You three got together in 1995 and within three months were letting us pound the nation’s dancefloor’s with your first release on Moving Shadow. How did the band get together in the first place?
Brent: “To summarise, we were all using Dave’s studio at differing times of the week whilst at college in the early 90’s so we heard each other’s beats. Dave made rave and early amen jungle, Kieron made early jungle and early deep drum and bass and I made errr… trip hop! Instrumental hip hop as it was then known as the trip hop tag hadn’t been created! Kieron did a mixtape in late ’94 of jungle which had the first kinda jazzy bits on it and it was the catalyst!!! It was decided we should all meet ASAP and make a tune. ‘Images’ was that tune in Feb1995.”
What drum n’ bass clubs were you hitting back then?
Brent:”We were in the Moving Shadow and Reinforced families back then so we played at their parties. Our first overseas gig as Aquasky outside of the labels was in Koln in Germany in 1996. We played Damien Lazurus’s night in Old Street with Dego. Heiner from Basswerk was there and he asked me to play his dubplate and being a nice guy, I did. We have been friends with them ever since and Laszlo from Basswerk designed our first album cover in 1997 for ‘Orange Dust’. The club was the Rose Club and we still have the flyer! I have got to mention club Speed at the Mars Bar in Soho! The first time I heard an Aquasky tune being played out was as I walked into Club Speed for the first time in ’95 and Bukem or Fabio was playing it on dubplate – was a nice feeling. And I got thrown out of there on my Birthday for tackling Rob Playford to the floor (I was told!).
Which DJs were you all looking up to at the time?
Brent: “Only two really…Fabio and Bukem. They had a long history with Bournemouth and they were always down once a month.”
Dave: “For me it was mainly Fabio and Grooverider, also Bukem, Randal and Top Buzz.”
Kieron: “The first time I heard propper drum and bass was on tapes of Kiss FM that my mate Shaun O’Hara (produced as Mad Dog with him – he also was part of the rave band Aurora). DJs like Randal, Rap, Bukem and Fabio.”
So a new series for you ‘Monster Sounds’ in collaboration with Loopmasters, tell us all about it…
Brent:: “Well we did the first Artist Series for Loopmasters and thankfully it was a success and I think they are on their 75th release in that series now! Matt from Loopmasters loved our music from back in the day and Bukem dedicated a tune to him back in ’96 and it was one of ours! The respect goes both ways as Matt is a great guy and a fantastic businessman so when we were offered the chance to work with him on a sub label we were well up for it.”
How do you pick the musicians that feature samples on the packs?
Brent: “Thankfully we have been round long enough to know many people in many genres. It’s rare we ever fall out with anyone so those contacts are still there. We wanted to work with those people we have worked with before who were reliable and could bring something exciting to the series. We are not focusing on one particular style or genre. As Aquasky we have been broad in our musical output and ‘Monster Sounds’ is no exception to out ethos and beliefs.
What’s the best use of your content you’ve heard in someone’s track?
Brent: “Well, we featured the Ragga Twins on our pack back in 2007 and I keep hearing those samples cropping up in so many tunes in so many genres. So yeah, probably that’s a good answer to the question (though, to elaborate, I would be lying if I said they were all good!)
What is the most valuable aspect to producers from these excellent sample packs?
Brent: “Simple …access to lots of great useable sounds made by credible producers who have a proven track record in there genre, were defo setting the quality control on high for all the packs! Its about being able to find what you are looking for easily and quickly and then being able to slot it into your track with ease. A good bunch of samples / loops complement a production. Sometimes samples and loops that sound very phat with lots going on are hard to utilise. As producers we know what actually works.”
What are the big 10 tunes you are playing at the moment?
“Anything off the forthcoming Aquasky album ‘Raise The Devil’! on Passenger
Napt ‘Bass’ on Red Sugar
Aquasky vs Pyramid ‘And The Beat Goes’ on Passenger
Bill Posters and Deckscar ‘Feel Good’ on Passenger
Black Noise ‘Work That Sucker’ on Wearhouse Music
Mindflow ‘Need To Be (Afghan Headspin Remix)
Foreign Beggars ‘Solace One’ ft. Black Sun Empire
601 Brothers and Sisters on Passenger
TC ft. Dread MC ‘Concrete’
DMC are the proud owners of the ‘Back To Mine’ series – what 10 tunes could we expect ‘back at yours’ after a club or on a Sunday morning?
“Shades of Rhythm ‘Sounds Of Eden’
The Untouchables ‘Take A Chance on Strictly Rhythm
The House Crew ‘Keep The Fires Burning’ on Production House
Mark Murphy ‘Red Clay’
Brand Nubian ‘Claiming I’m A Criminal’
Champions Of Nature ‘Salsa Smurf’
Michael Frank ‘Just Like Key Largo’
D Jazzsteppa ‘D U B’ ft.Ghetto Priest
Cold Stream & Hearts ‘Arapaima’ (check out the album ‘Modern Dub from Bucharest’ on Dubkraft)
Fenech Soler ‘Stop and Stare’ (Gemini remix)”
What is the best club you have played at this year?
