A testament to unbridled creativity and community: Diving into Iti’s ‘As Time Passes’
Meanjin/Brisbane’s Iti (formally known as Itrat Memon) wears many hats. He’s the co-founder of underground label Pocketmoth along with Quincy Raw (Zach Degnan), a producer, DJ, bass player in the indie band Twin Haus and more. He’s been a fiercely loyal and passionate member of the ever-evolving Meanjin underground music community, and a committed proponent of those around him with a firm belief in bringing everyone along with him knowing there is plenty to go around.
After a brief respite during the Great Pause of 2020/21, Iti has returned this month with a new release. It is the second he’s unleashed under his own name (previously operating under the moniker Black Mannequin), and is a perfect depiction of an artist truly finding their feet. Titled ‘As Time Passes’, this release is the first volume in a new series titled Curvework, and is fittingly released via his own Pocketmoth. Ever the perfectionist, this release came from Iti realising how much time he would spend on creating music, only to realise the emotional connection he once had to the track had dissipated as time went on. As a result, he endeavoured to dive into this construct of time passing itself, exploring what that means to him and his medium of expression, and ultimately emerged triumphant with his one of his finest releases yet.
Curvework is a separate entity in which Iti has allowed himself to explore music which serves a purpose: high energy, dancefloor focused and with an intention to create an experience for his listeners outside the meticulous intricacies and painstakingly precise odysseys we’ve come to expect from the producer. As Time Passes is an impressive starting point for this with the release encompassing this intent, while still sitting in that refined brilliance that is present in all of Iti’s output thus far. Additionally, from an outside perspective, there is something to be said for when an artist steps away from the shield of a moniker and into the light with their own name. A certain liberation and a committed preparation to be seen wholly as they are, Iti has leaned into this with style as he allows himself to really let loose and provide instant connection with his audience.
Comprised of two original tracks and a remix of each, As Time Passes is a broad sonic church. In ‘Saba’ (Urdu; wind, breeze), Iti infuses his own pride in his Pakistani heritage in ‘Saba’, complete with rich percussive textures which underpin a steady groove while luscious atmospherics and gentle synths bloom as breezy vocal samples echo in and out of focus. The release’s title track ups the ante, moving into a high energy space with break beats, laser synths, a heart-raising rhythm and tabla sections to provide direct contrast to the airy bliss of ‘Saba’. It’s controlled and refined, but striking in its eclectic, frenetic and electric energy. Together, these two tracks serve as a shining example of Iti at his best.
In addition to these two songs, the first volume of Curvework also includes remixes from Axon Growth Factor and Nora Drum (X CLUB.) respectively. Axon Growth Factor lends some electro stylings to ‘Saba’, interweaving impressive drum programming to take the track from a blissful afternoon to a thumping, packed and dark dancefloor. Speaking to his own ability as a producer, Axon Growth Factor wastes no time making ‘Saba’ completely his own, shifting its shape far from its original while still honouring what made it so glorious in the first place before Nora Drum‘s ‘As Time Passes’ remix wraps up the release with an equally impressive experimental drum’n’bass rework.
Complete with artwork by another Meanjin creative, Enter, Curvework Vol 1: As Time Passes is not only a testament to unbridled creativity and exploration, but of a community which continues to evolve and develop with so much to offer. Iti will celebrate this on December 4th with the whole EP line up set to play an Inner City BYO Warehouse, alongside fellow rising stars Scalymoth and Natural Selection, with live visuals from Madeline Holt. Here, we get to know Iti a bit better as we dug a little deeper into his brilliant new release.
Emma: Who are you?
Iti: My name is Itrat [Urdu; pr. It~raht; ], but most people know me as Iti. I’m a producer, DJ, live electronic performer, bass player in the band Twin Haus, and co-founder of Meanjin-based electronic label, Pocketmoth.
Emma: How did Iti come to be?
Iti: Iti is the latest solo project under which I produce, DJ and perform live. Prior to this year, I was releasing music under Black Mannequin.
Emma: What are we talking, vibe-wise?
Iti: Percussive electronic dance music with a strong incorporation of South Asian percussion and modular synthesis. My music generally draws on UK Garage, UK Funky and lighter Techno.
Emma: Can you tell us a bit about the Curvework series?
Iti: Not all of the music I make is high energy or heavy hitting, so I don’t want people to exclusively associate those sounds with my output. I experience differing inspirations at various moments in time, and the music I make reflects that. The Curvework series primarily concerns faster dancefloor-orientated music, with emphasis placed on groove and vibe over strict detail. It’s a way for people to identify my heavier output when they scroll my discography.
