Nanoplex is the live project from two of the pioneers of the UK progressive techno sound, Ben Coda & DJ Ipcress. Ben (who needs little introduction) is known for his boundary defying tech-prog sound, where trademark tough beats and rolling basslines contrast with soaring melodies, fusing his love of the tougher sounds of techno and tech house with classic progressive house. Fellow collaborator, DJ Ipcress, has risen from the underground dance scene in the UK and has, over the last 5 years, taken his dark edged techno sound across Europe and the world. Their Nanoplex partnership was always going to produce the slick future techno sound that has now evolved into their eagerly awaited 3rd studio album, comprising 11 tracks created over the past 2 years and, rather pointedly for 2019, titled‘Broken Britain’. So, we thought this was the perfect opportunity for DMC to have an in-depth chat with Ben and Chris and find out what’s going on…
Ben and Chris, a big welcome to DMCWORLD and congratulations on the release of your ’Broken Britain LP’ on IbogaTech.
Thanks and it’s great to be here!
The album’s strong imagery and your concerns regarding where the UK is heading in social, economic and political terms, are worries shared by a lot of people. The first thing we’ve got to ask is, what is going on?
We’ve always thought art should reflect the times we live in – and that’s how ‘Broken Britain’ was born. So many albums these days just have a blasé (or no) message and we wanted to do the opposite with our 3rd LP. Rather than suggesting a view one way or another we wanted to reflect the division we feel in the current British landscape where families, friends and co-workers are split because of the ill-conceived line drawn by David Cameron back in 2016. An abhorrent mistake in terms of putting such a divisive question to a populace who did not fully understand the implications in many cases. There is also the aspect where they could have their opinion manipulated via modern day media, which has become a real weapon in politics in recent years.
Historically, protest and music have been closely connected, but is this still the case today?
Not as much as it should be – and certainly not in the dance music sphere. For us dance music has always been a rebellion against mainstream culture. I (Chris) used to promote 2000+ people outdoor free parties in the SE of England in the early 2000’s. The ideas behind these were embedded in freedom of expression and the fact that so many people did not want to be holed up in a building in the city in the summer, when they could be whiling away their Saturday nights deep in the forests of England listening to underground electronic dance music.
As Nanoplex we developed the feeling that the dance music industry has lost its way a bit from its original roots – so we wanted our music moving forwards to start reflecting the society we were living in. Call it punk or whatever – we just think it’s important from an artistic perspective.
Talk us through the making of the album? How does the creative process work when you’re in the studio?
We consciously wanted to look at some new slants on the ‘Nanoplex’ sound for this LP. The first 2 albums were very much on the same tip, as we slowly but surely carved out our own style. The album was written in 2 bursts really – one in summer 2017 and one in summer 2018 – each comprising of some pretty intense studio sessions. The creative process takes on many different forms – sometimes we get inspired a piece of music we’ve heard and use the influence to develop our own track (we both go out and DJ extensively alongside our Nanoplex commitments, so listen to plenty of new music). Alongside this, we sometimes just go in cold and feel out some different beats and rhythms until we hit upon something we both like and then just “flow with it” and the track just writes itself, so to speak. It’s all about vibing off each other in the studio and most importantly learning when to say NO.Insert Video Player: https://youtu.be/b9_Ujl9u8z4
What’s the Nanoplex story? Give us some insight into your joint and individual histories?
We met each other through a mutual friend about six years ago, and started working on music together, and it just clicked from there… the name Nanoplex came from both of us – joining two concepts together into one. Ben had been producing, promoting and DJing since he was 18, working on various events around the country but mainly club-oriented music, I (Chris) came from a slightly different background, more the outdoor side of things, so it was a good meeting of minds and values, which is reflected in our music.
For anyone not already familiar with your music, how would you describe your style? Can you put your finger on the elements of your music that make it so distinctive and engaging?
Find your own sound, and keep evolving, don’t get stuck in a loop. You have to keep pushing forward. Saying that, don’t just jump at the first opportunity given to you, make sure the team you have around you is the right one, and be willing to take a few risks. Courses are great, but the deeper knowledge of techniques is something you really need to work on yourself, to make them your own. Also, make sure you listen to a wide variety of music – it helps train your ears to learn what “quality” sounds like.
Also don’t get stuck in loops. Think about your workflow, and how you can get ideas down and structure music effectively. Finishing tracks is important as you can learn from each one.
Which of all your Nanoplex tracks do you consider to be your most accomplished creation to date? Why?
This is a very hard question – but we actually think its ‘Electrocaution’ from the new album. Mainly because it’s got a totally different structure and style to the usual Nanoplex sound and creates a totally different vibe. We set out to write something outside the box and amazingly I think it turned out better than we imagined.
If you could remix any track by any artist (ever) what would be at the top of your wish list?
Back when Nanoplex was formed in 2012, there was a track called ‘Klay’ by the Irish techno artist Matador, which we always vibed on together. So yeah – Klay – actually why don’t we just do it?
Do you find it easy to express your deepest emotions when you make music, or is this something that finds an outlet only in certain, special moments?
