Record Shop Panel

Features in our 25th-anniversary book include a series of roundtable discussions and the first one, a panel on record shops at Rough Trade East, London from 7pm to 9pm on Thursday 29 August, is open to the public for free.

Record shops have played an integral part in the development of drum & bass. It was here DJs discovered new music and met like-minded fellow DJs, MCs and producers. However, while many of the UK’s most famous record stores have closed in recent years, there are shops out there that have weathered the storm and even new ones.

The panel will cover the past, present and future of record shops, with a specific focus on drum & bass. Panellists include Nicky Blackmarket and Ray Keith who both worked at the most famous drum & bass record shop of them all, Blackmarket Records. Joining them will be Jon Shuffle from Intense Records in Chelmsford which has been in business since 1999 and Jack Christie from Container Records in Brixton who only set-up shop in 2015.

The panel will be hosted by Marcus Barnes, author of the book Around The World In 80 Record Stores. There will also be an audience Q&A at the end of the panel followed at 8pm by a back-to-back set from Nicky Blackmarket and Ray Keith.

Get your free tickets

 

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25th Anniversary Book

It’s hard to believe it was 25 years ago I came up with the idea for Knowledge Magazine. At the time I’d just moved to Bristol from Glasgow and was living with my old school friend Markee Ledge and his flatmates DJ Dazee and Rachel Patey.

They’d just started promoting a jungle club called Ruffneck Ting and I just got involved. We were hungry in those days and promoted the event hard, flyering outside clubs in Bristol and the south-west most weekends. We also drove to record and clothes shops in Cardiff, Newport, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Swindon where we would sell tickets and mixtapes.

The Bristol scene was still very small so we often travelled to London for big events. AWOL at the Paradise Club was a particular favourite and it was here that I remember being given a free copy of Atmosphere when I was leaving. It was really basic but it passion and captured the energy of the music.

British dance music magazines of the time either gave jungle/drum & bass token coverage or were dismissive. From going to the clubs I knew there were plenty of people who loved the music and wanted more information on it.

Slowly the idea to start my own magazine formed. I didn’t DJ or make music but I wanted to make more of a contribution than just being a promoter. I’d been a freelance music journalist for a few years and was writing for magazines like i-D and Generator, while Rachel had sold insurance so could sell adverts.

The opportunity to buy a second-hand Apple Mac Classic from a friend was the final piece of the jigsaw. It only had 4mb of RAM and a 40mb hard drive but I could write all the text for the magazine on it and it was an all-in-one-unit so portable enough to share with Rachel!

As we never got Atmosphere in Bristol I just wanted to cover the south-west on the back of our Ruffneck Ting distribution network.

We needed a good name though. The Ruffneck Ting promotion team were known as the Ledge Crew and I loved the hip hop track ‘Juice (Know the Ledge)’ by Eric B & Rakim so Knowledge seemed a good fit. I also liked the connotations of spreading knowledge about drum & bass.

The first issue came out in December 1994 and was A5, black and white and only 12 pages. I was so green somehow I failed to notice a feature that started in the back half of the magazine and finished in the front half!

People liked it though and a couple of months later we were back with two colours (cyan and magenta) and 32 pages. The abiding memory of those early days was just trying to make each issue bigger and better somehow: more pages, full colour, increasing the size to A4, more copies, etc. We always strived to be professional and this extended to the writing, photography and design.

Once the Ruffneck Ting record label got off the ground I realised that we could expand our distribution. In return for a free advert, Vinyl Distribution would chuck in a few copies of the magazine to record shop orders across the UK and internationally.

Gradually the magazine grew and became more professional but we realised that to take it to the next level we had to start selling it. This was a huge decision and one that could have jeopardised the future of the magazine if we didn’t get it right.

How do you start charging for something that people have been used to getting for free? I have to thank Paul Rico at SRD for coming with the answer. SRD was the main distributor for drum & bass (they still are!) and I had approached them to distribute the magazine to record shops. Paul said they would on one condition: it came with a free CD.

Dance music magazines with free CDs were nothing new but the majority were rubbish. I wanted our cover CDs to be as good quality as compilations on sale in shops. We couldn’t afford to licence the tracks though and had to convince labels to give us them for free in return for promotion in the magazine.

Thankfully the record labels bought into the idea and we never looked back. This was 1998 remember so before broadband, you connected to the internet via dial-up modems on your phone line which was incredibly slow!

I sought out specific distributors for both Europe and North America and the world started opening up. Like I said, I didn’t DJ but being able to travel the world writing about drum & bass was a dream come true. Countries we visited included Brazil, Iceland, America, Puerto Rico, Hungary, Norway, South Africa, France, Germany, Italy, Canada.

Other highlights included promoting the Knowledge Drum & Bass Awards in 1999 and 2001 and Brian Belle-Fortune approaching us to reprint his classic All Crews book in 2004.

