DC BREAKS Q & A…
Chris: Without wanting to jinx it too much, it’s coming on very well, although it’s still too early to say when it might be finished! We’re trying to get quite a few collaborations on the album, which can slow things down a bit but the results should be worth the wait.
Dan: It’s fairly varied at the moment so the main thing for us now is to shape an ‘album’ (as opposed to a bunch of singles) which sits right with the dnb scene and the wider contemporary dance music scene.
How did the division of labour work out between you two as a producing/mixing team?
Chris: It really does vary from track to track. At the moment we don’t actually get in the studio together much, so we tend to send each other projects to work on. Sometimes this might just be an intro or a simple beat and bassloop that we’re working on and we’ll ping the ideas back and forth until we have something resembling a tune. Often this creates whole new tunes, so out of one idea new ones are born. The formula tends to be: Chris starts tune, Chris gets bored and moves on to new tune, sends idea to Dan. Dan finishes tune. We both tweak/work on the mix. Tune goes out (eventually). By then we decide it could have been better – and cue VIP mix!
Dan: Haha! Chris would LIKE to think he starts every tune!
Your single ‘The More I Want/Take That’ is out on the 25th of April, which is your favourite part of each track?
Chris: For me the best bit in ‘The More I Want’ is the bass switch at the second drop – which Dan did – at first I wasn’t too sure about it, I thought it was a bit weird, but now it’s really grown on me and it works on the dancefloor which is the main thing! My favourite bit of ‘Take That’ is its signature ‘reece’ sound – it’s big and a bit obvious but it gets a great reaction.
Dan: The VIP versions 😉
Your sound comes with some gargantuan, anthemic basslines, do you have a certain effect on the people dancing to your music in mind when you make tracks?
Chris: Absolutely! We generally try to make tracks that are aimed at the dancefloor in which case its all about the bassline. But the great thing about doing an album is you have the freedom to write some more ‘musical’ tracks and work at different tempos.
Dan: Yup, we like to make big tracks that leave an impression.
What’s been the most exciting moment of your career together so far?
Chris: I think the most exciting thing for me was playing out live on BBC Radio 1 as part of Annie Nightingale’s 40 years in Broadcasting night. It was recorded live from the BBC’s legendary Maida Vale studios, and there were a ton of famous people there from Kate Moss to Norman Cook and Pete Tong. It was pretty exciting being let loose live on Radio 1 and we were both really chuffed to be asked to do it.
Dan: A close second was playing at Annie Nightingale’s tent at Glastonbury. She’s been a good friend to us!!
Which artists influence you in music-writing the most?
Chris: I listen to a lot of really random stuff, the more random the better! Often I’ll just hear something in a track, anything, could be a harmony, drum fill, vocal or whatever, and it’ll stick in my head and sometimes find its way into a track. There’s just so many talented producers/artists around, not just in Drum & Bass, that it’s impossible to single out any that are particularly influential.
Dan: I’ve listened to so much music over the years, but it’s still the sounds of people like The Doors and Pink Floyd that I relate to massively, that got me into the more adventurous side of music and production in the first place. I always try and find song-like elements to throw into our tunes.
What’s your favourite piece of music technology?
Chris: My Virus TI Polar, not only does it look mint but it sounds even better! It gets used in literally every single track I write.
Dan: Logic 9. Mostly rubbish but occasionally genius!
You’ve remixed artists like Tinie Tempah, I Blame Coco, JLS and Example. Where do you start when refixing tracks like these?
Chris: I don’t think there’s a set process, but depending on the tempo of the original you usually have to try and work out what you are going to do with the vocal and go from there, whether that’s cutting it up, time-stretching it to fit a dnb tempo or re-sampling it. Usually there’s a stand out bit of each track that you like the most and build a track from that. Other than that, the philosophy if there even is one, is ‘if I like it and I think it sounds good, someone out there will probably like it too’. Probably.
Dan: Sometimes you get restricted by the brief – ‘full vocal please’ etc, but there’s no fixed method. For the Tinie remix, we felt that is was a great original, and we just wanted to add our little vibe to it, so really it sounds a lot like the original, just fatter. For the JLS remix, we decided we wanted it to sound nothing like the original, flip it as much as poss. We told the label that’s the way it was gonna work and they let us do it 🙂
Our fans want to know what the DC in your name stands for. And if it’s your initials as suspected, why not CD Breaks?
Chris: Haha, we get asked this all the time now so for those who haven’t worked it out yet, D=Dan, C=Chris. ‘CD Breaks’ just wouldn’t work. It would sound too much like ‘Seedy Breaks’ which could be confusing and is a whole different sub genre! The worst we get now is – ‘oh, you’re not from Washington DC?!’
Dan: We used to google DC Breaks and get loads of holiday packages! Not any more though 🙂
What are your predictions for drum and bass in 5 years time?
Chris: Well the one thing you can say for sure is that it will still be going strong! Yes it has its ups and downs in popularity but there is nothing else like it and it will always have its place. It is also driven forward by new up and coming producers all the time and constantly evolving its sound, which creates sub genres and pushes the genre forward. Obviously now vinyl is becoming increasingly rare in the clubs, who knows, maybe in 5 years time we’ll be saying the same for CDs?! Not that I personally use it, but it would good if all clubs had a Serato set up as standard to save the hassle of switching over between sets. Lastly, within 5 years I think we’ll see whole new sub genres emerging, called “________-Step”. Drum and Bass is predictable like that.
Dan: What he said.