Ever since his early days as Nyquist and then 2Tall, Jim “Om Unit” Coles has had a reputation for boundary-pushing. Whether it's exploring the abstract end of hip-hop and turntablism or blurring the lines between dubstep, garage, and D&B, he's never really made music comparable to any one scene. Lately, much of his time has been spent on working closely with the Metalheadz crew whilst simultaneously running his own Cosmic Bridge label. Somewhere in between that he's found time to work on his latest release, the Torchlight Vol. 2 EP, a raw but cavernous collection of bass-fuelled atmospherics and subtle club tracks—most notably with the charging “Transformation”, a low-end juggernaut as powerful as it is atmospheric.
We spoke to Om Unit about his career up to this date, the way he regards his own music, and what he looks for when selecting the latest Cosmic Bridge talent.
You've talked about feeling restricted by genre classification in the past, but is that still the case? Do you feel like you've found a balance between the different genres that inspire you?
I haven't felt restricted myself per se; any frustration has come about by reacting when others have tried to label me. I'm more at peace with that now, though. If people feel the need to do so, then, that's really up to them. I also don't really feel a need to find balance, I just make what I make and take it all in the best way that I can.
What do you look for in an artist when you're deciding what to release on Cosmic Bridge?
I get sent quite a bit of music that sounds like someone trying to be me, or one of the other artists on the label. You can hear straight away that someone is pretending to be someone else in order to get music out there. That's one of the first traps in creativity. I look for people who are obviously being themselves—you can hear it in the natural flow of their music—and if there's consistency amongst a load of tunes, then it's quite likely they're just being honest.
Are there any sounds you haven't yet explored as Om Unit?
Live recording, live instrumentation, scoring, film work, working with pictures. There's plenty of room left.
You seem to be dipping into slower tempos with this EP and the recent 33 mix. Are you rekindling your love of dubstep?
It's interesting from a journalists perspective you assume it needed rekindling. For me, the love of that music never went away. You can hear it in everything I've done since Aeolian up to The Torchlight series—even on the Metalheadz record I did in 2014. I think the media turned its head away once certain artists took that sound to a big-room format, and most people like myself just carried on liking what we like. The 33 mix represents a skewed look at that world, from times where I would sit in my flat playing those records at the wrong speed and enjoying the super-sedated vibe of the cadence that forces you down a gear. It's great.
What can you tell us about your plans for the future, both in terms of Om Unit and Cosmic Bridge?
I'm continuing to evolve, personally. And musically, myself and Cosmic Bridge will continue to contribute our vision into the electronic music sphere as much as we can, and without competing with others. You can also expect some Cosmic Bridge-related events coming soon this year.