How Outrage found his groove again
Last month we featured Andrew Ferguson’s first mix under his Outrage alias in over five years. More commonly spotted working as no-rules, tempo-flexing bass fusionist Nomine since 2012, his Outrage project has been on ice. Until now.
Since the reissue of his and Digital’s 2009 album Red Letter last year, Andrew’s been exploring his 170 roots and cavorting with his Outrage alias more and more. As his recent mix revealed, he’s currently sitting on a wealth of unreleased Outrage and 170-based Nomine productions – two of which are set to drop imminently on the Nomine Sound 4, a six-track collaborative EP with the one and only Digital.
Flexing between 140 and 170, key drum & bass cuts include Nomine’s chop-twisting jungle trip Samurai, his and Digital’s ice-cold Debt Collector and a firing update of Red Letter by Rene LaVice. In keeping with Ferguson’s freeform signature, both he and Digital have laid down some toxic 140 cuts among the mix, too.
In the week he’s launched his own music production school, we caught up with the man of many aliases, tempos and ambitious plans to get a full sense of scope and context before he drops even more of these bombs…
It all started with Rage, right?
Yeah, the earliest releases were Tronic & Rage on Basement Records. That was around 2000/2001 but I’d been DJing for years before that. Pretty much since the split from hardcore into jungle and happy hardcore. That was when I was around 12. I’d saved up for a pair of separate decks from Argos with no pitch shift or anything. I had no idea but I thought I was a DJ and I called myself Rage. I knew there was an MC Rage, I had flyers with his name on all over my wall, but I actually picked the name from Striker on the Super Nintendo. I didn’t think I was going to get to any level MC Rage would care or even know about me! I started going out more and got to know him on the scene and we’d have a bit of a joke about it and even talked about touring as DJ Rage and MC Rage but in the end I changed my name. Way less complicated.
When did producing come into the picture?
Around the mid-90s I started dabbling with Octomed Pro on the Amiga, just messing around with samples on the scrolling sequencer. I’d try and get sessions in studios whenever I could and had my first release when I was 15 when I booked a studio session with Stomper & Weaver. It came out as Snake on Flex Records but I was never credited. Fitting title, I guess. But then I met Amit in 1999 and did two years straight in the studio, every weekend. He went off to America and I had the bug really bad so I got the first version of Reason and by the time Amit came back I’d written 10 tunes.
Did any of those come out?
Yeah quite a few. Steve picked up some bits for L Plates, Rap had something for Proper Talent, A Sides signed something for Fuze and Basement Records signed a few bits. I think one of those tunes was signed to Spirit’s Inneractive but that might be from later production sessions. By then myself and Amit were just going hard at it. Studio all day, going out all night as we had been for years since Blue Note.
Ah… What a time to be getting involved
Me and Amit were there every single Sunday. That was the main source of inspiration and motivation. That’s what we did; took part in the scene and got involved. We’d go down to Music House every Saturday, giving out DATs. I was playing on Rinse FM and would spend £300 a week on dubplates just to play on those shows. Wherever the DJs we respected were playing or hosting nights, we’d go there and support. That’s what it was all about. I always encourage this to my students; be as proactive as possible. I’d spend every penny on dubs just for a pirate set. I’d travel up and down the country to raves, we’d be out from Weds to Sun, supporting the cause. We just got involved in every which way we could, had the best times of our lives and made lifelong friends while we learnt our craft.
This led to a whole slew of releases on some of the most influential labels possible. What are your highlights from that time?
Having music signed by Goldie was obviously a huge moment for me. I won’t lie, it was planned. I was working on that goal from the start. I remember saying to Amit ‘my next release will be on Metalheadz’ and two weeks later Goldie called me. I’ve always set realistic targets and ambitions. I’d never had said ‘right, I’m going for Metalheadz’ when I started. I’d have never got anywhere with that attitude. Steve (Digital) taking me under his wing was a huge highlight. He was mine and Amit’s biggest inspiration and remains a mentor to me to this day. He’s a hard man to please. I call him the bassline bully because he’s always like ‘the tune is good but the bassline is shit, sort it out.’ I’ve learnt so much from him.
Then you wrote an album together…
Yeah Red Letter. It was a such a strange and frustrating time, though. We’d just come off the back of our J-Tek project which was picked up on really quickly and supported well but then dubstep blew up, so me and Digital went away and wrote this album. Making an album with a musical idol was a real privilege but while we were writing it, the sound of drum & bass was changing. Everything had gone very minimal and barely any breaks were being used.
I loved the autonomic sound, but it had such an influence and presence it was influencing everything and there were so many carbon copies and rip-offs I had to take a step back from drum & bass for a while to think about how or where I fit in. Then Digital, myself, Raiden and a few others established the TeMaH crew with a label and monthly nights at Brixton’s Plan B. The emphasis was on bringing the beats and stabs and that original aesthetic back into drum & bass. We were all trying to make things work but the project fizzled out due to various reasons. I love working in crews. I was inspired by crews – Metalheadz, Moving Shadow, Reinforced, all the guys.
Crews are what drum & bass is founded on
Yeah exactly. And that’s what’s driven me to work on things like J-Tek and TeMaH but they never seem to last. I love working with people but after TeMaH, I thought I’d either give up completely or set up an anonymous project which had no pressure or expectations of the Outrage sound. I’d fallen out of love with drum & bass so I started messing around with different tempos and ideas and it kinda took off without any association of Outrage.
That must have been really fulfilling!
Yeah it was. I was beginning to feel that music was being seen before it was being heard (and it still is now with social media) but it was great that people took Nomine for what it was. It restored my faith that there’s enough of an audience who would be interested in what I wanted to do… I could put out music that I want to put out at the level I want it to put it out at. That was very exciting.
Going back to crew idea, the crew is you. Your many projects and the online tribe community you’ve developed on this trip. It’s a very faithful following. Through it you’ve found your own technique, faith in the industry and voice.
Big time. I’m able to do what I want and not worry about the expectation of others. I’m doing more genre experiments and people aren’t shocked or confused by what I do. It’s all making sense now. So this is why I’m bringing back Outrage back now and officially joining the dots. For years Nomine was anonymous and many people still don’t know the connection but I feel it’s the right time.
Tell us about the new Digital collaborations on Nomine Sound…
Myself and Digital have made a lot of music together and are very good friends so it only made sense to do a release for Nomine Sound. Steve sent me a track he was working on (that ended being Indijah), which I loved the sound of. It was in line with the ethnic side of what I was doing with Nomine, so I hopped on that and did my thing. Debt Collector was a very recent collaboration after a visit to Steve’s studio to discuss bringing back J-Tek Records (a story for another time) and doing a Facebook live feedback session on up-and-coming drum & bass producers. I had already signed Dark Matter and Lo-Fi by Digital so I asked if we could include Debt Collector, added my Samurai track and the EP was complete.
You’re also working closely together on Education & Bass sessions aren’t you?
Yeah Digital’s involved in that, too. We’re developing Education & Bass and taking it on the road to universities with Steve’s Void Acoustics system. Not just around the UK but around the world. We’ve pitched to places in Australia, America etc so it’s really exciting. I’m also starting an Education & Bass online school with bespoke courses. It will be subscription based and should launch later this summer but my priority is to make sure everything is perfect. It’s a noisy market and I need to have something truly different to offer…