Digital: First ‘Synthesis’
Digital has set himself a steep task in the creation of new album Synthesis: not only does it see him link up with a wide artistic array of key names all with busy schedules and in differing time zones, which alone would be enough to tip many over the edge. Additionally? It’s also something he’s set out to do in person, artist-to-artist for the main part, bypassing the now-commonplace online approach. So it’s ‘synthesis’ by definition of pure, organic, fibrous D&B, as well as on the spiritual, interpersonal front too.
As it’s a big undertaking, we’ve broken down the interview: this is just part one.
Digital: how’s life where you are?
Life is what it is! It’s not bad.
Tell us when the idea for the album came about… did you purposely go out to create something that would live and breathe under the banner of ‘synthesis’… true to this notion?
The idea came up early last year when I realised that collaborating with artists generally made me feel good because it helped fill the social gap I’ve been missing since most communication between artists had moved online… collaborating is a chance to catch up and meet new friends.
Heaps of artists and promoters used to attend nights like Metalheadz and Renegade Hardware at The End and it made me feel part of the scene, which gave me some wonderful vibes. For a long time I didn’t feel part of the scene because I didn’t move with the times, online-wise, as quick as others.
Furthermore, I needed to feel the reasons I loved this scene in the first place which is meeting likeminded people, raving and having fun.
Anyway after literally moaning about almost everything in the scene, around 2014 I felt a lot of love from artists like Storm, Spirit, Drumsound & Bassline Smith, Total Science, Klute, Need For Mirrors, Double O, Indi, Stretch plus I met new guys who injected some life and party back into me like Response, Flava, Horrific James and the Launch DNB crew.
These good feelings resulted in me wanting to do this album. Big thanks to the audio visual collective syndicate and design studio ‘System Sovereign’ run by long time friends Kiat and Cherry for helping me nail Synthesis.
The label is Function and it’s been going for a long time, so what’s it’s outlook/mission?
Its ‘function’ was to let me do what the hell I want!
As touched on, you hooked up with some great people here for collabs… and this was a physical visit to them?
80% was done in the same studio. I work with Response, Spirit and Nomine on a regular but I particularly enjoyed taking on the track from Flava and Dissect. No disrespect to them but I was really surprised with what they achieved, plus I got the most amazing home made cakes from mummy Dissect!
Then of course Spirit nailed it!
Do you take part in every bit… from sample sourcing, production to mixdown/mastering when you work with others?
It varies. Sometimes I’ll put forward three or four situations of 16 bars like an intro, drop and breakdown so the other artist can suggest ways of linking it all to work as a track.
Or with an artist like Kiat who has his own individual style, I’d insist he takes the lead because I know the result will be a lot different than if I took the lead.
How do they work live? Must always be great to hear studio work out there, live.
The tracks are working really well in the clubs and I’m enjoying the fact people are mentioning different tracks as their favourites. I feel there’s something for everyone on the album however, I do realise that the album trend is to have the same sound throughout but that doesn’t excite me.
What habits about people did you note when you worked together? I mean you and Spirit go back so you must know each other… but was there different habits with others, that maybe surprised or enlightened you?
Spirit hasn’t changed much over the years: he’s very set in his ways in regard to production…. Amen to that!
Om Unit plus Drumsound & Bassline Smith like to make a zillion trillion changes to a track ha ha! Fair play to them because they want things absolutely perfect and they’re smashing up the place so I suppose I should take a leaf out of their book ha ha.
On to some of the people on Synthesis: Nomine is here, I’ve seen him live too happy to say: how did you hook up?
Nomine aka Outrage is a very good friend of mine. Randomly I gave him a 12″ dubplate of ‘Smoking Dub’ from my album Dubzilla in 2001. I reckon he owes me £50 for it!
We wrote an album together on Function called ‘Red Letter’ which was released around the time of the banks crashing…. D&B was super minimal at the time so I feel our breakbeat led album Red Letter got seriously missed. CHECK IT!
Take us into ‘War’… is a gnarly tune.
Kiat is one of the most talented guys I know. I’m not just talking about his music because he’s involved in a world of things around art, media and design. His dedication towards anything he does reminds me of Photek’s dedication however, both guys seem to do things they do with ease and that’s why ‘War’ has turned out so well.
How did Om Unit and your tune arise? Must’ve been very cool to go in here.
I worked on a track at his studio with him for his own label Cosmic Bridge so when Synthesis came up he was happy to help out. He’s one of the coolest dudes out there and he clearly deserves all the love he gets because of his amazing tracks.
I wish there were more artists like him out there just enjoying the moment he’s in.
I heard you say you are an ‘ideas man’… as are the people on this, with you: how does that translate to how you work?
I don’t see myself as the best finisher of a track like Nomine, Spirit, Total Science and Drumsound & Bassline Smith because my sound isn’t very refined.
I think the finish on my tracks sound like old reggae and dub, not that I think anything is wrong with that. I blame the tracks on this album…
However, In regard to original ideas I reckon I can hold my own.
What tune is a heavy influence not only on this album but on your outlook as a producer. A guiding light. A biggie. let’s revisit this next time too.
This track reminds me of a high point in the D&B scene and my love for my friends and associates within the scene.
Manix ‘You Held My Hand’ Manix & Rufige Kru Remix
This track has soul and depth but contains filth and grit too.