Brent: “I played a great club this year in St George in Transalvania, not sure what the name was, but it was an old Communist disco…amazing crowd and it properly went off. There’s footage of it on you tube if ya search Aquasky Kollektive Session you will find it…”
Dave: “The Social Club in Paris was pretty darn sick!”
Kieron: “The Deathwish Disco @ 93 Feet East in London was a great party – even though my sound was only coming out on the right speakers for half the set!”
What producers have inspired you over the years?
Brent: “Gotta be some of the old jungle/d&b/rave guys like Wax Doctor, Jack Smooth, Skanna, Bukem (his pre 96 stuff), 4Hero, Manix, Rufige Kru, LFO, Peshay (his pre 96 stuff), Rob Playford… and in the golden era of breaks it would be The Breakfastaz, Autobots and Distortionz.”
Dave: “I guess for me a lot of the old Strictly Rhythm house stuff and also as Brent says, the old drum and bass guys he’s listed, but also people like Rick Ruben who’s been involved in some classic albums and the production style of stuff like Queen, where they have that totally nuts sound.”
Kieron: “I think its artists of tunes I hear that make me think wow I havent heard that before – and then this ‘inspires’ what we do. Trevor Horn (early 80’s – got me interested in electronic music), Rabit City, Prodigy, LTJ Bukem, Alex Reece, Calibre, Hi Contrast, Zinc, Fake Blood, Skream.”
What is the best record ever made?
Brent: “‘Red Clay’ by Freddie Hubbard and all the cover versions I have so far located on vinyl!”
Dave: “‘Passenger’ Iggy Pop.”
Kieron: “‘Sgt Pepper’ – Beatles.”
What do each member of Aquasky bring to the mixing desk?
Brent: “We all pay for the electricity that runs it!”
Dave: Tea and Coffeee making facilities and long hours.”
Kieron: “Interesting smells that originate from the toilet.”
What are the most annoying habits of each of you in the studio?
Brent: “Probably ignoring what the other is trying to say or removing parts from a tune when someone isn’t in the room.”
Kieron: “Interesting smells that originate from the toilet.”
What one vocalist would you like to get in the studio and work with?
Brent: “We have already done Kool Keith, Ragga Twins and Diane Charlemagne so we can cross those off… I really like MCs like Matt Maddox, Diabolic, Esoteric, Ill Bill, Vinnie Paz, Cannabis, Idee, Q-Unique, Immortal Technique, Slaine & Goretex…or older guys like Ice T, Chuck D, Mellie Mel…actually…the answer to that question is Mellie Mel!!!”
Dave: “David Byrne would be dope!”
Kieron: “Ed Sheeran has a great voice and also writes excellent lyrics.”
You have run your Passenger label for 15 years, what have been your most memorable releases?
Brent: “‘Teamplayers’ it has to be…that was a great era for breaks. The press etc. were trying to play up that there was a rift in the community. Not sure why they kept running pieces like that, but ‘Teamplayers’ was our answer to those rumours. We wanted to show that we could easily make a tune with someone like Meat Katie and not end up scrapping! To this day I will always cherish that writing process and all the people we worked with. And of course the Bassline Breaks era which was the prelude to the current 140 jungle scene that is doing the rounds now.”
Dave: “Probably the one I remember the most is our remix of ‘What’s down Low’ by Baitercell and Schmacher feat. Bex – funny ‘cos it’s one of the main tunes when playing older style sets, if ya drop that one in Spain things deffo heat up! And as Brent said, our collab with Meat Katie, I dropped it in Sydney last time I was there and the place went absolutely mental!”
Kieron: “‘Kontrol’ by Aquasky. I remeber this as it was the first breaks tune we released on Passenger and it also signalled a new direction for us (post Zinc 138 trek era). Also ‘Gutter Pump’ by Noisia was a memorable release not just because it sold so well, but it also showed you could buck the genre trend with a wicked tune.”
Who has been the best vocalist you have worked with?
Brent: “Diane Charlemagne…because she brings so many memories with her. She is such a lovely person and her voice is just heaven!”
Dave: “Hard to pinpoint one! There’s so many talented vocalists we have worked with and are at the moment – it’s hard to pick just one, but it’s pretty cool to have worked with Mark Murphy, he’s a jazz legend and from a totally different era so really interesting to see how someone like that works.”
Kieron: “All the above and also the Ragga Twins deserve a big mention for their continuing releationship with Aquasky.”
And finally, what is next from the Monster Sounds series…?
Brent: “Next up we have out man Kelevra followed up with Lee Mortimer… two guys who have been an inspiration to us whilst we made our Black Noise releases. And really nice guys too… both have been to our studio many times and we always have a great laugh.”