DRS: The People’s Poet

DRS: The People’s Poet
Photo Credit: Chelone Wolf

Photo Credit: Chelone Wolf Photography

With a career spanning over 15 years, DRS has firmly cemented his place as one of the most revered MCs in the game. His ability to effortlessly guide a set with eloquent and crisp narratives is what sets him apart from the rest. Exempt from the ‘great MC debate’, which is still a point of contention for many in the scene, he has established himself as an artist in his own right, and he’s done so through sheer talent and a humble nature.

This week saw the release of his third album, Mid Mic Crisis, on Soul:R. An honest and heartfelt piece of art, the album showcases his versatility and ability to work within multiple genres, whilst also flaunting his ability to tell a captivating story. Enlisting the help of some very talented friends including Marcus Intalex, Calibre, LSB, Skeptical, Dub Phizix, Lynx and more has ensured the production across the album is on point. Striking a perfect balance between his drum & bass and hip-hop roots, Mid Mic Crisis is truly an impressive piece of work. We caught up with the gentle soul to chat about the album and more…

Big up Del! Thanks for taking the time to chat! Huge start to 2015 for you: Mid Mic Crisis came out on Soul:R last week – congrats on what seems like a huge project! How long did the album take to piece together?

The whole thing took 3 months to make and record from me thinking “I’m gonna make another album” to it being completed. The label stuff took almost 2 years though.. ie. changing distribution, artwork, mixing and mastering, and then manufacture. I’m a fate man though, so I feel things happen when they are meant to, so happy days! Haha! My first album took 3 and half years to complete…

Guess you’re getting good at this eh? 😉 I absolutely love how diverse the release is – from the hip-hop roots, to drum & bass and Jungle…. Is this what you love about the album format the most? A chance to showcase a variety of genres close to your heart?

Yep, that’s exactly why I love the album format. It gives you time to talk to the listener, and it gives the listener time to get in the passenger seat of the rollercoaster that is my life. The highest highs and the lowest lows. And the genres and different vibes are a vital extension of that.

This diversity is apparent in the sound as well as subject matter – from sentimental, heartfelt themes to playful, tongue-in-cheek observations and anecdotes, where did you draw inspiration from for this album?

Everything I ever do is inspired by my life and the things I see and FEEL. Nothing else. The things I love and dislike, light and dark.. Every track on my albums is a page from the diary or journal I never kept.

Well thanks for giving us access to that diary! You’ve mentioned before that this is your most honest work to date. Why do you think that is? Do you think that it’s a case of with age comes wisdom and more confidence and knowing who you are?

Definitely but the funny thing is you are always that person! You just accept your malfunctions as character the older you get! Haha! You don’t change, you just get better at being the person you are, but I’m still as awkward as ever…

Photo Credit: Chelone Wolf

Photo Credit: Chelone Wolf Photography

Haha, aren’t we all? How did you decide who to collaborate with this time around? Or was it a case of people approaching you?

Nah, I just ask all my friends to send me music and then take it from there. I also ask Marcus to put the word out to his network too. That’s usually a few of the same peeps but always some new fire I didn’t know, for example LSB!

Speaking of LSB, let’s chat about ‘The View’… It has to be THE most played track across D&B dancefloors all over the world right now. How did the tune come together?

I know!! F@@kin’ crazy innit?!!! Mad! Basically LSB sent me 3 beats, and I went to Tyler’s studio with 2 of them. The first a jazzy number, soulful and heavy, and the second was a rough instrumental of what is now ‘The View’. We listened to both and decided we could make ‘The View’ into a banger, so luckily we chose that.. Haha! It was the first tune recorded for the album and set the bar so high. The third beat I recorded on is called ‘New Day’ and I’m sure it will be out at some point.

Did you expect such an overwhelming response to the track?

Marcus, LSB, Tyler and I all knew we had made something special. We obviously didn’t know that the listeners would feel the same too. Madness!

Some familiar names popping up on the album again – Calibre, Marcus, Skeptical, Dub Phizix, and S.P.Y among others… Did you manage to get into the studio with everyone?

Yeah, I personally got into the studio with pretty much everyone on the album. I don’t really do the email thing much on my own projects. I like to work together with artists/friends and find out what they want and feel too. The people I didn’t get into the studio with this time around are friends who I’ve worked with before and trust them as artists to know my vision as well as their own.

Photo Credit: Chelone Wolf Photography

Photo Credit: Chelone Wolf Photography

The sheer support from your peers must be incredibly humbling…

Yeah it’s very humbling and always takes me by surprise! It’s overwhelming and appreciated so much!

