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The Melancholy Ecstasy of Alfa Mist

Alfa Mist - Photo Credit Johny Pitts 2.jpg
Alfa Mist

A younger crop of musicians from the UK doesn’t really know or care what style of music they play. For Alfa Mist and his peers, it’s most important to have a sound.

A rising keyboardist, rapper and producer, Alfa Mist describes his music as moody or melancholic, with shades of Bill Evans. But instead of an acoustic piano, he uses a Fender Rhodes as the primary color, usually laying into a relaxed groove.

His rapping and beat-making fall in line with this ethos: introspective, laid back and understated. Mist admits to not having a particularly outgoing personality, but says he finds homeostasis in a state of contemplation, where he’s working through one idea after another.

The latest of those resulted in his new album, Bring Backs, which takes a lesson from a British card game. In it, even after you win a match, it teaches you not to get too comfortable, because with a certain “attack card,” you might be brought back into battle again. So take every victory in stride, because the rally surely won’t last forever.

Alfa Mist applies this perspective to his recent success, which he partly attributes to lucky algorithms. (It's not a bad deal when a jazz album gets mapped on hip hop playlists.) So he just stays true to his process — aligning himself with other jazz-flexible musicians with pop instincts, like Tom Misch, Jordan Rakei and Barney Artist.

On this episode of The Checkout, we learn how they found each other back in 2014 — a year that would forge their friendship and spawn inventive collaborations.

Come back right here to watch Alfa Mist celebrate his new recording live with a 12-piece band from Metropolis Studios.

Alfa Mist 'Bring Backs' Live at Metropolis

Bring Backs will be released on April 23; preorder here.

For more than 15 years, Simon Rentner has worked as a host, producer, broadcaster, web journalist, and music presenter in New York City. His career gives him the opportunity to cover a wide spectrum of topics including, history, culture, and, most importantly, his true passion of music from faraway places such as Europe, South America, and Africa.