Philth has stepped in to 2016 with something just a little ambitious: The Elements ep. How could this work, in a D&B context? Of what does it consist? We switched on our gigantic analyser to detect for any overt peaks, impurities and unknowns… and extra filth, of course.
Hey P how are you, how’s the year been so far?
2016 has started well. I’ve had some great gigs in Germany and the UK, and after a slow start I’m getting back into the groove in the studio. There are a number of EPs scheduled for release and more in the pipeline so it’s going to be a good year.
I know that you did a big showcase mix of 2015, and this is not a new thing: you’ve done it before then. The big question is: how do you feel D&B changing?
In 2015 D&B has become more diverse than ever before – yet at the same time more generic!
There such a huge variation of styles now, there is incredible music being made in all of the various sub-genres and a lot people who don’t care what anybody else is doing are putting out exciting, unique music. It feels like there is space for everybody to find their niche. However at the same time there is such a high volume of music being produced nowadays that there are inevitably a lo t of copycat productions.
As a DJ that means listening to a whole lot of music… but it’s worth it to find the gems, and it means my sets can go in any direction I want.
The quality control of the top labels is really apparent when I’m going through my inbox, the higher standards of production and attention to detail shine through.
What made you start to consider this project, and why look at the four elements here per se? They (elements) are empowering but also potentially destructive too. Did you have a revelation about the core things in life… or did it just seem fun?
[label boss] Facing Jinx always encourages Peer Pressure artists to come with a concept for an EP.
At first I just wanted to explore the variety in my sound, from deep and musical to darker harder beats; a self-indulgent project on my own label.
This comes back to my ethos as a DJ, I like to play tracks from across the spectrum. The first track I wrote for this project was originally titled ‘Oxygen’, this became ‘Air’ and gave me a starting point of the concept.
I thought about how I could use this idea of ‘The Elements’ and give each element its own character, so each track had a theme.
I must admit that I had a favourite here and I don’t know if the actual choice of element had anything to do with it!! In other words I really thought about the element in question when I listened to each tune. So what considerations were in your head when you wrote as surely the big concept, the big element in question each time was hanging over your head?
I thought about how each element should sound, then this heavily influenced my sample and sound design choices… every sound in the track should stay true to the original concept, to give each track a strong sense of identity.
‘Earth’ is organic, human. I wanted each sound to have warmth and a natural organic texture; from the thick bass, to the softer drums, the layers of pads to create a thick warm sound. Also slow movements, nothing too quick.
‘Air’ is intended to sound light, refreshing – a breath of fresh air… the beats are bright, lightweight, I chose classic rolling breaks rather than heavily processed hits.
The intro of ‘Fire’ is ominous, dangerous, then the drop is destructive, almost out of control.
‘Water’ is the sound of a liquid moving bass that can’t be contained: a tidal wave of bass. Collette’s vocals really bring the special element to close the EP as well; I wanted the release to progress and reach a peak with the fourth track and ‘Water’ has been the highlight of my sets for the last year.
As the EP progressed I found that the concept had to be considered at all stages – sound design, arrangement, mixing. Then when it came to the artwork Facing Jinx has really pulled all the influences together.
We spent a day at the Natural History Museum looking at rocks and minerals, discussing the EP, Alex taking photos. He has bound the elements together but each piece has its own character. I love the artwork so much that we decided to remove the text and just let it live on its own.
PP is a really artistic label isn’t it… can you take us into their mindset?
That really comes down to Facing Jinx’s ethos on life, not just music. He is a man who is inspired by art in all its forms, as well as a musician he is a photographer.
With our releases we think about the concept, how the package is presented as a piece of art; not just a throwaway mp3. We want our label to leave a legacy of music that can live longer than the shelf-life of a current musical trend. Looking back through the catalogue we are proud of what we have done since Alex took over the label four years ago.
On subject of concepts and albums, I love concept recordings: they always make you think differently. The 60s + 70s + 80s was awash with them to the extent that even ‘basic’ artist albums now look like concept albums due to the importance of cover art, personalities and title. They took you somewhere. So what’s some concept-related in D&B – or really any genre – that you like?
In the late 90s as there was a new sound emerging in D&B there are three albums that really nailed it in terms of artwork, title, concept… I don’t know if they were written as concept albums but Wormhole, Molten Beats and Inside the Machine are the most perfect and fitting album titles for the music. They really describe the groundbreaking sound contained within the music.
Maybe they’re just my favourite albums? The Holy Trinity.
Probably the best concept recording I have heard isn’t out yet: recently I recorded Sense MC for the last bits of his album and one song in particular has floored me – he’s written a love story about two planets, watching each other travel the galaxy. It’s incredible.
Will this ep feature a video? We think of elements as ‘big’ primal things but they are really small/nano too. Everyday objects. Like a cigarette lighter: that can signify ‘fire’ but isn’t ‘grand’. How would you visually approach it?
Yes we have a video for ‘Water’…
It’s not a traditional music video with a story – I had an idea that involved boats, ballrooms, sort of like D&B Titanic, but sadly the budget wasn’t there – it features hypnotic images of water constantly morphing and shifting. Very suited to the way the track sounds.
In general what D&B is floating your boat (harnessing the elemental conceit of ‘water’ there, you see)
So much. There is almost too much good music in my bag – well, USBs – and I always forget to play my own tunes. HLZ is on fiiiiire, Olski is really refining his liquid sound (see what I did there), a tune called ‘Can’t Get None’ by a new artist called Reckei is in all my sets.
Label-wise: I love everything on Dispatch, I’m definitely in the right place. DLR played me some of his new album a few months back and it’s bloody ridiculous. I am really into Eatbrain at the moment for when I want to go hard and I like what Annix are doing, bridging the gap between neuro and jump-up nicely.
At the other end of the spectrum the soulful tracks on the Alix Perez and Ivy Lab EP are perfect, the recent Artificial Intelligence album is amazing, Dawn Wall are killing me with every tune. It’s great to see Commix back on the scene.
‘Painted Smile’ is being re-released and I played it on a recent mix. Now the hook appears to be playing on a loop in my head.
I could go on forever.
What tune of any genre is in your head?
It’s always the last one I was working on. As a music producer I find that it’s often my own music that is stuck in my head. This is a good thing right?
Today it’s Sense and Philth ‘Sinatra’. I can’t wait for people to hear his album.