First breaking through in the local music scene as a DJ and turntablist many years ago, Intriguant (real name Louis Quek) quickly carved out a reputation across many clubs as one of Singapore's finest hip-hop selectors behind the decks.
But with his debut release Ellipse on Syndicate in 2014, Louis surprised fans by unveiling his moodier, broodier side as a beatsmith. Composed of glitchy instrumentals and downtempo productions, Intriguant's engrossing, enveloping soundscapes have gone on to garner critical praise everywhere Singapore to Slovakia, even scalping a flattering feature on esteemed NYC-based magazine The FADER.
The Temper Trap live in Singapore
And while he has been busy over the last couple of years, playing festivals as diverse St Jeromeʼs Laneway Festival, ZoukOut and the Singapore International Jazz Festival, alongside innumerable club shows all around the region - quietly, behind the scenes, he's also been hard at work refining his debut full-length album.
Entitled Recluse, his long-gestating LP is finally ready to see the light of day, and boy is it an introspective stunner. Intensely personal and sonically sophisticated, this album is Intriguant's greatest work to date just in terms of its resonance. Dealing with a variety of complicated emotions in his personal life, these productions provided a retreat of sorts.
As Louis explains it, "Recluse is an album that I have been working on for the past two years. In these span of two years, I have been experiencing many different scenarios in my life. Love lost, love found, creating new bonds and losing close ones. Embracing solitude was an escape for me."
Here Intriguant guides us through his freshly-minted record, explaining his intentions, motivations and exciting collaborations with exceptional artists such as Charlie Lim, Tim De Cotta, Ginny Bloop (of Riot !n Magenta and The Steve Mcqueens), OmarKENOBI (of Mediocre Haircut Crew) and KATØ.
"This track is written about the notion of common language. Of how if we know our friends and loved ones well, that words are not needed to express how we feel, and yet we can still understand each other through expression."
'Tomorrow, Again (Feat. Tim De Cotta)'
"This was one of the first songs I did for the album. It was about coping with post breakup feelings. Of how I was going through this "Groundhog Day" feeling of repeating the day of feeling empty inside. I got Tim De Cotta, who is one of my good friends, to take this emotional journey with me, in my experience of what happened."
"It was one of the more positive sounding tracks that I was working on. I wrote this track at the time about having to be with someone who was in a different path, but yet we meet at some point in our lives time and again. You can call it coincidence. Like how a relationship works, you never know of it could last forever or just crumble on a few days. That's why there's a sense of uncertainty even with its positive vibe."
"Title of the album. It encompasses the solitude that I was going through. I learnt to embrace loneliness in the most positive way I can think of. It allowed me to learn about about myself and how I can a better person. It was kinda like self therapy."
'Don't Get Me Wrong (OmarKENOBI)'
"I have always been a huge fan of hip-hop and I wanted to do a track that showcased its influence on me. I got OmarKENOBI on board on for this track. I wanted to show a gritty side of the album, kind of like venting my frustrations and discomfort of being a recluse, and here it is."
"'Layers' was an experiment that I had when I was playing around with my kalimba. I took that idea and I jammed it out with the live band and it got stuck in my head. As an electronic music producer, Foley has a huge influence in my music production. I enjoy the sounds of the musical instruments and the real world, for example the kalimba, when they interact and coexist with their electronic counterpart."
'Thinking Aloud (Feat. Ginny Bloop)'
"Had a chance to do a track with Ginny Bloop (of Riot !n Magenta and The Steve Mcqueens). When we were doing this track, I wanted to create this metaphorical idea about how our minds can speak for themselves. After some discussion, 'Thinking Aloud' is what expressed those conflicted thoughts in our heads in an emotional and spiritual way."
'Turn (Feat. Charlie Lim)'
"The story behind this song started like this: I made the beat some time ago and wanted a singer on this track and I thought Charlie would be great for this, but I didn’t know him then. Coincidentally, when we were first working together for another project, I played this beat to show him what I was working on… he stopped whatever he was doing and asked if there’s been anyone on the track, jumped on it right away and the rest was history. That’s how 'Turn' was born."
"As much as I love hip-hop and soul music, electronica and downtempo has played a bigger part in my music production. With this track, I wanted to capture that melancholic mood of the sound, but yet still be able to groove to the syncopated rhythms that it carries. It feels like it evolved from the sound of Ellipse."
'You’re Here, You’re Near (Feat. KATØ)'
"I’m glad that I finally got to work with KATØ, a great vocalist and an amazing songwriter, and this has been one of the hardest songs that I have done. It was emotionally painful to finish this.
It was my first time seeing a close friend pass away last year. Looking at all those photos and videos gave me some hope that he was still around. It was a very strange feeling.
As we come to a close, I dedicate this to the loving memory of MC ROZ. I miss you."
Syndicate hosts Intriguant's Recluse launch show at Esplanade Annexe Studio on Saturday, 7 January.
Intriguant's Recluse is now available on vinyl at The Analog Vault. The album is available digitally at the following links:
Bandwagon in 2017