The Upbeats VS Shapeshifter… Talk about clash of New Zealand’s mightiest D&B titans!
Maja C caught up with The Upbeats Dylan to find out more about this epic collision of creative minds, Christian balls and THAT legendary Let It Roll performance…
Big up fellas! Have we caught you in NZ or between gigs abroad?
Yo! Actually you’ve just caught us on the return flight to NZ from two weeks spent in the Cook Islands with the Shapeshifter crew. We played a little show there and spent the time chilling, surfing and getting some sun on the pasty studio tanned bodies.
Are you still based in NZ full-time?
Well as of three months ago now I’ve been based out of London, and Jeremy is still back in NZ, but we’ve been doing our fair share of cross planet commuting and the flights are definitely not getting any more fun, haha. Don’t get me wrong though, we’ll never get tired of travelling, seeing new places, playing shows and meeting people but the planes/airports thing can suck a f*ck!
Ha! Do you take the opportunity to work on material when you’re on long trips?
We don’t actually do much solo stuff while on the road. Definitely more about taking time out at home and getting in the studio zone in between shows or tours. We do however do a ton of collaborating while we are on the road crashing peoples’ couches and the like and getting in the studio with them in the weeks between gigs.
What has been your favourite gig this year so far and why?
It’s always so hard to nail a favourite show! We’ve been really spoilt this year, but I think one of the standouts would have to be the Let It Roll festival in the Czech republic though – great crowd, amazing sound and good vibes all round.
Mental set! The sheer energy you guys display behind the decks! You seem to jump around as much as the crowd does! Do you prefer live shows to work in the studio?
Haha, yeah it was hard not to be amped for that show! But yeah we definitely feel its adds an extra level to the performance and it’s really important to us to engage with people… We feed off the crowd and they feed off us. As far as live shows and studio work go we couldn’t really live without either – it’s great to zone out in the studio and create but at the same time you need that connection with your audience and the buzz of performing to feed the studio fire and keep perspective on things.
Do you think it’s important to display a certain level of energy when performing?
Each to their own on that one – it works for us but it’s really an individual thing. Go watch a Kraftwerk gig and they’ll barely move but it’s still a wicked show. I think as long as the music is great and the intention is good it doesn’t matter either way…
I have a feeling you display the same level of energy when you’re making the tunes on your own in the studio…
Well actually the studio can be pretty up and down. Its normally a pretty mellow thing with us, just beavering away on things – though there’s pretty much always some serious head nod going down somewhere in the session.
Back to the gigs… Any nightmares?
Definitely some funny ones… I’m not going to go into detail but there was one that involved a Christian school ball and us playing a bootleg of ‘Bad bitches’ by ASAp Rocky that has some pretty coarse language in it. Serious arms crossed stuff.
Wow! So you’ve joined forces with fellow Kiwis Shapeshifter for the huge SSXUB EP… WHAT a combination!
Well we have worked with the guys quite a bit over the years and recently they got us onboard to co-produce their latest album ‘Delta’, which was an awesome experience and we were super stoked to be involved in the project. Throughout the whole process we talked about doing a proper collaboration EP with the two of us; and so earlier this year we all got in the studio with snippets of ideas and we threw stuff around before whittling it down to the five tunes on the EP.
Did you guys all get in the studio together for the EP or was there a lot of swapping via the interwebs?
We were all in the studio together for the EP from pretty much start to finish.
Shapeshifter are the quintessential godfathers of D&B in NZ – what was it like working with them and did you pick up any technical tips and tricks?
Yeah definitely great to be in the studio with the guys. We’ve picked up a lot of things from them over the time for sure – and doing stuff with such a different outfit opens your mind to different approaches to mixes or melodies, or whatever, that we maybe wouldn’t have thought about before working with them.
How would you describe the sound you went for on the EP?
We were just trying to get a good blend of each of our strengths – there wasn’t really a plan for the sound of it aside from that. As Sam from Shapeshifter says “we were raiding all the goodies from each other pantries”.
Who did the artwork and what was the concept behind it?
The artwork was done by Micah Sargisson – the idea is that its two Siamese fighting fish, kind of a versus thing and the blue and red representing the contrast of the sounds coming together on the collaboration.
With SO many incredible artists coming out of NZ: Shapeshifter, Cern and Trei to name a few, are there any that you’re working with (or not working with) that we may not have heard of yet?
Dose is doing some wicked dancefloor stuff and check out Fis for some serious leftfield takes on 170 bpm and beyond. He’s just signed to Triangle records in NY so keep an eye out for him. Also Tokyo Prose and Consequence if you are into your more melodic and spacious D&B. There’s some really interesting stuff being done by these guys.
Do you have a sense of camaraderie with your fellow Kiwi’s in the scene or is there an air of friendly competition?
The scene here is like one big family – we are really lucky that there’s little or no beef between people and every time there’s a big show on it’s like a reunion and everyone’s partying together. To say there’s no friendly competition would be an understatement though – it’s a healthy thing to have and it really helps to push things and raise the level etc.
Do you think the scene is as strong back home as it once was?
It’s been a bit of a funny year back home for the D&B scene – lots of the major clubs that were doing drum and bass closed down at the same time around the country for whatever reason, so it’s all going through a bit of an upheaval at the mo’. But it still really feels strong as ever in most places that we play and there’s been a bit of a resurgence in underground warehouse parties etc which is cool… The Dnbeez is strong in NZ!
Do you guys have time to experiment with any other genres in the studio?
Yeah we are always mucking around with different stuff and we love it, definitely broadens the horizons and can be inspirational for our drum and bass stuff. We have a hip hop side project called Society Of Numbers and have previously done a bunch of 140bpm stuff under another name as Crushington. A couple of months ago we gave away an LP of non Dnb tracks on our soundcloud page called Lost And Found… Basically a bunch of things that we thought would never see the light of day so we thought we’d give ‘em away, and the response we got from that was great.
What’s coming up next for you in terms of touring?
It’s back to NZ now for the EP release tour with the Shapeshifter guys and some time to work on our next album in between those shows – then it’s back to London for me and more shows throughout Europe. Jeremy is hitting Australia in October and more NZ shows so busy busy!
Shouts to all the people coming to shows and supporting the music 🙂