Parallel and Hexa, two very different producers who certainly have two things in common; their love for drum and bass music and a dedication to the well known homegrown label Pick ‘N’ Mix. Jamie catches up with the guys for a chat.
Let’s start from the beginning breaking down your first ever experience with drum and bass, what was it that really got the hair standing on your arms?
P “Ahh! I think my first ever experience with drum and bass was from my mum playing pendulum and the prodigy in the car, that was when the passion for electronic music really kicked off! My favourite tune at that time was ‘Blood Sugar’ by Pendulum.”
H “Ey that’s a good one! My first real experience with drum and bass was with a load of the old Grafix solo stuff. A personal favourite of mine was a track of his called ‘Holding On’. Hits me right in the feels!”
Production wise, was that always the dream? Some start as DJs, others as just ravers and even some as fans of a certain artist. What flicked the switch?
H “For me, I started DJing about 4 years ago when my mate Kyle got one of them Numark party mix controllers for Christmas and he used to bring it round to my house. As soon as I got hold of it I was hooked! Although producing came a little further down the line, the album that inspired me to actually look into producing music was the Serum and Voltage ‘Strike back’ LP which came out on Low Down Deep. As soon as I bought it, I instantly wanted to learn the ins and outs of the game.”
P “I actually started off from DJing, I think around 2 years ago now! I had bought a Pioneer SB2 deck with some small Pioneer monitors alongside. I could never get off it ha ha, I would always be making little mixes and edits. Back when I started mixing I absolutely loved jump up. The artists that really made me want to start producing include KMotionz, Simula, Voltage and Serum.”
Promo, promo and more promo – certainly the norm these days but what do you find most effective when putting the word out about your music? Can you think of anything that’s really not worked that you can share for future advice?
H “Promo is certainly a tricky one. For me I found that networking with the people around me helped me the most. Being friendly and surrounding yourself with others who are just as motivated as you is a massive help! Also finding unique ways to get your content to the community is a big thing as well.”
TJ and the Pick ‘n’ Mix crew are always on point with creating new ways to make their content creative yet connecting.
P “Yeah promo is a difficult one as I don’t really get along with it. However, in recent times I have grown to be more self disciplined with promo. Like Harry has said, networking is definitely the major way of promo because the more correct connections you have, the better the promo will work in your favour.”
As producers, would you prefer to just bang out tune after tune in a dark room and leave the promotion to the label or do you feel it’s a rewarding part of the process? From experience, are all labels the same when it comes to this?
P “I think that promo should be done by both sides because personally for me it would be unfair for just the label or just the producer to promote a release. I also like doing the promotion for the reason of the compliments and feedback that keeps me thriving to create more and more music!”
H “As much as I love to get my head down and focus on making new music, I think getting behind your music and really making sure it reaches its highest potential is a big thing. If you can’t get behind your own music, how do you expect other people to? Showing compassion as an artist means a lot to listeners.”
Seeing the work that goes into a label, would you ever fancy creating an offshoot? Something to showcase a diverse style of drum and bass that’s not afraid to try something different?
P “Personally I think that running a label is a difficult yet rewarding job. I say this because you have to be on the constant look out for new creative ideas, new artists to sign, a solid commitment and also have a friendly attitude. Now this is where TJ comes into play because not only does he run the label, he is also making friends with the producers and getting to know them, which I find is an important factor when running a label.”
H “For me, running a label requires a lot of commitment and selflessness, so as an up and coming artist myself I’d have to say it’s not for me, that being said, later on in my career it would never be a never say never situation.”
Question is, what is different these days? We seem to have gone a full 360 a number of times since 1993!
H “As Long as there are up and coming artists constantly coming through, and the consumer and fan base continues to keep pushing for the next new big thing, then everything will fall into place.”
People talk about the next BIG thing being a resurgence of 00’s jump up – is this really going to be a thing? Where were you in the early Y2K era? What was on the iPod?
H “I mean personally, I’m open to anything that an artist creates, there’s nothing I love more than fresh music. If the 00’s jump up sound comes back through, I would love to see it crossed with brand new styles and methods.”
As a genre we need to be constantly moving forward, regenerating older sounds with a modern twist is a very good way of doing this!
A question that no doubt everyone will want to know.. What’s TJ like to work with? Has his infectious personality pushed you to make more and more good music? What sets him aside from other label owners?
H “Working with TJ is not like working at all ha ha! It’s more a friendship, he’s always pushing on and motivating people to make sure they reach their potential. He also gives a great platform to up and coming artists to get their work out there, it’s a great thing to see.”
P “TJ is a really easy and all round lovely guy! He is very good at motivating you, making sure that you’re okay and just checking up on you. Like Harry said TJ is definitely more of a friend.”
10/10 would recommend then?
P “Oh yeah for sure. TJ and the team have really helped me push my career even further! Even though this is my debut EP on Pick ‘N’ Mix I feel like I have increased my connections and audience through them.”
H “Yep! Pick ‘N’ Mix gave me a great head start to my production career. When I released my ‘Point of contact’ EP with him, it allowed me to gain access to a lot of networks and artists which I never would’ve been able to do so quickly on my own.”
Just reloading back to the next big thing. If you could bring back a sound or an era of choice, what would it be? How would this influence your current sound?
H “You see this is a real tough one, with drum and bass a lot of ‘sounds’ and ’styles’ are evolved sounds from the past but with something new. If I had to narrow it down, the original Philly Blunt sound does it for me, it’s hard to find a mix by me that hasn’t featured something released by the V family.”
P “Yeah that is a very difficult question! I listen to a lot of the old school jungle tunes around the 90s and early 2000s and a few of the 2012 jump up stuff.”
For me I feel like if I had to choose an era it would 100% be something from the early jungle time.
Heroes in the scene, who are they, what have they done to shape your sound and what would you like to say to them if you could?
P “For me personally I feel like a few artists have shaped my sound such as Serum, Voltage, Dillinja and Marcus Intalex. I listen to these legends all the time and get many inspirations from them. If I could ask them one question, it would be what was your motivation for moving into production.”
H “Dillinja, Hazard, Scorpio and Suv. These guys are real blueprint makers in my eyes, shaping the sound and style of the drum and bass rollers that you’re hearing today. If I could ask them one thing, it would be how they could see that far into the future!”
Talking of which, do you feel the A list are accessible to everyday ravers? If you were in that position, what would you do to interact with your fans?
H “Of course they are! Your favourite artists are only a message away. If you’re polite and humble, you can speak to anyone you like!”
Just remember they’re human beings too, ask them how their days have been, you’ll be surprised how many will respond.
P “I think that Harry has hit the nail on the head there. I feel that artists are easily accessible if you approach with the correct manner and meaning. You can actually get some really nice tips and tricks from an artist sometimes.”
Climbing that ladder, what’s on the cards for the rest of 2020 for you both? Any collaborations in the pipeline? Future streams etc
P “For the end of this year I have quite a bit of music being released, I have a single and an EP in august and then a couple others in October and November.”
H “After my Pick ’N’ Mix release at the end of the month, I have a single coming in August, and then 3 more bodies of work coming out before the end of the year, so there’s plenty more Hexa music to go around.”
Shouts and dedications
H “Shout out to all the Newcastle boys, KL, Scudd, Nec, Skant, Kastro, Stompz, The Dilate Crew and a big shout out to all the Incurzion Audio boys too!”
P > Shout out to the Norfolk lads, Kontakt, T>I, Oblivion, Woodz, Substance, Upgrade and DJ Limited!