When Alfa Mist was a teenager, he was dabbling in hip-hop and grime. By the time he got to college, he was teaching himself the piano and getting deeply into jazz.
“A huge part of hip-hop is sampling, so I just used to dig around and learned about so many different genres,” he explains. “I discovered jazz and started to listen to that.”
As well as falling head over heels for the visionary work of Miles Davis, he became obsessed with the atmospheric film scores of German composer Hans Zimmer. Alfa Mist’s own work is similarly soundtrack-worthy, creating a soulful vibe packed with heady emotion. “I’m pretty dark as a person I guess, so everything ends up sounding melancholy and reflective,” says Mist. “I want to make people feel something.”
Growing up and still living in Newham, there’s a real sense of place in Mist’s moody music. “There’s something very distinctively London about the stuff I’m making now,” he says. “It’s to do with where I grew up. It’s not like LA; all sunny, crazy and happy.” Last year’s conceptual ‘Nocturne’ EP – which featured a run of guests, including
Tom Misch, Barney Artist and Jordan Rakei – was a case in point. Made largely at night, it was concerned with the things people think about just before they fall asleep. “Problems you have, things you’re grateful for or unsure about – I tried to bring them all out,” he says.