The rise of broadband internet in the early noughties saw a gradual drop in sales and advertising revenue. People could now get their information much quicker than we could deliver and for free. The availability of DJ mixes also mean the cover CD was losing its cachet.

By 2009 we could see that there would soon come a point where we would start losing money, so we decided to stop printing the magazine and become a website. In hindsight this was a mistake. As soon as we became a website we went from being one of a handful of magazines to one of thousands of websites. Even though our costs were reduced drastically so was our revenue as advertising was our only source of income and display advertising on the internet has much less value than print.

We soldiered on for a few years but it became clear that the business model wasn’t working. We were having to make money elsewhere and couldn’t spend enough time on it that it deserved. We were so close to our 20th anniversary that I decided to keep it going for another year to reach that milestone.

Over the years people have told me I should bring it back but I’ve always resisted the temptation as I don’t want to revisit the past. So why am I bringing it back this time? Well, I feel we have unfinished business. Reaching 20 years was such an important milestone but it was a bittersweet moment and I didn’t celebrate it at all because I knew the end was coming.

Earlier this year I realised that this year was our 25th anniversary so I wanted to mark the occasion somehow. What better way than with one last issue? 2009 – 2014 didn’t really represent what we were about so I want to put that right with another print issue and to showcase the music that I love so much.

At first I considered doing a magazine but I want to make it really special. One of the things former readers say to me when they find out that I used to edit Knowledge is that they still have all of their copies and can’t bring themselves to throw them away! So if people can’t part with their magazines then surely they will appreciate a one-off premium book?

There have been some special issues in the past but this will be the biggest and best Knowledge ever:

  • Limited edition run
  • 10” x 10” large format book
  • Hardback cloth cover with debossed Knowledge logo
  • 120gsm premium paper
  • Over 150 full-colour pages featuring new and classic long-form features and interviews

The book is published in December 2019 but you can pre-order it now to get your name in the credits and be part of drum & bass history.

Also, look out for a very special 25th-anniversary party at Fold in London on October 18. Sign up for exclusive access to tickets. This event will be limited to 500 people, once tickets are gone, they’re gone.

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Week 51: Essential Releases [December 2014]

NSD reviews the best of December’s Drum & Bass…

Lynx – Where Are You? EP [Hospital]
Lynx’s debut release on Hospital features four diverse and boundary pushing tracks. Title track Where Are You? has a funky vibe that’s pretty unique. Bee’s Knees is my pick of the release with its heavy rolling bassline. Hurting is a well crafted vocal track, stripped down and all the better for it. Finally Blue, from the beats to the rolling basslines, is pure funk.

NickBee, Soligen & Type 2 – Iridium EP Part 2 [Citrus]
Part one of the EP was good, this is even better. NickBee ft Mc Fava’s track Autonomy is a bar filled distorted bass neuro affair and a great set starter. Soligen & Type 2’s Turn The Levels up is a catchy tech track, plenty of heavy vibes with an upbeat feel. It’s one for the heads and these guys are making serious tracks right now.

Concord Dawn – The Fuzz EP [Uprising]
Concord Dawn’s new EP on Uprising has all the energy you would expect and is just the kind of high tempo D&B I love. The Fuzz with its skipping beat and techno influences, powers along into a dirty bass drop. Meanwhile Scratchy carries on the techno sounds and energy but with added mechanised beats. Falling Down featuring Tali switches styles for a beautiful uplifting roller. However, the pick of the tracks is Trenchcoat. Aptly named as this has the added filth the title suggests, but with a hypnotic energetic sound that’s hard to resist.

Need for Mirrors – Sacred Heart EP [Metalheadz]
Five quality tracks are included on this EP. Title track Sacred Heart is a funky tech outing with sublime vocals. Beams is a rolling, haunting track with excellent bass. Pow Wow, is my track of the EP. I love the intro, so hard to explain the rhythmically hypnotic style to this. Building through out, such a great track. Disdain a minimal roller, Red Shift with its lovely use of breaks and pulsing Bassline is another excellent track. Need for Mirrors doesn’t disappoint, standard Fat Bass included in all the tracks. Get this.

Phil Tangent – Bedouin [Integral]
I love this EP, it’s well crafted, has different styles but doesn’t falter with the quality. Title track Bedouin ft Steo is nothing short of beautiful. The sounds Phil has produced match Steo’s vocals effortlessly and for one of my favourite tracks of 2014. Rinjani, again has that sublime liquid roller style and is dream-like. Indecision has a darkly techy rolling vibe while Pale Into Insignificance is another sublime vocal roller.

Technical Itch – Seed of Design EP [Tech Itch]
Five tracks of trademark Technical Itch fire. Seed Of Design has a techstep style with heavy acid influences, pulsing bass and tearing breaks. Soul Binder has one of the fiercest Amens I have heard – pure old school fire on this track, formidable! Something Comes is a menacing dark stepper and yet again, a track to smash up the floor. Blackest Tempest delves back to the early 90s with its use of dark samples and heavy rolling bass. However, the best track on this EP is Voodoo Mayan with its myriad of breaks and sick bass it will leave you wanting a shower.

