Get To Know: Simple Technique (Exclusive Mix)
(Written by Dave Jenkins)
Think DJ artist pages on Facebook, think faceless hate, not-what-it-used-to-be groans and nagging spammers right? Maybe the odd Darude – Sandstorm for good measure.
Well here’s a cool switch… Three years ago a then-bubbling Xtrah put out a chance request for a lift to an airport at 2am. A young producer called Fred decided to offer his services.
Little did Fred, or his partner in grime Dan for that matter, know that three years later Xtrah would be releasing their music as Simple Technique.
Not lightly, either; he’d be investing in them as part of the debut release on his brand new Cyberfunk imprint. He’s already told us everything we need to know about the label last month. Now let’s meet the London duo he’s signed… And grab a free exclusive mix in the process…
Easy now Simple Technique… Introduce yourselves!
Easy now we’re Simple Technique, two bass heads from London. We’ve been into the London D&B scene since we were old enough to convince the bouncers we were old enough.
This isn’t a flash-in-the-pan pop up scenario, though, is it? You’ve been bubbling together since 2009, right?
Yeah the entry requirements for electronic music are at an all time low! It’s a good thing for a lot of people out there but it also means every producer already out there has upped their game to compete. That’s why we’ve been bubbling, it might be easier than ever to get your hands on a sample pack but to really get to the level everyone else is at you’ve got to get the basics mastered on your own terms.
Before joining Xtrah and the Cyberfunk fam, you’ve had a few cuts on Lifestyle. Tell us a bit about your previous releases….
Those cuts were good for us more than anything. Deep down you know you’ve got the passion for the music but whether that translates to something other people get is always a question in your mind. The Lifestyle releases just confirmed we were right.
How did the hook up with Xtrah come about?
Xtrah put out a message on Facebook about needing a lift to the airport at like two in the morning and Fred just happened to be up at the time, he was a fan, he had a car…
That was about three years ago, and since last year we’ve been sharing a studio.
He’s really invested in you. He’s your Splinter, you’re his turtles… What sensei wisdom has he given you?
So much wisdom from that guy… Just the other night at the Shogun Audio rave in Brixton he suggested we ride down the stairs on an ironing board.
But really, he’s a very supportive guy, we’ve just never really taken advice when it comes to the music, we’re doing our own thing pushing D&B forward the way we want and he’s doing his thing. Just so happens we’re both on some kind of new wave together. When it comes to everything else though the man knows what he’s doing. I bet we’ll be seeing him as one of the big head honchos in a few years.
You are okay with me calling you turtles, right? Which turtles would you be?
Ahh forget about those turtles, Bebop and Rocksteady, they were the real stars. They were these two stupid bad guys, really dopey characters. They would call people “bozo” and stupid shit like that but they were put through the most brutal acts of violence and came back every episode like nothing happened, seriously badass. They were also named after the styles of music which I didn’t notice until just now.
So yeah we would probably be those guys… which is completely not the question you asked at all but there you go.
Back to serious questions…. Cold Steppin is a big leap in production standards since the Lifestyle stuff. It’s pretty brutal and lives up to its name… Have you felt a development in the studio in the last year?
Yeah it’s been going off, support from Friction on Radio 1Xtra was great. I guess that’s what all that bubbling was for. We’ve been taking things into our own hands production-wise drawing it all up from scratch that’s why it’s got a serious edge, thing’s been getting pulled up all over the place. We’re just happy to be giving the dance what it wants.
Thing is there’s always more to learn in the studio. More to develop. It seems like every month there’s a new game changing plug-in or synth but it’s getting to know how to use what you’ve got and making your own sound that’s important. But to be honest we’ve personally heard it too many times and don’t know why anyone likes it.
Is this indicative of where you’re at stylistically? Or should we be prepared for multi-style switch flips in the future?
