Voltage – Jump Up’s Saviour
Jamie S23 hooks up with Voltage to discuss his forthcoming EP projects, future remixes and flying over porn shops..
When The Smoke Clears EP
Release date: 16 February 2014
Label: Co Lab
‘How it Should Be Done’ has obviously been highly influenced by Potential Bad Boy’s ‘Nothin’ Gonna Stop Me’, a track released on Shy FX’s ‘The Formula’ LP in 1996. Was the track title also an obvious head nod to Shy’s work in the 90’s too?
“I wanted to go back to the days of classic Ebony Recordings, the likes of ‘Funkindem Up’ and ‘Killa Bees’ which smashed up raves in the mid 90’s. I don’t think anyone has really revisited this style and brought it up to date. I really stuck with old school ways of sampling and although quite untidy they work! As soon as I made the drums I knew it was destined to be an Ebony tribute. Young ravers won’t have heard the ‘Hot Pants’ break in its raw form so it’s also a bit of an education for those that are interested.
Concept 2’s ‘Cause N’ Effect’ is one tune that really nailed the use of this break.”
You have spoken in the past about your high regard for mid 90’s jump up, if you had to name one producer from this era as being a direct influence on your work who would it be and why?
“I didn’t really pick up on this until a few people said that my production reminds them of early Krust but when I look back at so many tunes I’ve made they really have that weird, adaptable feel that he was such a master at.
I love that story of how he made the bassline for Warhead by using feedback – so effective. Even DJ Hype describes some of my tunes as “one’s for the weirdos.”
My all time Krust tunes would have to be:
Talking of ‘The Formula’, what would be a tune from this LP that you would still drop in your DJ sets? How do you think it would go down in 2015 dropped ‘The Wolf’ in a jump up rave?
“Classic tunes like ‘The Wolf’ would always go down well but my all time favourite would have to be ‘Call Wait’. I’m playing out Saturday so if I can clean up my vinyl copy I might even drop it and see how it goes down. That was such a big tune and catered for all types of ravers back then.”
Call Wait (from ‘The Formula’ EP)
Call Waiting VIP (from ‘The Fever’ LP)
When The Smoke Clears seems to cater for both old and new with a variety of jump up styles. Did you put this EP together to showcase your talent as a producer rather than running the risk of putting out 8 tunes that all concentrated on one angle of drum & bass?
“It’s just how I produce these days, I get up every morning and make a drum kit. They are the key to my tunes and I always tend to catch a vibe from a kit I’m happy with. I tend to always make a beat first as making a bassline then trying to make a rhythm around it always seems backwards to me.
I want to be able to showcase what I’m good at and what I love doing, I don’t make one style of dnb and play more than one style of music in my DJ sets.”
DJ Hype has been heavily supporting ‘Brixton’ for sometime now and is undoubtedly set for anthem status. How does it feel to hear your tunes being dropped in raves before release and seeing such massive enthusiasm for them?
“That’s why I sent it to Hype because the tune samples vocals from a UK hip hop act from the early 90’s called Hijack which I knew he would instantly recognise. I dont know about anthem status although its certainly getting great support as is the whole EP across the scene from the likes of Hype, Enei, TC and The Upbeats.
It’s an amazing feeling when someone like Hype supports my tunes, especially as 20 years ago I was buying everything he put out on Ganja and now he’s playing my stuff!
He’s also really good at providing no nonsense feedback which is really important to any producer making drum & bass.”
Working with Nicky Blackmarket on ‘Jazz Tickles’ must have been a lot of fun, how did it go down in the studio? The simplistic rolling bassline is certainly reminiscent of the Dope Dragon sound, do you have a favourite from that label?
“Fun is the exact thing that happens when we link up in the studio, my misses even stocks up on tea bags for him! It’s great to work with Nicky as I can also pick his brains and share endless stories with him. The tune ‘Jazz Tickles’ came about after working on a remix together and having an hour left at the end of the session. We were playing about with various loops and something just clicked and before we both knew it, the tune was born.
