Sunday, December 26, 2010
Rinse HQ: "Would you two like to play FWD>> on the 6th?"
Dusk + I will be playing at FWD>> again on Jan 6th, doing the early slot for 90 mins and we're really excited because, well, you never know if or when the call will come. The rough plan currently is to play only unreleased Keysound beats, because truth be told there's more individual tracks due on Keysound in 2011 than there was released in 2005-2010. That includes the stuff Dusk + I have been working on for the last two years that we haven't played on radio yet. So come down early if you're curious.
Top 11 + 13 of 2010
After my end of year column a few people asked for my personal top 10, but I could only settle on 11, which Boomkat kindly hosted.
LHF "EP2: The Line Path" [forthcoming Keysound]
Girl Unit 'IRL/Wut' [Night Slugs]
Mickey Pearce ft Ms Dynamite "What's Mickey Talking About?" [unreleased]
Trim "Confidence Dub (Harmonimix)" [unreleased]
Rishi Romero "African forest" (Made In NL)
Jamie Woon "Night Air (Ramadanman remix)" [Candent Songs]
Jam City "Ecstacy refix" [Night Slugs]
Darkstar "Two Chords" [Hyperdub]
Addison Groove "Footcrab" [Swamp 81]
D.O.K. "West Coast" [forthcoming Hyperdub]
MC Creed & Esko Beats "Generate" [unreleased]
It's been such a fruitful year for music that I can't not mention...
Balistiq Beats ft Riko "Yardman Riddim" [unreleased Keysound]
Danny Weed and Cage "Creeper (Maxwell D and Beans funky remix)" (unreleased)
Damu "Ridin'/Be Free" [unreleased Keysound]
El-B and Noodles ft Natasha "I Feel"
Ghetts "Intro" (Calm Before the Storm CD)
Horsepower "Rain" [Tempa]
LV "Boomslang" (Hyperdub)
Maxwell D "Gone Away" (unreleased)
Slackk "Eski Clicks" [unreleased]
S-X "Woooo" [Stay Fresh]
Vibezin "Hot 4 U" [unreleased Keysound]
Becoming Real "Like me ft Trim"
Bias & Gurley "Roll" [unreleased Keysound]
Kyle Hall "Kaychunk / You Know What I Feel" [Hyperdub]
LHF present Keepers of the Light Vol 3
Download it HERE >>>
Solar Man "Affirmation"
Amen Ra "Connected"
Low Density Matter "Love Affair"
Low Density Matter "Better Days"
"Higher Plains" (Interlude)
Low Density Matter "Wash"
Double Helix feat Amen Ra "Secret Portal"
Amen Ra and Double Helix "Soul Power"
"Narrow Is The Gate" (Interlude)
Amen Ra "Saved My Soul"
Double Helix "Inferno 2010 " (Helixs' 3rd Degree Mix)
No Fixed Abode "Fallen Queen"
Double Helix "Dance With The Devil"
Double Helix "Manoeuvres"
No Fixed Abode "For The Thrown"
"The Power Of Vibrations" (Interlude)
No Fixed Abode "Golden"
Low Density Matter "After 8"
Amen Ra- "Embalmer"
"Watchin Over Me" (Interlude)
Solar Man- "Twinkle In Your Eye"
LHF "EP2: The Line Path" 12" will finally be in shops the first or second week of January, though there may be early bird copies for members of this group.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Final show of the year and Dusk and I are planning a Christmas special this Thurs 11pm. Unlike the upfront selection of our regular shows, this is gonna go back... way back, in a vinyl-only classics session.
Will Dusk draw for Booker T and the MGs cricket theme or that funk tune by the Mircales about all the best bars in LA being gay bars? Am I gonna grab some Eric Dolphy or the Wombles? (what, you don't think I actually have the Wombles on vinyl?)
Only time and a few light ales will tell...
Friday, December 10, 2010
So it's Awards time again over at the Dubstep Forum and I'd like to make a small plea.
There's lots of categories Dusk and I could be nominated in, but being honest I don't think we would or should win them. For example we've worked hard with Keysound this year - and we've made the plans to do better in 2011 - but other labels set the bar high this year.
However we felt we held our own on our Rinse show. We walked up there every month with armfuls of new producers, avoided beats that everyone else was playing and mixed across four or five genres.
