Exclusives Interviews 19 May 2021
Author: Oli Knight

GRM Exclusive: RELYT Talks BRIT Nomination, Success Of “Rover” & Dream Collaborations

19 May 2021
RELYT Architects interview

RELYT appears to be on the cusp of embedding himself amongst the production titans of the UK scene. Despite being merely 20 years old and only bursting onto the scene in late 2019, RELYT continues to demonstrate why people need to take more notice of him and his infectious brand of afro swing. Drawing from an eclectic range of influences, RELYT is beginning to establish a formidable reputation for never failing to deliver bangers, with some of the biggest songs of the last year coming to fruition as a result of his work behind the keys. 

In an increasingly saturated market of producers, RELYT has shown a willingness to step outside of his comfort zone, looking to differentiate himself by learning to engineer, travelling across to LA to network before he had experienced any real success in the UK, amongst other things. RELYT’s ambition to succeed in the world of production is clear to see, and thus it felt only right to talk to him and get some insight into the man behind undeniable smash hits like “Rover” and “Loose”. 

How’s the last year been for you as a producer/engineer? 

“I think it started off a bit slow, I mean as soon as lockdown started last year, I took a break for a bit to kinda work out what was going on. But once everyone started settling down and were like ‘cool let’s just carry on and make music’, people saw it as an opportunity to make better music, cause we just had more time on our hands, nothing was forced, it was like let’s just crack on with it now. This year has been my busiest, obviously off the back of “Rover”, it’s just been crazy. 

“Rover” dropped just a few months before everything went mad with Covid. Were you able to properly enjoy the fruits of your success? 

“A lot of people say success doesn’t happen overnight, and usually, it doesn’t, but this genuinely felt like it happened crazy quick, and before you knew it we were top of the charts, streaming crazy, it was more of a case then of cool, I can try and enjoy this even though we’re in lockdown, or I can capitalise off it, and just jump in sessions with all the artists I can do, and try and do it again basically.” 

Suddenly you’re the producer behind a smash hit which reached the top 3 in the UK singles charts, and you’re really in demand; that must have been crazy. 

“Yeah completely, and especially since for me, that was my second proper release ever. I was expecting to do the whole buildup, work with artists on these levels and then just keep building and get to a level. Whereas with this song, suddenly it was like I need to deliver, and that definitely took some getting used to.”

Before “Rover” dropped, you released “You and Me” with Mizzy. Was that your first proper placement? 

“I’m obviously 20 now and I’ve been producing since I was like 13/14, just making beats or whatever, but that was my first proper placement. My younger brother reached out to Mizzy cause he saw he released a tune, Mizzy came back and said send over some stuff. It was pretty organic, he was just starting out, I was just starting out, and then that was that, from there it just kinda snowballed and I started working with other people. Eventually, in August 2019, S1mba dmed me and said let’s get in and do a session. I was like cool, I’m no one at this point and he was just starting out. No word of a lie, within 20 minutes we had made “Rover”, the first time we had met each other.

“Genuinely, he talks about it as well. When we did it then, I was like yeah cool whatever, but when I look back on it now it’s crazy to think that we did that in that space of time, cause now I’ll be sitting in the studio for hours trying to get the final product.”

What was the process behind making that song? Did you just play the beat and he started freestyling on the spot? 

“So he was turning up late to the session, as he always does. Before he arrived, I was just putting the chords down on the keys, and as he was walking outside into the studio he could hear it out the window. And he always says that he said to his manager “I hope that’s the room we’re going into”, because he could the hear the chords I was playing, and he’s a musician himself so he gets it. He obviously came up, it was the room he hoped it was, I just kept building the beat, he started writing, and then we were just talking, listening to the beat and he said I think I have an idea for the hook. I was like alright cool, go in the booth, lay it, let’s see what it’s saying, and that was “Rover”. Crazy.”

You touched on it a bit just then, but how did the connection with S1mba initially start? Did he just hear your beat for “You and Me” or were you sending out beat packs to increase your reputation in the scene? 

