Codewalkers are bringing an uplifting vibe, a melting pot of influences and using their musical platform to spread a serious message. Not all Warriors walk the same path and strength is not always determined by masculinity.
"Warrior questions the idea of what makes a fighter. Challenging notions of masculinity and the warrior mentality it deals with the difficulties created when blindly following these tropes". Codewalkers
It's about standing up to violence and being mindful of others.
Having just performed alongside Regime and Lemfreck at The Moon Club in Cardiff, EMW catches up with the group to find out a little more behind this exciting new act.
Most answers are from Dafydd with a few insights from his brother Ben and Seun, the voice behind the Codewalkers tracks.
'Warrior' was released on 30th March and is available at all online stores and through the excellent Codewalkers website - www.codewalkers.uk
An interview with Codewalkers: A different kind of Warrior.
Welcome to EMW . Where are you currently and what are your musical roots?
Dafydd: Hey! We’re all based in Cardiff now, although me and my brother, Ben, are originally from the Llyn Peninsula in north Wales. Our vocalist Seun is originally from Nigeria.
I started playing guitar when I was 12 and formed a band with some friends at school. We played our first gig after being together for a couple of months. We only knew 2 songs (one original and a dubious cover of ‘Wild Thing’) and we were supposed to play 3 so we played our original twice with ‘Wild Thing’ in the middle! Since then I came down to Cardiff to study music at uni and have stayed here ever since.
Ben started as a jazz saxophonist (also doing music at Cardiff uni) but since then has got more into production and EDM - he’s done stuff for K’naan and Converse amongst others.
Seun is currently reconciling his West African roots with the music he listened to in his teens - electronica, post-metal and hip-hop. In his lyrics he also draws on his Nigerian heritage - switching between English and Yoruba at times - mixing this with his love of sci-fi novelists like Iain M Banks.
How did you meet Seun and form Codewalkers?
Dafydd: Seun used to play bass for us in another band. I remember seeing him sing for the first time at an open mic we all went to for his birthday and thinking ‘he’s got an amazing voice, we should do some stuff with him’.
He started writing some stuff with Ben, including the basis for what turned out to be our first two singles ‘Street Philosophy’ and ‘Just Flow’. As things progressed I got more involved and here we are today!
Listening to your music there is a clear attention to detail in songwriting, and evidence of your past playing in bands.
When did the more electronic aspects, the drum and bass tempo and synthetic bass lines become a part of your sound palette?
Dafydd: We’ve been really keen to use a lot of electronic elements since we first started writing stuff together. We all love electronic music and drum and bass styles, but it’s mainly Ben’s influence - he writes pretty much all the synths and drum and bass sections. He’s really keen on making sure we write stuff at a good tempo for a drum and bass drop! We do sometimes use a bass guitar on our tracks too though, just depends on what we think will fit the song best.
|Photo by Chris Davies|
Talking about influences I’ve read that you are influenced by faithless among others. In the vocal stylings I also hear a bit of Dave Grohl right through to Hip Hop with references to Gangstaar in one of your tracks. Would you say the music you listen to directly influences your sound?
Dafydd: Seun does love his 90s references! In terms of what we listen to, all three of us bring something different to the table in terms of our musical tastes. It can be a challenge combining so many different influences but hopefully the end result is interesting.
Judging by your online presence, involvement in the 2018 horizons launchpad and an over all solid business model you are pretty tuned in to what it takes to stand out from the crowd. Do you all have involvement in this aspect of Codewalkers or is it a particular member who takes control?
Dafydd: I do most of the admin stuff myself but we do discuss things like what we want to do next, our goals, ideas for videos etc. There’s a lot of great music around so I think it’s important to do the other stuff as well as you can to give it that extra push.
Talking further about creating a presence . You have a strong selection of video content including original music videos and covers. How important is it for artists to be disciplined in multi-media production?
Dafydd: I think that depends on your budget! None of us are experts at the multi-media stuff but we’ve learned quite a bit just by doing it. I think video is a great way to get your music across and for people to get to know the band better, especially with how much people get their music online these days. Hopefully we’ll be in a position to get other people to do this stuff soon but for now we’re doing it ourselves.
|Photo by Chris Davies|
You’ve just played a live set at The Moon Club, Cardiff. How was it?
