Prioritising feeling over perfectionism. This is the credo that drives the restless creativity of multi-instrumentalist, rapper and producer Alfa Mist.
First teaching himself to produce beats as a schoolkid in East Ham, London, Alfa then went on to discover jazz through the sampling of hip-hop of producers like Hi-tek, Madlib and J Dilla. Delving deeper, he taught himself the piano by ear as a means to dissect these formative records’ harmonic intricacies, gradually forming his own production style of head-nodding rhythms combined with the immediacy of jazz improvisation, all tied together with a pervasive sense of melody.
“There’s no access to jazz where I’m from,” Alfa says. “There’s no way I would have come to it without finding those hip-hop records and wanting to understand them.”
What followed was a period in the early 2010s spent putting some of his first fully-fledged tunes on Soundcloud and connecting with a community of like-minded musicians, including long-term collaborators Jordan Rakei, Tom Misch and Barney Artist.
Along with musicians Kaya Thomas-Dyke, Emmavie and Dornik Leigh, who Alfa met at university, he soon built up his own network of collaborators surrounding the burgeoning London jazz scene of the mid-2010s. “London is so important to me,” Alfa says, Everyone here is hustling and it is so inbuilt to the point where I don't even feel like I'm hustling anymore. I'm trying to get where I'm going but it's not frantic.”