Paradox: A Lesson In Breakbeats

Paradox: A Lesson In Breakbeats

Samurai must be celebrating this week… They’ve just released the massive Scorpius / Crate Logic, a double-A from one of drum & bass’s most longstanding contributors, Paradox. Currently residing in Lithuania, he’s achieved over 400 production credits including 147 singles on over 50 labels!

He’s also a MASSIVE sample addict. As the title of his Samurai release suggests; he’s mad for the original breakbeat. And his knowledge goes way deeper than the casual use of an odd Amen or two. Way deeper. We gave him a call to get a lesson in breakbeat, but first he seems to have his Lithuanian tourist board hat on…

“I love Lithuania,” he chuckles, cockney accent still intact. “It’s actually the fifth country I’ve lived in. I wanted to write an album in a different environment so came over here and realised it’s 70% cheaper than living in London so I stayed! I’m in such a great position here. I don’t smoke but a packet of fags is 90p! Every time I see them in the supermarket it makes me want to buy them!”

Ciggie and Lithuania hyping done, let’s get a schooling in breakbeat the Paradox way…

Scorpius… That’s a tribute to the Scorpio breakeat if ever we heard one!

Sure is. People tell me I’m a b-boy writing in the wrong field of breakbeats. I love programming breakbeats… I just love programming them at 170bpm! I’ve always loved that original funk side to sampling. Go back to the 80s and I was part of a hip-hop band. I was rapping, I was 16 years old and D&B wasn’t even invented. Nor was jungle.  Me and a mate started a band and he was always spinning back these mad breakbeats; the Amen Brother break, Tina Turner breaks, James Brown… All the breaks that were used by legendary hip-hop acts like Public Enemy and Tuff Crew. So that was me hooked.

Because of my fast rapping we recorded the breaks at 160bpm, which was too fast for everyone in hip-hop! So we sent them to a few labels; Moving Shadow, XL, Strictly and Suburban Base. They all came back with record deals. It was mad! We went to Moving Shadow because we loved their logo the most. That was the only reason we went with them!

All our early Moving Shadow releases had so many breaks because we were b-boys who didn’t really know what we were doing! Rob Playford said to us; ‘your stuff is way too fast!’ The double-A was 180bpm! That was unheard of in 1991…

So yeah, I’ve trawled my love for breaks through 21 years across the 56 vinyl labels I’ve recorded music for. Even this morning I was going through funk records at 7am looking for little snippets I might have missed. It’s an obsession. It’s an addiction. I’ll get on a plane to go and get a break.

What? Have you actually done that before?

Yeah I’ve got a plane to the States to pick up some records. My mate Nucleus is a scavenger, he goes to the record fairs at 7am with a pad in his pocket with a list of records no one knows. He’ll know if a drummer from a particular track has featured on a one-off record and he’ll track that one record down. We research deep! It’s paramount we pay respect to the original breaks; the whole idea is that if the drummer heard the sample he’d be proud you’d done his work such justice. You don’t want him to sound like he’s falling down the stairs with edits flying out the window. The breakbeat needs to remain intact. It always loops back to the one. The funny thing is, it’s such a rare avenue these days…

Surely, after 40/50 years of funk, all the breakbeats have been used up now? Are there still records to be brought to justice?

Definitely! Hundreds! There are so many little, obscure bands from places like Texas or New Orleans that have only ever released one or two 45s before disappearing. Or there are rare parts because singles were often done as part one and part two. We’ve got a whole catalogue of breakbeats that we’ve never got round to using yet! Some real rarities as well. Going back to the early 90s, when I signed to Reinforced, I started doing this ‘sample me’ series. I did 18 of them on vinyl; just little three minute drumloops for people to sample in the hope it keeps the scene going. I still get emails now from people asking permission to sample it. They’re scared! I get back and say ‘it’s called ‘sample me’ of course you can!’

So the lesson of the day is to stay away from the samplepacks…

Well yeah! I think younger producers just don’t know about crate digging and sampling. Scorpius is a dedication to this. I’ve even given away the break at the end of the track, all nicely cleaned up and ready to sample. I’ve changed the channel and brought the snares up so it’s ready to be used by anyone who’s keen to keep the scene going…

Amazing. Give us some records…

Go for any Kool & The Gang albums. All releases of theirs from 68-70 are amazing. They gave us the Give it Up break which SL2 used it. So they’re a great place to start.

The Tina Turner’s Funky Mule is amazing; pitch down the snares and kicks and you’ve got so much creativity. It’s on samplepacks but if you get the vinyl you’ll get the whole breakbeat.

Of course the Amen break is great but it’s been used 69,000 times so only use it in the background. Be sure to check out albums from Bernard Purdie; Soul Drums is incredible, it has so many layers of breakbeats.

Puncho & The Latin Soul Brothers – Got Myself A Good Man is another great place to start. Bernard produced that and it’s got such an amazing break you’ll never look at a sample pack again. It’s incredible.


Scorpius / Crate Logic is out now. Listen and download

Drum&BassArena Editor: Dave Jenkins has documented beats for over 15 years working with the likes of UKF, Mixmag, DJ Mag, iDJ, Bandcamp, Resident Advisor, Radio 1 Xtra and many more.