Hot new talent Duke Boara at barely into his 20s has already notched up over 1 million streams on Spotify alone, spins on BBC Radio 1, and recognition from the likes of Laurent Garnier, Richie Hawtin, Sasha and Severino Panzetta. Now he adds ‘Wairau Bay’ to a growing procession of acclaimed singles since his debut ‘Focus’ in mid-2020 and recent cuts Rain and Sundown.
Multi-instrumentalist Duke, aka James Toomey, who plays piano, guitar and drums, has described his music as ‘instrumental melodic electronic/house’. Currently in London, growing up in England’s West Country, studying and living in Newcastle, he also spent five years living and travelling in Asia, where world music and instruments such as the sitar sank into his musical consciousness, leading to a rich melding of cultures. We chatted to him around this brilliant new release…
Hey James, welcome to the Partae and congrats on your new release on LG105! How did the connection with the label come about?
It came about after I had been posting my music online for a while on Soundcloud and YouTube whilst I was at college. It was from this that I made the initial connection with them, and I feel very lucky to be on such an amazing label.
You’ve lived all over, from the West Country, to several years travelling in Asia, to studying in Newcastle… Do you think that all these different locations have had an impact on your music and how you produce?
It’s hard to tell really, but I think it probably has done. I’ve always listened to a lot of music from many different genres and places which will have definitely shaped my approach to production. Whenever I’ve been abroad, I’ve spent a lot of my time listening to music which I think has also impacted what I make and how I go about it. Being in these places is often exciting and inspiring, I remember making a lot of music the first time I was in Asia.
You’ve only recently graduated, how did you find doing a degree and producing music at the same time, especially at this point in the last year or so when your career has started taking off?
It’s been tricky. I found it hard to motivate myself with my degree at times as I was excited about music and just wanted to do that the whole time. It was definitely quite hard balancing my university life and the music side of things in terms of giving both enough time and attention. I was told a thousand times that my degree was more important which was helpful so I didn’t lose sight of that, but I’m definitely glad I no longer have to think about that and can just focus on music.
How did you find lockdown for your creativity; did it help inspire you with the opportunity of more solitary studio time, or did you find the lack of events limited external influences?
It was great, I am very lucky to have a garden which I spent a lot of time in so I didn’t feel too boxed up, which was great for creativity and making music. I got to spend the best part of three months making music without any big distractions, so in a lot of ways it was good. I spent a lot of time listening to music that I love and really thinking about what makes it so good, and this process helped me a lot.
You’re quite a prolific producer, creating a lot of new music in a short space of time – do you find it easy to get into production mode and stay focused?
It depends what else I’m doing, if I’ve got work then it’s hard, as it’s impossible to switch between music mode and work mode. But I’ll just have a day where I’ll make music and focus on finishing new tracks in that time.
What’s next for Duke Boara?
Lots and lots of new music! I’m hopefully moving to London soon as well which I am very excited for.
Duke Boara ‘Wairau Bay’ is Out Now on LG105. Get it here: https://DukeBoara.lnk.to/