William Arcane is an archetype magnet for cool, the kind to get shout-outs from Bonobo and Jamie xx in the space of a month. Signed to Pictures Music, he has two EPs under his belt and another on the eve of arrival, and he’s an artist immersed in the sound of a bright, barely-awake but beautiful city.
What was once a UK sub-bass culture that was for the most part misunderstood has now became what is largely described as ‘the London sound’. It’s one that Jamie Woon and James Blake ushered into the mainstream by way of Burial and Four Tet, and it’s stuck ever since through artists like Arcane, who breathe life into the late night, insomniac feel of the UK capital.
Arcane himself is a relative newcomer to the city, but he’s sure it’s had a positive effect on his output. “When I moved to London I went to so many different electronic nights and loved everything about hearing big sub bass on large club systems,” he remembers. “By being here, I think sometimes without realising it you just suck in musical influence from the atmosphere of a club night. I think if I lived in Iceland I would be making a lot more ambient music as I’m a big fan of that as well.”
Arcane is a master of his craft when it comes to creating dreamy, sleep-inducing numbers - although that’s news to him. “I’ve not heard it called sleepy before, I always look like I’ve just got out of bed so maybe that’s the influence!” he jokes.
Everything up to now has had a blissfully cinematic feel to it, his recent ‘Slumber Session’ for i-D magazine and his Not For Billboards podcasts are the very epitome of zen, but that’s not really intentional. “Whenever I’ve planned to make music a certain way, it never goes how I wanted it to, so these days when I get to the studio I just make sounds that I like and play around.” Ever nodded off while recording? “I once drunkenly slumped asleep over an acoustic guitar at a party, does that count?”
"He's reached out, so hopefully when we both find the time that suits we’ll make some music."
— William Arcane, on SOHN
With that cinematic dynamic nailed down to a tee, could motion picture soundtracks be an option for the future? “I’ve written music for moving image in the past and really enjoyed it. The image has a real influence on what you write and you are often constrained to very set lengths of time within the piece you are writing, so you end up composing things in a way you wouldn’t usually.”
But for the immediate future, his ‘Reckless’ EP is set to be released later this month via Pictures Music. He describes the sounds as a “little warmer” compared to previous EP ‘Permanence’. “I’d like to think the production is better as well. I’d say it’s more honest too as I wasn’t trying too hard to sound a certain way, I was being quite care free in the way I composed.”
In between solo releases and nap-tastic Soundcloud playlists Arcane recently supported The Acid at a London Cargo show, leading to a natural collaboration with one of the elusive trio’s members. “Steve [Nalepa] listened to my set,” he recalls. “We then got in a studio together in London and just pulled up a blank canvas and went for it! We made that track in pretty much a day.”
And now a collab with black-clothing aficionado and super-producer SOHN is in the works. “He’s been supporting my tunes on his Radio 1 show, which I’m very thankful for. We’re yet to get in a studio together; he has reached out though so hopefully when we both find the time that suits we’ll make some music!” If one thing is evident it is that Arcane’s journey is only on the ascent - the names backing his stock are an assured reflection of that.
William Arcane's 'Reckless' EP is out 20th October on Pictures Music.