Tonic‘s take on D&B is a deceptively simple, deeply sleek, elegant voyage and a good way for us to lose track of time, the new release via AutomAte being an excellent example. Turns out this lateral thinker’s trapped in the very same wormhole…
Hi Tonic. What’s happening?
Hi. Over the last few months I’ve been lost in some sort of tech trance/techno/minimal land.
To be honest I have no idea what genres I have been writing. All I know is the bpm has been locked in at 128. A 4/4 alias called Fourtechs has always been on the horizons for me too.
I got about a dozen 4/4 tunes sitting there now but I want to finish up another 30 or 40 over the next half year or so to develop my sound some more, and this includes D&B.
What’s the scene like where you are?
In New Zealand the bass music scene has always had a pretty good standing. I grew up in Christchurch and around the turn of the century the D&B scene was huge down there, bursting clubs, etc.
Once Dubstep came along a huge amount of the D&B listeners seemed to flock to the Dubstep nights leaving the D&B scene a little high and dry for a few years.
It’s changing again.
What inspired you do do music?
It was my step brother who first inspired me with music, and specifically a Judas Priest album called Painkiller. After hearing that I knew I had to make fast, dark, emotional music. My tastes may have refined but the vibe I’m going for hasn’t.
Speaking of things refined, it applies to your sound. ‘Latitude’ has a fantastic vibe about it, very ‘deep space’ and I get lots of great mental images for this… deep space probes, Hubble images. What about you, what was in your mind when you laid it down?
I always try to distance myself from my tunes when I write them, I don’t even name my tunes until way after they have been finished. So the honest answer to that question was as ‘little as possible’.
But yeah, there’s definitely a science fiction feeling to it. An inhabited, dusty, windswept plane on Mars as far as the eyes can see.
With the occasional outcrop of jagged rocks.
And ‘Prime Number’? When/how did the tune start to form, production-wise?
If I was to pin point any stage when ‘Prime Number’ came together and it started to vibe for me it would have to be when I made the arp sound. I am a huge fan of dark trance and I’m always aiming to add some of that vibe into my D&B tunes if they allow it.
The mid bass came together really easily for me on this tune and it was probably one of the first tunes I finished where I got my bass sounding like what was in my head.
Turns out that simple waveforms sound way better than the myriad of waveforms available in synths these days, at least I’m starting to think so.
What D&B is on your radar that inspires?
There’s so much great D&B coming out still after all these years. To name a few artists and labels I’m feeling at the moment; Data, S.P.Y, Enei, Proximity Recordings, Level 2, AutomAte, Break, Cern, Dispatch Recordings, Scar, Ulterior Motive, Xanadu, Amoss, Bredren, Fade, Halogenix, Joakuim, Hyroglifics, Jubei, Kelle, Meth, Silent Witness, Skeptical, Stone, Gerra, Tom Small, Fierce, Gremlinz…
You keep busy on the radio front too?
I recently started doing a weekly show on DNBHeaven, ‘Deaf Fears Radio’. It’s on Tuesday 8:00am UTC DST. It’s been a while since I’ve done any regular mixing so I’m having a blast with that.
So when you play out or on radio, where’s your mindset?
I’m still stuck in the 1998 – 2003 D&B era. So I love the likes of; Stakka and Skynet, C4C, Bad Company, Trace, Dom and Roland, Metalheadz, Raiden, Kryptic Mindz, Dillinja, Ray Keith, B.S.E, Renegade Hardware, Bullet proof, Hive, Klute, Konflict, A-sides, Prototype Recordings, Spirit and so forth.
And I also like to play a fair amount of the more minimal tech D&B coming out like the artists I mentioned.
Then there’s those days where I just feel like rolling out a deep liquid set.
My rules are pretty simple when it comes to selecting tunes. If I like it and it’s not so hard that it will give someone some sort of brain hemorrhaging then I’ll play it.
And what shifts are you finding in D&B and beats right now, what changes in mood, demand and vibes?
In general electronic music seems to be heading towards the more laid back styles.
Things are peaking for all the House and Techno genres whereas I feel the more aggressive styles like Trance, Hard Style and D&B generally have lost popularity over the last five to seven years. In D&B, and with the likes of Exit Recordings, Different Music and Cylon Recordings pushing the ultra minimal half time-ish D&B, most of that sub genre has a super laid back feel to it… even their darker side is still pretty chilled.
All in all D&B is such a flexible genre there is always something new coming out which will keep people listening to it for a long time to come.
I love the synthetic edge to your music… what’s five influential tunes on the synth/sound design tip you would cite, tunes that inspire because of their otherwordly nature?
and ‘Enemy Within’ by Data.
Any shouts and forthcomings?
I have the Disposition forthcoming on Modular Carnage Recordings in a couple of months. Just sorting out the finer details but that’s pretty much locked in so I’m pretty excited about that. I got another three-part album I am releasing later via Soundcloud called Cyclone which I’ll trickle out in the later part of the year.
A massive shot out to the AutomAte crew. I have has nothing but support, encouragement and fantastic feedback from you. I got to take my hat off to those guys they certainly know how to treat their artists well. Shout out to all the Modular Carnage Recordings crew, you guys have had my back since way before day one, respect. Shout out to DNBheaven crew, stoked to be part of your family. Shout out to Alberto at On Crack Music, your encouragement has been second to none. A big Thank you to Andrew Snook at Tron Audio for hooking me up with the mad deals on the ‘Disposition’ mastering, super big help.
Shout out to; Damian B for having me, Liquid Audio Network, Carolyn Maxwell, Willow Maxwell, Jabz Mc, Dose, Sick Cycle, Subvert, L Que, All the CHCH crew, all the AutomAte artist’s who have helped me out, Habit, Feedback, Benny Tones, Orphic, Ross Ward, Daniel Cool, David Kerse, Tim Hanifin, Sam Hemming-Sykes, Matjaz Ekselenski, Theejay, Andrew Cooper, Paul Tait, Ian Gough, Robbie Cloister, Andrew Thompson, Mikey B, Tom Lewis, Francis Kora, Michael Overcast, Jesse Hemming-Sykes, Ray Hargreves, Brian Campbell, Geoff Pybus, Jason Steel, Julien Cornu, Kerry Peck. And everyone else I have forgotten to mention, you have all shaped my creativity is a positive way.