"Boomslang" got it's debut, we dropped dozens of LHF, Vibezin and Zomby beats you'll not hear elsewhere and new producers like Mr Mitch, Cedaa, Damu, Teeza, Slackk, Teeth, Balistiq Beats, Dubbel Dutch, Bloom, Coobe Beats, HGLDT, VVV, Walton, Hackman, Original Face and Becoming Real got exposure, to name just a few.
Though there are several strong shows on air, we'd love to be nominated for best show and we're not too proud to admit it.
Please vote for us if you think we deserve it.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Me, Dusk, Rinse FM and some new music. Last Thursday, DOWNLOAD the podcast now...
Plus, leave a comment please, I wanna know what you were feeling or not feeling!
***Dusk + Blackdown Rinse FM November 2010***
Jamie XX "Far Nearer" [forthcoming Numbers]
T-Polar "Siren Street" [unreleased]
iGrade "Check It" [unreleaded]
slackk "Linger/Maybe" [unreleased]
HGLDT "Knowing You" [unreleased]
Baobinga and Hyetal "?" [forthcoming Build]
Eastwood "R U Ready (Walton refix) [unreleased]
The Phantom "Night Game Hackman remix" [forthcoming]
Visionist "Come In" [forthcoming]
Taylor "CMB (Raffertie Mix)" [forthcoming Super]
Maxwell D "Funky with Bars (Lighter Riddim)" [unreleased]
Jamie George "Flying Saucer" [forthcoming Roska Kicks & Snares]
Damu "Waterfall of Light" [unreleased Keysound]
Original Face "Hullabaloo" [unreleased]
Miss Doctorr "4x4 (Unknown Soulja rmx)" [unreleased]
Arp101 "Side Flush" [forthomcing Eglo]
Damu "Ether" [unreleased Keysound]
Amen Ra "Low Maintanance" [unreleased Keysound]
Egyptrixx "Rooks Theme" [forthcoming Night Slugs]
Baobinga & Hyetal "?" [forthcoming Build]
Starkey "Playing With Fire" [forthcoming Civil Music]
Salva "Blue" (My Dry Wet Mess Remix) [forthcoming Friends of Friends Music]
Starkey "Holodeck" [forthcoming Civil Music]
Mr Mitch - "September" [unreleased]
Taylor "CMB (Girl Unit Remix)" [unreleased]
SBTRKT "Golddigger" [unreleased]
Darq E Freaker "Cherryade" [forthcoming Oil Gang]
sensi star ??? [Oil gang]
Gremino "Finneskimo" [Free download]
DOK "Chemical Planet (Dark Tone Sound remix)" [forthcoming Butterz]
Gremino "Drumbeat" [Free download]
Frisco "Keeping It G_'d Up remix feat Ghetts" [unreleased]
Double Helix "Base 2 Dark" from "EP2: The Line Path" [forthcoming Keysound Recordings]
Point B "The Veld" [unreleased]
Addison Groove "Work It" [forthcoming Swamp 81]
I.D. "Feudal" [unreleased]
Darqwan "Flow So Hot ft MC Shinobi" [unreased]
Mizz Beats "My World (Om Unit remix)" [unreleased]
Royal T "Side Effect (Asa & Kahn Remix)" [forthcoming]
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Hey, I want you to meet someone called Damu, if you have a second. That said he has an EP coming on Keysound, so if that’s an issue you can close your browser window now, I won’t be offended honest. But lemme just say this, he’s one of the most exciting prospects I’ve come across in quite some time.
Damu came into our lives in July this year, Dusk clocked him on Soundcloud, and it became really apparent very quickly that he really had something. That feeling has only intensified as he’s continued to send wave after wave of new music, we’ve played it out on Rinse or mixed it on the US dates we did and had headz come and say time and again “Who’s this? What, not Damu... again!”
I could tell you what I like about Damu’s sound, the energy, colour, the dense intensity and effed arpeggios and synths, but this is all you really need to know: when I walk down the street with my Damu playlist on, it makes so euphorically happy. Now, no one wants to be that random grinning idiot, so I keep a straight face but inside Damu beats make me glow. I just wanted to share some of that lush warm feeling with a few of you too...
Blackdown: So can you tell us a bit about yourself, where do you live, how long have you been producing for?