Did you know exactly how you wanted to approach this album after completing ‘I Don’t Usually Like MCs But…’?  

No, I didn’t have a direction, just wanted to try to go bigger than the first album. I don’t mean in terms of success, but in vibe and sound. I wanted to make stuff that people want to sing and dance to, whilst still being me. There is also so much heartbreak in this album, all awkwardly balanced out.. haha!

Perfectly balanced if you ask me! Are you getting accustomed to the album format now? Does it get any easier?

Yeah it gets so much easier, I love it. Just enables me to create bigger pictures. Long live the album!

The album art is seriously badass… Courtesy of Chelone Wolf right?

Well, the original photos are by Chelone Wolf, AKA MC Lowqui. An absolutely amazing photographer and musician, and a good friend of mine. His work is so good. The actual album art though is by Goldie, and done in the style of his “Lost Tribes” series. Such an honour to have a close friend and VISIONARY like him create the final piece to the jigsaw. Blessed!

Photo Credit: Chelone Wolf Photography

Photo Credit: Chelone Wolf Photography

You’ve started a live show with your band 8 Gold Rings – tell us about the live show and the motivation behind it…

Yeah man, 8 Gold Rings (named after Salford John – RIP) are the back-bone to most Manchester artist’s live shows, like Skittles, Chimpo, Jenna G, Fox and more, including mine. The motivation is to take the music somewhere else… The live band is a different level to DJ / MC live and I just wanted a go at that, so I did! haha, so much vibes!

Is this what you’d like to start doing more of in the future?

Yeah, I reckon so. I just want to express how I feel at all times. Whether that’s with a band, kazoo or orchestra, haha!

DRS with Kazoo… I wanna hear that! Must be rewarding to go from hosting sets for years to coming into your own live show…

Deffo man! Feels amazing, but I always knew I was working up to that point. Otherwise why carry on all them years?

Photo Credit: Hana Makovcova Photography

Photo Credit: Hana Makovcova Photography

Fair play. Your band name – 8 Gold Rings – you mentioned the name was inspired by the late Salford John right?

That’s true. They thought it would be a fitting tribute.

Seeing the d&b community and everyone come together after his tragic passing was emotional even for those who didn’t know him. Was a lot of this album inspired by him?

I wrote and recorded “Coldest Hearts” on the morning I found out he had been attacked and was in a coma. If you listen to it you can hear it. Brings tears to my eyes everytime. Loads of that pain is evident in the album. Love you JOHN!! X

That’s one of my favourite tracks on the album too. Means a lot more now! ‘Bun Ya Too’ is also one of my faves – the chemistry between you Mancunians is undeniable. What do you think it is that allows you to work so well together?

We all know eachother as brothers and musicians inside out so after a couple of lines of the verses it just moulds into 1 voice, it’s mental!

Photo Credit: Chelone Wolf Photography

Photo Credit: Chelone Wolf Photography

Do you have favourite tracks off the album that are particularly close to your heart?

I don’t have a favourite but obviously ‘The View’ is up there just because of what it’s become to so many other people! Fills me with joy!

It’s filled a lot of people with joy too, so big ups to you! I’ve always been astounded by the sheer talent coming out of Manchester, are there any artists blowing your mind right now that we might not know about?

Any of the Room 2 Records lot, they are all dutty! Bipolar Sunshine, Shotty Horroh, Prose, Jun Tzu, Children of Zeus, Lvlz, Mosh team, Wordz, Fabz, Black Josh, Metrodome, Murkage, Bugzy Malone, 3 Wise Men, Trigger… Man, too many too mention!!

Is it difficult to balance family life with your career, and do you get your kids involved with your music?

Very! Haha, and I let them decide what they want to be for themselves. I will support them in anything they wish to do, including music.

Is it something you’d like for them to pursue when they’re older, and are they showing an interest in it already?

My daughter can sing and is playing England-level football, and my son is into computers and gaming so they have their own interests etc. But yeah I would love it if they chose to get involved but it’s not an easy game. So I wouldn’t like them to go through what I have to get here.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

Touring and loads more music!

Final shout outs?

Thanks for taking the time to read this. It means a lot! And thanks for all the kind words, Tweets, likes and follows! Nuff love! X

Big respect!

Mid Mic Crisis is out now. Get it from Soul:RBeatport and iTunes.

Catch DRS Live at House of Vans London 23rd April. Free tickets available here.

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You can follow Maja C on Twitter, @_Maja_C
Head of content and curator of Drum&BassArena's YouTube and SoundCloud channels, Maja also works across UKF's editorial pages.