Emma: You’ve just released Volume 1 titled ‘As Time Passes’. Speaking to the impermanence of life in general, the motivation to finish music came from the fleeting nature of time itself. However, this isn’t a common epiphany for many — especially creatives. When did you come to this realisation and creative reckoning?
Iti: I’d known for a long time that I was sitting on music for way too long, although it really clicked for me when I began preparations for my live set. I had a lot of writing/production work to do in a short timeframe, so I didn’t have much time to dwell on arbitrary factors. Instead, I would ask myself whether or not the part I wrote made me feel something, and proceeded accordingly. I came to understand the power of deadlines, and how they force you to make good use of your time. This was a big moment of growth, and underpinned my approach to this latest EP. It’s the quickest one I’ve ever bumped out, and I’m very pleased with the results.
Emma: You touch on the emotional connection you have to music you create and how this starts to wane as time passes — why is it so important to you to maintain this connection at its strongest?
Iti: Creatively, it is disheartening to lose emotional attachment to a piece of music that was once inspiring. Further, from a technical standpoint, you lose all perspective of what the track actually sounds/feels like, and ultimately end up making poor mix/creative decisions. Most musicians/producers would understand this feeling, particularly producers – we all have tracks that will forever be confined to our hard drives as a result. I feel that a lot of amazing music will never be released due to this loss of connection, and while sometimes that is the way it goes, other times it can be avoided with solid creative practices. I’ve worked on solidifying mine this year, and am committed to maintaining them to keep sharing music.
Emma: Looking at the release itself now, it’s your first release in three years and one of a few now under your own name rather than your pseudonym. Talk me through releasing music that is so personal to you under your own name, fully ready to be seen by your community and your listeners on your own terms?
Iti: I grew a lot during the covid period, and was thinking about leaving behind my old alias for a while. I’d set too many boundaries regarding my sound, when the reality is that ‘my sound’ is whatever I make at any moment in time. I decided that releasing under my own name was the best way forward, and naturally, this incorporated a lot more of my personal identity; my heritage, my faith, my experiences. In the end, it opened up my creative landscape and allowed me to take back control of my output.
Emma: Additionally, the release includes some of your Pakistani heritage. How has your journey been fusing these two worlds – the world of your heritage and family, and the world of dance music – together to create something you can share with others to experience?
Iti: I see them as symbiotic. South Asian music is percussive, progressive, and places emphasis on participation. Just like dance music. It thus feels natural for me to incorporate those elements into my music.
Emma: The release includes two originals and a remix by Nora Drum and Axon Growth Factor. How did these remixes come to be and what does it mean to have two such formidable talents on this release?
Iti: The three of us each had a track featured on the ‘Hybrida’ compilation via The Space Between Us. That is how I properly came to know about their music. We’ve since become a lot closer – we hang out, mix and share upcoming projects with each other often. They are both super talented and I knew they would smash the remixes.
Emma: Furthering the family affair, the EP artwork is created by Nadeem Tiafau Eshraghi, and you’ve got a warehouse show with incredible Meanjin talent joining you to launch the release. You’ve had a strong creative connection to Meanjin’s music scene for over a decade now – can you tell me how the scene has allowed for your own creative and personal growth over the years to get to where you are now?
Iti: I think the Meanjin music scene is very different now than when I first stepped into it as an underage bass player. Respective styles of music felt more segregated back then, whereas now there’s a huge crossover between live and electronic music. As such, the scene is more vibrant, more diverse and filled with exciting new projects. This was, however, built on the back of many people carving out their own spaces, and also adopting extremely high standards for events. Nadeem is a great example of this, both in his art and his other projects.
So, to answer your question, I feel super supported as an artist now in Meanjin, but didn’t always feel like that. The scene was growing while I was, and it seems that we have matured in tandem. Meanjin is popping off now, and it’s great to see.
Emma: What else is coming up for Iti and Pocketmoth?
Iti: MORE TUNES. News coming soon x
Curvework Vol. 1: As Time Passes is out now via Pocketmoth. Buy here.
Catch Iti live:
Pocketmoth Presents: As Time Passes [BYO Inner City Warehouse]
4th December, Meanjin/Brisbane, Info here
Axon Growth Factor
With visuals by Madeline Holt
Interview by Emma Jones
Image by Daniel Rafet Grima