Damu: I’m 21, I live in a small house in South Manchester, I lead a pretty fun and simple life, spending a lot of time making music; other than that just working and chilling out with mates really. I first got into music electronic music production about 2 years ago, but I only really got to the stage where I could do it seriously this year. It was a pretty steep learning curve for quite a while, but it’s been very intense, which suits my brain and I love doing it, so it’s definitely been an enjoyable process so far.....
B: What artists currently inspire you? I hear a lot of juke and crunk sounds in your music, but then I hear UKG too. Has kuduro infiltrated at all too?
D: People doing completely their own thing have to garner the most respect. Flylo, Burial, Zomby, Bok Bok, Hudson Mohawke and Dorian Concept spring to mind. I’m really enjoying the Darkstar album too.
Genres like juke have a lot of very characteristic elements, when it started infiltrating the UK scene a bit, the raw energy of it, as well as idea of it as being geared towards dancers, really appealed to me. Just like UKF coming from American house, it seemed like a very exciting sound for UK producers to run with; to freshen up some of the more downbeat trends in urban music. In particular, picking up the pace to around 150-160bpm and falling back to classic club sounds like the 808 is a big contrast to a lot of stuff that had been coming out previously, but it I think it still kind of falls in line with this post-dubstep Diaspora, which only seems to get deeper and deeper. When I started hearing Kuduro and Ghettotech it was a similar deal really. It just sounded fresh and exciting on the dancefloor, and as someone who thrives on going out dancing, that’s bound to influence the music I make.
I’ve always really liked chopped up garage vocals and swung drums, they really help convey meaning in the tracks and give people something to connect with. I definitely try to take influence from the full range of music I’m into; that’s just music at the moment though. I don’t think there are many producers who just listen to one style of music. As for Crunk, I just listen to it more than I should; Lil Jon is a shrewd man.
B: Can you tell me a bit about the music you make, what’s it like?
D: It’s usually frenetic with a lot of elements in a short space of time. I’m very into layering of synth and vocal melodies and harmonies with a leaning towards writing catchy hooks, with varying degrees of success. My music covers a range of tempos from about 105-165bpm, but I think my style is more held together by the sounds I use rather than the genres it inevitably falls into.
B: You have a very distinctive production style, which is rare that it’s so utterly coherent so early in your career but yet something to be treasured. One of your trademarks is this dense, busyness. Where do you think this comes from and how do you channel it?
D: Modern life can be pretty intense; lifestyles have always influenced music, especially when you look at hardcore continuum music. The people I like, and for that matter the people I don’t like have shaped me into a bit of an eccentric, music is definitely one place where that doesn’t need to be toned down. On the contrary, eclecticism gives room for a lot of character in music, which is something which I really value. My favourite artists, whether I’ve been into indie, jungle, hip-hop, classical or whatever, are the ones who have a very characteristic style; with a specific way of doing things, which is the product of the way their mind works rather than a sound that they’re aiming for. When you can get that kind of character across in music it gives something more meaningful to build upon track by track. When I’m making tunes my brain is usually pretty switched on; I enjoy the process of taming a crop of strange ideas into something tuneful, subtlety can tend to go out the window a bit, I’m not really a subtle character. I reckon a lot of music I like is probably made like that, I just don’t strip it back as much as some. I’d say my tunes hopefully reflect my character.
B: One of the other themes seems to be this happy warmth, which contrasts nicely with the busyness...
D: I’m a pretty happy optimistic person, I love downbeat and melancholy music or artwork but I guess I tend much more towards transcribing my positive energy into the music I make. I love the idea of someone singing along to major key cut-up vocals, or a synthline and losing themselves in a happy haze at a summertime beach rave or something. It’s so much more often, especially in dubstep, that the most affecting tunes are the mournful, eerie or even aggressive ones. There’s definitely room in clubs for more music that excites and affects people in a more light-hearted and smile-inducing manner. A lot of the melodic and synth-laden house that’s been coming out recently seems to be a reaction to a few years of darker half-step music being at the forefront after 4x4 garage simmered down a bit.
B: Some of the ways you have spoken in recent months to me about music reflects such a deep passion for it, of possibilities and potential, is this how you feel about music making at the moment?
