Published on | by CCPAR0
Hybris | Interview | DnB
Versión en Español | Pica Aquí
How did you discover drum & bass? What is your first memory of hearing drum & bass?
When I was a teenager I picked up a Photek CD (Form & Function), and it blew my mind. Later, I saw Hive play in Washington DC, and his set was amazing. I remember him rewinding Dom & Roland’s “Killa Bullet”, it really changed my life. After that, it was a little bit difficult to find more dnb that I was into, because the internet was pretty young, and most shops in America didn’t carry very much dnb. But I sought things out, kept trying to find more and more dnb, and eventually got into dj’ing and buying vinyl, which really opened things up for me.
How did you get into your djing/music career?
I started playing guitar when I was a kid, and at some point bought a guitar synthesizer. After a while of playing with that and a 4-track tape recorder, I started using the guitar less and less, and synthesizers more and more. Eventually, I had a few synthesizers and a sampler, and was making purely electronic tunes. I realized in order to play out live, I would need to learn to DJ a bit, so I picked up some decks and got to work.
The origin of drum and bass is rooted and combined sounds like Hardcore, Techno, Acid House, Dub, Reggae, Dancehall, Rap, Breakbeat hardcore, etc. In your opinion which one is the root of drum and bass?, What defines your drum and bass style?, Which elements do you use in the present?
I think drum and bass is definitely influenced by all of the above, and as it grows and changes so do the influences. For me, mid-90’s hip hop and rock influenced my tastes a lot. My music is influenced a lot by IDM artists such as Squarepusher and Amon Tobin, and I still like to draw elements from the drum and bass that got me into the scene, the stuff happening before and just after the turn of the millenium.
Which artists gave you the biggest inspiration on your own creative style when you first started out? and would you say the same artists are inspiring you creatively today?
As I said, Photek was a huge influence on me early on. From there I really got into what Hive was doing at the time, Ed Rush and Optical, Dom & Roland, RAM Trilogy etc. Also the local Washington DC scene at the time was very healthy, and artists such as Rob F & Impulse and Kiko had a big influence on my sound at that time.
These days, I’m still influenced by the tunes I loved back then, but my musical tastes are a bit different. I listen to a lot of music all across the board, anything and everything influences me these days.
For instance, the british crowd in the 90´s was linked to “Junglists-Ravers, Drum and bassheads or rude bwoii” as a youth culture, a massive scale scene. The youth represented a style according to the scene (having many similarities with hip hop styles and behavior, Rude boy was associated with gangsters or used to be called bad boy – originally used by Jamaicans –graffiti and drug use was a premise, due to rave music the crowd wore candy colours, to jungle music camouflage fashion, etc.) What characteristics does the drum and bass listening community in the present have?
It really depends where you go. In the USA, you can still find candy ravers in certain cities who look like they stepped into a time capsule in 1999 and stepped out just before they came to the party. Others are more hip-hop oriented, and others aren’t so categorizable. In the Czech Republic, where I live, a lot of younger junglists still rock the camo style, some with dreads, very much along the rudeboy side of things. The whole culture is much more difficult to pinpoint these days than it was earlier on, and depending on what country you’re in, the interpretation varies.
There is a perceived division between the various styles in drum and bass. Can you tell us the reason why drum and bass is divided in styles? Why it is not just called drum and bass?
I think the whole genre distinction thing gets a little out of hand. People like to give anything that is slightly different another name, and like to identify with very specific genre classifications. I think there are definitely some lines to be drawn between styles, but to be honest, I get confused with all the names and just call most of it drum and bass.
MC Navigator back in 90´s said that in a year´s time drum and bass will be covering the world “It´s like you have to know how to ride the waves. Look at the scene. It started on acid house tip and then it progressed to hardcore and now is gone to jungle and drum ‘ n ‘ bass. Is the focus of the world right now? It’s all here”. How do you see the evolution of drum and bass from a UK and Europe scene to a world phenomenon?
