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A stylised image of Harry Knight AKA Emerald Lotus
Chris MackinJun 27, 2024 9:27:17 AM8 min read

Connecting the old with the new in drum and bass with Emerald Lotus

We join BA (Hons) Electronic Music Production alum Harry Knight AKA Emerald Lotus to talk about his unique approach to drum and bass production, knowing when a track is ready for release, and making music for the right reason. 

You’d know if you’d heard an Emerald Lotus track. There’s something wholly different about the listening experience; something that hints at a strong sense of musicality and a catalogue of unorthodox influences. 

For Harry, these influences stem from his family. After seething with jealousy at his sister’s piano lessons, Harry began to learn the instrument himself at four years old. With an accomplished classical and jazz pianist in his father, Harry’s love for music was all but assured. 

He progressed onto clarinet before joining multiple youth orchestras and swing bands up until he was 16 years old. “Some of the nicest memories I have come from being part of a huge live ensemble, it’s a magical feeling,” says Harry.  

After briefly flirting with GarageBand in school, Harry began dabbling in DAW production at Bath College, learning Logic Pro and Ableton Live, the latter at the hands of current dBs tutor, John Canning

College was a formative experience for Harry, like so many. He entered listening to a steady stream of jazz greats - Benny Goodman, Pete Fountain - and left as a Jump-up DJ, with a growing passion to explore Liquid DnB. 

“I joined dBs, and I kind of floundered for a bit,” says Harry. “There were so many styles and I wanted to do them all. I didn’t know what to stick with. But, I thought, ‘I’m in uni, I’m learning a lot. There’s no better time to experiment with all these different outlets’. When I entered my third year, I decided to focus on one project idea, and Emerald Lotus was born in one of Adrian Stretch’s sessions.” 


Emerald Lotus is more than just a nice moniker. It’s an ethos that underpins Harry’s approach to making music. 

“There was a specific reason why I chose Emerald Lotus as this project’s name. The lotus is a sign of rebirth or a fresh start in certain cultures. Emerald or green is often associated with new life, spring… all those kinds of connotations. 

“But when you think about it specifically, an emerald is a naturally formed gem, which is then dug up, polished and shaped by humans. We take something natural, and then we process it, we manipulate it into something new.

“I’ve always loved connecting the old with the new. Some of my biggest influences are people like KOAN Sound, Culprate or Sorrow. They take textures and sounds from the real world and transform it into something futuristic. 

“I like to look at my music as an outlet to draw from my love of jazz, funk and soul and apply it in a modern context. Some modern electronic music producers may not have experienced these genres of music, so I’d love to introduce them to the music that I grew up on in a way that resonates with them.” 

So, when you’re mixing such vastly different musical worlds, how does that translate into a given project? Messily, to begin with at least. 

“My more recent work has definitely been more organised, but at the heart of my creative process, I just like to immerse myself and tap into the core of what makes the Emerald Lotus sound. I have quite high functioning autism as well as synaesthesia, so it’s really about feeling the music on a number of levels and relating to it.

“I don’t like to prescribe a certain amount of time on any given track. Nowadays, I’ll have a rough plan and make stuff sporadically and see what happens. Anything that inspires me, be that sound design, a snare sound, sample etc. I’ll just have fun with those ideas without needing to organise it, because I don’t need to at that point. I’m enjoying it for the sheer love of making it. 

“‘Sunflowers’, ‘Maestro’ and most recently ‘Move All Night’ have quite distinctive themes, and I really like the EP format for that. It’s a little window into my world and how I was feeling at the time I made them.” 


Emerald Lotus - Move All Night EP artwork

By the time you’re reading this, Harry’s next EP, ‘Move All Night’ will be out. Funky and upbeat, it’s summertime and good vibes from start to finish. On top of all those things, it’s a lot more techy than what we’ve heard before.

“‘Move All Night’ has a lot of Foley in the drums, there’s a lot of synthesis in there, the vocals have been massively edited, put through vocoders… I made that track and it was like a shining achievement. It felt quintessentially ‘Lotus’ but also different to anything I’ve made before, but because it was so different from what I’d done before, when I came to make the other tracks for the EP I had to shift my sonic character, which was difficult but massively rewarding. 

“The EP features so much melody and harmony, really interesting chord voicings; root notes being left out, open fifths and ninths - voicings all over the place - that it was so much fun to build the synthesis on top of that. 

“Because I've used my knowledge of music theory and my experience of different styles of music, I was able to transform the electronic elements from sounding very similar to one another by just shifting the notes around. That shift really changes how the energy of each track moves, and that’s what dance music is all about.”

To release or not to release

Throughout our conversation with Harry, it’s clear that he values creative integrity and honesty above all else. With three distinctly different EPs released in the space of eight months, you’d be forgiven for thinking that no ideas remain on the cutting floor, but there’s a lot of thought and consideration that goes into an Emerald Lotus release.

“When creating the ‘Sunflowers’ EP, there was a fair use of sampling and some of them just came straight from Splice. Ordinarily, I like to find a sample that inspires me, and then shape it into something I can call my own, but the one in ‘Sunflowers’ is just too nice to mess with [laughs].

“At the time, there was an ongoing discussion about using samples and if it’s considered a shortcut; if it really matters, if it serves the song really well, etc. I genuinely considered not releasing it because it didn’t feel like there was enough of ‘me’ in it. I took a month away from that track and after that I thought, ‘how is this not me?’ I bit the bullet and released it, and I’m glad I did. It’s one of my favourite tunes to date. 

“Deciding on what goes out can go one of two ways. One, I use my head instead of my heart a little bit… and remind myself that this doesn't matter as much as you think it matters. Get it out there because it's good music, and that's really what you're here to do. 

“The second way, and I don't think I've had a track like this yet, but if it doesn't sound like Emerald Lotus it won’t get released. I feel very strongly about having a cohesive artist sound. I share my music with a lot of peers for their feedback, and if the consensus is positive, I’ll go back to that track again and try to get it to the point where it feels right to release.”

Emerald Lotus - Move All Night single artwork collage


Like with so many of our interviews, we ended our chat with Harry by asking him for his advice for other aspiring producers who are at the stage he was five years ago. “It’s going to be along the lines of stay true to yourself, but everyone says that. You’ve heard it so many times,” says Harry. 

“It’s not my advice, but I’d like to share the most beautiful speech that Ellie [Goldsack] gave at graduation.

You are blessed with creative minds. And as such, you should see every problem you encounter as an opportunity, collaborate and innovate, to make time for simple things and enjoy your work. Take risks, embrace vulnerability and challenge yourself. Life is much more exciting when you overcome obstacles and achieve what you thought was impossible. Most of all, fail, fail and fail again. The best learning is born out of mistakes and the mistakes will lead you towards success. To be brave or courageous is not to be fearless. So feel the fear and do it anyway.

“When I heard that it was like mind-fucking-blown. I was like, ‘oh my god, that is just so it! That felt like a much deeper take on staying true to yourself. Some of my best streaming numbers were based on music that didn’t feel true to me and I made a conscious decision to make music that felt like the best representation of myself, instead of chasing something for the sake of vanity metrics or hollow successes. 

“If you’re making music for other people, that’s commerce. It’s not art. There’s only one of me, and only I can do what I do, and I think that should be at the heart of what drives any creative person.”


Brimming with ideas and looking for the structure and knowledge to turn them into something you can be proud of? Check out our BA (Hons) Electronic Music Production degree available across Bristol, Manchester and Plymouth.