Disconnect: Evol Intent b2b Spor…
When it comes card-carrying American drum & bass reppers, Evol Intent are straight-up premiership league and have been since the turn of the century. So copping an exclusive track from them for our new album Drum&BassArena 2016 was something of a coup.
Neatly, this interview with Evol Intent’s Gigantor (Mike to his friends) turned into something of a coup too. Spor was passing by Gigantor’s LA studio and was happy to hijack the first half the conversation to explain just how premiership these guys are when it comes to spreading the UK word worldwide. Between them they also confirm the rumours that America and drum & bass have officially developed from occasional Netflix & Chilling to a much longer-lasting relationship.
Get to know…
Evol Intent & Spor… This is a moment. You guys run deep, right?
Evol: A decade deep!
Spor: Mike’s my older brother in music. People often ask me what home is and I used to think it was stuff in England. Like where my things are. But it’s not. It’s where your friends are.
Spor: When I first stayed with Mike and his friends I was 20 years old, I had no Visa, I couldn’t even drink! I’d been working as a bar tender for three years then I came over here and couldn’t even drink, let alone bar tend. I turned 21 here and celebrated with Mike and the guys.
They took you under your wing then?
Spor: Absolutely. The idea of drum & bass existing in somewhere other than England blew my mind at the time. Evol Intent were the first guys I met who made the music but weren’t from the UK and were actually cool. I didn’t really believe it was happening over here until I stepped off the plane and saw it for myself.
I think this is important to acknowledge… How long the US has been involved in drum & bass. There’s a lot of great focus on American’s making the music now but it’s no new thing, right?
Evol: Totally. You have these pockets who’ve flown the flag and shown a lot of love and passion for the genre since day one, but we’re very broken up and fragmented. States are like continents in terms of how spaced out we all are. But I would say that since the whole EDM thing has blown up there’s definitely been more activity.
Spor: Having completed the Spor tour in the states I can vouch for that. I really wasn’t too sure about doing it at first. I was splitting my time in the studio doing Spor and Feed Me music that I had no intention of travelling the Spor project but we had some really strong feedback from the promoters and the idea of doing big stage shows in the US was crazy enough for me to check out. Like proper, well organised shows… Something I’d never done over here as Spor.
Evol: It was a bit of a shitshow back in the day! I remember those days well.
Spor: Me too… I had no paperwork, I was here like a renegade, underage, just living. I wouldn’t have achieved any of the things that followed without the guys looking after me. They altered my attitude. And the music? They had the tunes I wish I had!
Tell me about those shows; there’s a cool DIY sounding vibe to them!
Spor: Yeah and that vibe went two ways; shows that felt like you were in your parent’s basement playing to two friends or massive crazy congregations of heroes that people still talk to us about to this day.
Evol: Yeah we did this show in Phoenix on a race track with about six arenas with all kinds of crazy shit going. Everything from happy hardcore and techno to drum & bass. No security. It was wild.
Spor: It was a schooling. By the time I was doing Feed Me shows I felt I’d seen everything. I didn’t even have a tour manager for the first two years as Feed Me because I wasn’t intimidated by anything over here.
I’m wondering if D&B is the EDM backlash in America. Like the cheesy crass EDM now…
Evol: Maybe. But, like in the UK, it’s the genre that refuses to die! And while I think we’ve definitely had more attention because electronic music is getting more focus in general we haven’t seen a huge wealth of D&B specific artists come through. A lot of people making it make a lot of genres now.
Both of you are well known for not wanting to be tied down to a pigeon hole, so I’m sure you can identify with that…
Spor: Definitely. You have to spread your wings creatively. And yeah I think the States’ take on D&B has definitely been more about riding the lines between the genres a little more. We definitely pushed this during our Evol live tours and were able to establish a much wider sound that wasn’t set in tempo or style.
12th Planet mentioned an Evol Intent reunion CD when I spoke to him recently… What’s this about?
Evol: Well we have an EP coming at the end of the month. We were gunning for a whole album but decided to break that up and release it as EPs instead. But speaking of 12th Planet, we’ve got a collaboration with him, Lumberjvck and Le Castle Vania we need to finish off. I open nearly every set with it, we need to finish it. But yeah in answer to your question, there’s no reunion, it’s just Evol business as usual!
Spor… There’s a strong theme of comebacks this year. You kind of unwittingly kickstarted it last year.
Spor: It certainly wasn’t intentional. The only reason I’ve ever done anything is to fulfil my own creative wishes. If that’s had an influence – and I’m really not sure it has in this case – then I’m grateful for that. Especially if it’s resulted in more creativity. I’m not really interested in any scenes, though. I’m here to live my life.
Evol: Well I was personally super stoked to see Caligo come out.
Spor: Of course I was really happy with the feedback and support I had from friends and from people who support the music but in terms of scenes and anything else going on? That’s not for me to comment. I’m not interested. I make the music I love because I believe in it and I’ll continue to do it. If you’re after an opinion on the wider idea of any drum & bass scene then you’re asking the wrong guy…
Fair enough. Mike… Let’s talk Disconnect.
Evol: I’m stoked about this track; it started off working on a synth called Serum. The tune started as me making a demo of my patches in the factory bank. I live and die by the synth. So I ran the demo with my default patches.
Serum is big competition for Massive and Sylenth right now, right?
Evol: Sylenth and Massive are both great synths and I’ve used them loads but Serum is next level. If I’m not fucking with hardware synths then I’m fucking with Serum.
So Disconnected started off as a showcase of your sound designs?
Evol: Absolutely. I made a video online and people were freaking out and asking when it would become a tune and when it would come out. So I did more work on it, sent it to the other guys and here we are!
How does it work with all of you living in different corners of the States and doing different projects?
Evol: We all live in Ableton Live and share sessions. We’ve found ways that we can be on the same page and all have an input. Nick’s in Austin, AJ is in Atlanta, I’m here in LA and we all play our own roles. It can be a little tricky logistically but we get there.
Tell me about Bl4k Owlz… The first non-Evol Intent act to appear on your label in six years!
Evol: Yeah they won the remix competition we hosted and crushed it. I’m so happy to watch their ascent and play a role in that. The shit they’re doing and their vision for live shows is another level. Their drum & bass is sick too. That’s why we put out the EP because they won the remix competition with a dubstep track then suddenly came through with this amazing drum & bass. We were like ‘wow… let’s get this out there!’ Like I was saying earlier, I love seeing artists ride the lines and make different types of tunes.
A lot of artists say dubstep hindered the progress of drum & bass in America a little…
Evol: I’ve heard a lot of people say that too. And I hear a lot of drum & bass artists slagging off dubstep but fuck that! Both genres are brilliant. I cringe when I hear people say dubstep affected drum & bass over here.
I cringe when I hear kids calling drum & bass fast dubstep…
Evol: I just laugh when I hear that! That’s hilarious. And fuck it… If they like it and they support it then they can call it fast dubstep all day long. Much more importantly is that we, the older drum & bass heads, shouldn’t alienate younger fans because of it or because they weren’t there back in the day. It’s all love man!