Brooklyn-based producer and DJ bad tuner’s new EP, look at me but through me, has just released via Ninja Tune/Foreign Family Collective, reflecting on his headspace over the past year translated to sound, offering a glimpse into the artist’s world through his own eyes. Drawing upon a world of influences, from Daft Punk’s driving rhythms to the percussive energy of the Chemical Brothers, this record is a new project from the artist that really packs a punch.
look at me but through me finds bad tuner reimagining elements of UK garage, taking on the production style of the lo-fi house scene, and embellishing with hyper-pop accents together in the compact six-track EP. From the very first song, the record commands complete attention. A brilliant building intro to the EP, caught up, invites listeners to the dance floor, entranced by the allure of Hailes vocals. Stand-out track 24 hours showcases bad tuner’s technical expertise and real knack for gritty acid sounds, channeling that Daft Punk and Chemical Brothers inspiration merged with his own distinct style. The result is this song that feels truly eternal, as its frenetic pulse persists with the strong lyrical release promises that “in 24 hours the world could be ours and be a problem to those in power.”
maybe so, another standout from the EP, samples this Congolese soukous vocal, between breakbeat drums and hypnotic bell leads, building to a crescendo of chaos. The accompanying music video for EP opener caught up, led by Sonia Broman, takes the EP back to the heart and soul of the music: the streets of Brooklyn. 
Throughout the record, bad tuner asserts his distinct style and sound that he has established since his debut in 2018 and elevates it once again, promising a great future ahead. As prices climb higher in NYC, bad tuner finds his studio in his apartment, but his music seeps out onto the streets, taking on and incorporating the sound of Brooklyn. With early support from BBC Radio 1, the artist’s tracks have since made their way to radio stations and DJs globally. From selling out venues like Brooklyn’s Elsewhere to touring alongside acclaimed acts such as Polo & Pan and TOKiMONSTA, bad tuner has made a space for himself in the music scene and stands as one to watch.
You’re based in Brooklyn, which has a great dance and electronic music scene. How are you finding NYC? Any highlights you can share with us?
Yeah, I feel like the electronic scene in NYC is growing right now especially with stuff like Lot Radio buzzing, the Mister Sunday parties at Nowadays, Elsewhere’s curation, and then access to bigger venues like Knockdown Center, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Mirage, etc. for larger acts coming through. It’s definitely an exciting time for electronic music in NYC – I’ve been enjoying both playing at official venues in the city as well as doing rooftop style pop-up shows during the warmer months.
What music did you listen to growing up? Who inspired you to want to make music?
I mainly grew up listening to more rock/indie stuff – Spoon, Wilco, Flaming Lips, the Clash – but have been currently inspired by the Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, Fatboy Slim, Groove Armada, more raw styled dance records. I love combining and collaging sounds and records together – whether that’s from finding stuff on the internet or collaborating with other musicians!
You used to be based out of your apartment with your studio as your bedroom. What does your recording process look like now, what’s changed over the years?
Well, it’s still in my apartment – and basically in my bedroom. I have a doorframe between my studio/living room and my bedroom, but my apartment is so small, the last tenant took the door off the frame ‘cause there wasn’t enough space. I like to keep my recording process pretty streamlined; I have some outboard gear and synths that I run through a broadcast mixer into my interface but it’s not too gear forward.
Could you talk us through your creative process a little?
I’ll usually start playing the keys over a drum loop, whether that’s chords, a bass line, or a melody. Then I’ll start arranging it out and add bits from samples that I feel like take the song in an unpredictable direction. Then I’ll either dig for vocals that fit over the beat or work with another artist to write to. Sometimes I scrap the entire idea and then use the vocals on another beat later.
Your new EP, look at me but through me, takes a lot of sounds from UK garage, lo-fi house, and hyper-pop and makes them this cohesive sound. How do you bring those sounds together?
I think the EP is definitely wide reaching, which I think is both my strength and potentially weakness in terms of a writer/producer. Sometimes I wish I could just write in one sound! When I get inspired by a sound or era or vibe, I can create in it pretty quickly and then the song has that inspo/flavour. I think each of these songs is its own world sonically, but when you do listen to the EP from top to bottom it has a cohesiveness, whether that’s lyrically or production sound.
Lead track, 24 hours really stands out to me; it feels almost eternal, in a way. Could you talk us through the track?
Thank you! I love that one, it’s definitely got an abrasive quality to it which I think works in its favor. You either love it or hate it. I wrote this song when I had Covid and was cooped up in my studio for like a week straight, I was definitely feeling a little angsty and wrote 24 hours as a personal way to get out of my head. It’s also a fun one to play out as it has a strong lyrical release. “In 24 hours, the world could be ours and be a problem to those in power!”
The organization of this EP I think really adds to the listening experience if it’s listened to from start to finish. Opening on this track caught up, feels to me like a perfect introduction, to then end on repeat to fade after how impactful 24 hours feels. How do you view the storytelling of the EP?
I played around with the track order a few times, trying to feel out which songs flowed best into the next. It definitely was a challenge to piece together the best order, but I felt like the EP had to start with caught up as it has a great lead up into the first drop. repeat to fade was the obvious closer to me as it was the slowest, most chilled out song on the record (I had also written it the oldest, so sonically it felt a little more dated to me). Once I had those two set, I played around with the other tracks to see which ones flowed into the rest the best.
“I think the EP is definitely wide reaching, which I think is both my strength and potentially weakness in terms of a writer/producer. Sometimes I wish I could just write in one sound!”
You’ve also said about maybe so that you wrote it to compliment your live set, how do you imagine the structure of the EP translates to your live set?
I just opened my Elsewhere set with maybe so and it was great, it sets the night up in a cool way – it’s both driving and chaotic, which is how I like my sets to feel. I like spontaneity and taking my listeners on a dynamic journey!
The music video for caught up is also really impressive. Can you tell us a little about creating the music video and the vision behind it?
Yes! I worked closely with the director Sonia to come up with the visual and concept behind the music video. She also happened to be close friends with Hailes, who sings on the track, which made the process very fun and smooth. Hailes had loads of dancer friends who were down to be a part of the video. We shot it over two days all around Brooklyn, definitely a very run and gun style shoot.
Collaborations on the EP are also really impressive, with Cleo Reed, Pollena, and Hailes. How did these collaborations come around, and how do you approach collaborations?
Cleo, I met at a writing camp a few summers ago and knew we had to do a song together. She is an incredible lyricist, songwriter, and performer in her own right. I played her the instrumental to what’s the rush at my studio and she wrote the vocals to it extremely effortlessly – we soon started playing it at shows around Brooklyn live and it became a fan favorite.
Pollena was a cross-continent collab because she’s based in London, we wrote that song ages ago and feels so good to finally get it out. I’ve been playing it towards the end of my sets recently and it’s a nice come down. Hailes, I met at the same writing camp – we wrote that song with Miette Hope to another instrumental. Later on, I repurposed the vocals around the current beat, and it just stuck!
Is there a dream collaboration for you in the future that you’d love to work with?
Brittany Howard, Ruthven, Little Dragon.
You’re returning to Brooklyn’s Elsewhere which you sold out last May and have a few more live dates announced. How does it feel to be back to performing live?
Just did the Elsewhere date – it was very fun! Feels awesome to be performing again, especially excited to be playing in Mexico in June.
You’ve also played shows across the US while on tour with the likes of Polo & Pan, TOKiMONSTA, Bon Entendeur, Amtrac, and Joy Anonymous. Any highlights you can share with us?
I think opening up for larger artists always gives you perspective, whether its stage production, set order, or watching their energy, it’s always a learning experience watching different artists perform.