I think dnb has always been a very UK phenomenon, and it has good followings in other places, but hasn’t exploded the way Navigator apparently predicted. I think it’s great to travel to lots of different places and see how the scenes are doing, because there are so many dedicated people in these scenes, no matter how big or how small they may be, and everyone is very positive and committed to the music they love. As far as whether it will get bigger or not, I have no idea, but I just take it for what it is.
In response to the softer sounding drum and bass some producers started focusing on a darker sound, for instance in the 90´s Grooverider released an LP where he used the word “hardstep” for the first time. From this moment it is a fact that artists have been progressing towards more aggressive sounds; creating new styles for example the darkside hardcore, or darkcore. How do you think this has affected the genre?
I really like dark drum and bass, always have. I think there’s a fine balance, between some dark and dirty undercover nastiness, and going a bit too far. I do enjoy a bit of hard drum and bass, but personally, I’m not a huge fan of cross breed or break core. Sometimes taking things too far in one direction, just for the sake of taking them too far, does not produce good results. On the other hand, for me, the darkness of drum and bass is what got me into the genre, and I’ll always lean a bit more towards that side of things.
Do you get caught up in one particular style or do you value more the ability to blend different styles?
I think I tend to play a bit darker than the average DJ, but I try to vary what I play. For a while I think people were a bit too caught up in playing overly minimal songs, and whole 90 minute sets of them, and that just gets boring. I think it’s important to switch things up throughout the course of a DJ set, and I try and do that to a degree, while still maintaining “my” sound.
Yo considero que tiendo a tocar un poco más oscuro que el DJ promedio, pero trato de variar lo que toco. Por un momento, pienso que la gente estaba un poco sumergida en tocar excesivamente pistas musicales de minimal y 90 minutos de sets de pistas de minimal, y eso solo se hace aburridor. Yo pienso que es importante cambiar las cosas a lo largo del DJ set, tratar y hacerlo en cierto grado mientras se mantiene el “propio” sonido.
What is your opinion on the new wave of combining genres like hardcore techno and drum and bass or dubstep when they are supposed to come from different musical backgrounds?
I don’t have much of an opinion on it, as a concept. I think it’s good to try new things, combine new genres, that’s how music evolves. However, some combinations of genres are shitty. That’s not because combining things is inherently shitty, but sometimes certain combinations don’t work out.
There is a controversy with the technology taking control of the growing digital era, the rise of digital releases and the ease of availability and discovery to the public, where in few words, everybody can be a dj (Even artists that comes from a popular music background like deadmau5 are part of this talk, mentioning “we all hit play”, implicitly those who use Ableton and midi-controllers, admitting the laptop/software does all the work, which indicates that nowadays a Dj does not do anything special) …It is worth asking: What is the essence of the dj?
Where is the creative side of the artist if even creativity is in the hands of the software or the dj set up for example?
I first learned to dj with vinyl, and have always loved it, but it does have its limitations. These days, I play CDs live, and really enjoy the expanded capabilities. I feel like djs who ONLY push play, and dance around pretending they’re doing something for the rest of the set, are just putting on a silly show and taking people’s money. On the other hand, if the people listening don’t care, is it really so bad?
I think in this day and age, where there are so many ways to play live, with so many different possible setups, people can really accomplish so much more than back in the day. If you’re using technology to your advantage to accomplish what you’d like to do live, whether or not you ever learned to beatmatch, I think it’s great.
I think the essence of being a dj is being able to present the music you are feeling in a way that is representative of its potential. Sometimes the crowd likes it, sometimes they don’t, and that doesn’t usually depend solely on the preferred dj setup of the dj. So overall, I think djs who JUST push play are a bit ridiculous, but I have no problems with those who choose to use modern djing technology to their advantage. There are so many more creative possibilities now than there were when all you could do was blend songs together, and I don’t see any reason to fight that.
Now, what about capturing spontaneity and emotions, because like our friend GoreTech says: “Controlling and manipulating sound is one thing but then being able to covey feelings and emotions into it” that´s another story. What do you have to say about this?
