So Outrage, what motivated the decision to name your new EP Zer0 BPM, making a statement about generic constraints are we?
That’s exactly what it is, you can finish the interview there, done. I think it kind of speaks for itself. I’ve been doing down tempo stuff since 2007 with my other label J-Tek which I started out with long time friend of mine Danny Modular, and Randall and a load of other old school heads like Tango Ratty and that. Back then dubstep was just dubstep, but the 140 DJs didn’t want to take it on because it had too many breakbeats for them. I feel that the scene has opened up a lot more, it’s all kind of gelling into one and it’s the perfect time for me to bring these strands of music all into one place, like I have done with this EP.
I’m still running J-TeK and we’ve got some releases coming out soon but as an artist I still want be recognised for my sound regardless of its BPM. Dance music is in a very interesting place right now, dubstep is becoming less of a genre and more about tempo. People are playing everything 140 which can mean anything, it could be a techno-oriented track, it could be house, garage, jungle-techno. It’s great because that’s how things were in the late 80s when you had these kinds of music all under one roof. It’s turning round to be a bit more like that now, you see Goldie and Skream on the same line up, I think its great for the scene.
When I started making that kind of stuff everything that was around was very early dubstep, you had Digital Mystikz making that very heavy dub influenced sound. But now if its 140, whatever the concept behind the track might be, people are calling it dubstep. I think that genre name isn’t going far enough, that genre of music is coming to mean a lot of things that flow between 135 to 140 BPM.
I guess your slower sound is kind of defined by the tease of breaks in there in a way…
The earlier stuff I did with J-Tek was a lot more old-school oriented, we’d have all the full-on amens in there. But with what I’m doing now I wanted it to be more organic and current and come out with a fresher sound, I don’t want it to sound like it was made in 1994. When you use a full-on old break people will tag it as old school because it just associates with the old jungle sound so easily, so I’m trying to get a modern feel with organic drums fused with those old-school breaks.
Let’s talk about your technical process for these new tracks, how do you work?
All of my tracks come from writing a lot. I use a pen and paper, every track has got a story behind it. It might be just random words or whatever’s going on in my head, that’s how all of my tracks start. Whether I set that track to 170 or 140 bpm doesn’t matter, the tracks are a reflection of how I feel at the time. And what I want to be careful of is my slower stuff sounding like slower versions of my drum & bass material. There’s different arrangement techniques I want to use and slightly different processes, so the sound is completely different. A lot of my tracks might start at 140 and then I speed them up so I end up with 2 versions of most of my tracks.
One of the tracks on the EP ‘Absit Omen’ means “excising your demons” in latin, that’s me speaking in the intro as with all the vocals on my tracks. I don’t want to sound cliché but we all go through significant life problems. I saw that particular phrase on a website and it resonated, so I wrote a little poem about the calm before the storm and getting rid of all the shit and all that. It’s not just me feeling sorry for myself, we all go through that shit in life. The title PH7 that became the flip track comes from the chemical term for neutrality. That’s a statement where I’m saying that I don’t want my sound to be pigeonholed into drum & bass or jungle techno or breaks or whatever.
Stamina MC will agree to the fact that it means neutral since we argued over it at length in an airport waiting lounge, I thought he was gonna beat me up at one point but luckily someone stepped in and agreed with me.
I listen to everything but drum & bass to get influenced. I can’t just sit there and bang out a track, I have to have a particular reason or feeling behind it. It’s all about deep, dark mysterious music for making you think when you’re sitting in your car or on a train.
A few years ago, maybe 6-7 people would probably remember me being the one throwing a drink or a bit of vinyl someone had given me around the club. I moved to Thailand and came back without the energy to be angry, whereas before I could snap easily. Whenever I feel aggravated I think back to Thailand and think we’ve got fuck all to complain about. You can’t just compare it, sometimes you’ve gotta shake yourself and just deal with it,
Yea, cry about it, then write a song about it.
Let’s talk about your live show.
I was one of the first drum & bass people to do a public Ableton live show. I didn’t really know what I was doing and it was a bit basic, I just stripped down my tracks into individual layers. But seeing the new software that’s out now I need to go study it a bit more I think! My live show is going to be a totally unique journey through multiple BPMs, soundscapes, all my own material, loops and stuff that you’ll never hear again or will never be released. Just a picture of what I’m about as an artist.
Between the label and the EP would you say that got a pretty unified vision of what you’re about musically?
Backlash is literally a statement against what people expect a D&B label to be. When you’re making music for other labels you lose a certain element of freedom, so this was set up to enable me to do what I want, when I want.
I’m not sitting here saying I’m going to change the world or anything, I just know what I want to achieve as an artist. Whenever me and Amit used to work together as Tronic & Rage, if we made anything that sounded remotely like someone else we’d scrap it, we wanted to be far away from everything else out there. Amit even more so. I’d be thinking of the dancefloor too much when we were producing. Digital and Dom & Roland played a big part in our early career and gave us loads of feedback. We took feedback from loads of people but we always had that urge to find our own sound that was completely different from anything else. You used to be able to go into a club and hear Dillinja, that’s Spirit, that’s Digital, that’s Krust, that’s Die. You’d know straight away even by an edit or a process, but that’s been lost a bit nowadays. It’s still out there but just not as identifiable.
Drum & bass eats itself alive in a way because people coming through make tunes too much to sound like someone else, even though its good to look up to individual labels and artists. People say everything’s been done but there’s so many ways to put an individual stamp on your music that should be important to any new producer.
What do you listen to outside of the realms of dnb then?
On the way up here I was listening to Radio 1, there’s a lot of shit on there but some good stuff as well. I’m into Sonic Youth, Radiohead, Otomo Yoshihide who is an experimental sound artist. Im really into designing my own sounds and recordings tuff from the street, if an artist or track gets me thinking that’s good enough for me.
I’m not stupid, I don’t want to lose money, as an artist it gives you a lot of freedom. As long as you retain the quality control I think people will still respect the label regardless of whether its on vinyl or digital or fucking cassette tape or whatever. I think that’s where people go wrong, they think if their stuff’s not on vinyl that they’re not going to be taken seriously. Or they release a load of shit on digital. Maybe not shit, but they’re throwing out things that I would think in my head isn’t good enough for vinyl so why should it be out on digital. Let’s face it, there’s hardly any genres that release on vinyl anymore apart from drum & bass.
So are you saying this is the death of dubplate?
I find it really sad personally but the inevitable truth is that one day we’ve got to move on. This new digital fingerprint technology is amazing. For example I did a mix recently with John B Up All Night and a message popped up saying that Universal owned the track, it had an individual ID tag on it that can be detected anywhere. Before long this technology will be standard for every label.
Outrage is releasing Zer0 BPM exclusively through the D&BA Download store this weekend on Backlash Records.
Backlash Website – www.backlashrecords.co.uk
Backlash Shop – http://music.backlashrecords.co.uk/
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/outrageuk
Twitter – http://twitter.com/#!/OutrageBeats
Soundcloud – http://soundcloud.com/backlashrecords
YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/user/OutrageBacklash
August 26th – Technicality – Rhythm Factory – London UK
August 28th – The Pad Bedford w/Bailey
September 1st – Vampire Records Night, Club Nomad, London UK
October 1st – Australia, Asia, New Zealand Tour
November 27th – North and South American Tour
December – UK/EU Tour