Friday 29th October

| BY Paul Toner

10 Questions with Multi-Instrumentalist Cktrl, as he Releases his New EP ‘Zero’

When asked to capture the spirit of his latest EP, Zero, in a few words, Cktrl describes the project as an “exploration of the love that’s needed for healing”. For the Lewisham-born and based talent, the four-tracker is about “coming out the other side of true heartbreak”, laying all his cards out on the table and letting the music offer a release to all he was feeling.

The energy around the multi-instrumentalist – real name Bradley Miller – is palpable. Working with the likes of Kelela and Dean Blunt in the past, Cktrl’s debut project Robyn – released last year – propelled the artist to an instant level of critical acclaim, described by Crack magazine as a “stunning exploration of heartbreak told through sparse-but-potent arrangements of piano, saxophone and clarinet”. Many of the same themes appear on Zero, with Cktrl blending contemporary-classical with electronic R&B to create an eclectic palette that’s both tender and fuelled by heightened emotion.

Zero allowed me to explore my journeys in knowing love. And as a result, I now know that I need to allow myself to let my relationships be what they’re meant (to manifest organically) free of expectations and without dreams of an idea of someone,” he says. “Past hurt definitely informed my decisions but it was so crucial for me to grieve those feelings from Robyn and learn how to be gentle with myself. Just to be able to feel something new, loving again is always different and exciting, once you can open up. Zero is that journey of ending up back where you started but different, loved and willing to give.”

Cktrl has also made his mark in the fashion world, creating the soundtracks for Saul Nash’s SS22 collection, as well as the scores for Ahluwalia’s Traces film and Kenneth Ize’s Paris Fashion Week show in September. He is an avid wearer of some of London’s most talented emerging designers, too, including Feben and Fashion East standout, Maximilian.

Here, we sit down with the artist to chat all things Cktrl, Zero and London.

1. What was your first awakening to classical music?

The first time I played a piece on my clarinet with someone playing accompaniment on piano. It was like rah this sounds like dem man.”

2. Why was Mereba the perfect person to feature on the title track?

She encompasses everything that is true and honest in a human. Her pen is something that is unmatched. And her voice, you already know!”

3. You’ve had a pretty stellar year. What has been the highlight moment? 

“Opening Paris Fashion Week for Kenneth Ize. That was the ting.”

4. How does creating a track for yourself differ from crafting a score for a fashion show/film? 

“No deadline lol with my ones so more time. But it honestly depends on the assignment…. With scores for fashion shows/films there is often changes I wouldn’t otherwise make as it’s often a collaboration, so you may have to compromise as the vision for the piece isn’t your own (although this varies if integrity comes into question because then sometimes you have to pass on the job or do it uncredited).”

5. If you could have any designer create your touring wardrobe, who would it be?

Maximilian Davis… tryna look my best.”

6. Do you have any pre-show rituals?

“Silence and stillness. Maybe a drink.”

7. Who are your biggest musical inspirations?

“Life comes at us fast, so my experiences inform my work.”

8. How does London shape your sound?

“It’s my stomping ground for now, so my escape from everyday life is how I go about music.”

9. How do you plan on celebrating when the EP is released?

“Having a little listening party to celebrate, a friends and family pattern.”

10. What does the rest of 2021 have in store for Cktrl? 

“It’s always energy, so hopefully hella things once the EP drops.”

Photography by Campbell Addy. Stream Cktrl’s ‘Zero’ here. 

@cktrl