Ero Drummer & M.Bass – Drop Down/Mad Heron [Serotone]
Two gritty neuro outings from Slovakia here. Drop Down is face paced with plenty of bite to get the crowd going. Excellent futuristic sounds used well to compliment the beats. Mad Heron, my pick of the two tracks, is a mental twisted outing. I love the bass on this track.

Various – Identity Switch [Vampire]
I’m really pleased to be reviewing this compilation from Phil Source’s Vampire Records as it has a tune from our very own Nultiply. 27 tracks covering all the styles you could wish for, this really has something for everyone. Highlights include Nusense – Motives, Mindstorm – Deception Point, DJ Trax – Who’s Your Connection and, of course, Nultiply’s – Stitch. This is a excellent collection, too many good tracks and such a varied set of styles, check it out.

Various – Decade of Viper [Viper]
If you only buy one of the releases this month make it this one, it’s nothing short of superb. 12 tracks with some of the biggest names in scene right now on one of the biggest labels. Every song is good, some are outstanding. My highlight is Pessimist, by Koven & Memtrix, a tune I can’t get out of my head and listen to almost daily! There’s a reason that Viper is still going strong after ten years and these tracks prove it!

E-Sassin Interview

LA drum & bass producer E-Sassin was one of the winners of our recent remix competition with Dom & Roland. His Get Up remix has just come out on Dom’s DRP label so we took the opportunity to find out more about him.

Please introduce yourself, looking at your Facebook bio you’re no beginner…
Yeah, I’ve been involved with music since the late 70s. I started out playing drums in progressive rock and metal bands and eventually found my way into electronic music in the late 80s. In ’92 I produced a techno album which got me a deal to work and tour with the groups The Movement and L.A. Rave.

During that time I was exposed to a lot of different music cultures and it was then that I first heard jungle. I knew right then, that was the kind of music I wanted to make. A few years later I founded Sound Sphere Recordings, one of the pioneering domestic drum & bass labels.

Since then, I’ve continued to build a strong following in the drum and bass scene with my productions, remixes and DJing now for over 20 years. I’ve worked with, or done work for, Gridlok, Hive, the Phunckateck Crew, R.A.W., AK1200, 60 Channels, The Angel, Raiden, DJ SS and Dieselboy, among others.

When did you first try your hand at DJing and producing?
I actually got thrown into DJing. It was around 1989. I was working sound at a night club here in Los Angeles and the regular DJ didn’t show up one night. The owner asked me if I could spin some records in between the live band’s sets and I said sure. I mean, I had watched what the DJ did and it looked like no big deal. It was definitely different than I thought.

But having got a taste of what DJing was like, I bought myself some turntables to practice on and I just went on from there to start mixing other styles of music until I discovered jungle in 1993. I just loved the way the beats were structured and syncopated. I never thought “dance music” could have breaks and rhythms like that. It was generally just four on the floor or straight breakbeat before that.

As for producing, it’s really been a progression over time. I had already been writing music for years with the bands I was playing drums with. A friend had turned me on to electronic music, techno and hardcore in particular, and since I was working as recording engineer at that time, he asked if I could help with some sounds and mixing some of the music he was working on. I eventually got so involved that I started producing some of my own techno tracks and released an album.

Later, when I came across jungle, I felt like I finally found a style of dance music I could really relate to, being a drummer and all. I really loved the drum programming and knew it wasn’t something everyone could do. It was right up my alley and I’ve been doing it ever since.

How would you describe your approach to making music?
I don’t know if I can describe it. It’s really just a feeling or vibe for me when I create. I lean towards a heavier, darker sound in general, drawing a lot from cinema, sci-fi, horror, stuff like that. Sometimes I start with beats and bass lines, other times I go with atmospheres or voice samples, whatever creates the inspiration or mood and build from there. It’s always different for me. I don’t follow a set pattern of how to make a track, there’s no formula, at least for me.

Tell us more about your winning remix and how you approached it…
I started by laying out all of Dom’s tracks and really just analyzed what he did with the sounds, how he constructed the whole piece. Then I focused in on what I felt were the key elements because I wanted to try to maintain the essence of what Dom had put together but add my flavour to make it different and take it to another level. It’s important to me that my remixes have the identity of the original version so you know what song it is that has been remixed.

I decided to keep the original beat pattern but used all new drums that I felt had a similar sound but hit a little harder and layered in some of his percussion and hi-hat tracks to bring in the original feel a bit. Then I was just playing around with sounds that I felt worked well on top of the track, just trying to nasty it up a bit, and eventually pulled the original layers down or out of the mix. I’ve always loved Dom’s atmospheres and just added a few other elements to enhance what was already there. Easy, right?

