‘We started by learning how to make our own breakbeats from scratch without samples and making some nasty basses like we used to like in 2000 – 2004 and then went from there’
Drumsound & Bassline Smith have delivered the lethal pairing of ‘Cobra’ and ‘Testify’, a pretty fearsome prospect made even more potent by the presence of Playaz. We went in about the tunes and their recent and not-so-recent killer moves in D&B.
Hey how is it in your camp? Lots of travelling?
The camp is as strong as ever and our growing Technique imprint gets stronger with each addition to the camp. We are literally right in the middle of our massive Spring Tour, Australia, New Zealand, USA & Canada with European dates scattered throughout. It’s been really good to be out playing D&B to the masses and seeing the different countries representing. The support from the fans at the shows has been really strong, at times humbling, Fans that have been following us from as early as ’93 to the newer heads.
What sort of tunes are going down well out there, what sort of things are causing havoc?
Currently tracks like ‘Ladies Night’, ‘The Truth’, ‘Outlaw Renegade’, Cobra’, ‘Testify’ are getting really good reactions plus a few new ones we’ve been testing out over the last few months like ‘I’m Gone’ and ‘Black Panther’. Also, the classics ‘Cold Turkey’, ‘Odyssey’, ‘Through The Night’ and ‘Close’ always get received well.
Have you noticed any changes in the crowds and their taste/habits on the floor?
Drum & Bass like all genres goes through cycles and recently on the one hand we’ve seen an upsurge of the more neuro side of things taking centre stage but also there are some good more laid back liquid flavours around, the balance of quality music throughout is as good as it’s ever been.
The raving crowd remains the same, they want music they can move too, make them forget their normal lives for a moment, music which draws on their emotions, whether that be hard or mellow.
There is a strong young crowd out there enjoying drum & bass, but also you have the more mature heads that have grown up with D&B and they’re still representing the music they love and have seen grow!
It’s over a decade now since ‘The Odyssey’ which you mention, the tune which opened the doors for a lot of the ‘big’ digital sound – the big D&B sound that works so well in big, large scale venues – so how have you guys changed since this time as producers?
We love D&B as a whole, all styles and all flavas. It’s what we live for so our core ethos hasn’t really changed at all.
We try and push ourselves musically every time we go in the studio to learn new tricks and make good quality drum and bass in whatever form and direction it takes us. The scene may move in and out of trends in style and content but that fundamental concept has always been at the heart of our productions since day one.
Once we made ‘Odyssey’ in 2004 the studio horizon changed and technology has progressed a really long way but we take time to incorporate new musical influence and techniques to try and push the boundaries to our sound as the quality of the producers nowadays is exceptional.
It seems gone are the days of making tunes quickly: it’s now more about sculpting, tweaking and controlling everything to the extreme which was a bit of a culture shock at first but we took a bit of time out last summer to really get deep with the new technology and harness it. The hardest part, we found, about being so over-technical is that it can easily kill the vibe of the tune.
At the end of the day you have to remember you are effectively making tunes for people to enjoy, go crazy to or whatever and not writing a score for your final dissertation in music technology but as long as you keep your primary focus fixed on making good quality music combined with the technicality of it all you can’t go wrong.
Now on to ‘Cobra’, it’s a big track which will clear anything in its path, when did it come about?
Like we mentioned earlier, last summer we took time out to buy some new kit and really get deep into taking our sound to the next level. We started by learning how to make our own breakbeats from scratch without samples and making some nasty basses like we used to like in 2000 – 2004 and then went from there.
The results we got from getting really technical and harnessing this new way of working was phenomenal and so we ran with it for a while making tunes like ‘Ladies night’, ‘the Truth’ and then ‘Outlaw Renegade’ and off the back of that session came ‘Cobra’, ‘Testify’ and more you haven’t heard yet.
It’s funny to watch how the music goes round in circles over time but by using modern techniques and plugins updating and modifying it starts to sound fresh to us again.
How did the linkup with Playaz come about? How does your outlook and theirs match up?
We’ve had a single released on Playaz a few years ago, ‘Steal My Heart’ Feat Youngman so we’ve worked closely with them in the past.
We played at WODNB in Moscow at end of last year, after chatting with Hype and playing him some of our new material, it all just fell into place very quickly, it felt like the right thing to do with those specific tracks, they’ve always supported us and our music. We want to keep things fresh so slipping in a Playaz release felt like a way of surprising people.
We’ve a couple more surprises to come once we get them finished up. Playaz like to release dance-floor music & so do we.
‘Testify’ made me think of gritty street vibes: it’s contemporary but feels drawn from the 70s too, how does that sit with you?
‘Testify’, like ‘Outlaw Renegade’ and ‘The Rise of the Black Panther’ – coming out on Technique Summer Selection 2016 – all have that kinda gritty 70s vibe. It’s like what we mentioned earlier: we kind of wanted to try and do something a little different whilst at the same time harnessing our new skills and studio techniques. We like having an overall theme to our tracks because doing a drone / build up / drop on every tune gets a bit boring after 20 years.
Does the title refer to anything in particular?
We do try and give our tracks titles that help inspire and conjure up images of the tone and feeling of the track, like ‘Odyssey’, ‘West Bank’, ‘Rise of the Black Panther’ and so forth but, in this case, its title was purely based around the vocal sample.
What’s a tune that has influenced you: from the past but always inspires you, in production and outlook?
That’s a tricky one to be fair.
We’re influenced by all sorts of music across the board from old to new to liquid to damn right nasty and depending on the mood of the track depends on what we draw for inspiration. If we’re making a liquid kinda tune we try and listen to music that conjures similar feelings so it could be anything Roy Ayers to Calibre. Similarly if we’re doing something heavier it could be classic Dillinja to something as obscure as say Royal Blood.
As long as the music captures the basic raw emotion which we are trying to achieve it’s all good.