Five Minutes With Xtrah
Very few artists are picking up momentum as rapidly as this London-based label hopper. Slamming systems with his self-style ‘hurters’ on some of the most respected imprints in the land (Symmetry, Critical and, most recently, Shogun’s SGN:LTD), each release confirms his status as a verified banger merchant.
Case in point? Shock Treatment on SGN:LTD. Let’s check it out…
We gave him a call to see what’s bubbling in Xtrah land. Just our luck, we interrupted a tutoring session….
You’re a tutor? Cool! For the love or for the monies?
A bit of both I guess, but mainly because I love passing on the knowledge. It’s a great way of reminding myself about things I should incorporate in my music. I get too technical sometimes, so teaching people and explaining things to them makes me think ‘why don’t I do this?’ It keeps me in check. It also helps pay for my studio and, like I say, I love spreading the love!
Props. If you could have given you one piece of advice when you started producing – something you didn’t learn until a lot later on – what would it be?
Oh man! What a weird question! I think ‘less is more’.
That applies to so many things! Simplify it, every time…
Definitely. The easier it is to listen to, the better. It’s not always about being as technical as you can. Make sure the main message is still there and not drowned in other unnecessary techniques.
We hear you man. So, you’ve mentioned the new studio… Last time we spoke you’d just moved into it. How’s it working out for you?
It’s great! I’m still using both studios to be honest. I start a lot of tunes at home then finish them in the studio. It took me a while to get used to the new places, but I’m loving it.
I’m guessing your last one on Critical and your new release on SGN:LTD were both created in the new lab?
Haha, no! I started both of them before I even moved into the studio! I finished them in the studio but the ideas are quite old…
Ah… You’re one of those producers who works on loads of ideas over months and months, then. Am I right?
Yes definitely! I have four or five tunes going at the same time, all the time. I always make sure they’re all consistently fat as they’re likely to come out around the same time. It’s good for them to have similar weight. Or, for example, if I learn something new in the studio, I make sure I’ve applied it to all of the tunes, and not just one.
Consistency is key! So… Sounds like there are more Xtrah bangers coming our way soon?
I’ve got loads coming! Some stuff on Symmetry, some more on Critical and loads I can’t talk about right now.
Gotcha. Big ups on Shock Treatment / Going Deeper. If I put a gun to your head and demanded which one you love the most, which one would it be?
Wow! That’s a harsh question. I guess Shock Treatment; when I was making it I had this great feeling about the bass. I just remember the first time I dropped it: seeing everyone’s faces change when they heard it. They didn’t know what it was but they were already reacting to it. I love that.
This is a classic definition of what you’ve referred to as ‘hurters’ on Twitter, right?
Yes! Completely; seeing people get hurt by that bass when it drops! It’s all about the hurters man.
For sure. Let’s be stupid with the title for a minute; what’s the most shocking thing you’ve been treated to lately?
I’ve seen a lot of shocking things on the internet! Let me think…. Playing in an old bank vault in Cardiff was pretty shocking. A genuine bank vault, now. It had an ejector seat in there!
WTF? An ejector seat?
For real. You couldn’t push the button but it was a proper old ejector seat. The whole place was mental; it had those massive circular metal vault doors and everything. It was crazy. Easily the most shocking gig.
The acoustics any good?
Banging! Wicked system. Wicked bank vault. Wicked crowd mate.
So what else has been popping? What’s been the highlight of the last year since you last spoke to Drum&BassArena?
Oh so much stuff man. Playing in Dubai was definitely a big highlight. It’s such a cool place to be. I went up to the top of the Burj Khalifa tower, and seeing all the mad cars and everything. Just screaming rich! Outlook festival was incredible too. Such a great festival!
How about stuff to look forward to this summer?
Well there’s Outlook again for sure! I’ve got a show at a party in an ex-prison in Estonia, which sounds pretty mad. It’s on a beach, too. About 1000-1500 people, in an old prison on a beach. How cool is that?
Very. So how can we finish this interview? What else can we add?
I’m just keeping doing what I’m doing and let’s see where it takes me. I want to get some EPs out soon…
Yeah, so far it’s only been two track releases…
12”s all the way. But I’m working on a couple of EPs for a couple of labels right now. Can’t wait to get them out.
You’ve aligned yourself with some amazing labels; SGN:LTD, Critical, Symmetry. Very few artists seem to be able to develop strong ties with so many credible labels without being exclusively signed along the way. What’s your secret?
I think at this point in my career it would be foolish to sign exclusively with any label. That said, when a label offer you a deal to look after you and help develop you, it would be hard to ignore. I’ve got personal goals that I want to achieve before I sit down and lock myself away from the scene, go quiet for a year and write an album. I don’t think I’m at that point in my career yet anyway…
It must be scary for a producer when that time comes; profile and activity is everything. You’ve got to ignore that for a whole year and hope people still want to hear you when you return…
Exactly. No music out. Limited gigs. It’s a daunting prospect for any producer. But I think you know when it’s the right time. I’m enjoying making singles to be honest. Why stress myself out? I’ll know when the time is right. I’ve got a couple of ideas for concepts already. I don’t want it to be 12 bangers thrown together. It has to be a journey from start to finish. The ideas are forming, I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going…
Shock Treatment / Going Deeper is out now on SGN:LTD
Listen and download