What labels have you previously released on?
I’ve had my music out on quite a few labels starting with my own label Sound Sphere Recordings. Others include Phunckateck Communications, Pneuma, Thermal, Titanium and Moving Shadow. I’ve also had the privilege of releasing some of my remix work with Palm Pictures, Human Imprint, Compound, World Domination, Priority, TerraFormat, SupaCrucial, Black Hoe, Renegade Hardware and Formation. I actually was given the opportunity to do a remix of one of my favourite tunes, Dom & Optical’s “Quadrant Six” a few years back for a compilation that Dieselboy was putting together. Check that one off my bucket list! It was ultimately released on Moving Shadow.

What are you currently working on?
Mainly just writing, putting tracks together, making music. I’m always working on new beats, messing with new sounds and as I get stuff finished up I’ll be looking to release it through one label or another. I also have a remix project I just started for Psyborg, a producer out of Texas.

Do you have any releases or remixes coming out soon?
The remix I did for Peter Kurten & Savage’s It’s Coming on Black Hoe Recordings recently did really well. I’ve also just finished up a remix that will be out soon on Terrorform Records. As for original stuff, my single Bacterium / Microbes came out in early November and I am talking with several other labels about releasing some material so be on the look-out.

Tell us about your Sound Sphere Recordings label…
I started Sound Sphere back in 1996. I had finally got my productions to the point where I thought I could get them released but there weren’t really any labels devoted to releasing drum & bass in the States and the UK scene was a tough nut to crack. I decided to start up the label to get my music out there and was hoping to get noticed and maybe get picked up by another label. Quality was paramount and I worked closely with the cutting house to get the loudest possible pressings, really pushing the engineer to up the levels. It worked!

The response was actually really good and feedback from the distributors and record reviewers was very positive so I ended up running the label for several years before putting it on a hiatus to focus more on writing music and DJing. Sound Sphere really paved the way for a lot of other domestic D&B labels. This year I launched Sound Sphere Music, which houses the entire back catalogue, as I mentioned earlier, and I am going to be setting up some new releases there so keep an eye out for those.

What’s the next challenge for you?
I’m always up for more remix work. I enjoy doing remixes a lot. It’s a challenging yet fun and satisfying process for me. I’d also like to do some collaborating, maybe work with some of the bigger names in the business, learn some new tricks. It’s always nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of and get a new perspective you know. Another major challenge for me would be putting together an album. I’ve been thinking about it for a while now but just haven’t started with it.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about?
Well, we really covered a lot. I’ll just end by saying I’m honoured to have my remix chosen as one of the winning remixes in the contest. Dom & Roland has been a huge inspiration for me since the beginning. I would like to thank Dom for selecting my track and also Kmag and Dom & Roland for putting this contest together. A lot of great work was submitted and I can imagine how difficult it must have been to determine a winner. Kudos to Mr. Frenkie as well for his work and the runners-up.

Read our interview with the other competition winner, Mr Frenkie

DJ Vapour Guest Mix

Ahead of DJ Vapour‘s set at Shut That Sh*t Down Stepback Sessions on 26 December at Brixton Jamm we sat down with him for a chat about his 36 Hertz label / mastering service and his latest venture, old skool e-commerce site Hardcore Junglism.

How did you get into the drum & bass / jungle scene?
A mate of mine passed me a Devious D tape from an event called Eclipse that used to run in my home town of Cambridge. The first track on it was Menace by Rufige Kru which blew me away. I started buying more tapes and then records, saved up for a set of turntables and started DJing in 1992.

From there I started playing at local events for mates and then hooked up with some guys who put on events called Life 4 Land whom I used to play for a lot. I started building my own studio and working on production around 2001 and then everything went from there.

How did Hardcore Junglism first come about?
Through a massive lack of being able to find digital copies of long forgotten old skool hardcore, jungle and DNB tracks. You can get the usual compilation albums but all the real good stuff was not available digitally. Obviously we have great ties with a lot of these artists so we started working on the idea.

It took over a year to get everything set up but we went online in March and the sites been non-stop since. It’s great having the site cos we get people emailing us from all over the world telling us how much they enjoy the site and the artists are really happy to have an outlet they trust to sell their music through so it seems to have struck the right chord with the scenes true fans and artists.

What’s the idea behind it?
Simply to create a huge online archive of this great music – it’s more than just having a store we wanted to tell the stories behind the labels and the artists and enable people to get the music in a way that is going to mean the artists get paid. We also help to stop illegal file sharing and work closely with the BPI to ensure that our artists and labels are protected from the people who feel it is ok to give their work away for free.