“I used to work with another production duo, just before then, at the end of 2018, and they were working with some people like Swarmz, AJ, Deno and Sneakbo, those sorts of people. From there, I was doing a lot of engineering work, my view was that it would be a quicker way to network and link with these artists, without them even knowing that I produce. Then from gaining that network, I would be like by the way I’ve got some beats, let play you some stuff. That’s kinda how it worked; I already had pictures and stories with these different artists, which may have also attracted him to working with me.” 

To what extent did that song change your life? 

“It went from dropping in November, doing a million streams by Jan, him getting signed in March, that just flew by, so for me, it felt like instantly everything had changed. Then I didn’t have my own studio, I was paying to hire spots out. Now I’m sitting in my own space, and it just feels like everything has changed.” 

I saw you take a trip out to LA just over a year ago. I’m curious about that trip as we’re increasingly starting to see British artists and producers travelling out there to collaborate and network. What were you out there for? 

“It was an interesting one. My dad was going out there for business, I’d always wanted to go out there for work, and I’d been talking to two guys, two producers out there, called Mo and Mikey Samuels, of Sons of Sonix. They’ve done some bits for Ariana Grande, all the big kinda US artists.

“We’d been talking probably for three years before I came out, and I was saying Im gonna come out one day, I promise it’s gonna happen. I had some family staying in Hollywood (at the time I went) so I thought I may as well kill two birds with one stone and fly out. So I messaged the guys and they were like if you’re for real, then do it, come out. So I went out, landed, got to the hotel, jumped in an Uber straight to their studio and met them for the first time.”

“They’re actually from the UK but they moved out there, and yeah so I was just working with them for the week. It was more of a case of just being in the environment; then I had just made “Rover”, and funnily enough I played them some of my stuff, one of which was “Rover”, and that was the only tune they told me to wheel up, even though they didn’t know who he was. The fact that they said that, that made me think it could be something special.”

So did you start as an engineer? 

“That’s what everyone thinks, but I always started as a producer, always making beats first. The engineering thing I guess was a tactical thing, to network. There’s a lot of producers, it’s very saturated, and artists often already have their own clique of producers, whoever it be, they usually have their set of producers. Whereas engineers, they’re always on call. If they are (the artists) in a session with a producer, they’re usually gonna need an engineer as well. So it was like let me do this engineering thing, get in the room with these artists, network with them, and then be like I produce by the way as well. It’s definitely benefited me now, because most of the stuff I put out now I mix myself.” 

I saw on your insta you’ve got a photo with Lil Mosey. What’s going on there, should we get excited for some music in the future? 

“Coming soon. That’s all I’m gonna say. Definitely something to look forward to. It was a completely unexpected session. There were talks of it happening, cause we knew he was coming over, but nothing was ever secure or confirmed. I was in a session with someone, I’d been in that session from about 3, and it was about 9 o’clock when I got a call from my managers, saying ‘cool, let’s wrap up, Lil Mosey’s coming down’.

“I was like woah, ok cool, let me process this for a second, this is happening. They turn up at around 10,11, it’s me, Lil Mosey and S1mba. It was a great session, and we didn’t end up leaving the studio until about 7 or 8am. It was a long one, but the adrenaline kept me going, I can’t lie.” 

I’m interested in the workload of a producer/engineer, it seems like you need to be in the studio for a much larger amount of your day than your typical rapper. Can that become too much, when you’re doing all night sessions and then waking up and going straight to the studio and doing it all again? 

“Yeah 100% it becomes too much. You’re right about the artist thing, they have scheduled sessions, whereas I’m doing sessions with artists, I’m making beats in my spare time, and if i can fit it I’ll do engineering sessions as well. I’m definitely in here a lot, but I think in general its an absolute no go to have any kind of sleeping pattern in this music game. I’ve tried to do the whole waking up at 9, coming back and sleeping at 2, but you have one session that goes on until 6 in the morning and its ruined, so you might as well take it day by day and forget about any routine.”

Would you associate yourself directly with the current trendy afrobeats/afroswing sound, or do you see yourself as a producer beyond that sub genre? 

