Friday, June 01, 2007
I linked off to a mix by Drop the Lime some time ago, it's one I've made the soundtrack to most of my bike commutes. More recently I had the pleasure of finally getting to see this self-declared heavy weight of New York Bass deliver a set at Crosstown in Toronto. He stands well tall over the decks, imposing and lanky shouting random exhortations to the crowd alongside enthused introductions to what ever tracks he's introducing to the mix. All the time he is building a pummeling wall of bass, and with the higher end of the mix well dipped it's sometimes hard to make out the vocal hooks that continuously suck you in on recorded mixes.
To my own confused drunken mind it was like he was excavating through dance culture, pulling surprising Chicago house tracks out from way back when and reminding the crowd that "this was twenty years ago" before moving on quickly in a whole other direction: be it the guitar crunched dubstep of Distance's "Ska" or some doo wap sounding oddity. His "electro banger" alter ego Curses! will be dropping the debut EP My House Is haunted! on Paris floor quaking label Institubes in June. The bucko himself drops by Kaboogie on June 22nd to serve up B-lines to ye Dublin feckers in Kennedy's over on Westland row. His latest music video is also up over on the Trouble and Bass blog.
Can you remember your first gig as a DJ and how it went for you?
I was 17 years old my name was DJ Dysis at the time and I played for a jungle/drum&bass night with Soulslinger, Pish Posh and TC Islam - I was smashing it, until TC Izlam came on to introduce Soulslinger while I was still DJ'ing and he said "who is this kid that nobody knows? blah blah blah blah" - rappin' about how I'm some nobody opening for Soulslinger hahaha, mad funny.
When did you make the move over to digital DJ-ing and how did it change things for you?
I still DJ with vinyl as well as Serato - Serato is useful for playing out unreleased material and new tunes I'm working on.. it's a good way to test the tune on a crowd and see if its ready to go public or if it still needs work in some places - plus exclusives from crews that nobody has heard yet.
You were in a lot of bands as a teenager, what sort of music were these making and has any of it rubbed off on what you are engaged in now? What finally pushed you in the direction of dance music?
I was heavily influenced by bands like Can, Fugazi, Sonic Youth, and Brian Eno - the constantly evolving style and sound in all of those bands and artists has been a continuos influence on what I do now.. Every summer as a kid I'd go to Italy and swim at this public pool, the radio would always be playing shitty euro house jams.. "this is the rhythm of the night..of the night.. oh yeah".. so the dance music sound has always been an influence on my songs.
When I was like 14 a friend of mine from London played me this mix-tape of DJ Hype, and I lost it. From that moment on I got this jealous feeling about Jungle music and that made me want to DJ and produce it, I started going to rave parties back home in New York and got more and more into electronic music, my copy of Zinc's "6 Million Ways" and "Zion08" sound like white noise all worn out now, cuz thats what I learned to DJ on.
This is a knowingly stupid question - but what's bass music all about? I know its a vicous blend of bass heavy genres but why do you think people are throwing genre boundaries out the window and going hell for leather at it for heavy duty bass?
Playing whatever you want to play as long as it has a nasty bass-line. Thats what counts. Jumping all over genres in a night is more exciting to me than one style all night long, as long as what holds the night together is bass. If you brought me some klezmer track that had a growling sub bubbling bassline holding it together I'd find a way to make it work with a B more or Electro or old school Chicago House tune, just because the bassline was so banging.
Dubstep is a pretty UK heavy sound and you manage to use it relatively distinctively - throwing US hip hop vocals over Skream's "Request Line" for instance in one mix - but is there a danger people will just labour after it as a purist sound, retarding the potential for something real interesting to come from its spread?
People tell me this a lot. I love dubstep and DJ it here and there, but its definitely a UK sound - I think every genre takes the risk of becoming washed out once it gets attention outside of the DJ scenes and into the people's homes... it's just about constantly putting out fresh material and pushing boundaries that will keep it strong, not how its mixed in a DJ set. When we in the Trouble & Bass crew mix hip hop or club rap with Dubstep it helps Americans who are unfamiliar with the sound become familiarized with something new.
What are your feelings on this whole "new rave" thing cultivated by magazines like NME and hooked on bands like the Klaxons?
No Rave is the new Nu Rave was the old Neu Raev is now the neu! rayv!
In the interview Dirty Down did with you you seem pretty down on blogs that release tunes not to promote the artist but to "have the tune" as you put it - have you ever been burnt by blogs doing this or by releasing material before you wanted it released?
Yes many a time. Sometimes a tune will get leaked thats unfinished or un-mastered, and then a blog will put it up and hundreds of DJ's will download it and play it out, even though in my ears it wasnt read yet. Really though, I have been supported massively by blogs, and I appreciate that.. its just that sometimes it wouldn't hurt to ask the artist or their label if they can post a specific tune up.. we probably will say "yes"..just ask. Most blogs do ask me or labels I'm affiliated with, and those blogs are A top on my list. Dirty Down, 20 Jazz Funk Greats, Palmsout, Acid-girls, Slap you in public and Fluo - they've all asked and have been really supportive of DTL and Trouble & Bass
Do you get the chance to do much graphic design which is one of your other interests or are you just totally absorbed in music?
I do most of the cover designs, t shirts, posters etc.. that are attached to my music..
For a while there you were associated with the aul hyper active use of the amen break, what was it about breakcore that you eventually found limiting?
The amen break!
You seem to love NYC right, I'm not sure if you've heard it but on the new LCD Soundsystem album James Murphy gives the world a pre-Giuliani-era lament in "New York I Love You" - how do you think the city has changed since 9-11?
Giuliani didnt like us dancing. I was born here and feel close to the big apple. People are dancing again though, and this whole "no dancing" cabaret law is dwindling away like a weak joke. I don't know the LCD soundsystem song, but I imagine its a different image of the city than my image.. I grew up as a raver, but I heard James Murphy grow up as a Skankin' Pickle fan.
Just going on pictures of Trouble and Bass parties I've seen on the net, they look like fairly small but sweaty parties - have they gotten bigger and how do you think they compare to parties like Bangface in London?
We do large and small parties from 300 to 1500. But now, we are moving towards only bigger parties - the small ones have been too sweaty and crammed. This was our last one with our boys, Cut in May (photo courtesy of the Captain at Dirty Down and there's more here).
And finally - do you think the E-lock video will be something to be embarrassed about in 30 years time?!
I plan on doing a sequel in 30 years.
The photo of Drop The Lime is nicked from the Onwards Charles Blog.
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