D: I’m sure people say this every year but I really think it’s a bit of a golden era for electronic music at the moment. The artists doing the best are the ones who can throw away the rule books in a way that moves people. That is fantastic for musicality and really encouraging as an artist, like the more effort you put in and the more good ideas you come up with, the more people are likely to be receptive to it, then it’s just more enjoyable and challenging for everyone, DJ’s producers and dancers/listeners. Art and music simply can’t keep up with the technological advances pushing it forwards, which opens up a whole world of constant new possibilities for an ever accelerating number of new producers.
In addition to this, there seems to be a collective desire from the whole global scene to cover as much new sonic ground as possible, without sacrificing quality. As a result, music from all directions becomes more and more soulful in order to stand out. I really hope that is something which doesn’t ever get lost in new technology. It’s a very positive trait found in electronic music which often lacks in a lot of forms of technological progression. I feel like there is still a lot of ground to be covered that will one day be regarded as basic, the next ten years will see a very rapid and dramatic progression in music and the clubbing experience, so being 21 and having that to come is pretty exciting. Yeah, there’s so much to look forward to, I’m glad I’ve found something that really inspires me.
B: “Ridin’” is massive - though I’m biased obviously - can you tell me how it came about and did you ever give it to Big Boi?
D: I think my tunes that work best are the ones that happen really quickly. I was really into a few synth patches I was working with and the song came fully formed in a few hours. I think it’s about getting some sharp elements to start working with and being in the right frame of mind. From there it’s just fun really and trying to work them into a sound I’m happy with.
D: Funnily enough my chance pass is on to Big Boi came and went about 3 hours before I typed this, as Big Boi, covered by a personalised towel, was hoarded into the back of a blacked out van seconds after smashing up a tiny little club show, which I’m very glad I went to. It was a nice idea, but not even close really. I’m still very into the idea of getting some tunes vocaled though so watch this space. I thought for a bit I’d never be up for working with a big hip hop or grime artist, but it’d be so much fun if the chance ever presented itself.
B: What labels have you got releases coming on, apart from Keysound?
D: At the moment, I’m really looking forward to my first EP dropping in late December on Silverback. They’ve had some brilliant stuff out recently and it’s a great pleasure working with them. Then the Mermaid EP will be out on Local Action next spring, got a few exciting things in the pipeline for that, then a split 12” on Swing and Skip audio around the same time. The prospect of holding my own vinyl for the first time is an exciting one. I've been working on a full live AV set which should be ready for about the same time as this first EP drops, so look out for that.
Damu's EP for Keysound ("Ridin", "Crystal Gaea", "Karolina's Magic J" and "Be Free") will be out next year, with one on Local Action before that. Check two fresh tracks by him on our Rinse show this month.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
“There are places you just don't go,” he explains. “Not unless you know someone there really well or you're travelling as part of a much bigger group. If you're on your own and you're a new face, people will rob you, take everything you have. The only way to stop it happening is not to go to those places.”
-- Reggie, Tulse Hill
Rare piece of seemingly a) researched and b) non-judgmental coverage on inner city London culture from a newspaper, this time from Tony Thompson in the Evening Standard.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
DUBLOADED :: WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 10th 2010
DUSK & BLACKDOWN (LIVE 7-PIECE BAND)
HOSTED BY SGT POKES
HIGH PRESSURE SOUND
£4 b4 11pm, £5 after
Full visuals written for the show, such as this...
More videos here...
Anyway so, this is it people, come checkit or thassit...
Monday, October 18, 2010
Me & Dusk, were on Rinse FM recently (thurs 28th), download the podcast...
oh and same rules as last month, in exchange for all this freshness mixed into a podcast, please leave a comment as to what tracks you are or aren't feeling...
