Over the past 6 months, Southampton-based music producer Conka, known normally as Connor Anderson, has been making waves down on the south-coast with his House and Techno tunes. And now, after placing joint first at High Tide’s DJ competition back in February, it seems as if those waves are now beginning to rise.
And yet, despite beating out 47 other competitors to earn his place here today at the High Tide Garden Party, it appears as if ice isn’t running through his veins as he fumbles his headphones during the switchover between him and Beth (Caruana). It’s to be expected from the lad from Swindon, though, who tells me this is not only his biggest crowd to date, but that working on his latest track had made him a little pressed for time.
He soon recovers from the earlier mistake though and is off and running with his hour-long set. After three songs he’s into his rhythm and, while he later wished that he could have interacted with the crowd more, he was still able to treat them to a few shapes, and was soon giving off a cheeky smirk as he teased them with drawn out drops and naughty effects.
As he tokes calmly on his cigarette and absorbs the vibrant atmosphere he’s created, I imagine him thinking back to the pivotal moment that prompted his musical pursuits – being caught dabbling in drugs at the age of 14. If it were not for this minor incident, Anderson tells us he may not have been encouraged to buy his first piece of music software and begin what is now a promising musical career.
Still, it hasn’t all been plain sailing for Anderson, who has managed to endure a surprisingly erratic career over the past four years, which has seen the young artist jump from resident DJing to radio shows to record labels as he looks to be recognised within the industry.
Emerging from his humble roots of playing house parties to help friends out, in his first year of university, Anderson became a part of his friend Elliott Cronin’s (Taro Division) label, Attacca music, and had soon secured a regular spot on Rhino’s Sound System night before the club shut down.
Not one to be disheartened, however, he remained committed and found himself being invited back to play the Astoria in 2014 and Mutiny Festival the following year. As he moved into his third year, his connections at Attacca allowed him to bring his talents to QBase.FM and so it comes as no surprise when he explains to me that the label was integral to his development, as it gave him a foothold within a notably competitive industry. The label, though, was later to encounter difficulties, and after being given the chance to buy a priority share in the company, Anderson chose to part ways due to differing interests.
As he settled into his final year at university, the producer continued to work on new tracks that have helped him become somewhat of a celebrity on the local Underground dance scene. But, needing roughly 20-30 new tracks a month simply to stay up to date, Anderson explains that the restrictions of a student budget and the overwhelming nature of uni work has made it increasingly more difficult to keep his foot in the door.
An event such as High Tide, then, has given him the sort of encouragement that threatened to be lost under a mound of student debt and his own crippling self-doubt. In describing the event, he tells me that “it takes events like these to gauge how good you are. And when you have the fans appreciating your music, it gives you that kick you need”. A kick, however, seems like a gross understatement from an artist who is set to unveil a three-track E.P through current label Vacant Recordings, alongside releasing his new song “Closed” via a New York label in August.
His experience, rather, has propelled him to new levels and given him much-deserved recognition. It is this recognition which leads his girlfriend, Ellie, to burst into floods of tears during his set. And though his fan-base is beginning to flourish, befittingly at the start of summer, he still remains grounded by sticking to his initial premise of wanting to make great mixes for great labels.
Gaining momentum through receiving notable plays on BBC Introducing and between bands at Southampton’s Common People last month, Anderson is also set to take up his place at HOUSE JACKIN’s night at Junk before moving onto EatMyBeat’s launch party in London at the beginning of July.
Ultimately it seems that, with him freed from the shackles of student obligation and able to pursue his passion properly, his stock will continue to grow, making it fair to say that we could be seeing Connor trade in student digs for regular gigs very soon. Keep tabs on Conka on Facebook and SoundCloud.
Words by Daniel Portman