“I think the afroswing/afrobeat thing was a move I thought about, it was popping at the time, I did the Mizzy tune, that was popping, and it was like if this is working let me jump on this and see what I can do. But I also think that a lot of people say I have a habit of making things commercial, whether you’re gonna hear some drill stuff from me, some pop stuff, people always say you got a skill at making things commercial.

“Obviously sometimes that’s a bad thing cause people don’t want that, but yeah. I’ve also got a lot of R&B influences as well, just from growing up listening to that sort of stuff.”

I want to talk about “Loose”, thats an interesting one for me. What was the process like working with KSI? Did you have any contact with him in the making of the song? 

“The KSI thing was S1mba, I got told about it and was like woah, ok cool, we can deal with that I guess! In terms of making the actual tune, this was like November 2019 time when we made “Loose”. “Rover” had come out, it was doing whatever it was doing, it was just another late one in the studio, 3 or 4am. S1mba was drinking, a few other people in, it was just a complete vibe. I had just got a new keyboard, and it had that bass sound, I just played the new riff and everyone went nuts. Again, it was super organic, they’re the best ones.” 

Is there a particular place/scene you want to explore then after Covid, to really branch out your sound more and collaborate with more artists outside the UK? 

“I think my main focus right now is going more pop, I really want to explore that world more. Like I said earlier, with me making everything sound commercial by accident, it feels like a natural progression to try more pop stuff. So maybe the US, I’m sure I’ll be going out there later this year, but who knows.”

Who’s one artist who you would love to work with? 

“It’s a bit of a mix of American and UK artists, but Ella Mai. There’s not much to say, if that happens, that will make my year for sure.”

What are your thoughts on the wider scene in the UK at the moment? Who are you looking out for, what sounds are you liking, what are your general thoughts? 

“The drill thing, I’m really loving, it’s gone from basically being a taboo genre to something that is really really becoming mainstream now. I also think that’s down to a lot of the production coming out right now, it’s not as gritty anymore, it’s a bit more clean-cut and musical, and I’m loving that at the moment, and I’m loving making it at the moment.”

Is there one producer in the UK you haven’t worked with who you would like to? 

“It would have to be Jae5.”

That would be such a banger, maybe get NSG or J Hus on it? 

 “That’s what I’m thinking, me and NSG have got some bits together, so to do the ultimate hit, that would be sick.”

Globally, is there a production icon you’d love to work with? 

“You know who I’d just love to be in the studio with, and make a beat with? Timbaland. I don’t know if you follow him on insta, but he’s always vibing in the studio. He doesn’t go there to make hits, he goes there to make music and if something becomes great something becomes great. He also just seems like a really cool guy to just cook up and make beats with.” 

I’ve heard you’re keen to do your own project in the future, with all your own beats and your own selection of features. What’s motivating you to see that as a goal?  

“Do you know what, I think it’s being in situations in the studio with artists I work with frequently, the likes of S1mba for example, and making music and just being like I wish I could put this out. Just so many moments of ‘I want this song, I want to put this out under my name’. Seeing other producers like Joel Corry putting out “Head and Heart” with MNEK, those sorts of projects. For me, it’s as simple as if they’re doing it, why can’t I, and its just a cool concept. But, I’ve always been of the mindset that if I’m gonna do it, it has to be bang on. The features, the way it’s put together, the artists, two artists who are completely different on the same tune, all of those little things.”

So obviously you’ve been nominated for a Brit recently with “Rover”. How did it feel to get that level of recognition so early on in your career? And is it still mad to wrap your head around that you produced the beat for a track nominated for best single at the Brits?

“Yeah man, it’s crazy. This whole period of time has been crazy. Some other amazing producers in the game have to wait years to get this kind of recognition and so I am super grateful that I’ve had it so early on. The song was created so organically and naturally, I’ve never really deeped everything that much as it was all a fun process, but to have a song that I produced (and mixed) up for a BRIT Award, that’s a madness.”

Be sure to check out S1lva “Milli”, which is the latest track RELYT has produced.

Be sure to check out the last edition of The Architects with Fred Again right here.