Dusk + Blackdown Rinse FM October 2010
Damu "Be Free" [unreleased]
Mosca "Dance" [unreleased]
Cassie "Me & U (Brackles remix)" [unreleased]
Dubbel Dutch "Fool in You VIP" [unreleased]
HGLDT & Hissy Fit "Last Summer Dub" [unreleased]
D51 "OD (Dubbel Dutch remix)" [unreleased]
Mickey Pearce "Mickey Loves Cassie" [unreleased]
Donaeo "Pon Da Floor Oi Mate rmx" [unreleased]
Coobe Beats "I Love to Dance" [unreleased]
Domecq "Crash" [unreleased]
Walton "Miami Blues (iGrade remix) [unreleased]
VVV "Falling Low" [unreleased]
Funkysteps "You Got It" [unreleased]
Zabu "Radomer" [unreleased]
Logos "Kowloon" [unreleased]
Becoming Real "Like me ft Trim" [forthcoming]
Zomby "Molten" [unreleased]
Zomby "Execution" [unreleased]
Zomby "Digital Rain" [unreleased]
Sully "Scram" [unreleased]
Sully "iKnow" [unreleased]
Sully "Bonafide" [unreleased]
Truth "Amnesia" [unreleased]
Horsepower "Rain" [forthcoming Tempa CD "Quest for the Sonic Bounty"]
SP and Youngsta "Unidentified" [forthcoming]
Subswara "Vagabond Knowledge ft Eric Fraser" [forthcoming]
James Blake "Limit to Your Love" [Atlas]
JoStance "Hey Girl (Teeth remix)" [unreleased]
Teeth "Shawty" [unreleased]
Distal "Apple Bottom" [unreleased]
Amen Ra "Birth" [unreleased]
Blixaboy "I Will End You" [unreleased]
Talen ft Lady Saw "Batgyal (Kalbata remix)" [forthcoming Mouthwatering records]
My Dry Wet Mess "LA No Brainer" [Magical Properties]
Bloom "Mango Tango" [unreleased]
Taz "Gold Tooth Grin" [forthcoming Numbers]
Riko "Make Way" [forthcoming]
Swedeart "Underpurpled (Dandario remix)" [unreleased]
Bloom "Sun Kissed" [unreleased]
Dubbel Dutch "Act A Azz" [unreleased]
My Dry Wet Mess "Diagonal People" [Magical Properties]
Virgo "Boy Betta Know" [forthcoming No Hats No Hoods]
Friday, October 15, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Saturday, October 09, 2010
Full set of photos from the tour here.
So we're back from a week in the US playing The XX tour Afterparties. I'd hope to do something like that again but if I never do, it was amazing to have at least done one once. I want to publically thank The XX and Young Turks.
So we played four cities, Boston, Philadelphia and Atlanta but if I'm honest New York still kills it. Rolling through the city in a yellow cab and seeing the Manhattan skyline appear... too much.
Gotta shout out the Big Apple's greatest tour guide Seckle. My love for his city would not be the same without his knowledge, boundless enthusiasm and ability to turn up at 10am the next day with a hangover ready for more exploring.
Reflections in a cab, Brooklyn bound to Dave Q's...
As a weird aside, the second time [the first is here] I came to NYC I had this strange series of mentions of Suleiman the Magnificent - reading about him in a book on the way there, seeing his signature in the Met and then on a CD in Brooklyn. Well, strange as it sounds, he came up again in conversation with a friend of Dave Q's. You couldn't make it up...
I also spent the week reading parts of "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond which seeks to understand why some nations became dominant world players while others did not, despite us all being biologically the same. Or put another way why were 168 Spanish conquistadors able to defeat 80,000 Incas, rather than seeing the Inca invade Madrid. Well worth £6.46 of your English pounds.
The gig itself was a total joy, 70 mins of 130 and 140, lots of our new material, even some we'd never played out before. It was everything we hoped going back to Love would be, one of those nights when every mix just locks and locks for days... a sweet spot, at least from our vantage point anyway. "Mickey Pearce? He'd drop his own grandmuvva...!" Haha, watch out for the studio mix we've done for the tour, dropping via Fader/Converse/The XX soon.
The night rolled on and after an ale or two I really began to feel what a shame it was all those jungle records Dusk has carried 4000 miles were not getting used. So somehow I talked the final DJ into it, who turned out to be the son of either Bobby or Steve from, erm, Bobby n Steve [UK US house and garage legends]. With in minutes all of the yout were witnessing the moment babylon should FAAAAAAALL. Hmm, that was fun.
After an amazing weekend the tour moved to Boston, quite a contrast from NYC. We played in a bar in Cambridge and it was great to see (quite possibly my favourite blogger) Wayne Marshall, who had some South American friends with him... so new connections were made. Shout out to the people we met at the gig including the Sub FM gang and the guy who'd last seen us DJ in Haarlem, Holland.