What artists/labels do you feature in your online store?
We try to stick mostly to music released in the 1990s but do feature some material that is newer if we feel it fits in with the “sound” of that era or if a label is still running to this day. We feature exclusive content from the likes of DJ Crystl, Coolhand Flex, Foul Play, DJ Monk, Skeleton Records, Uncle 22, 4 Hero, DJ Junk and much much more. The list of forthcoming material is growing by the day, so plenty more in the pipeline.

What plans have you got for the site?
We’re working towards our first year anniversary next March and will be doing a few things for that. Customer feedback has moved us towards more merchandise next near and we will of course be adding more great music and interviews.

You also run 36 Hertz, tell us about that…
36 Hertz has been running for many years now I set it up to put out some of the great music I was being sent every week. There are no plans or empire behind it, I just release what I like – from my random weirdness from my studio or other people’s music. I like to showcase new producers and don’t put out tracks with the care of selling loads, I just like to get good music out there.

At the moment I’m fiddling with a couple of album ideas and SR & Digbee and working on a LP for us. We have been doing quite a bit of nu skool old skool which is new tracks that have been made to sound like old skool hardcore style sitting at around the 140bpm mark so expect some more of that as well.

And you’re running a mastering service as well… give us an idea of how that works, and what artists/labels you’ve worked with?
36 Hertz Mastering came about from me starting to master the 36 Hertz releases and other people asking me to do theirs as well. To be honest it’s got really busy over the past two years and keeps me busy for quite a lot of the time.

This year I’ve completely rebuilt the studio and gone back to 100% old skool analogue style utilizing a classic Hill Audio mixing console and various other bits of gear. I do work for everyone from the biggest DNB labels through to new producers looking to get help with mixdowns and masters.

Tell us a bit about your promo mix…
The mix is a kind of showcase of what kind of stuff you can expect to hear form me when I play at STSD vs Stepback Sessions on Boxing Day. I picked through some of my favourite tracks from the early 90s and tried to put something together with a few more unknown tracks

Looking forward to the Boxing Day event?
Of course! The August event was a superb night with a really friendly vibe but the main thing was all the DJs dug really deep and played superb sets all night so I’m hoping for more of the same on Boxing Day. I’ve been sorting out loads of wicked tracks for the night as well, so can’t wait to play them.

Anything else you want to plug?
Catch me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, SoundCloud and Mixcloud.

Download DJ Vapour’s guest mix

Bachelors of Science Interview

Among drum & bass producers in the United States, not many have carried the torch as long as San Francisco-based trio Bachelors Of Science. Since their inception in 2005, the group has made a name for itself amongst drum & bass’s finest, while remaining one of the strongest voices in stateside drum & bass. Their label Code Recordings – home to up and comers like Whiney and Conduct – celebrated its second birthday in August. Recently, with a 2014 European tour under their belt and a brand new LP in the pipeline for 2015, Bachelors released their latest single for Code Recordings; Don’t Hold Back feat. Dylan Germick b/w Cartier. We sat down with the trio and talked about the label, their new music, and what’s next for Code and Bachelors of Science.

Hi guys, hope you’re good. Tell us about ‘Don’t Hold Back’ with Dylan Germick – rolling, atmospheric vibes for sure. A lot of people have said it takes them back to 2008-2009 Bachelors material. Do you agree with this? What was the inspiration for the tune, and how did it develop?

Chris: I guess everyone has their own take on what our ‘sound’ is, so sometimes it’s surprising to hear that people think we’ve gone ‘back’ to a vibe from the past. We feel like our sound has always been evolving and is really quite diverse – but yet always stayed to a few certain principles – atmospheric, soulful and heavy on musical elements and a certain polish. That diversity in the style is actually part of what inspired part of the thinking behind the new album – one side of the album has more of the soulful/liquid vibe that we’re more known for, while the other side is definitely more on the darker and experimental tip that we’ve also been doing a lot of. At the end of the day, we’re always picking up influences from other kinds of music and that’s half the fun is seeing where that takes us in the studio.

The video is pretty sick too. Who’s skateboarding in the video, and where did you shoot it? What led you to choose the theme for the video?

Lukeino: The video was made by a friend of ours, Austin Graziano and his crew California Bonzing. They are an incredible crew of skateboarders. The video was shot all over San Francisco with them barreling down some of the steepest hills the city has to offer. The song is all about taking chances and going for it and you get that similar feeling when bombing hills at full speed. It’s really about having the freedom of pushing things to the limit. Don’t Hold Back!

Cartier is a really pretty tune as well. What was the inspiration?

Phil: It actually all started with a lighter. I got talking to a dear old friend in the UK all about his experiences back in clubs in the seventies and the stories were just legendary, everything from the early soul clubs and Ronnie Scotts to the hazy disco days of New York. A bottle of scotch later, he gave me his lighter that had been there in all those crazy times, and in exchange I wanted to channel all those sounds, stories and vibes into a track, so Cartier was born.

Don’t Hold Back is also the first single off BoS’s upcoming third album. How long has it been in the works? What can you tell us about it, so far?

