Pinching apples from a farmer’s tree, ringing a doorbell then running away, putting cling-film on a toilet; these are typical traits of your common skylarker. In the case of this particular Skylark, you can add ‘make gully minimal d&b bangers’ to that list. “I never knew it meant that,” laughs the Strasbourg artist named Thibault, who chose the name because the lark has an incredibly complex and unique way of singing. “I am a big joker though. I’m the kinda guy who’s looking to have a good laugh every time. But maybe more on the respectful side.”
Respect is due: since emerging in 2016, the 24-year-old has enjoyed a formidable flutter up the ranks. For a self-professed joker, he takes his craft incredibly seriously, honing his stark, pared-back sound on labels like Skankandbass, Dispatch, Lifestyle, Music Squad, Overview and MethLab. This year alone, he’s released two of his most comprehensive and explorative EPs to date: between the broad range and drama of ‘Intervals’ on Overview and the experimental, techno-influenced elements of ‘Echo Form’ on MethLab, he’s mapped out the broadest possible poles of his crisp, cutting-edge sound so far. But as broad as they are, you get the impression he’s still only warming up and developing his sound. “It’s exciting, but I still have lots of work to do,” he grins. “I think I will only be happy with my signature when I can do whatever style I want, but people will know it’s me and recognise it. Even if it’s not drum & bass.”
Considering the range of ideas and soul expressed in his releases so far, it’s only a matter of time before you can add that to the list of this Skylark’s traits. The fact he already has releases with two very prominent but not-quite-ready-to-reveal labels later this year confirms he’s flying in the right direction, too. But there’s more; Thibault represents two strong drum & bass movements. Firstly, alongside acts like Monty, Visages, Caracal Project, Nakwan, The Clamps, EiZO and Cecil Hotel (to name a few), he’s at the forefront of an undeniably strong wave of French d&b talent — perhaps the strongest d&b movement from the country in the genre’s history. “Perhaps we were a little quiet before,” he considers. “But we’re doing quite well right now on the scene. I love what I’m hearing from the Frenchmen.”
He’s not alone. Secondly, he’s a member of Music Squad, a 20-strong artist collective that originated from the now-defunct Neurohop forum, and who now run a label and events. Other members include fellow new-gen bass trailblazers Grey Code, Vorso, Imanu, Buunshin, Ewol and Wingz, all of whom are soaring on similar trajectories as Skylark.
“It’s quite surreal really,” he reflects. “We were chatting on a forum five or six years ago; now, we’re all playing international shows. It’s so supportive, with everyone pushing each other. I genuinely don’t think I’d be where I am now without the Squad. It’s a very satisfying feeling to be part of such a strong movement.” Arguably more satisfying than thieving apples or ringing doorbells. Long may Thibault’s respectful line of skylarkery continue.