5 flights in 7 days... it came home to us when we were only in Philly for less than 15 hours, cruising in and out past some crazy heavy industry. We discovered the delights of Wawa's "deli" [quote marks are for European readers' meaning of the word delicatessen, for US readers Wawa's is a deli ;-) ] met up with Starkey and Dev79 and played Voyeur's, a sleazy club on a rainy Monday night.
Can anyone else imagine Scorcher singing "Dark Knight" from the top of this building?
Anyway the venue had character, all disco mirrors, smoking in the club and some slutty girl in ripped tights doing Pineapple studios dance moves into the mirror with her gay friend... as you do. Dusk ended with Teddy and Tempa T's "Boy Off Da Ting" which was pretty funny. Chatted to Starkey, Dev79 and after the gig Jamie XX a bit but when the next DJ played EMF "Unbelievable," well... it was time to bounce.
Does anyone know what all the heavy industry you can see from the highway between the airport and the centre of Philly makes?
So on to our final destination Atlanta, where like New York we had a little more time to take the place in. Lots of military at the airport wearing uniforms, something that's pretty alien for someone British. I kept looking at their shoulder badges to see what division they're in. Atlanta has the world's busiest airport you know?
Certainly one thing was for sure, ATL is sprrrrrreeeeeeeaaaaad ouuuuuuuut. We went to Two Urban Licks for dinner - which I highly recommend - and quickly realised this place is going to cane us in taxi fares.
There was only one thing for it: hire a 12 seater van...
OK OK so it was the only vehicle the rental place had left but it turned out to be pretty funny and, against all expectations, really easy to drive. The power steering for example, was so light you could steer it with one finger... not that I was, Officer.
It had 27 miles on the clock and a slightly inappropriate licence plate - as you can see from the photo above - given it was taken in the car park of the Martin Luther King museum. Thankfully no one took offence.
I don’t think my ramblings here will remotely do the MLJ centre justice but it was a very moving experience. Shocking too: the shots of white villagers and their children smiling as a black man hangs lynched beggars belief. So did the 1960s videoed views of white, pro-segregation people: so direct and blatant in their racism. So recently too.
We spent the rest of the day cruising around in the
After seeing The XX's live show at the Tabernacle, we headed to MJQ's for the afterparty, meeting Distal and Shrtstck, the latter being the guy who created the Brostep forum. Dusk and I have never quite recovered from the comedy gold that were the users name Broseph Frizel etc and Shrtstck described what happened when he actually encountered Rusko backstage at a gig...
Rusko: "So, am I brostep them?"
Shrtstck: "Only if I can call you Ruskbro..."
Now if I was making silly money for bookings and was working with Britney, I probably wouldnt be worrying about it too much but there you go.
The club itself might have looked like an entrance to a shed (above) but felt really underground, all dark and messed up, rammed with people. Jamie XX played a great set, variants of 2step old and new, we did our thing and rolled home after a minor incident with a cab driver with creative accountancy "skills." "Look mate, you can't sue me I'm leaving the country in 12 hours..."
And leave the country we did. Until next time US of A, until next time. Bromeo done...
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Me & Dusk were Rinse FM on Thurs.
Download it HERE. New rules this month though, as the audio of all those dubs is yours for free, you have to leave a comment to let us know what you're feeling or what you're not...
