Drummer, producer, songwriter and bandleader Mackwood unveils his new single ‘Yella’ (Release Date: April 26th, 2024), via 5dB Records. Having cut his teeth drumming and producing for some of the UK’s most exciting and forward thinking artists, including Col3trane, Nilufer Yanya, Jordan Rakei, Eliza, Blue Lab Beats, Kokoroko and more, ‘Yella’ launches a new era for the West London native, with him now at the forefront.

One area where the UK is indisputably a world leader is cultural cross-pollination, and Mackwood, real name Harry Ling, is an excellent example of our collective genius flowering again. Inspired by the country’s rich electronic and soundsystem culture, Mackwood warps what we usually understand as jazz into thrilling new shapes and unpredictable forms. ‘Yella,’ a collaboration with keyboardist Charlie Stacey, is a perfect illustration of this, as Mackwood combines his dancefloor-centric influences with jazz sensibilities to create something new and unique.

“‘Yella’ is a very significant bridging-the-gap track for me – it connects my previous productions with labels like Radio Juicy and Good Society, to the UK Jazz-adjacent scenes I’ve been part of in parallel. ‘Yella’ refers to yellowstone sulphur [a component of gunpowder, and a key point of conflict] in the book Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban, in which post-nuclear societies struggle for power and reconnection to the old world. I was hit by Hoban’s balance of dark, light and curiosity, and a dancefloor track felt like a cathartic way of exploring this, effortlessly tied together by Charlie [Stacey] on the keys – spooky and soulful all at once.”

Speaking on ‘Yella’, Mackwood says:

Growing up in a music-loving family of English, Lithuanian Jewish and South African heritage in Shepherd’s Bush, where local music lessons weren’t just classical piano, but also west African drumming, an obsession with rhythm from a young age resulted in Mackwood going on to study at the prestigious Guildhall School of music. This diverse upbringing led to him combining his formal training with elements of the breaks, soul, dubstep, drum & bass and house of his formative years to create his own progressive take on modern jazz. In the studio, having formed the basis for a track on his laptop, he’ll then bring it to his six piece band to flesh out with live instruments before melding it all together, blurring the line between the organic and synthetic until it’s no longer visible.

Mackwood – Credit Michelle Janssen

Hugely accomplished musicians in their own right, his band make a formidable live outfit, code-switching between Sun Ra space blues and block party grooves Quincy Jones would’ve been proud of, time travelled to 90s Bristol. You can catch them this Summer at festivals including Cross The Tracks and Brick Lane Jazz Festival, and, with Mackwood’s debut album on the horizon, a soon to be announced headline tour. Harry’s the still, calm centre when they play live, despite the blur of his arms, beaming with joy at the mystical sound they create. He explains: “It’s glorious, it’s not just about me, it’s all of us. And when we play ‘Yella’, it’s the moment in the set where we stop being a jazz band and become this weird beat maker hive mind.”