One of the most notable electronic producers of the 2010s and beyond, Blawan has consistently redefined his sound and perfected his craft. Emerging from the post-dubstep scene at the beginning of the decade, he achieved early success with releases on labels like Hessle Audio and R&S, as well as 2011′s “Getting Me Down,” a white label remix of a Brandy hit. He then switched to a highly intense, gritty brand of techno, growing darker and more sinister with each release. His hair-raising 2012 track “Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage” achieved popularity beyond the dance music sphere, and Blawan was regarded as one of the leaders of the industrial techno revival. Following a brief hiatus, he returned in 2015 with his own label, Ternesc, and a focus on modular synthesizers. After issuing several EPs, each of which sounded different from the last, he released his full-length debut, Wet Will Always Dry, in 2018. He continued working with Pariah under the duo name Karenn, releasing the full-length Grapefruit Regret in 2019. He also issued increasingly experimental solo EPs like 2021′s Soft Waahls and 2023′s Dismantled into Juice.
Seemingly rising from nowhere, South Yorkshire, U.K.-born producer and DJ Jamie Roberts, aka Blawan, first came to prominence with his 2010 debut release, Fram, on the forward-thinking dubstep label Hessle Audio. Standing apart from the crowd with his clanking, stepping percussive beats, Blawan inked a deal with legendary techno label R&S Records, and issued his first EP for the label in 2011. Bohla’s mix of post-dubstep sounds and raw, techno-influenced beats saw the EP championed by DJs such as Surgeon and the Black Dog. “Getting Me Down,” a dark garage transformation of Brandy’s “I Wanna Be Down,” appeared soon afterward, and was an underground club hit. What You Do with What You Have (featuring the title track built around a sample of Detroit house legend Moodymann lecturing at the Red Bull Music Academy in 2010) followed a few months later on R&S, and a remix of the Radiohead track “Bloom” — for their TKOL RMX 1234567 album — helped Blawan’s popularity grow throughout 2011.
Sought after for his remix work and busy with side projects Karenn (with Pariah) and Parassela (with the Analogue Cops), Blawan’s own output slowed in 2012. A performance on the streaming club-based show Boiler Room brought fresh acclaim, with one track in particular — the grimly humorous “Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage” from 2012′s His He She & She EP — gaining huge popularity. In 2013, Blawan joined forces with early supporter Surgeon for a release on Blawan’s own vinyl-only label, Works the Long Nights, under the guise Trade.
Dealing with the anxiety of constant touring, Blawan didn’t release any music of his own for two years. He returned in 2015 with Warm Tonal Touch and Hanging Out with the Birds, two EPs on his own Ternesc imprint. By this point, he had switched to a modular synthesizer setup, which introduced new dynamics to his sound. 2016 brought The Communicat 1022 EP, as well as an EP for the Trilogy Tapes under the name Bored Young Adults and a double EP on Shifted’s Avian label as Kilner. The 2017 double EP Nutrition was a bit more subtle than Blawan’s usual output, and introduced the sound of his own voice into the mix. In 2018, he released his full-length debut, Wet Will Always Dry, which contained some of his most daring sound designs yet.
Blawan and Pariah started a label called Voam in 2019, and returned to their Karenn project, issuing the EP Kind of Green and the album Grapefruit Regret. They also released Voam Club Archive, Vol. 1, an album of tracks cut from their live performances over the years. On his own, Blawan released the EP Many Many Pings. Karenn’s “Music Sounds Better with Shoe” 12″ appeared in 2020, and Blawan released Immulsion and Make a Goose. Soft Waahls, one of his most abstract, IDM-leaning releases, appeared in 2021, followed by Woke Up Right Handed (XL). Blawan and Pariah started an industrial/metal-influenced project called Persher, and Thrill Jockey released their debut, Man with the Magic Soap, in 2022. Blawan’s EP Dismantled into Juice — containing some of his most complex rhythms and daring sound design — appeared on XL in 2023. ~ Rich Wilson & Paul Simpson