When REMI are on stage, you'd be forgiven for thinking they might eschew a solid work ethic in favour of partying and sleeping in. This couldn't be further from the truth, at least as far as one half of the duo is concerned.
When we turn up at drummer/producer Justin "Sensible J" Smith's house at 10:30 in the morning, the soft-spoken creative force behind REMI is already on the job, digging through music, and listening for potential samples over a morning coffee. "Remi likes his sleep," chuckles J as he flips vinyl on-and-off dual turntables in his loungeroom. He has the mixer connected to a Sonos Connect streaming to a PLAY:5 smart speaker. When he's at home, J says he's never not listening to music. "I think it'd be rare for a musician to say that they prefer silence in their home."
When Remi Kolawole finally rolls in, it's clear he's all the better for his extra bit of sleep. The smooth-flowing MC is a ball of energy, dipping between crate-digging with J, flicking through magazines and raiding the contents of J's kitchen (both seem to eat a lot of bananas). Soon J finds a sample on a Vangelis record that they think is interesting, and they adjourn to the cramped home studio known as the House of Beige, where both of REMI's hugely successful albums, 2014's Raw X Infinity and this year's Top 10 hit Divas & Demons, were created. There's barely room to move in the spare bedroom, with J's drumkit facing into his rammed closet, where his T-shirts and sneaker collection soak up the noise and (mostly) prevent the neighbours from complaining.
"This space is fly. I think there's magic in this house," says Kolawole. "All my favourite music that I've ever made has always been made in someone's personal space. Every time I go into a studio I feel weird. It needs to have its own energy, because that inspires me. If I roll in and see a bunch of plaques on the wall, that doesn't inspire me. But if I roll in and see your favourite band poster on the wall and incense burning, that's way more exciting."
As J starts mapping out a beat on a drum machine, Remi jumps on a keyboard and starts to create a melody line. Taking a break from the studio, REMI take their tracks outside, streaming them to a PLAY:1 which they move into the courtyard. This is the way REMI work whenever they're not touring. "When we're away on tour I miss the ability to write music," says J. "Playing gigs is fun, but whenever I have an idea, I miss the chance to put it down."