It’s the sound of the bass
Welcome to the DMC World boys. All three of you have completely different musical backgrounds which is brilliant. Who did you all listen to growing up to? Andy, for instance…from Jimi to Jungle is quite a step…
ANDY – “Although classically trained in music, I’ve always loved a wide variety of music from jazz and soul to bands and to really out there stuff. My parents brought me up on the Beatles and the Stones as well as John Barry and Lalo Schifrin, but when I heard the raw power and shear originality of Jimi Hendrix and co. it really blew me away and opened a new world of music for me. As I grew, my musical horizons evolved from Jimi to bands like Jesus & The Mary Chain, Pop Will Eat Itself, Ozric Tentacles all the way to the dance music of the early nineties. Growing up in Mansfield around the time of the iconic club Venue 44, it wasn’t long before I found (with the help of my close friends) a similar raw power and excitement in the form of jungle. As the music expanded and eventually turned to D’n’B, it inspired me to start saving up for studio equipment and take a basic course at the Square Centre Studios in Nottingham in 1994.”
BEN – “My parents were always listening to Northern Soul, Motown and Reggae, so I have a real soft spot for all those classics. In my teens my favourite artists were the likes of Chemical Bros, Leftfield, The Prodigy, Bob Marley, LTJ Bukem, Dr Dre & Snoop etc.”
SIMON – “I listened to a lot of my parents records growing up. My mum really loved her music and had quite a large collection of 7” and album vinyls – Bob Marley, Nat King Cole,Louis Armstrong, James Brown amongst other. I was also inspired by the music my older sisters bought such as Micheal Jackson and Smokey Robinson. In my early teens I started looking for music which inspired me further. I discovered the Northern Soul scene and as time progressed started going out to alldayer parties which introduced me further to jazz, funk, soul, electro, rap, house and techno. This period pretty much shaped my musical taste and desire to start buying records. I would spend every last penny of mine on vinyl.”
Take us back to 1998 when you all met, there was more in the band back then. Why did you decide to get together and not continue it alone…
“Drumsound originally consisted of 6 friends (local DJs and producers) who were trying to break into the dnb scene but, being from Derby, was finding it quite hard so decided to work together as a unit. Unfortunately as time goes by people fall by the wayside fullfilling other commitments etc. but this started the ball rolling for us. We met Simon at a local prevalent dnb night in the city in 1997. It was a great night which had Simon and fellow old skool don DJ Ratty as residents and had regular London DJs appearing every few weeks. After a few months we got talking with Si at the bar and played a few tunes we had been working on. Simon soon suggested making a track together and our first artist collaboration ‘Future Tech’ was born.. As time went on we realized that our musical ethos was very similar so decided to completely merge as a unit. We merged our studio’s into one and with Simons knowledge of running a successful record label ( Absolute 2 Records ) we setup Technique Recordings…the rest they say is history.”
You have been ambassadors of the the bass scene for over a decade now producing timeless electronic dance music. As technology advances at such an incredible rate, how are you finding the standard of competition coming through today…and who has stood out from the crowd in 2011?
“Over the years it has been the standard of competition that has driven us onwards and upwards. The best example of this was Pendulums arrival on the scene. Rob Swire’s whirlwind really raised the bar as far as production values were concerned and along with other producers at the time, helped to bring a fresh batch of new producers to the scene. Which in turn opened up the genre and sub genres to the masses. These new breed producers influenced by the music came from all over the world and brought lots of different influences to the music which gave it a whole new life. From a production point of view, this ever changing direction, mutation and evolution of dnb has kept it fresh and ‘relevant’ for the last 10-15 years. As 2011 has continued and yesterdays dnb stars (Chase & Status/Pendulum/Sub Focus etc.) have moved on to bigger playing fields. The new wave of artists have stepped up to the plate to offer their take on dnb. Artists such as Netsky, Tantrum Desire, Camo & Krooked and Wilkinson have really shown through this year and there is sure there is a new batch waiting in the wings.”
Lads, all of you with a huge love of music, we head back to your gaff after the club. What are the 10 Back To Mine (non bass) tunes you play us to carry on the groove…?
John Barry – Flight Into Space
Air – Moon Safari
Nina Simone – Funkier Than A Mosquito’s Tweeter
St Germain – Mama Said
Little Beaver – Let The Good Times Roll
Incognito – Parisienne Girl
Chemical Brothers…any LP!!!
MFSB – Mysteries Of The World
Ralph Myerz & The Jack Herren Band – A Special Album
Donald Byrd – Wind Parade
One of your first tracks you created was ‘Future Tech’ – that track certainly has stood the test of the time…
“We have always tried to make ‘timeless’ drum and bass because music which is too influenced by the sound of the day tends to sound dated very quickly in a market that’s changing all the time. We take pride in selecting the right drums/samples and noises which still maintain a slight underlying back note of our musical influences in some respect. Over the years, some have said they can hear a certain warm ‘soul’ in our sound which cannot be heard in some producers music.”
In 2009, you reached a milestone when Technique Recordings hit your 10 year anniversary of releases. With a philosophy firmly focussed on issuing tunes to satisfy the next generation of music lovers – what are the aims for 2012?
“Over the last few years and with the whole Bass Music movement shaking up the landscape, as a label we’ll be focusing on putting out tracks that can cross the genres. So you can expect not only drum & bass but dubstep and even a few tracks that can’t really be categorized into any specific genre. We are constantly looking to develop new talent as that’s the life blood of any scene. It’s important to have the green shoots coming through and we have a proven track record of being able to help up and coming artists on their path to having a successful career. It may be time to release another compilation album as we have so much good music, it’s nice sometimes to present it all as a complete package.”
