Joe Syntax: Killer Basslines

Joe Syntax: Killer Basslines

Life without bass…

A pretty miserable scenario. Right now you’d be reading DrumArena. And we’d all be listening to drum music. It’s really not the one: We’re all aware of how tedious one drum can sound, right? Just look how lonely those solo bongo players in festivals seem.

Big ups to bass, then. And big ups to Joe Syntax while we’re here… He’s just released a monstrous six tracker on Med School, he’s called it Modus Bass Fun and we’ve rung him up to find our his all time favourite basslines are.

But before we chat low-end satisfaction, a little chatter on Modus Bass Fun. It turns out it’s his first EP using Ableton. “It’s been a mad learning curve,” he tells us. “I was actually using Reason before. It was quite a shift. It’s great for samples but the synths aren’t so good. So yeah, I’ve been tooling up, so to speak!”

Tooled up and ruling; each of the cuts on offer are coated with the dark, shiny bullet proof armour we’ve come to expect from Med School. And none of them are holding back on the bass. From super-slamming warbler Bassline Sinker to the more textured, techier Red Zone, each track should find home in your wallet, directories and record bags.

“Red Zone actually took a bit of work,” he admits. “It was quite a technical track. I’ve never really made anything quite like that because it had loads of layers.”

You can probably thank Ableton for that. And it turns out you can thank his dad for his love of bass. Joe was brought up on dub: a firm foundation for a mind ready for all manner of musical influences.

“I think that’s really important,” he nods. “I’m a massive fan of all music; I’m DJing and producing D&B so I’m always looking elsewhere for influences. House, techno, downtempo, everything is inspiration. There’s so much inspiration out there!”


Hence his wide-eared selection below. Modus Bass Fun is out now. Check it out right here.

Joe Syntax’s Top Five Killer Basslines

Chemical Brothers – Under The Influence

“It was a choice between two Chemical Brothers albums. This and My Elastic Eye. They’re both wicked but this one pips it because of the massive analogue bass drop. I’ve heard it at festivals and it really is all encompassing. Then it drops into this thunderous techno afterwards. It’s one of those tracks that sounds best loud at a club or festival.”

Alex Reece – Pulp Fiction

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“Classic! It’s all about the bassline. It’s chill, it’s eerie. I like to think it’s a cat walk D&B. If you can pick any D&B tune for the catwalk this would be the one. It’s really musical even though it’s pretty minimal.”

King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown – Augustus Pablo

“A big, big dub track! You could pick any dub track for the bassline but this is particularly musical. I love Augustus, he uses the melodica, that’s his signature instrument. It’s got those cut up vocals and big fat sub. I love it! I had to pick a dub tune as it’s really important to me because my dad listens to a lot of dub music and I grew up on it.”

Bad Company – Torpedo

“This takes me back to when I started Djing. All those big reeces! It’s kinda of seminal, the sound has been repeated time and time again. I still DJ it now. I must have been playing it eight or nine years ago. It was either this or The Nine, but The Nine wasn’t so much about the bass. This has got a real signature to it.”

Amon Tobin – Defocus

“One of my favourite artists, this is from the Bricolage album. I bought it on vinyl when I was about 16. There’s a load of jungle tracks on the album but this one is so chilled out and there’s some incredible bass guitar on it. It really is all about the bassline!”

Drum&BassArena Editor: Dave Jenkins has documented beats for over 15 years working with the likes of UKF, Mixmag, DJ Mag, iDJ, Bandcamp, Resident Advisor, Radio 1 Xtra and many more.