Dafydd: It was great! We love playing at The Moon, there’s always a good crowd and atmosphere there. We’re lucky in Cardiff to have some great music venues right next to each other on Womanby Street, so it’s a bit of a hub for music in the city. The other acts, Regime and Lemfreck, were great too.
Regime are touring at the minute so I’d definitely recommend checking them out if you get the chance.
You’ve mentioned in your press release that you have big ideas for live act. Do you have any dream venues or festivals that you’d like to perform at?
Dafydd: It’d be good to do some of the big festivals at some point but I guess everyone says that! I went to see Kate Tempest at Motion (Bristol) a few years back and thought that would be a cool venue to play someday.
What advice would you give to an artist who is ready to share their music with the world?
Dafydd: Spend some time researching online. Look at other bands in your area who are slightly further along than you and see what promoters/venues are putting them on and where they’re getting radio play/reviews/blog features etc.
What’s a typical day in the life of Codewalkers?
Dafydd: The three of us talk ideas over Facebook a lot. Ben and I are always emailing a lot of music back and forth to get feedback and make sure we’re both happy with how tracks are developing. We do a lot of stuff without meeting up but will get together all three of us to write and practice as often as we can.
There’s two tracks in particular that I am interested to learn more about. The first one is 'Runaround', a soulful and uplifting track featuring a female vocalist and a powerful message.
Break it down, what’s the song about and how did it come to be?
|Photo by Chris Davies|
Seun: 'Runaround' came from an argument I had with my cousin. It started with a simple question. What would it take to end domestic violence? The truth is, violence is such a part of our society and our world that it feels like only an idiot would ask that question. And yet, I couldn't stop thinking about it. The ways in which friends of mine can be so dismissive or defensive about domestic violence; the causal acceptance that 'boys will be boys' by some mothers when they are confronted with the evidence of their son's violence.
I guess I thought I'd flip the script. Switch it up and create a situation where an abuser found the victim no longer willing to lie down and take it. Not just the physical violence, but the long term psychological violence that some partners visit on their so-called loved ones. Hence: 'so the man he come inside your mind with pressure'.
A realisation that, if you keep pushing at something. Keep beating them down and forcing them into a shape and life that isn't truly them or theirs, at some point, they will push back. The greater and longer they have been under pressure, the more explosive that release is going to be.
The second is 'Warrior'. The track you initially contacted me with and the most recent to see a release. This is a roots number with backing vocals, one shots and brass. Seun delivers a big performance.
How long did it take to make this track and what studio, composition and mix techniques can you share from this project?
|Photo by Chris Davies|
Ben: It's hard to put an actual time on how long it took to make 'Warrior' as tracks often take many different forms before we settle on something we are all happy with. It can be hard to know when to stop tinkering with a track, draw a line under it and move on to the next thing.
With 'Warrior' there is quite a bit of sample usage with manipulation to make them fit our composition. We had some fun shouting some "Say"'s together in the studio, which where then tuned down to keep them out of the way of the other vocals.
We try to combine styles or genres that take the listener through a little journey. Sometimes we’ll finish somewhere completely different to where we started. It can be hard to do this but also keep it concise and coherent but hopefully we succeeded with 'Warrior'.
What does the word struggle mean for you all as artists?
Seun: ‘Struggle’ for me is about balance. There are so many areas of your life that need focus, and sometimes that comes at the expense of making music. Your family needs support, you need to pay bills, the list goes on. I always have music in the background of my mind. It’s a constant companion. And real life can be the greatest musical inspiration there is. So I would have to say that struggle is about not begrudging the time spent away from making music. When you have that ‘me time’, you pour those experiences, the frustration, rage, desperation and need into your music.
Thank you so much for your time! What’s next for Codewalkers?
Dafydd: Thanks for having us! We’ve got some festivals booked in for the summer so looking forward to those (first of which is Big Love on May 4th). We’re also planning to release an album towards the end of the year so we’re busy getting that ready. Other than that we plan to keep gigging as much as we can and keep writing and releasing music.
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