How healthy has the emergence of dubstep to the overground been for the scene?
“The popularity of dubstep has certainly played it’s part in opening the doors for other styles of bass music, catapulting it into the limelight once again. Dance music has always had cycles and yet again we find ourselves ‘smack bag’ right in the middle of a fruitful cycle for all ‘bass’ music much like the early 90’s. Dubstep has definitely played its part in recent years, its success can only be described as phenomenal and drum & bass has been the backbone of British urban music since its inception. It’s huge the way the two genres are taking things forward into the mainstream while both keeping their underground integrity.”
And what are your thoughts of drum & bass in 2011 moving into 2012?
“We believe drum & bass is as healthy as ever and the standard of production and quality of music is second to none. So we’re really excited about 2012. We’re putting the finishing touches to our own artist album which will be released on Newstate Music early in 2012…so its exciting times.”
A massive remix of The Utah Saints which Radio 1 are all over. Where you fans of the record back in the day and why did you decide to re-work this classic now?
“’What Can You Do For Me’ takes us back to the start of the 90’s when house, techno, hardcore, trance, jungle were all played under one roof and this track was one of Pete Tong’s soundtracks to the weekend on his show. Every week for months Mr Tong would be playing it while I was driving to a gig and it was massive in the clubs, a real ‘feel good track’. Utah Saints at the time were head and shoulder above any other producers and their manipulation of sampling and ability to create a strong groove are all in this track. Over the years, we’ve formed a strong friendship with Tim and Jez and worked together on a remix for their ‘Something Good’ project. So when the guys asked if we we’re interested in getting involved in the reworking of ‘WCYDFM’ we jumped at the chance to be a part of it and inject some of our sound into the update. It’s a classic track that is not only timeless but feels right at home with what’s going on today.”
Simon, I have known you since we were in nappies, jumping around Shelleys, Elevation, your home town of Derby and all of the big raves. It’s incredible that dance music is once again at the forefront of world sound, what are the biggest differences from the early 90s and today as a DJ and producer from a drum and bass perspective?
“From a production stand point, the cost of setting up even the smallest bedroom studios went into thousands of pounds and that alone made it very difficult to even consider getting into production. It was so out of reach for most people at that time, but now with a few hundred quid you can be up and running. That’s a big, big turn around and is one reason why some many people now try their hand at production. I also remember that I could only afford an Akai S1000 which with only a mere 30 seconds of sample time every milli second of sound, was precious and had to be skillfully managed or you would quickly run out of sample time before your track was finished. Today all you need is a computer with virtual instruments and plugins and there are no limitations to what you can do. From a DJ point of the view, 2 – 3 full boxes of records weighing 20kg each we’re carted around from gig to gig, I had to recruit my mates to carry my boxes.Today with the digital revolution we have DJs using computer software products like Serato & Traktor which I think are innovative and you can even put a whole set onto a USB and turn up with just a pair of headphones. It’s just incredible how things have moved on and it’s remarkable to not only see the changes but to be a part of the progression.”
Simon: how important was one time DMC UK Champion Des Mitchell to your career?
“Ahh! Des was been a massive inspiration to me from the moment I first saw him play in 1998 in Tenerife. He’s such a talented DJ and was one of the first people I met up close that could do everything from mixing,cutting and scratching on 3 decks…4 decks! He even invented his own tricks. Furthermore, his did all this while expressing total showmanship behind the decks with his bubbly character. He took me under his wings. I watched him every night and practiced like hell until after many months I eventually started to improve and I could mix and scratch too. We also talked a lot about the music and the industry and became really good friends. He’s a legend as you know from the fact he won your title back then and he’s still smashing parties to this day.”
Simon: Who are to this day your best mates from the DJ world?
“Apart from the obvious (Andy and Ben), I would have to say in no particular order…Des Mitchel, DJ Hype, LTJ Bukem, DJ SS, Fresh, Utah Saints, Phantasy, Digital, Probe, Bryan G, Adam F, XXXL and Nicky BM.”
What are the current 10 tunes you are playing right now?
1. Utah Saints Vs Drumsound & Bassline Smith – What Can You Do For Me
2. Tantrum Desire – Tantrum Desire
3. Youngman – Who Knows
4. Dushi – Canderel
5. Ltj Bukem – Return To Atlantis (Marky & S.P.Y rmx)
6. Crissy Criss – Need Me
7. Drumsound & Bassline Smith – Close
8. Rusko – Everyday – (Netsky dnb edit)
9. L Plus – Catastrophe Ft Shaz Sparks
10. 2DB – Virus
What has been the best show you’ve smashed in 2011?
“We’ve played an awful lot of great parties this year that have been fun and vibes. If we had to pick one it would have to be Pirate Station – Syberia, Russia. The production at these events are like something off a film set, the system is always totally on point and the crowd are always crazy…just how we like it!!”
Which one artist would you like to get into the studio and work with?
“There are millions of artists and producers we would like to work with. In the scene we are in, Chase & Status, Fresh, Pendulum, Sub Focus, Flux Paviliion & Dr P etc.. We would also like to work with artists that have inspired us at some point too from a wide variety of different genres like Patrice Rushden, Emile Sande, Delilah, Horace Andy, The Last Poets, David Axelrod, Fatboy Slim, Foreign Beggers,Newham Generalso and many many more…the list is endless…”
You have remixed hundreds of tunes over the years – what is the re-work you are most proudest of?
“There has been many, many remixes over the years but I’m guessing that DJ Fresh – ‘Louder’ has been the most successful to date being a UK No. 1 and selling so many.”