Northants producer, presenter and DJ Carly Wilford launched her artistic career during the pandemic, having spent many years championing the house scene. New Boots got the lowdown on how it all happened.
New Boots: Hi Carly. How did you start making music? You came to house music as a champion first, and artist second.
Carly Wilford: After working in the music industry as a presenter and a DJ, I fell in love with uncovering new artists and supporting their journey from an early stage. I have always been fascinated by music production, and being at the core of where music is created. It’s something I wanted to learn but had been too busy to dedicate the time and energy it needed. Just before lockdown I was offered the opportunity to join a Music Production course. I didn’t know how it was going to fit in to what I was doing, but decided to take the leap. It meant that throughout lockdown I made beats. In many ways, the time was such a blessing as I could fully focus on learning my craft.
What’s your Northants background, you grew up here?
I was born in Wellingborough and grew up in Northamptonshire. We moved quite a bit over the years, so got to discover different corners of the county. I used to commute to London quite a bit and ended up moving there for much of my music career, until I moved back to the county recently. The space and downtime has helped me so much when it came to making music.
How would you describe the Carly Wilford sound? Who are your main influences?
Growing up, I was a raver and used to travel all across the UK listening to funky house music. It became something that was the heartbeat to our friendship circle, and we made so many incredible memories. I now make house music and it is heavily influenced by those times. My main influences span from the legends in the scene like Frankie Knuckles and Masters At Work, right through to current pioneers like Green Velvet, Honey Dijon and Patrick Topping.
The reaction to ‘Generation X’, your debut single, has been amazing.
I know right! Honestly, the feedback has been incredible. Not only from tastemakers and DJs, but from people who have been streaming it across the world. It’s crazy because when you make music you have to let it go when you release it. However connected you feel to it, it then belongs to the listener.
Tell us everything about this new one ‘Together For The Love’, and how you came to work with Mai Mai.
Mai Mai and I studied the Toolroom Academy Course together. We got on really well, and I loved her style of production. So during lockdown we decided to collaborate on Zoom. At the time things were feeling really challenging, so we wanted to create a track that brought through loads of positivity and feel good vibes for when we were able to dance again.
I bet you can’t wait to get back to DJing. What are you missing most?
Honestly, I cannot wait. This year has been so bizarre. Before the pandemic my life was very busy. I travelled a lot, and my feet rarely touched the ground. Whilst this time has been amazing for setting new foundations, I can’t wait to play music to crowds again. Being a DJ is one of the best jobs in the world. Knowing that you are creating a soundtrack to people’s memories is such a blessing. I miss dancing, I miss live music, I miss singing the words to your favourite song with strangers across a packed-out dancefloor. I even miss people coming in to the DJ booth asking for a completely inappropriate track in the middle of your set. Some of the first raves back we will remember for a lifetime.
Has the lockdown actually been a time to be creative, time that you perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise?
Absolutely! Having the time and space to focus, to breathe and really think about your art has been invaluable. There is so much amazing music being released at the moment, and it’s only going to continue. So many musicians needed this break to spend time doing what they do best. Before the pandemic conversations about burn out and artists wellbeing was at the forefront, so I hope that this time has helped to create more equilibrium.
What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Bicep – Isles (on repeat!)
What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
Over the next year I am going to develop my music production further and work on some new releases and collaborations. I would love to tour in the UK, Europe, the USA and beyond, and want to continue to learn and grow as a producer.
‘Together For The Love’ by Carly Wilford & Mai Mai is out now via the usual digital platforms