Divine Elements: Driven Ambition
Having cemented their place as a driving force in LA’s d&b scene for over 10 years now, Divine Elements are proving their reach extends far beyond the sunny east coast of the US. We caught up with the multi-talented producers to chat about the high-octane Drive EP on AudioPorn Records, and much more!
Big up fellas – how’s life in LA?
[Ryan] 75 degrees and sunny man. No complaints.
How did you all first link up to form Divine Elements?
[Ryan] Devin and I have been best friends since the late 90’s and we were both d&b DJs in our teenage years, which just organically developed into being production partners. From there we always thought the ‘live’ thing was something fresh for the scene, so around 2004 we started doing DE live shows with just us, then around 2009 we started with the full band.
Do you still focus on your own individual projects or primarily on Divine Elements?
[Devin] We mainly focus on DE material at the moment but I know Ryan has been personally working on some more musical, chilled out d&b. We have also been working on another project called “Prizm Break” which is more 4/4 electro stuff as well as some 110bpm material. We are having lots of fun with that. I also have another group I work with called “HUH” or “Have u Heard”. It’s more commercial style music with 2 singers, Noah Lowman and Aaron Mostow. We kind of just started releasing stuff but check out our SoundCloud page!
Down to business – The Drive EP just dropped on AudioPorn – wicked release! Tell us how the EP came together…
[Ryan] Drive, Don’t Stop and Heart On Fire are all tunes we’ve been going back and forth on for a hot minute now. We’ve been really just focusing on heavy dance floor vibes and when the opportunity came around on AudioPorn, Shim thought it would be good to do a 4 track ep. So that’s when we got busy on Shut em Down, which came came together quite quickly, actually.
How did the connection with AudioPorn initially come about?
[Devin] We had been shopping the tunes around to a few labels, primarily looking for some support from across the pond. We heard back from multiple labels but went with AudioPorn and It was on from there… We have been extremely happy to become part of the Audioporn fam.
Who was behind the album art? It’s seriously impressive…
[Devin] I did the art. We felt it best signified the meaning behind the name “Drive.” The geared heads represent our drive and focus on our art. But I guess we have done the art for most of our releases which makes sense. I have been a graphic design artist for 17 years now. I own my own multimedia company, 101 Exit Media. I do all types of media. From Motion Graphics, Visual Effects for movies and videos, Video Editing and of course Audio Engineering/Sound Design.
Wow! You give new meaning to ‘multi-talented’! Big up! Back to the EP – The title track is lethal! What was the inspiration behind it?
[Ryan] The intro is pretty typical of us. We always go for these big sounding, theatrical intros, but the drop is a bit of a departure for us. When we sent it to Shim, he mentioned it reminded him of Pacman by Ed Rush and Optical. It was funny because we kinda thought the same thing. We figured that can’t be a bad thing, so we rolled with it and it came to be what it is today.
Talk us through the live show – you combine synths, guitars, drums and even a beat boxer to provide a next level live experience: Are you planning on taking the live show on the road again in the near future?
[Ryan] We’re definitely doing it again and have a hell of a lot of fun performing that way, but it’s a big production to get 8 guys together to work it out. By big, we’re talking 3 guys on synths, a guitarist, drummer, MC, scratch DJ and a beatboxer. Everything but the kitchen sink, ya know? We like to keep it as “live” as possible, so controlling as much of the elements as possible is important to us.
You guys put a lot of work into your videos as well, which I really think takes the music to another level! Talk us through how the video for Shut ‘em Down came together and the concept behind it… Devin has handled the production and editing of your videos in the past, was this the case with Shut ‘em Down as well?
[Devin] Yes, we really do put a lot of work into our videos. I have a huge passion in film making & photography also and have been doing it since I was a little kid. In the case of the “Shut ‘em Down” video Ryan had the idea of guys running around spraying the city. We are both in love with Graffiti art and also wanted to show the rawness of L.A. plus give a little laugh as well. We both really get into building the concept & storyboarding and then I write out a shot list. We knew we wanted some time lapse footage of L.A. to set up the video so we went out and did those right away. We then got some graf artists we personally know to be the actors. We had to wait some days for the actors to be ready and ended up having to have the video done in 24 hours… which is absolutely crazy! But we pulled it off with 1 night of of shooting. I woke up the next day, edited, color corrected and did some minor visual effects. With having only 24 hours we think we did a great job and we hope others think so!
We certainly do! MC Dino appears on Heart On Fire – how did the connection with him initially come about?
[DEVIN] Dino is a long time friend and formerly a roommate of mine. He’s also our front man (MC) for our live show and performs with us in our DJ sets on a regular basis. It’s only natural that we get him in on our tracks from time to time. If there is room for vocals when we are building tracks he is our go-to man! He also writes amazing lyrics and killer beats! Check out his SoundCloud!
Do you have a personal favorite off the EP?
[Ryan] Shut em Down seems to be the going favorite right now, but we are happy with them all.
What’s the d&b scene like in LA? Tips on the best spots to hit up?
[Ryan] Thriving! So many great weekly/ monthly shows hosting all the top talent. Definitely got to shout out the longest running d&b Thursday weekly “Respect” and Mr. Rob Machete, “Timeless” d&b and the Bass Dynasty Crew holding it down, Excellerated happens monthly and of course Pasquale Rotella with Insomniac’s “Bass Rush Massive!”
Sounds like it’s pumping! Artists you’re really in to at the moment?
[Ryan & Devin] The Upbeats, Mind Vortex, L Plus, Mefjus, Neonlight, Hans Zimmer, M83, Gridlok, Metrik, Kronology, Prototypes, Joe Ford, Audio, Xilent, State of Mind, Metrik, Rockwell, Dimension UK, Prolix, Gridlok…
What’s coming up next for you guys?
[Devin] We are doing a small tour soon. We hope to be in Europe doing some gigs soon. We just got signed to a new talent agency “Lethal Talent”. Hard at work making new tunes and looking to do some big remixes so if any producers
got anything we have open ears. We also have some colabs in the works. Be on the lookout for that!
[Ryan & Devin] OUR FANS! Our Local LA supporters! AudioPorn, Audeze Headphones, Play Me Records, Firepower Records, Terravita, Fred V & Grafix, Heavy Artillery Recordings, MC Dino, Pasquale Rotella and the entire Insomniac family! Loadstar, Andy C and the RAM Records family, K-Mag, Dip Vertigo and the Bass Dynasty Crew, Kronology, Rob Machete and the entire Junglist Platoon Crew. Ryan’s wife Sarah, Devin’s lady Chelsea and the rest of our LA crew dedicated to the mutual growth of the d&b scene, and last but not least Drum&BassArena!
The Drive EP is out now.