I think infusing electronic music with emotions can be difficult, but any song that is completely lacking emotion is not a finished song. For me, I manipulate sounds for days and days until the song starts to take shape, and then the creativity of “where do I want this to go?” or “what do I want this song to say?” starts coming into play, and then I start playing with the real concept or message of the tune. Sometimes a strong “face” of a tune never fully takes shape, and those are the songs which don’t get released.
Does it make sense changing tunes or rewrite them in a live set to produce an innovative sound? Are there any tricks so when you play your music it doesn´t always sound the same?
I think altered live versions of songs are always fun to surprise fans with… changing the main beat of a song people know or adding some new edits are cool, though admittedly I don’t do this as much as I would like to.
What advice would you give to any new dj/producers in drum and bass?
Work hard, because every minute you’re not working hard, someone else is, and if you want to catch up and accomplish anything with this, you have to be working harder than they are.
We know that you work very hard to achieve your goals but what is the secret to actually keep enjoying what you are doing? How to keep true to yourself and true to your scene?
I think you should always try and make something you’d be excited to hear, and not worry about what other people are making or where things are going. The only way to succeed and be true to yourself is to do what you do best, and work hard at it constantly.
How do you do to keep your own sound alive with that many emerging styles in drum and bass and breaks?
I try and keep myself interested in what I’m doing by contantly doing new things and trying new techniques. As soon as you start recycling old ideas and trying to remake tunes you’ve already made, it’s a very slow and boring process.
Is drum and bass a lifestyle or just another genre of EDM?
It’s a lifestyle which means something different for everyone involved. For me it’s definitely been a lifestyle for years, but more of a reclusive, production-oriented lifestyle. For many, it’s a strict regimen of regular partying and a close-knit local scene, and for others it’s something much different.
Sometimes artists and people in general seem to be surprised regarding a drum and bass scene in South America. But in this continent (especially in Colombia) we love electronic music and we do know how to party hehehe. We have to say there is a genuine interest for this style of music. Did you expect this? What are your thoughts of the electronic music scene in South America?
What have you heard or seen regarding the Colombian drum and bass scene?
I was just a little bit surprised to hear that there’s a healthy Columbian dnb scene, but I have known for a long time that Brazil is great for dnb, so it wasn’t too big a shock that another South American country is into it. I’ve heard from several DJs that Columbia is sick to play, so I’d love to see how you do it sometime in the future!
What in your opinion is the state of drum and bass in 2013 and what is the future challenge?
I think dnb now is healthier than ever, and if we can push past the stagnation of this “festival dnb” sound, I’m sure it will get to an even better place in the near future.
If you would have to choose a piece of the history of the drum and bass movement that represents the more sacred memory for you, which one would you pick?
Photek playing “Baltimore” in Baltimore, after he had just written it on the flight over to the States. Was absolutely amazing.
Can you think of any good upcoming drum and bass dj´s or producers to recommend our readers?
I think a lot of the Czech producers are killing it right now, Rido, A-Cray and Tom Small, Ower. Also Quadrant, Detail, and Lockjaw are coming out with some really sick tunes.
Could you tell us about your future plans in music?
My next tune is a collaboration with Quadrant, Dstruct and Iris, and will be out soon on the sampler for Dispatch Transit 2 LP. I also have a remix due out soon for a Czech label called Authentic music. And now I’m finishing up my first full length album for one of Noisia’s labels, and past that, we’ll see how it goes!
To finish, can you please share with us your current top 10?
1. Hybris, Quadrant, Dstruct, Iris – Graphene (Dispatch)
2. Quadrant – Convergence (Dispatch)
3. Lockjaw – Flatline (Dispatch)
4. Hybris – Bug Thump (Subtitles)
5. Detail – Human Trust (Horizons)
6. A-Cray – You Don’t (Authentic Music)
7. Silent Witness – Ballistix (Dispatch)
8. Arp XP – Five Black Forms (Hybris remix) (Authentic Music)
9. Brain Crisis – Grampus
10. Rido – Faith (Metalheadz)