Chris: We kinda have this cyclical way of working where we’ll be starting different ideas and pieces of tunes and really didn’t think at first that we were making an album! Suddenly everything just clicked we realized that we had a collection of tunes that tell a story about where we have been the last year or so.

Phil: There’s something about an album gives the listener a chance to settle in and listen to from start to finish (we would hope!) and that’s special. There are some tunes we’ve been dying to release for a long time now, like Satisfy, and brand new tracks that no-one’s heard before, so it’s just really exciting to let them all see the light of day!

Lukeino: Yeah we’ve been working on the album for quite a while now and are really vibing on the process! Some tunes are getting cut and some tunes are getting added as we continue to write new stuff.

You guys did a European tour earlier this year – tell us about that.

Phil: It’s been great touring Europe and catching up with other producers and friends out there. Fabric in particular is definitely somewhere we’ve had on the bucket list and hope to go back and play there more, but then parties like Liquicity (Amsterdam) and City Flow (Antwerp) just continue to blow us away.

Lukeino: Yeah Fabric was just amazing. I had a chance to hang out there on a House music night as well as playing Room 2 with Bukem, Spectrasoul and some other great artists. It was such a great night and experience. The staff there are so friendly and welcoming too! We’re definitely trying to get out to tour Europe at least once a year now. There is something about the vibe out there that is quite different from the states. Promoters – hit us up!

What are the differences between performing in the states and in Europe? Vibe, crowd, venues, etc.

Phil: Certainly the scale is different. While you do get the big festivals out in the states, you don’t get the stacked lineups that are so common on a weekly basis in Europe. But that’s to be expected, so many people who are in the scene are rooted in Europe. But, that said, San Francisco now probably has one of the healthiest scenes in the states with the now with the Stamina Sundays weekly who has an impressive resident roster made up of local producers like Gridlok, Submorphics, Jamal, Flaco, Method One and more.
It’s been two years (!!) since Code Recordings released its first single (Bachelors of Science feat. Emcee Child ‘Beast’). What’s changed since the first release, if anything? What is the core philosophy of Code Recs?

Chris: Code was really born out of a desire to have a home for all things Bachelors. We’ve been at this now for close to ten years, and so we’ve really built up a body of work and wanted to have greater control over our catalog. As far as what’s changed? Not too much, we’ve obviously learned a lot along the way. We’re also really proud of some of the artwork that’s come out (big ups to Seth Grym!) and the whole thing is like family. We have had some really great new releases this last year from friends like Whiney & Conduct and we continue to look for new material to put out so producers please send us demos!

On the topic of CODER001, ‘Beast’ had a really sick video as well. Obviously the music comes first, but what do you think a good music video adds to the overall aesthetic of a release? Can you speak about maybe some commonalities between the ‘Beast’ video and the one for ‘Don’t Hold Back’?

Phil: Video’s been a core part of the package ever since way back when we were hacking together old black and white videos for tracks like Ice Dance. We get a kick out of it, and to be honest, we think it’s only going to grow in importance to labels. What’s exciting the most is now people are finding it easier and easier to make good videos with the tools that are around, whereas it used to be a huge undertaking.

So what’s next on Code Recordings?

Lukeino: Looking forward to hitting some dates in support of the album, and then we’ve also got some upcoming releases from artists like Jamal and Whiney amongst others forthcoming on Code. Beyond that, we just about wrapped up on a nice remix for local SF legend Worthy and we’ve got plans for a new studio space. But for now, we are just hustling in the studio and having fun finishing this album.

Podcast 052

Download Kmag Podcast 052

 

Signing off the year in spectacular fashion; we have music from the likes of Crissy Criss, InsideInfo & Prolix, and Despicable Youth. The guest mix this month is from one of drum & bass’ well-known names – Bladerunner.

Subscribe via iTunes to get it every month. Remember, as always, you can drop your thoughts and comments by tweeting @jsaltzz or @kmag_colin.

Tracklist

  • Virtue & Soulculture – Whatcha Gonna Do [E-Motion]
  • Despicable Youth – Durham [Lockdown]
  • InsideInfo & Prolix – Transposed [Viper]
  • Livewire & Heyzeus – Sound Vibration [Breakout]
  • Substance – Exposed [Citrus]
  • Rhythm Tek – Forbidden Knowledge [Odyssey]

