“I’ve been focused on who I am in my music, but now I’m exploring where I am,” Alfa Mist says. “I’m asking: how did I get here?”
This is the journeying question that underpins Alfa’s fifth album, Variables. Traversing luscious, big band swing, head-nodding boom-bap rhythms and yearning vocal melodies, the record is expansive, soulful and moving, in both body and spirit. On Variables, his second release for ANTI-, Alfa achieves his most fully-realised, expressive musical work to date, coupling his keen ear for looping, memorably emotive piano melodies with intuitive grooves and a free-flowing jazz improvisation.
Since the release of his first full-length project Nocturne in 2015, Alfa has established himself as one of the UK’s most focused, in-demand and distinct musical voices. He has worked with the likes of Jordan Rakei and Tom Misch. Artists look to him for his unique blend of intimate bedroom production and expansive jazz group orchestration, since Alfa is yet to be boxed into a specific genre. His music spans everything from hip-hop beat-making to producing for artists such as rapper Loyle Carner, composing neo-classical works for the London Contemporary Orchestra, and reworking tracks from composer Ólafur Arnalds and pioneering jazz label Blue Note. The return to live shows has been a welcome one for Alfa and his fans, resulting in an instantly sold-out run of debut US shows in 2022, as well as a headline gig at London’s Barbican in 2021, and an expanded run of US shows slated for 2023.
It is a balance between feeling and perfectionism that ultimately gives Alfa’s music its depth and capacity for repeated listening. It is also an ethos that has enabled his remarkable work-ethic to date. “I’ve never been a ‘one album every four years’ artist – I want to put out new projects every year,” he says. “Music is an extension of my life; it is the practice of creating.”