Award-winning producers and signed to Andy C’s legendary Ram Records imprint, Delta Heavy have carved themselves a fierce reputation as leading lights of the global bass scene. Rooted in UK D’n’B, their continual refusal to be pigeonholed by just one genre has allowed their sound to traverse the world. Now fans from North America, Europe, at home in the UK and as far down under as Australia and New Zealand are eagerly anticipating the release of their sophomore album ‘Only In Dreams’, which drops worldwide on March 22nd. Releasing the third single from the album today, the Jem Cooke collaboration ‘Take Me Home,’ DMC World caught up with one half of the duo, Simon James, in his home in London to find out more…
DOWNLOAD | STREAM DELTA HEAVY ft. JEM COOKE ‘TAKE ME HOME’:
LISTEN TO DELTA HEAVY ft. JEM COOKE ‘TAKE ME HOME’:
Hi Ben, Simon, welcome to DMC! Where are you right now and what are you doing?
Hi DMC. Thanks for having us. I’m (Si) currently in London taking a break from laying a new floor in our house. One of the many things I’m catching up on now we’re not writing an album!
It’s been a couple of years since we last spoke and you’re on the verge of releasing your sophomore album ‘Only In Dreams’. How does the album differ to your ‘Paradise Lost’ album in terms of sound?
We’ve been writing and releasing a lot of music since straight after we released Paradise Lost so while our sound has definitely evolved it’s quite hard to pinpoint big differences. We’ve definitely found a good groove writing a fairly decent amount of music so we didn’t want to complicate matters by being too prescriptive about what the album was going to sound like and conceptualise it. We just wanted to write a load of tunes we were happy with and put them on an album. Once we put the tracks in order it actually worked together quite easily and the music progression feels like it tells a story.
There’s always pressure on artists to live up to the success of a major debut and ‘Paradise Lost’ was undoubtedly a big hit for you. Did you have any problems getting into the creative flow again, or any studio nerves about living up to expectations from fans?
We never stopped writing music so the creative was already in full flow but we did want to add an extra dimension to what we had been doing by doing more collaborations and seeing what working with other artists could bring to the table.
Your sound is often described as being ‘transatlantic’. What does that mean to you?
We’ve always drawn influences from a variety of different things and different areas of music. As we constantly tour in both North America and Europe we get lots of exposure to different styles and trends which I guess has given our music a bit more of an International feel that is isn’t specific to what is popular in a single place. Recently we’ve been big fans of the epic trap sounds of people like RL Grime, Boombox Cartel and Ekali and you can certainly hear a bit of that influence throughout the album. Ben also has a place in LA and spends a lot of time in there so we are currently the very definition of ‘transatlantic’!
By straying outside of the ‘traditional’ UK D&B sound, do you worry about being accused of selling out by purists? Do you consider yourselves D&B or bass producers?
It’s a big world out there so for us, only focussing on one sound in one territory would be a bit short sighted. We actually started out making dubstep alongside D&B and we found it very inspiring and liberating to be able to try different sounds and set the tempo to a different bpm depending on our mood. We listen to all types of music and write all types of music and that keeps us wanting to make more. I think if we only wrote at one style in one tempo it would become far too repetitive and ideas would be endlessly recycled and get stale. We consider ourselves simply ‘music producers’, it’s not really necessary to put yourself in a restrictive box.
The new album is brilliantly diverse in terms of tone and genres variations, with some major bangers in there but also some really delicate, melodic pieces. Is there a common theme that runs through the whole album tying all the different tracks together or are the singles meant to stand alone as individual pieces?
Thanks for the kind words! The album was initially written as a series of individual tracks and the single especially function as standalone pieces. Paradise Lost was a little more conceptualised and written with a theme and sound in mind but that was also the birth of what has become our sound. Everything since has been a continuation and the only thing that we wanted to do was add some more variety. There is a definite sonic thread running through the record whether the music is melodic or darker and more driving. Once we had the ten tracks in place and the album title we wrote the intro track based on the ‘In Dreams’ concept; it’s a slightly surreal, trippy sounding ambient piece that has that sense of light and shade, hopefulness and foreboding you feel in your most intense dreams.
The album is heavy on the collaborations. What does working with other artists bring to your creative process?
A different perspective, some different techniques and sounds. As we didn’t have any features on our first album its was a real conscious decision to collaborate on this album and we’re really happy with the range of artists that are involved on the project.
Out of all the tracks on the album, which one is your favourite and why?
The dust hasn’t fully settled yet so I’m finding it hard to land on one track that is my favourite but Show Me The Light has held a special place in my heart since it was finished just before Christmas because it was such a labour of love and went through so many incarnations to get it over the finish line. We love the vocal and were determined to make it work but it caused headache after headache to make the music work with it and we must have gone through 15 different versions.
It’s pretty well known that space plays a big role in inspirations for your production. Why the fascination? If you could pick one piece of music produced by someone else that has space as its theme, what would be be?
Beyond both being fascinated by space growing up, I suppose it’s that sense of the vast unknown and the grandeur of the cosmos that feels very inspiring to us. We also love sci fi and films about space and we’ve always tried to incorporate cinematic soundtrack influences into some of our music. It would have to be S.T.A.Y by Hans Zimmer from the ‘Interstellar’ soundtrack, especially as we made a tribute to it!
What’s next for you after the album?
We have a several more collabs with people that are in various stages of progress. The first to see the light of day post album release will probably be our track with Kayzo, which we’ve all been testing out live and we’re really excited about it. It’s a dancefloor banger that is variety of styles in one track and it’s a proper harmony of our trademark sounds. We’re just starting our worldwide album tour which takes in Europe, Russia, North America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand so we really hyped to get stuck into that and play all this new music to everyone!