– – –

Bladerunner Guest Mix

  • Bladerunner – Old Times
  • Dj Westy – Blade Of Glory [Dub]
  • Serum (ft. Dynamite) – Give Them The Bass
  • Dream Team – Public Enemy (Saxxon Remix)
  • Jaguar Skills & Chords – Lust (Break Remix)
  • Mr Explicit – Subjunction 12 [Dub]
  • Gerra & Stone – L.I.E.S
  • Break (ft. Calyx & Teebee) – Don’t Look Down
  • Marvellous Cain – The Hitman (Bladerunner Remix Pt 2) [Dub]
  • Boogie Times – The Dark Stranger (Serum Remix)
  • Alex Reece – Pulp Fiction
  • Document One – Purp
  • Dj Westy – Dark Skies [Dub]
  • Remarc – Sound Murderer (Bladerunner Remix)
  • Firefox & Glamour Gold – You Can Run (Serum Remix)
  • Bladerunner – Lock Off VIP [Dub]
  • Kenny Ken, Bladerunner & Saxxon – Combination Dub
  • Saxxon – Zapaterra
  • S.P.Y – Favela
  • Bladerunner – Give Me A Reason
  • Aries & Gold – Back Up [Dub]

– – –

  • Crissy Criss – Go Hard [Technique]
  • Lockjaw – Flow Like Bullets [Authentic]
  • Oliver Yorke – On Your Mind [Vandal]
  • Slippery Jack – Under The Pavement (ft. Elsa Esmerelda) [Iolab]
  • Dr Freebs – Sunshine (Rainforest Rewire) [Within Exp]
  • Chairman Maf – Cheat [Independent Release]

 

Majistrate Interview

With 20 years of dedication to a musical movement, longtime drum and bass producer Majistrate (Ian Jordan) releases an appropriately entitled LP, Twenty. Holding an incredible discography spanning two decades, Majistrate has proven to be an influential and adaptable DJ and producer. Kmag discovers more about his musical journey, earliest influences, technical studio specifics and best moments from a very successful 2014.

Congratulations on your double decade journey producing dnb/jungle. How does one survive twenty years in the drum & bass scene?
The main reason I that I am still here today I think is purely down to having a passion and love for what I do. Some people might lose that feeling for the music and move into other genres, and I’ve seen a lot of people come and go, but for me although my musical tastes outside of drum & bass may have changed, I still feel the same about what I do now as when I first started. I’m always trying to better myself and what I do, and this keeps driving me.

Which artists would you say shaped the direction of your music?
Just listening to any music in general can have an influence on what you produce, but I believe most producers will try to develop their own sound. When I first got into the music it was hardcore & techno so I was very influenced by the likes of Jeff Mills, Joey Beltram, Dave Angel & CJ Bolland, especially with my DJing. I guess it was this style that I played that gave me the opportunity as a dj to become a producer, where I was asked to go into the studio to make my first track by a pirate radio station associate, which then turned into my association with Juice & Splash Recordings.

From my early days of production I always looked up to Dillinja, Rob Playford, Danny Breaks, Shut up & Dance to name a few.

What type of production techniques did you use back then, and still use now?
When I began producing I was using hardware, and technology was in such a different place than it is today. My sampler had around 8Mb of internal memory, so it became quite a skill to be able to fit as much as possible into it. Re-sampling edits was a really good way of achieving this, and that is a technique I still use regularly in today’s production. Other than that there aren’t many technological similarities other than sampling itself. The methods are slightly different from when I had an audio cable to my sampler running from either a video recorder or record deck, but searching for samples can still be a long hard task and I still tend to look for similar sources to years ago.

What are your top three “old skool” Majistrate-produced tracks?
1. “Step On” – This has always been a favorite of my own tracks. Kenny Ken has pioneered this track in his sets for years, and when I came up with the concept of ‘Twenty’ I knew I had to make a new updated version, which Kenny has given me his approval on.

2. “Step Up” – Not too old skool but this track changed the game for me, and I’d say was the first straight up dancefloor track of mine, which got played within all corners of the scene.

3. “What’s Up” – This one wasn’t so well known, but for me it means a lot to me as it was the first track that I produced by myself on my own hardware –  it took a lot of time and effort I can remember that! But the track was deemed as good enough for release and became my first solely engineered and produced track.

What were some of the factors in deciding to create your own label: Sweet Tooth?
The main reason was to be able to release more of my own music. I’ve never signed exclusively to any label, but I only work with specific labels, so as you can imagine with other artists releasing material as well it limits my windows of opportunity to get music out. Sweet Tooth allows me to get more music out in a year, and also gives me the chance to showcase new artists music that I’m feeling. I’ve also got that control of deciding what music I release and when I’m actually going to release it.

What was the inspiration behind your new album Twenty? How did you select the tunes?
The whole idea and concept of Twenty is solely based on my landmark of 20 years of production. I didn’t really want to shout about it like an anniversary, so decided to produce an album with 20 tracks to mark the occasion instead. The album has been made for the followers of my music, so I didn’t want to differentiate from what I do best, although I have tried to include some different flavours into it.

As we near the end of 2014, what was one of your most memorable moments?
2014 has been great and there has been so many stand-out moments. Event wise, Sunbeatz, Inno in the Sun & Dam, Dour festival, Westfest, Summer Gathering etc. Probably my most surreal moment though was performing on Clubland TV. It was strange even for me to see back a typical set from myself live on Sky TV. Completing my album is also up there for me as well. After working all year and getting so close to the deadline for completion it was pretty stress reliving getting it finished.

