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Alfa Mist

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.”

This sense of kinetic pace mixed with a self-assured stillness is deeply felt in Alfa’s music. 2015’s Nocturne was his first solo full-length project, a collaborative endeavour showcasing his own capacity for crisp beat-making, as well as an aptitude for shapeshifting production styles to accommodate features from the likes of Misch, Rakei, Emmavie and Thomas-Dyke. “That record was about true collaboration, working equally towards a shared purpose,” Alfa says.”.

Self-released on his Sekito label – as all of his records as a bandleader have been to date – Alfa soon established a prolific work ethic with the debut of a new project, 2nd Exit, in 2016 with musician Lester Duval. Their self-titled record, and 2019’s Tangent EP, feature Alfa more prominently as an MC, showcasing his lyrical talent as well as his production prowess. “Rapping is a tool in the box rather than a pursuit,” he says. “It’s like an instrumental choice on the song. I don't rap over everything because not everything needs it.” When he does, though, as on “If You Wouldn’t Mind”, his baritone flow playfully meanders through vignettes of glimpsed characters and musings on relationships.

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