Naibu: Boy In The Corners

Naibu: Boy In The Corners
19 Dec, 2016


There are certain artists in drum & bass who you could categorically classify as ‘album men’. Men who have diligently carved impressive bodies of work through extended LP narratives rather than hammering out continuous 12s. Men like French drum & bass deep-thinker Naibu.

Over the course of eight years he’s released five LPs – although he only considers three of them to be full albums (describing his 2009 self-titled debut and 2013’s Never Released LPs as compilations) Each one every bit as touching, deep and detail-decorated as the last, suggesting he is officially immune to album fatigue.

Sure he’s also been on heavy 12” missions: 2008/9 was a particularly prolific year that cemented Naibu’s presence in the genre. But as time goes by we’ve come to accept that singles are once or twice a year (if we’re lucky) and come to expect full albums. His latest long-one, for example – Corners, released last Friday on Horizons – lands barely a year after his last album Case Study. Yet it sounds every bit as fresh and exciting as anything he’s done before.

And ironically it was actually inspired by a 12” he did last year. Get to know…

There’s a concept here. There definitely was on Case Study…

Oh definitely. Case Study was a very indulgent album. It was the album I’ve always wanted to write and explore the different sounds and possibilities. Not sticking to the dancefloor and make what I want to make. Not for DJs, just music for the sake of music. So this album is much more of return to the club sound I’ve done before.

You must have jumped on Corners straight after Case Study?

Well there’s that strange gap of time between finishing an album and waiting to release it so I was writing Corners before Case Study even came out. But it developed a lot more after the release I made for Paradox Music – I dug back over the classic structure and sounds. I limited myself to certain sounds and remembered how much creative freedom you have and how much you can do when you limit yourself. I also think every album or project I do is a reaction to the previous one. Not forced or planned it just seems to be the way I work.

Paradox is the man!

He is! And yes – I bought every release on sight when he launched the label. Him and Seba around 2004 to 2009 they were so on top of things with their sound that’s so mature and exciting and unlike anyone else. They were such an inspiration for me. It was a surprise when he got in touch. It was a great challenge to step up to.

Back to your album – what do you mean by Corners?

Corners of the scene that people always talk about – neuro, liquid, tech – but I love it all. And Corners is my homage to all of it.

It’s all D&B at the end of the day!

Cliché but true. I wish we didn’t have such tight little niches – a lot of guys do stay in their corners all the time.

You say that but the best DJs – the Hypes, the Andys, the Markys – do play everything…

They do. That’s, what it’s all about – whether I’m DJing or going out to the club I don’t want the same thing over and over. It’s the same in the studio. When it gets samey you get uninspired. Basically making a track is ideas upon ideas upon ideas. You start with one concept but get more excited by a different direction. And I think that comes about through the limitation I was talking about earlier. It encourages the simplicity.

I guess it prevents hours and hours of going through sample libraries and endless VSTs…

Yes but I make everything from scratch anyway. I’ll hit my stool and turn it into a drum, for example. I never used a sample pack. I also play on the piano to find musical ideas and chord progressions or melodies. I’ll pick a couple of synthesisers and colour it in. So I decide very early on what gear I use and what palette I’ll paint with. For example the last track is all made on the Prophet 6.

Is that No Return?

Yes. It was also the fastest track I wrote – I really wanted to finish the album because I was going away and that was the last track I made. I had a strong idea for it to begin with so that made it quicker – I was inspired by that chord progression and harmony and found all the sounds I needed to make that happen on the Prophet.

The way you describe it, that almost sounds like you just threw it together casually…

Ha! Sometimes you get those moments and you have to act very fast. An idea can come to you very quickly and if you’re in the right frame of mind and have the tools you just have to take it and run with it. Most the time it’s the opposite and my tunes take stupidly long times. Time goes by too quick…

I’d imagine time has gone since you’ve finished Corners and you’re already working on the next project? And will it counter Corners conceptually just as Corners countered Case Study?

I am working on something and it’s working out what it wants to be. I started writing it before Corners. It’s quite ambitious so I’m letting it take it’s time and develop in its own way. I’m still at the stage where I’m wondering if I can make it a reality. Will it be songs? Will it be drum & bass. We’ll have to wait and see because I don’t even know yet!

Sounds exciting!

Or depressing… I don’t know what I’m doing haha!

So I’ve got to throw in the European drum & bass question… Countries like the Netherlands, Austria and Czech Republic are dominating the genre right now. How about the French scene?

I’m the worst person to ask about this because I’m such a recluse. I love being on my own making music. I ask myself why I make drum & bass because I don’t go out too much and don’t DJ a huge amount but it’s the sound I love. I’ve never been a sceney guy but I have a huge respect for everyone making drum & bass in my country. Everyone making it and supporting around the world actually!

Naibu – Corners is out now on Horizons

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Drum&BassArena Editor: Dave Jenkins has documented beats for over 15 years working with the likes of UKF, Mixmag, DJ Mag, iDJ, Bandcamp, Resident Advisor, Radio 1 Xtra and many more.