyond the beats, you have a background in acting and dance. How do these artistic influences seep into your music, and do you envision a return to acting or dance in the future?

Haha, yes, I used to be a dancer which is funny now when I tell people as it just seems stupid ha! But I did all variations of dance for a few years at a performing arts college. And I did a lot of acting too, which was and still is my main dream / goal in life is to get back into acting and be in movies. That is something I'm planning to work towards again sometime, I just don't know when, as I'm just so busy with my music career that I can't find the mental space and time right now in my life to start down a whole new career path. I think once I’ve accomplished what i set out to do with my music career and I’m in a steadier place in my life then I will return to acting finally.

- In an interview, you mentioned that your music is a reflection of your spiritual side. How do you channel your energy into your creative process, and how does it manifest in your tracks?

I just think music is an expression, if you make music, it is a part of you, you created it and it all came from you, so it is a reflection. As for the spiritual side, I just feel that music is energy, everything is energy so if you allow yourself to be open and allow creativity to just come through you then it's like you're tapping into your higher self. I believe all these inspirations and ideas are all channelled from your higher self so when you channel it into music, I do believe people will feel that and resonate with that energy. We're not just an empty vessel that somehow just thinks of ideas and randomly gets creativity from nowhere, I believe we tap into some higher vibrational consciousness where every single possible creative thought and idea exists, we just channel it into ourselves and into our art. So yeah, I do think spirituality is a huge part of all of it. Not everyone is spiritual, but everyone is energy and I think we're all part of the same energy, we are all the same thing. Or not, and were all just weird human things that have no real purpose ha… but that's definitely not the case.

- From playing marathon sets at Sunwaves in Romania to your upcoming gig in Sydney, you've covered a lot of ground. Is there a particular show or venue that holds a special place in your heart, and why?

There is too many to mention, you constantly have these wow moments that really are special to you, but one for me at the moment has to be my event I do each year at Comuna 13 in Medellin. 10 years ago, it was one of the most dangerous places on the planet, whereas now it's quite the opposite. Of course, it still holds some danger, it's literally the favelas in Colombia ha, it's not exactly the safest place you could go but it is now a very special place to visit. There’s lots of tourism there, so for me to be able to have the very first festival right in the middle of all of that, and I'm some random guy from the UK doing shit like that in the favelas in Medellin is pretty mental. But I do a free event there every year for everyone to come and enjoy a whole day and night of music. All the locals come down, the gangs who run the comuna are there with their families enjoying it. All the kids come down and dance, and this year we had maybe 3000 people show up so it's getting really big, the government in Medellin is now wanting to be involved so it’s really growing. But it's just so special to me. We got told that just doing that one day they feed so many of their families for quite a long time with the money they make from selling drinks and food on the stalls so it really is helping a lot of people out that I never even thought of at first. I'm waiting to build music schools there for the kids at some point so yeah, I would have to say that.

- Looking ahead, what exciting projects can we anticipate from both yourself and your label, NATURE? Are there any upcoming releases or collaborations that you're particularly enthusiastic about?

I've been working really hard on planning my Nature events which we should be launching this year. We don't know when yet as it's a huge project that I’m trying to create for the events, but that will be coming. There are some really sick releases we have lined up on Nature already this year so look out for them. I have just finished about 15 new tracks that are all really stand out fresh music so I'm excited to get them released to the world this year. As for collaborations, well I have just spoken to Wheats and Rendher about making music together so I think that would be the first collab I have planned for now… and yeah, let's see what else the year brings. 😊

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