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Quadrant: Microsleepless in Seattle

Quadrant: Microsleepless in Seattle

Seattle’s Quadrant has had an intense 2014 so far, ‘intense’ as defined by: breathless airport rushes, bass cannon hallways, moats – yes: MOATS, cardboard records, William Shatner’s voice and on top the construction of the mini-multiverse which is the Microsleep ep for Dispatch, out next week. Phew.

When did Microsleep come about, was it an ‘over time’ one? I thought at first the title was about catching quick naps on tour but is it?

Microsleep is when your brain goes to sleep for short periods of time, but you don’t even notice you’ve drifted off.

The kind of thing that happens late at night driving down an endless highway. I’ve always been interested in that phenomenon, plus I just love how the word sounds when you say it aloud.

The tune itself was a really natural process… I started it out, then brought in Iris and Kid Hops, we worked on it together for several sessions and got everything dialed in over the course of a few weeks. I played it for DLR when he was in town and he gave us some ideas to make it even better– that’s also when we (ie companions Kid Hops and Iris) hatched the idea for him and Ant to do the remix for ‘Convergence’.

More on that remix soon… ‘Microsleep’ is a masterclass not only on low end but how to tweak high end, so what went into the production blender?

I think we spent several hours just nailing those low bass notes, and making sure the rides and tambourines moved in the right way. Overall I’m super happy with how it turned out.

It’s just on that slinky vibe that I loved so much when I got into D&B around 2000/2001. Wormhole and Sleepwalk were still fresh in everyone’s minds back then and I’ve always thought that ever since, people focused too much on getting crazy midrange sounds and not enough on the groove, making things hang back just a little bit, making things breathe. So basically a lot of time was spent getting that feeling right, and keeping it interesting as the tune evolved.

I built it around the ‘God Made Me Funky’ break, and sampled myself playing djembe over the top to give it a similar feel to the original, with my own twist.

Oh yeah, and fun fact: one of the samples in the breakdown was taken from a cardboard record of Iris’s dad, recorded in the 1950s.

‘Warsaw”s wicked, so understated, who’s Cease btw?

Thanks! Yeah, we banged most of that out in a day, sometimes when it’s right, tunes fall together quickly like that.

Cease is a good friend of mine here in Seattle. He’s heavily involved in Onset, which is one of the longest running nights here in the city. He and I have also done collabs before – ‘Blood On Our Hands/Rage and Rapture’ and ‘Built for War’, both on Citrus. He’s perhaps best known for ‘Ladies Night’ with Demo that came out a few years back on Human Imprint. He and I are definitely going to get in the studio more coming up soon!

Demo & Cease! Yes, and WHAT an ugly tune is ‘Ladies Night’! Was the collab thing fun in general?

Yeah I guess these days my stuff is 95% collabs, I think only done one solo tune in the last couple of years. I just love vibing off other people’s energy in the studio, even when it’s a project that someone else started halfway across the world.

I feel like like if it’s just me working in the studio, I get too caught up in the engineering, and there’s nobody there to tell me ‘the snare sounds fine, just move on!’ With other people around, it’s more about creating an environment where everyone is excited about the music that’s being made… when you look around the studio and the people next to you are nodding their heads, it’s almost like field-testing the track while it’s still in progress.

Another track that caught me was the deviously good ‘Right Now’ with RoyGreen & Protone…

RoyGreen and Protone have been doing amazing stuff that I’ve really been into, so we got to talking and they sent over a few projects. As usual, I was terribly slow with getting around to working on it – sorry guys! – but the foundations for a great tune were there from the very start and we were able to bounce ideas off each other and make it something all of us are really proud of.

And as mentioned, Ant himself got involved too on the remix front, with DLR?

Both him and J told us they were into remixing ‘Convergence’, and our response was basically ‘Hell yes’.

Apparently they got together and knocked it out in about six hours, which is absolutely incredible. Couldn’t ask for a better remix of that tune, and it’s killed every time we’ve played it out.

Speaking of brashness, I was stunned by ‘Genesis Wave’ wow. This is just you and Iris: was it the diamond-hard, focused session that it sounds like?

Man, I wish it was just one session, but that one took a couple. There was one full session which just consisted of sampling Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, but let’s be honest, sampling Shatner can’t really be considered WORK.

Nimoy maybe, but definitely not Shatner.

I have to ask – without a hint of deep jealousy and anguish… what’s Seattle like? The D&B scene I hear is more intimate?

Yeah the nights are smaller compared to London for sure, but there’s a super dedicated and friendly scene here that I feel lucky to be a part of. As I mentioned before, Onset does monthly nights, there’s also D&B Tuesdays which is a weekly Demo has been helping run since the late ’90s. Another crew, Soma, does shows about once a month, and there’s a SUBstance Wednesdays at Foundation where Iris and I have a residency.

Beyond getting to see world class acts come through on a regular basis, it’s just great to be a part of a scene with so many awesome people who love the music so much that they’re willing to give up their free time and energy to make sure other people can go out and experience it properly.

And you drink coffee right? I know it’s a crass generalisation but hey. Where can we visit, when we come and crash with you?

I do like coffee, but I have to admit I’m not drinking it as much these days as I used to. At home, I like a nice light roast made with an AeroPress.

As far as coffee shops in Seattle, there’s Stumptown, Vivace, Diva, and a few of our friends from the scene sling coffee at Pegasus. If you come to Seattle, we can definitely show you good coffee that isn’t Starbucks.

On the cosmopolitan tip, I heard that you were travelling a lot over the summer: London, Prague, Croatia…

To be honest, every gig on the tour was amazing– we got to play the Dispatch party at Plan B in Brixton which was great, the sound was on point and to top it off Ant TC1 and Fierce played a back to back all-vinyl Dispatch vs Quarantine set!

Cross Club in Prague was vibes with an incredible crowd, and Soul in Motion in London is an exciting venue and concept combined with expertly-curated lineups.

I’d say the best gig in recent memory, though, was when I played with Iris at Outlook festival moat. It’s just insane: 1700 people in what I can only describe as a Bass Cannon Hallway. Crowd response blew us away, and it sounded absolutely amazing.

Back to the ep: with titles like ‘Convergence’ and talk of ‘Genesis’… well, your titles always make me think of big, stellar concepts, signs, philosophy: anything you’d like to share with us?

I’ve got a list of like 100 tune names that I’m constantly adding to: sometimes they’re just words that I like sometimes they’re rooted in concepts or literature/films that strike a chord with me. I think music should be important and ambitious, even if it’s dance music that’s supposed to serve a purpose. If it hangs around in someone’s mind, even just the title, then I’ve done my job.

I’m not sure if I’m the best one to comment on humanity at large, but I definitely think we’re living through interesting times.

Speaking of interesting, what new music are you checking?

Well most recently, the new albums from Interpol, Death From Above 1979, and Aphex Twin are damn good. I tend to spend a lot of time with albums I like so I’m still rinsing the Beach House album that came out in 2012– it puts me in a good mood when I’m having a stressful day. Also apparently Failure are working on new material, so hopefully we’ll have an album from them sometime soon too. I’ve only been waiting for that since around 1997.

There are also some incredible albums coming out lately in D&B… Hybris, Cern, A Sides, S.P.Y, and Ulterior Motive have all set the bar pretty high for long players.

Definitely no shortage of great music: it’s a lucky time to be a Drum and Bass fan!

Microsleep ep from Dispatch
Microsleep ep itunes

You can follow Damian B on Twitter, @DAMIAN___B
D&B for some time now; studied at institution of Fabio & Grooverider.

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