We don’t think we’re going to sit still stylistically. Different tempos, styles, time signatures we will try just about anything. Even within D&B we’re going to switch styles a lot but we make every sound ourselves so we’re hoping that while we switch styles a lot, everything will have that Simple Technique feel to it.
I’m hearing a lot of classical D&B influences in Cold Steppin. Particularly mid-late 90s Metalheadz. That crisp, minimal muscle feeling. Am I close?
Now that you’ve mentioned it, it does have that solid headz feel to it.
We both love late 90s techstep, early 2000s techstep , mid 2000s jump up, late 2000s Ram and Shogun and early 2010s neurofunk, Metalheadz, Bad Company, Dom and his Roland, Kemal and Rob Data.
So it makes sense that those influences would be there somewhere… or everywhere. The only thing I do remember thinking when we were making it was “that Break and Die tune, tear down, has no hats or cymbals when it drops…… that’s awesome we need to try that.”
Dan, you’ve played bass in a band before, and Fred you’ve been making music for years but not gone public with anything until now… Can you tell me about your background and how they’ve helped get your here please?
D: Yeah the bass has always flowed through my mind. Getting to understand how to ground a track is what drew me towards it, that and how much you can groove with something that seems simple at first. Now I play a mean FM synth instead, maybe I’ll be dropping a few slap bass licks in some tunes later, who knows?
F: Musical background? Well I attempted to learn a few instruments and just gave up on all of them, apart from drums… but I’m still awful at those, so let’s not talk about that. Got kicked out of 6th form in school and started making music and after about a year presented some work to the London College of Music, which they liked, and I was accepted on the course to study Music Technology despite not having the right grades. Finished that up and a few months later moved into the studio with Xtrah.
Let’s talk about the mix. Can I assume you were DJs before you became producers?
We’ve always been passionate about the music but for us we started with production and then got totally drawn into the mix. I mean there’s only one thing better than D&B and that’s D&B live in the mix.
It’s loaded with all shades and styles. Not a dull moment… Tell us about that any cheeky exclusives you’ve got in there?
That’s the way we do it. There’s always been a lot of pigeonholing with producers but we really do step to every flavour.
Well, there’s the A side off the Cyberfunk EP and our own tune off the release is in there, Cold Steppin.
We’ve got a VIP we made of Joe Ford’s Off Centre without his permission (Hi Joe). We did it just for this mix because that tune just wasn’t off centre enough.
There are a couple of our bits in there that have been going down well when we play them. One’s a techy rattler and the other’s a liquid flavour bit with a techy bass solo and if you listen real carefully we switch up the tempos and there’s a garage influenced tune in there with the vocal talent of the wonderful Becca Jane Grey.
Any forthcoming dates people should be aware of?
We’re moving with the Cyberfunk crew at the minute. There have been some vibing shows in London and Brighton, which were absolutely mental. The other upcoming shows so far are:
Sheffield 17th April at Hope Works
Bristol 24th April at Basement 45
And some others that we’re not allowed to talk about yet.
And any forthcoming Simple Technique releases people should be aware of?
CFNK001 is the next one out on the 20th of April. There’s another single in the works for Cyberfunk and plenty of tunes at various stages of production. You’ll have to catch the shows to hear them.
Final question: if you could co-lab with ANY musician, alive or dead, who would it be… And why?
Boards of Canada, Tipper, Primus… Can’t decide! We’ve got a lot of influences. BoC and Tipper are just up there as amazing producers, they’ve captured their own sound and they know how to express it. They’re like Brian Eno, Noisia and all the other pioneering producers. Having your own musical language is the kind of thing that gets us going.
Primus on the other hand have the kind of dark bass rhythms that we love. On tracks like DMV the textures are pretty similar to a lot of DnB, heavy bass with a crispy timbre and a top line that just sits over everything with a strong sense of funk in the drums.
How we’d do these collabs though? No idea, we’re fucking belligerent in the studio.
Pre-order The Existence EP here.
Words by Dave Jenkins.