***Dusk + Blackdown Rinse FM September 2010 tracklist***
DOWNLOAD it here>>>
Darkstar "Two Chords" [forthcoming Hyperdub]
Hackman "Untitled" [unreleased]
El-B ft Natasha "I Feel (Maddslinky's 4x4 remix)" [unreleased]
Velour "She Wore Velour" [Night Slugs]
Bias & Gurley "Roll (Blackdown remix)" [unreleased Keysound]
Damu "Crystal Gae" [unreleased]
Doc Daneeka "Cops" [Ramp]
Brackles and Shortstuff "Good Foundations (Martin Kemp remix)" [forthcoming Ramp]
MJ Cole ft Wiley "From the Drop (LViz 1990 remix)" [unreleased Prolific]
Raffertie "Rank Functions (Ital Tek remix)" [forthcoming Planet Mu]
The Fives ft Hayley Miller "It's What You Do (Hottest By Far)" [unreleased]
Ghostek "Barricades" [unreleased]
Sully "It's Your Love" [unreleased]
Nehuen "Time after Time" [unreleased]
Mickey Pearce "What's Mickey Talking About?" [unreleased]
Nehuen "80s" [unreleased]
Price "Touched" [L2S]
The Bug ft Warrior Queen "Poison Dart (Scratcha DVA remix)" [forthcoming Ninja Tune]
***Zomby Showcase September 2010***
Zomby "Tear Zero"
Zomby "Zebra 2"
Damu "Karolina's Magic J" [unreleased]
Amen Ra "Candy Rain" [forthcoming Keysound]
VC Moon "Bragging (Desto remix)" [unreleased]
Becoming Real ft Trim "Showdown in Chinatown" [forthcoming Not Even]
Teeth "Frequencies" [unreleased]
Dusk "Fraction (Kowton remix)" [unreleased Keysound]
VVV "Across the Sea" [unreleased]
Double Helix "Chamber of Light" [forthcoming Keysound]
Udachi "Swagger (Baobinga RMX)" [Palms Out Sounds]
Jamie Woon "Night Air (Ramadanman remix)" [Candent Songs]
Falty DL "Voyager" [unreleased Planet Mu]
Darkstar "Deadness" [forthcoming Hyperdub]
The Count and Sinden "You Make Me Feel So Good" [Domino]
Things I learnt while in San Francisco...
How much San Franciscans take pride in their coffee.
That while Dusk and I are dithering about finally upgrading to Serrato, that you can hardly find a club in San Fran that has decks: CDs or vinyl. Ableton is the default.
That DJing with Ableton might invoke a knee-jerk “but but… it’s all pre mixed?” reaction, but instead it just shifts the parameters. The name of the game is no longer what you can hold in the mix, but what you do when you’re in it.
That San Franciscans are crazy about mental icecream flavours but if you open your mouth and ask for “strawberry” in an English accent, you’ll find them high-5ing in delight.
Performance: how little I think about the performance side of DJ/live, versus the actual mixing and music creation. Time to buss the costume changes eh ... or indeed the Mexican wrestling masks!
The lasting impact that Burning Man has on a generation each year. “Doomrave” FTW.
That abstract hip hop, and not just the LA stuff, is the one there and that a sense of a fully developed San Francisco electronic tradition is very real.
The vivid use of murals by the Latin American community around the Mission district to portray local history and struggles.
That dubstep in America is not a multicultural phenomenon: a direct quote, not my observation I might add!
Blackdown: By all accounts, writing this album was quite a personal struggle for you guys, having to scrap material and start again etc. Can you describe this process and do you think it was important to go through? Would the album have sounded different if you hadn’t struggled to make it, for example? Were there times you didn’t think you’d ever get there?
Jay Darkstar: When I listen to joy division, I can hear the labour, when I listen to Radiohead I can hear the labour, when I listen to Burial I can hear the labour. If we hadn't of struggled it would have significantly less labour within it. I like some of the awkwardness, the lack of musicality at certain points, the lack of technical ability at others makes it what it is. There were time's we were wandering when we'd finally get there, brief flirtations with e.p rather than l.p ideas, but to be honest we were always going to get there.
B: Can you tell me about the emotional or thought process you went through to change your musical direction. You’d been vaguely affiliated with the dubstep scene, and “Need You” was pretty 2steppy. Most of your music had been loosely percussive and club orientated, whereas “North” is very different album. Swimming against the tide isn’t the easy route, but you took it… how come?
J: Well, we listen to lots of music, like everyone else but we are curious naturally, it seems pointless to not experiment. When we make music there is no criteria, we don't consciously think about going for or against anything, we like to create something we are interested in, if we get to that stage then we finish it. We won't finish half baked tracks. We haven't got a set goal apart from making albums, we are itching to get back in the studio now.
B: Do you think the time of year this album is released is important? It seems to fit the autumn feel to me…
J: Yeah I suppose so. I wrote about seasons in a couple of tracks and what was going on during winter or summer. We never designed the album specifically for autumn though. It's just heavily textured with synths and other instruments, it's not particularly rhythmical either so I think it's easier for the brain to associate those pads and swells with maybe a certain time of the year or mood.
B: How did you find James Buttery, why did you choose him and what was it like accommodating him into the band? Producers are typically very comfortable with each other in the studio in what is a quite personal, emotional experience (writing music), how did you find having a third person part of it?