What are you looking for when it comes to signing new producers to your label?
It’s easy to say originality, but originality alone doesn’t excite people. What I’m really looking for is a vibe, a riff in bassline, breaks, and good samples. They are key things I try to achieve with my own music, so that’s what I want from producers that are going to work on Sweet Tooth.

What does the future hold for Sweet Tooth Recordings?
Sweet Tooth has literally just had a full make over and re-branding, and this is just the start of the vision I have for the label. There will be a new website in 2015, which will feature a shop offering merchandise and the Sweet Tooth complete back catalogue, as well as artists features and exclusives. Also planned is a remix album, and further new releases from previous Sweet Tooth artists, Jessica Luck, Turno & Nu Elementz.

For someone looking from the outside, how would you describe drum & bass to a newcomer?
Although there does seem to be a split between drum & bass genres I still see it as a big family. I’ve been to lots of different nights playing various styles of music, but nothing has the energy and feeling of drum & bass. The combination or pace, energy and sub bass is impossible to emulate.

Top Free Tracks Week 52 2014

Dirtyphonics – Power Now (ft. Matt Rose)
It’s almost Christmas so lots of artists like Dirtyphonics are giving their fans early presents…

Ital Tek – Crossed Wires
Ital Tek is another artist giving away a track to show appreciation for the support he’s received in 2014.

Digital Niyabinghi – Nite & Day
Paul Ibiza’s new jungle dub outfit Digital Niyabinghi played at Fabric last week and to promote their appearance he gave away this track.

Roni Size – Playtime (DJ Sappo remix)
Sappo’s Christmas present is a remix he did of Roni Size’s Playtime he made around 2001.

Abstract Illusion – Dubz Fell
Free tracks from the Good News Boppers label have been regular as clockwork in 2014 and they round off the year with this tune from Abstract Illusion.

Jinx – Heroes & Villains
Brirmingham’s Jinx has had a great year with releases like the Men Are From Mars EP on Ruffneck Ting. For Christmas he’s giving away this track and his Rolling Out Xmas Mix.

Kenny Ken – Mad Up
Even jungle legend Kenny Ken is getting in on the freebie act this week…

Curtis Mayfield vs KOTU – Movin On Up
Live dance act KOTU have made a cheeky drum & bass bootleg of Curtis Mayfield’s classic Movin On Up. What do you make of it?

Lorn – Certain Limbs
Not sure why former Ninja Tune artist Lorn is currently giving away 20 tracks for free on SoundCloud but I’m not complaining!

Banks – Warm Water (Magnafide Bootleg)
German drum & bass label Blu Saphir with a free bootleg by Magnafide of Banks’ Warm Water.

Download free tracks from previous weeks here

Mr Frenkie Interview

Russian producer Mr Frenkie was one of the winners of our recent remix competition with Dom & Roland. His Get Up remix has just come out on Dom’s DRP label so we took the opportunity to find out more about him.

When did you first try your hand at producing?
Since I began understanding what’s going on around me, back when I was a kid, I realised that I needed to write music. In Russia during the early 90s, as you can imagine, I had no facilities for it. So I spent 15 years of my life listening to music. Lots of music. When I got my first computer back in 2005, I immediately began my exercises in production.

How would you describe your approach to making music?
It’s like working in a science lab where I’m trying to create something new but based on old school. Original old school sounds always inspire my music, no matter which genre I work on.

You’re also part of the duo Phlegmatic Dogs, tell us more about that…
Back in 2010 I met up with a great producer called Dima Demyan and we decided to collaborate. We started with deep house, but now we’re more into bass music. Let me tell you a secret – we’re working on mini-album. It promises to be awesome, at least we believe in it.

What labels have you previously released on?
For a long time I was published by the main Russian drum & bass label Tam Records, owned by DJ Bes. I’ve had drum & bass releases on Mindtech and a dubstep release on Play Me too.

Tell us about all the different styles of dance music you produce and are there any you’re currently not making you’d like to try?
You could say that I’ve dabbled in almost all styles of music. Apart from trap, haha! My preferences are bass and hip-hop.

What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a few drum & bass tunes, their fates are still unknown. As I mentioned before, I’m also working on completing the Phlegmatic Dogs mini-album.

Do you have anything coming out soon?
There are several completed tunes but I’m not hurrying to sign them anywhere for a while.

What’s the next challenge for you?
I didn’t write drum & bass for a long time, I’ve been working mostly on house music. Nowadays I’m coming back to drum & bass music and hope I will never leave it again.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about?
Winning this competition is a great achievement for me, remix competitions like this are an amazing opportunity to show yourself to the world. Thanks to Kmag and Dom!

Read our interview with the other competition winner, E-Sassin

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