Philth: he initially seems civil enough, but there’s always a certain, well let’s be frank, filth about his production that shocks to the core. A split personality who you feel could suddenly turn and loom over you, cracking knuckles. So it was with much trepidation that I drew up a chair opposite him and discussed all things Beast-related… including foxes, sharks, pythons and of course, Bass Whales.
I must say that the new The Beasts EP (out January 20) is aptly named: each track is, quite literally, a Beast. Was that the inspiration for the title?
It was actually called Monsters for a bit. I love to watch ‘Planet Earth’ and other nature documentaries and I take a lot of inspiration from watching these programs. ‘Python’ is obvious: I wanted to make a bass that crushes your chest like a python.
‘Breach’ is inspired by the way Great White Sharks attack from below and breach the water – I tried to make a track that sounds like a stealth attack by a shark.
When we were writing ‘Cetacean’ we layered the bass with the sounds of a humpback whale and wanted to create a feeling of a huge unstoppable bass-whale.
On the animal front, what others do you like?
A lot of people hate them but I love foxes. Maybe because we share a beautiful furry orange coat? I feel a real affinity to them, apart from the bin-diving. I have a lot of fox-themed clothing. Actually I like animals more than people a lot of the time.
You are prolific: is each new release is an ADVANCE on past work or just a different facet of you?
I think it’s both. You have to keep moving forward and progressing, otherwise what’s the point? My skills as a producer are always developing, I spend a lot of time honing my technical ability and trying to improve my mixdowns, my sound design.
A huge topic which we must address another time!
But more importantly I also feel like I am improving as a musician, I am learning how to express my ideas more clearly. However every song I’ve released is part of the journey and is special in its own way. I feel like I’ve hit a strong patch of form but I would never have released anything that wasn’t a real representation of me.
How do you feel when you listen to stuff of yours from a few years back? D&B is one of the rare genres that ‘dates’ in a peculiar way…
As I’ve matured as a producer I feel that I’m better at focusing my ideas and expressing what I am trying to say. I sit on tracks for a long time before I send them to labels to be sure that they have some longevity. Overall, if I can make music that I can listen to again and again then hopefully it will stand the test of time. I’m proud of my discography.
By day you teach, at night you tear apart studios and clubs… how do you do it?
Minimal sleep! My life is music – I’m hungry and I have a lot of energy.
It’s become a lot easier since I signed with Empress Artists management. I’m able to spend more time in the studio now – but it’s still tough working as a teacher and trying to balance the time between both careers.
About your teaching, do you find that certain lessons you teach to others actually come back to benefit you… and do you learn from your students?
I’ve found that the thought process required to be able to explain a technique or idea to my students actually results in me understanding things better myself.
All of my teaching practice is based on my experience as a DJ and musician. I teach the students techniques that I use in my own career, quite often using work-in-progress to show a certain studio technique. So it’s a constant cycle.
And if you had unlimited budget would you change anything in the way you record?
If I had an unlimited budget I think I’d take the next year off work and write an album! No but really at the moment I’m blessed with access to a fantastic studio.
What new music in general is on the radar?
There’s so much good music in my CD wallet at the moment! Everything DLR makes is killer. Ulterior Motive, Survival, Quadrant + Iris, Bredren, Hyroglifics, Diffrent Music, Liquid Tones, FD’s new EP, the Jubei LP, Stealth, Mefjus, Ingredients….. I’m also really proud of the forthcoming music I’ve signed to Peer Pressure, we have a lot up our sleeves for next year.
On to THAT release party (lineup below) and a suitably stunning lineup…
We’ve organised the launch party in the Plan B basement in Brixton on Saturday January 18, and I’m stupidly excited to play an extended set for friends and family in this intimate venue. Oh and the system down there is thumping! I’ve been working hard to make sure I have some exclusive new music to play, as well as the EP of course: I can’t wait to hear the Python squeezing chests in the basement.
You’re joined by Bredren?
Yes that’s right, Dieter and Adrien (Bredren) are coming over from Belgium. Dieter came over in the summer and we hit the studio, then the pub, and really hit it off when we went to Fabric that weekend. I’m very excited to have Bredren supporting me. I actually had to request that they play after me because they’re going to kill it! The full line up is made up of Flexout Audio artists but also my close friends. It’s a family affair!
Last question: what would you play live if you had access to enough of your music (ie on a big USB) BUT all D&B music was somehow missing?
Aside from drum and bass, I listen to a lot of soundtracks. Favourites include Solaris, Babel, anything by David Arnold or Hans Zimmer and the like. But sure I could get away with a ’90 minute soundtracks set’ though, it’s not really got the right vibes for the dancefloor! However I grew up listening to UK Garage and I really enjoy playing bumpy house and garage sets at friend’s parties. You can’t beat a classic Todd Edwards production.
Special Philth: ‘End of Year’ 2013 mix