‘USS Enterprise’ goes off in a rave, this was made by sampling 100’s of Star Trek sounds from the original series. We picked the best ones and placed them in a folder and Nicky went to work placing them into the track which was pivotal in that session – the placement of the sounds really make that track, When you’re working with Nicky, things just seem to gel together.”
Return Of The Pum Pum Stabber EP
Release date: Possible April
Label: Serial Killaz
Working alongside such legends of the jungle scene as Serial Killaz must have been a really exciting hook up – how did it happen?
“I’ve known Tobie for 20 years as I used to live in Reading and my local shop was Record Basement where he worked at the time. I was in the shop 6 days a week and I pretty much grew up in their whilst networking at an early age and annoying poor Tobes.
I moved in 1998 and in 2010 contacted Tobie over Facebook ,it was good to be back in contact with an old friend. Due to my increasing work over the next few years as a producer he asked if I was interested in doing a Serial Killaz release.
Tobie really is a living history book of the scene so it was an honour to work with him.
I originally produced a few tracks in a Serial Killaz style but they were rejected on the grounds that they didn’t want a ‘Voltage trying to fit in’ kind of vibe so I went back to the beginning and produced some tunes in my signature styles which were really well received.”
The EP title must be a clear big up to MC Bassman, is your next EP going to have something to do with “flying over porn shops and shit”?
“No it was just a ragga tie due to the yardy sample in the title track. When I sent over the track names Tobie loved it and instantly wanted to call the EP ‘Return of the Pum Pum Stabber’. Apparently some really sick artwork is coming soon to accompany the release.”
‘Steppy Stones’ reminds me of the classic ‘At The Count Of Three’ by The Untouchables, would you ever consider remixing any of Urban Takeovers classics?
“The first time I heard the horn sample was on the track ‘Rump Shaker’ by Wreckx-N-Effect although it was originally taken from a tune by an old 70’s funk group.
I would love to officially remix Man of Steel although I would have to ask Micky Finn really nicely about that first!”
The vocal hook is simply infectious and although quite simplistic in style, the reverse clip at the end really makes it roll into that deep and dark bassline. Was this arrangement one of those moments where things just fit into place or did you find yourself experimenting a lot?
“It was just a quick thing, no complex effects or anything clever haha, I just wanted it to give the drop a real impact and allow the tune to drop with impact.”
‘Dead Tonight’ could easily have come out of the Grid Recordings camp in 2005, do you think that Twisted Individual sound could be making a comeback anytime soon?
“I think so and there’s certainly room for that sound to make a comeback – it would also be nice to see Twisted back in the scene. He was a big part of pushing the music forward and some of his production techniques were next level.”
‘Bionic’ is the big head nodder on the EP and when I have been playing this over and over it’s really got my neck bouncing back and forth. How’s this one going down in the dance as it’s not quite as fast paced as some would expect.
“It goes down really well in a rave, I don’t ever play my sets at one level, instead I try and take the crowd on a journey in a similar way to Randall. He has been a massive influence on me as a dj throughout my career in music and in some respects that’s why I make the tunes I do.
I don’t understand why certain producers make tunes in different styles then never play them in their DJ sets, why bother in the first place?”
Serial Killaz have always been heavily involved with remixing Congo Natty classics, if you had the chance to relick one of your favourites what would it be and what kind of style would you produce it in?
“Possibly a link up with Sub Zero in on the cards, I can’t really say anything about it at the moment though but if it happens – it’s going to be BIG!
I would love to remix ‘His Imperial Majesty’ by Rebel MC featuring Top Cat in a real steppy kind of Mampi Swift vibe with some dirty bassline.
What’s next for Voltage?
“I’m currently working on some tunes with Serum for Philly Blunt and other projects, more news to come on that soon. Apart from that my release schedule is frantic right now, I have releases due out on Sgn:ltd,Spearhead & Grindhouse Audio all in the next few months as well as projects with Low Down Deep and Smokin Riddims.”