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Wu-Lu is the South Londoner making music to save us from ourselves

26 Apr 2019

Photography by Shannei Rae Brown

Based in South London, Miles Romans-Hopcraft aka Wu-Lu is a producer and multi instrumentalist who makes music that swims effortlessly between genres – scuzzy lo-fi, meandering jazz, sweet soul and strange rock all intermingle over everything from boom-bap beats to grungy drums. Wu-Lu has worked with some of our faves as both a producer and collaborator: he can count Poppy Ajudha, Ego Ella May, Nubya Garcia among his past musical colleagues, to name a few.

Wu-Lu is also one of the original members of Touching Bass, South London’s self-described “soulstranauts” collective, also featuring the likes of Shy One, and he’s got a track on Untitled, a forthcoming music project about Basquiat that’s dropping next month.

We caught up with Wu-Lu about family, genres, and the release of his second EP, S.U.F.O.S – which stands for “Save Us From Ourselves”.

gal-dem: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? I read you’ve been into music since you were a kid?

Wu-Lu: I have been around music and the arts my whole life, my dad being a touring musician and my mum a travelling contemporary dancer. I’ve grown up always knowing I would be involved in it, one way or the other.

What does “Wu-Lu” mean?

A while ago I was following the Rastafarian movement and at that time I started to learn Amharic, the language of Ethiopia.I came across the word for water: “wu-ha”. I liked it – but thought people would make the reference between me and Busta Rhymes [who has the song, ‘Woo-Ha’]. So I changed the end so that it would flow better and sound more like a word that represented water to me – so in short it means water, in my own description.

One of your songs is called ‘Habesha’, which is a term for Ethiopian and Eritrean people. Is bringing your heritage into your work something you actively try and do? How does that connection manifest for you?

Habesha’ is about someone from that part of the world. When I am writing I’m always writing from a place that reflects my surroundings, and I guess culture falls into that category.

Why is the EP called ‘Save Us From Ourselves’?

I think throughout time the human race has made decisions where they haven’t necessarily thought about the future damage of their actions. So, with that in mind, when I’m speaking about relationships it’s just a constant reminder to think before you speak and take time before you act.

A few of the tracks remind me of the last Yves Tumor album, and I guess it got me thinking about the way the music industry tries to forget black artists’ contributions to genres that are now considered white (rock, recently country) – I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the racialisation of genre?

I think it’s a thing that’s happening in the world and you can’t really ignore it, but at the same time I didn’t notice it until it was made apparent to me. I grew up in a household with a white dad and a black mum, and both of them were showing me similar music, so I just grew up thinking that everyone was in all of the same kind of music – until I noticed that rock was a bit more of a white-dominated genre. But looking up people like Jimi Hendrix and Rage Against the Machine, seeing mixed-race and black people playing heavy guitar music the baddest, it solidified the idea of music as just music that’s here to be enjoyed and played by everyone.

You’ve spoken before about how this EP is about family “in every sense of the word” – can you unpack that sentiment a bit for us?

It’s whatever you deem as family and the relationship you have with that. I have done a lot of youth work and worked with a lot of young people for quite a few years, so with that in mind I wanted to have my perspective on the relationships and the similarities between young people and their families, and their friends and their families, and how [even with] age differences, similar situations can be crossed over. I feel like the EP should be food for thought.

What do you want people to take away from S.U.F.O.S.?

Think about being future-proof and don’t always shoot from the hip because the ricochet might hurt someone somehow.

You can find Wu-Lu on BandCamp.