J: James is a good guy. Aiden has known him for the best part of ten years. He has a great voice and we first started working with him covering 'Videotape' by Radiohead. On North we wrote all the material, melodies, top lines and lyrics so James creatively didn't get so involved. Obviously the next step which is underway is all three of us writing and seeing how that goes.
B: Writing songs, where you invest personal emotions in lyrics rather than just the moods or textures of percussive music, must be quite different. How did you find the process of moving from tracks to songs, personally? How did you find digging within yourselves to find emotions to share publically?
J: I think it's important to sometimes put yourself on the line. I'd rather get slated for the lyrics than not having the bottle to follow through with it. We always wrote songs really even 'Need You' is a song, it's just limited in lyrical content. I didn't doubt the songs so it made it easier to let people hear them. Certain songs were tougher to write than others but all the content came fairly quickly. I didn't over think the songwriting, it was something that we walked into and we wanted the album to be this way. We wanted a difference from past material a clear stepping stone in direction.
B: Tell me how you feel about melancholia, why are you drawn to this mood, why is it so prominent in your work? [I love it personally, equally to hype tracks, but not everyone draws for it…] Was this connected to the fact that you said you guys both sadly lost people during the recording process or was there an element of melancholia to it before?
J: I think we were always drawn to it and even before the album, 'Need You' and 'Aidy's Girl' aren't your regular club tunes. It's not a case of us being emo or anything, it's just when we get those moods in the studio we naturally keep more interest and focus within the track. We like working on emotive ideas. They get the best out of us.
B: Why is it important to you guys to process and add effects to James’ vocals? I also find them slightly buried in the mix sometimes, like you can only half hear them, like they’re hidden or fleeting. Can you tell me about your approach to this “instrument”?
J: The simplest way of answering this question is that it just feels right to hear the vocal this way. When we record the vocal, we'll get the take then I'll effect it accordingly using various plug-ins and by cutting the audio. Then it's just a case of balancing the mix and the vocal. With all the production and distortion of the synths, drums and bass added to the vocal gives us the sound of the album. It became vital to our sound to manipulate in this way. Our master recordings of the vocals are sometimes sketchy, we live on upper clapton road and literally took every take in the flat, so it's not ideal to get a great take. We rely on these techniques to make up for spillage from the road things like buses or sirens were a particular nuisance but manageable with our sound.
B: Can you tell me about the inspiration for the lyrical content of “Two Chords”? It sounds like the song of a heartbreak or a breakup…
J: “Two Chords” was written after I'd read an interview with Martin Scorsese whilst he was promoting Shutter Island. He said his work had burnt through four marriages. I thought about my own work and how it effects your relationship with people around you. The hook was directly taken from that interview. But it's not a heartbreak tune it's like washing your hair, it's like the part of life before the clean break and focus. It's not a sad song it's about the break and then the climb back to normality and work. Refocusing your thoughts and reflecting on that time.
B: Synths… synthesisers are inherently, well, synthetic. How do you go about finding the organic, humanity in them?
J: Balancing the synths with the vocal was not that difficult, again the vocal is typical for the album, the pulse synth throughout the track is automated to intensify when the lyrics and the choirs do so the whole thing peaks as one.
B: The album’s called North, you grew up there and talk amazingly about it and also your Hackney experience in the interview with Kode, but can you describe how much either being from the north or the relationship between being there but now living in London has on the album, because as a listener, it’s not entirely clear to me?
J: Yeah I understand that notion but the bigger picture is saying this all started in the North, and then the title track is directly about both ways of living North/South. I looked back to things up there to help with not only lyrics but more so textures and ways of structuring tracks, all the bright synth stuff the digital sound is gone here, we didn't go near it. It's grainy and drawn out. Our dancier tracks before the album were always cut out for London and directly influenced by fwd. But this was about moving on and looking for a different kind of inspiration, one that could span the length of an album. It was important for us to move on and grow into a sound we are comfortable with.
B: After the album comes out, what are your plans for 2010/11? What else would you like to do musically?
J: Our plans right now are the live show. We are rehearsing and looking at the sound of it, the method and how to perform in front of an audience. We are also tentatively writing again, which is exciting, James is on board and writing with us and it's very much a combined process now. We are trying to cover all the angles and keep making good tunes.
-- My full Pitchfork feature on "North" is here. I don't listen to that many albums these days but this is the best one this year so far...