Drummer, composer, and producer Richard Spaven is back on the scene with his latest LP, Whole Other*a 9-track gem that takes listeners through numerous musical landscapes. Some of our readers might recall Spaven as that dude responsible for the filthy beat on José James’ single, “U R the 1.” A few of our better informed readers might also remember Spaven for his last EP, 5ive

Regardless of how you’ve come to know Richard Spaven, Whole Other* serves as his introduction to the world as more than just a drummer. Longtime collaborator José James had this to say about the drummer’s abilities:

“Richard Spaven is one of the most unique artists in the world. Triple threat drummer, composer, and producer, his voice rings true with clarity and promise. He is the point where jazz meets the world”

Scroll down to read our interview with Richard Spaven

Revive: You’ve rocked with José for a long time now. Could you explain to our readers how the two of you met?

Richard Spaven: It was back in 2008. José was about to do his 2nd tour for the Dreamer album and was signed to Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Records in London. Having worked with the label myself on other projects it was them who put me forward. José and I didn’t actually meet until we were in the back of the bus heading to the gig in Cambridge, UK. No rehearsal or anything – and it was great. 6 years, 3 albums (+ my 5ives EP), and a whole lot of shows later and we are close friends. Never did have that rehearsal though…

R: Both José James and Mark de Clive Lowe have noted the importance of the London club scene. Why do you think it’s an important scene for musicians to be aware of?

RS: It is indeed very important to me. It’s a scene where new cutting edge music can meet its underground audience. The drum&bass scene was a huge influence for me. Those early days (’95/’96) down at Metalheadz are legend now. Back then it was so on the edge. Dub-plates flying around, queuing round the block when Hoxton was proper sketchy, the Funktion-One system putting pressure on your chest, it was electric. It was dark and underground in every way and London supported it oh so well.

As a musician it’s been important for me seeing these scenes develop and feeling part of something – the early days are always unique and exciting. I heard Broken Beat and just had to get involved. Drummers would ask me, “How do you play Broken Beat?” I’d say that you start by going to Plastic People and hearing it on a sound system – if it moves you then you can probably play it. I was very fortunate to have that on my doorstep.


José often cites Plastic People as his favourite club. When he lived in London he situated himself not half a mile away. He experienced music there the same way I have over the years and the dubstep scene has influenced the both of us. All these scenes started in London – and it can’t be coincidence. For me I like to live in the town responsible for bringing the new to the fore. Getting to contribute to an overall scene is an amazing position to be in – that’s what brought Mark de Clive-Lowe to London.

R: The last time you released an album was the 5ive EP back in 2010. What was the main difference for you between that EP and Whole Other*? (outside of the fact that Whole Other* is longer).

RS: The main difference is that with Whole Other* I set out from the start to make a record. The 5ives was different – an EP and my first output as producer – it was Adam Rock’s idea (from Jazz RE:Freshed). The music is related and the process also – just that the overview of Whole Other* from the outset was to really go deep and try and make a worthwhile fully fledged Spaven album.

R: Could you explain to us what the asterisk in Whole Other* represents? Is it just a preference of style or is there something else going on there?

RS: It has meaning for me and is to do with the making of the record. It’s not wholly serious. The asterisk is so I can substitute a word depending on the scenario. It’s been quite the epic in the making, this record – I love producing my own music and probably longed it out deliberately. There’s been the odd drama, but also in the case of The Hics for example it has been the start of a lovely collaboration (everyone else on the record I knew previously). So I’ll give you Whole Other “Story” and Whole Other “Level” for starters…

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R: You have your hand in writing every song in the album with the exception of Gismonti’s “Bianca.” How’d you come to the decision of including “Bianca” on the album?

RS: I’ve been heavily in to Mr.Gismonti’s music for years. When I was on tour with Flying Lotus we exchanged some music and it was the Egberto Gismonti that I introduced him to that he was most hyped about. As one of my favourites I ear marked “Bianca” around that time for a re-work and the idea came through.

R: What was the writing process for the songs like? I noticed that with the exception of the opening track, each song has a co-writer.

RS: It’s varied. On ‘Taj,”  the drums came first and on “Tribute,” the drums were last. “The Look Out” and “Assemble” are based on a samples. I met guitarist Stuart McCallum when I was playing with Cinematic Orchestra for a while. We committed to working on something together. We had some writing sessions early on, not even necessarily for my record. He is great to work with personally. For me as a producer / listener his sound is where it’s at. He was key on this record and we’ll work together a lot more for sure. In fact, we’re well under way with his next album, which I have the pleasure in producing. Whole Other Other perhaps.

 To purchase your copy of ‘Whole Other*,’ click here.


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