I’m not sure emotion is the right word for us – I think a flow of consciousness, from a meetings of minds, would be a better to description to how the dynamic works in Nanoplex. Sometimes the best bits come out as we are having a joke in the studio and are talking on a totally different subject – then “boom” – a piece of music just pops out of the ether and becomes the next Nanoplex track.
Tell us something about the psychological effects of music that totally blows your mind?
For me (Chris) it was always about getting down the record shop on a Monday and snapping up those new releases. That in itself was psychologically uplifting and something which gave me more enjoyment than anything else. I’ve always seen myself as a music collector first and foremost – the production stuff comes second.
For me (Ben) I’ve always been drawn to music, it’s deep inside me, and is really the soundtrack to life, personally I think the music you listen to and the messages and vibrations in it can have a profound effect on you and the way your life goes.
Can you give some key essential tips for the youngsters who are just starting and learning the art of music production?
I think (as with everything) the key to it is work, work and more work. Nothing just happens overnight and so many producers think music production just grows on trees. Before Nanoplex, Ben had honed his skills on his own solo productions in the studio for 10+ years, alongside an extensive international DJ career and in my case I’d spent weekend after weekend honing my musical ear playing countless gigs in clubs, warehouses and forests across the UK and the World. Nanoplex was very much a meeting of minds.
What pieces of studio equipment couldn’t you live without?
Logic – our DAW of choice, Sylenth – which is our go-to synth for most sounds, and a bank of quality samples. Also the most important piece of equipment – your ears – make sure you train them and look after them.
Let’s rewind for a moment, what are your earliest musical memories?
Well I (Chris) started collecting obscure psychedelic music from the 60’s / early 70’s when I was a mere 9 years old, alongside a vast film collection. Some visits to the record shops followed where I managed to sniff out some great underground psychedelic compilations on CD in the early 90’s. This, alongside recording weird films which used to be shown in the middle of the night on terrestrial TV back then, I started to form the tastes which took me into this career.
(Ben) my earliest musical memories were playing piano and guitar when I was young, and my dad playing me old classic records (Pink Floyd, for example). I think it’s where my love of the sound of vinyl came from, and I try to get those elements into the digital domain when I’m writing music, it’s important that the music is not too sterile.
How did your musical tastes develop? When did dance music come into your life?
We were both teenagers when the dance music revolution hit in the early 90’s and sucked up everything there was to offer as the scenes developed and new sounds seems to come in from one year to the next.
I (Ben) got my first guitar at 13, and then my decks at 18… it all went from there really. I was always primarily into metal and heavier stuff when I was a teenager, but the group that really turned me onto dance music were the Prodigy, when I heard the tune ‘Out of Space’ it all clicked.
In what ways do you think your particular journey through life has influenced the electronic music you make now?
Well, we think it’s the extensive mish-mash of musical tastes between the 2 of us that make Nanoplex so unique. Our own musical evolution has reflected our open minds when it comes to absorbing new beats and styles. The journey through life is not always easy, so it’s necessary to represent light and dark proportionally – this is reflected in the structure of the music on the album.
Having grown up through the evolution of the UK underground dance scene, what’s your assessment of things now? Is the scene healthy? What could improve it?
The electronic music scene in the UK goes through peaks and troughs. We often talk about how we think we are coming out of the longest trough since the late 80’s. As the club scene re-evaluates the landscape of 2019 with the industry becoming aware that you can’t just keep building super clubs – and that small venues where people can learn their trades are just as important as the large ones.
You’re performing at a lot of festivals this summer. What are the pros and cons of playing festivals compared to intimate club environments?
There is no doubt that Nanoplex is at home in festival-land, and the energy of the dancefloor is different outdoors as opposed to in a club. We love both environments, but the connection is different. In clubs you’re up close, so it’s easier to project the sound and vibe, and also create a flow throughout the night. At festivals you can be physically disconnected from a crowd, so you really need to connect to them with the music.
What have been some of your favourite places you’ve played recently?
The UK (obviously), Europe is always great, there was some really good energy at a recent gig we played in the South of France. We had a great Australia tour earlier in the year, and Canada is always good. Everywhere we play is good for different reasons. We haven’t really had a bad gig for a very long time.
After this superb album release, what new projects should we watch out for from you in the coming months?
We’re getting straight back into the studio and working on the next album. Ben is working on a lot of new music, and has started up a new event called ‘Shift’ in Brighton, and I have a number of projects under my belt, which will be revealed soon….
And finally, what’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Surround yourself with the right people and be excellent to each other.
Thanks for your time here Ben and Chris – much appreciated!
Nanoplex – Broken Britain LP (IbogaTech)
01. But It’s Inevitable
02. Third War
04. Broken Britain
05. Past Life
06. The ACCA (Serpent Head Remix)
08. Blue Meanie
09. The Jinx
10. Project D
11. The Division
Formats: Digital / Ltd Collectors Edition CD
Beatport / Ltd Collectors Edition CD Release: 24 June 2019
Buy CD Bandcamp: https://bit.ly/2KBogbC
Buy Digital Beatport: https://bit.ly/2YdzVAm
Buy All Stores: 08 July 2019