How Franky Wah Brought His 'This Is SHEN' Mixtape to Life

Mar 30, 2023

Ana Monroy Yglesias

3 min read

Mixtapes can be a lot of fun because the format offers artists freedom and less pressure than an album, but more space than an EP. For Franky Wah's second mixtape, This Is SHÈN, which he released last November on his new SHÈN Recordings, he really went all out. Coming in at 27 tracks and two-and-a-half hours, he showcases the expansive sound and transcendental vision of label and events brand.

“One of my first projects, when I sort of got established, [got] a bit of an audience, was a mixtape [2020's The Revival, Vol. 1] and it did so well. But then I moved along into the singles world, which is how a lot of people do it now. I moved into that to keep building and then I sat down with my team and I said, ‘You know what? I’ve got so much music, like I’ve got over 1000 unreleased demos. What are we gaining from this music just being sat on the hard drive?” Wah recently told Gray Area.

The mixtape first began as just eight tracks—some from over four years ago—but grew to 32. He trimmed it down to the wonderfully curated 27-track journey that now exists out in the world. If you want to go on a visual journey with the project, the full live mix that lives on YouTube (and is embedded above) features Wah mixing the tracks during sunset in a wooded forest with sleek minimalist lighting around him.

Wah's sound is an immersive, expansive and cinematic dance music experience, and on This Is SHÈN, he captures the current range of his sound (I'm not doubting Wah will continue to explore new territory as time goes on), which is also reflective of the label's. There're progressive sounds—which he first fell in love with at 11—deep house, melodic house and techno, and organic house, and it all feels like one big, exciting journey through rave space and time.

“I think the main ethos of SHÈN, the identity that we want to build, is this melodic/progressive tribal sound,” he told us. “That earthy, organic tribal sound [that] leans into a bit of emotional breakbeat—Balearic sounds as well. Because I’m quite eclectic when I play my DJ sets, I want my label to reflect the same taste.”

Like the 2020 mixtape, and most of his singles he's dropped since he hit gold with "Get Me High" in 2019, the 2022 mega mixtape was a big hit.

“I expected the diehard fans to really love it but never in my wildest dreams did I expect top six. It was number six in the Spotify Albums chart. Number one on Beatport. I had high hopes, but it exceeded any expectation that I ever had. It’s told me that that’s the way I need to keep it going. I’m already working on the next mixtape.”

While we'll be letting This Is SHÈN take us on a sonic journey for a long time to come, we also can't wait to hear what's next. Keep it coming, Franky!

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