As 2014 rolls on by one thing has become apparent – it’s been a stellar year for drum & bass, and it’s been a great year for the long player.
Every once in a while an album comes along that makes you remember why you fell in love with this genre in the first place, and makes you fall in love with it all over again. Achieving this in a debut album is no easy feat, but that’s exactly what Greg Hepworth and James Davidson, collectively known as Ulterior Motive, have done.
Their debut album, The Fourth Wall, dropping on Metalheadz today, is an homage to drum & bass in that it captures the originality and complexity of the genre, all the while retaining a certain simplicity that you can’t quite explain. Entrenched in nostalgia, and yet encompassing a forward-thinking production style, it does what any good album does and makes you appreciate what you’re listening to. We caught up with James of the duo, who gave us an insight into what it was like behind the scenes of The Fourth Wall…
Afternoon fellas, first things first – BIG UP! The Fourth Wall… Whoa. The hype behind the album is nothing short of amazing! Did you expect such a reaction?
Thanks guys, we’re really humbled by the reaction so far, it’s been a real blessing. We worked really hard on the project deliberating on which tracks would feature and we’re so happy people seem to be getting the album.
Was the album something you had wanted to do for a while now?
Absolutely, we’ve wanted to do an album for long time but the time just hasn’t been right for one reason or another.
What strikes me most about it is the originality, and that I feel like I’m being transported to another time… Slapping walls and cheering for a rewind… What inspired you while you were making the album?
Thanks, the inspiration for the album is years of music consumption and involvement. We wanted to showcase what we’re about as Ulterior Motive in a more depth than a 12″ single allows. Tape Pack is a good example of this. Both of our journeys into electronic music started when we were kids by listening to old hardcore tapes, so we wanted to create something like that but still keep it contemporary for 2014.
How long did it take to piece together?
A little over a year off and on but there was a solid period of 6 months working 7 days a week 12 hours day to have it ready for the deadline.
Why the Fourth Wall as a title?
The Fourth Wall in theatre/film is that imaginary wall between the “act” and the audience, and traditionally this is not supposed to be breached. The album in some cases is us breaching our own wall in relation to styles, there are a lot of tracks on there that people wouldn’t expect from us. Also the idea that our music is produced in a studio away from the night clubs it is consumed plays on the notion that it is “acting” on its on stage and interacting with people.
How personal was this album for you? Did you have an over-arching theme or vibe you were going for?
The album is hugely personal to both of us. It’s our debut LP on Metalheadz, we had to get this right.
How much pressure is there to deliver on an imprint like Metalheadz?
The pressure to deliver only came from us, the label were really supportive of what we wanted to do and the direction we wanted to go in. However it IS Metalheadz so yeah, we put lots of pressure on ourselves.
Personal favourite has to be Stay. The grumbling ‘womps’ coupled with the percussion and James Sunderland’s vocals – SUCH a tune. First time I heard it I honestly couldn’t wipe the filthy look off my face! You made a point of not using well-known vocalists on the album. Tell us about those who do appear on the album, such as James Sunderland on this track…
James is real talent who we are working with on some more forthcoming material. We luckily discovered James on You Tube covering some well known songs but soon discovered he’s a pianist and writes his own songs too. He’s real professional and a pleasure to work with.
Meyhem Lauren and Brotherman are also great to work with. Meyhem who comes from NYC was straight on the beat and delivered exactly what we wanted no questions. Brotherman who’s from London was recommended by a hip hop producer friend of ours (Roast Beatz) who’s worked with him in the past. He kindly introduced us, Brotherman was into the tune and laid down the vocals.
Another favourite is Sideways… It’s just so damn suave. Where did the sample come from?
Not sure, but all the stabs and licks in that track are from lots of different funk tracks. Greg has a huge Funk / Soul record collection we went create digging through for Sideways to try and give it that authentic funky Bristol Sound.
Well you certainly succeeded! Did you lock yourselves away while you worked on the project like mad scientists?
Basically yes. We pulled the plug on a lot of social engagements and were 100% focused on making everything as good as it could be.
Did you spend a lot of time in the studio together or did you work on a lot of individual pieces on your own?
During the early idea stages we worked alone, developing ideas and then adding them to a shared folder, once it was time to finish these we got in the studio together to finish them off.
Now that the album is finished does it almost feel like you’re being re-introduced to the outside world?
Not at all, we have a good work ethic and are already working on new material. It helps that we both love what we do!
You’re favourites at Sun & Bass and made yet another appearance there this year.. a new concept was introduced this year with a selected group of djs curating their own lineups for one of the nights- you guys were amongst those selected. What did you think about the new concept and who were your choices?
It was a great concept and it worked really well. The variety really mixed things up over the week. For our pool party we wanted to keep things close and personal but still varied & fun so we went with:
Lecta – Playing jungle
FD – Garage
Jubei – Funk and soul
UM – Drum and Bass
D bridge – Drum and Bass
Highlights of the party was Jeru the Damaja getting on the mic during the sets.
If you were stuck in one aisle of the supermarket, which one would it be?
Wine of course!
Good answer! What’s coming up next for you guys? Where to from here?
Now we’re touring the Fourth Wall for the next few months while working on new UM tracks and a few remixes (including for Metalheadz artists).
The Fourth Wall is out now.
The launch party for The Fourth Wall is taking place at The Nest in London this Wednesday. Click here for more details.