With connections to labels ranging from Ibiza Records to Talkin Loud, Daniel was heavily involved in the 90s drum and bass scene producing his own music and teaching artists how to use samplers and recording equipment.
Obsessed by jungle in his teens, he turned his attentions to a fresh and emerging sound from West London at the turn of the millennium. Much like the jungle scene this new style was based on dirty bass, broken beats, warm Rhodes and scattered snares.
Fuelled by artists like IG Culture, Afronaught, Phil Asher and a wealth of drum and bass pioneers at the helm, this new culture fused jungle, house, soul, boogie, latin and jazz resulting in some of the most exciting and futuristic music to come out of London.
Daniel’s debut LP has just been released on Far Out Recordings, containing deep house, techno and broken beat.
We caught up with him to discuss the album and his involvement in the early jungle scene.
Buy “Macumba Quebrada”: Bandcamp
Musically, we share similar tastes. From drum and bass to jazz, hip hop and house we appreciate a variety of styles and sounds. Can you tell us a bit about what you listened to growing up? I guess your dad was a massive influence in those early years?
I grew up listening to a lot of jazz, funk and soul as my dad (Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick of the band Incognito) was one of the pioneers of the British Jazz Funk movement, he would also go to America and bring back early hip hop and house in the 80s so I was lucky to be introduced to electronic and sample-based music through him too.
Inner City, Run DMC, Public Enemy were huge for me as a kid… As were Roy Ayers, George Duke, Weather Report and all the jazz-funk legends.
So when did you make the transition from avid listener to musician/producer/DJ?
It wasn’t until the early hardcore/jungle tunes started coming around in ’91 that I found a type of music that really resonated with me to the point where I wanted to be a DJ and maybe make music myself. It was new and invented by people from my background and city, not New York or Detroit, but here on my doorstep in London.
I always loved music, I was raised in studios, but growing up around amazing musicians kind of put me off playing an instrument. I just didn’t have the gift to play at a high level and kinda knew it… but then decks, and later samplers changed everything for me. I felt like these were things that I could use to be creative that suited me, I got my first set of decks in late ’92 when I was 14 then in ’94 moved up to messing around with the first instrument that really allowed me to make music… an Akai Sampler!
I slowly became part of the Incognito production team while at the same time learning and making jungle/DnB stuff. At first doing a little programming, eventually co-producing and co-writing on many of the albums and productions my dad was doing, from the mid-’90s until the mid-2000s, working with some of the very best artists and musicians.
What was it like growing up around this hotbed of creativity?
I’m lucky that I grew up around amazing musicians, as a kid I’d always be in the studio watching and was always drawn to the technology side of studios and producing. I kind of learned without studying and mainly just by subconscious observation. I got to meet so many legends in studios and tours too, from Jocelyn Brown and Jazzy B to Stevie Wonder and Paul Weller. I’ve been really lucky to meet and see some of the best at work.
You hooked up with the Ibiza Records crew, such an influential label. How did this happen and what can you tell us about that time?
At the end of ’93 Paul Ibiza opened up a shop at the end of my road in Dalston, Potential Bad Boy, Chatterbox, Chris Music Power and Paul were all working in the shop, they were like heroes to me at the time. “Work The Box”, “Bad Girl” & “Can You Feel The Rush” were anthems on the streets back then. So after a few weeks of hanging around, hassling them, they probably took pity on this little obsessed 15-year-old jungle fanboy and asked if I wanted a Saturday job at the shop. I worked there from early ’94 until late ’95. They were doing some legendary raves at the same time so I was there as part of the team for the Jungle Splash and Jungle Soundclash events.
I learned a lot from those guys, I’m especially grateful to Chris (Potential Bad Boy) for letting me sit in some of his studio sessions and watching him work, he really is one of the founders and innovators of hardcore/jungle/DnB whatever you call it… Potential, James from Noise Factory, Marc Mac & Dego (Reinforced), they are the godfathers of that art form to me.
As far as jungle, what were you listening to at this time and who were you hanging around with?
Listening to and collecting everything jungle! Obsessively…
Rush FM or Kool FM always on the radio, I was hanging with mates who were also collecting records, heading down to Unity and Black Market in the West End, getting to hang out at Roller Express, Bagleys etc. with the Ibiza/Jungle Splash crew.
In early ’94 I got friendly with some of the SOUR Records guys who had a studio in the same building as my dad. T-Power was there and Shy FX was doing his first tunes to and he became a real friend. I was there when he did “Original Nutter”, he did the “Gangster Remix” in my dad’s studio.
My first ever tune was done while I was on School Work Experience at Trident Studios in mid ’94, while I was working on my first tune, Andre was next door in a big SSL studio room doing “Original Nutter” specials for the DJ’s at Jungle Soundclash. He came in and heard my tune I was working on, liked it and helped me finish it off. He called me up the next week and asked if I wanted to do a live PA with him at Jungle Splash performing the tune before him and UK Apachi did “Original Nutter” live for the first time.
Shout out to Shy FX, he helped me a lot man and even got us to do an Incognito remix of one of his tracks to launch his Digital Soundboy Label years later. The same day we did the PA at Jungle Splash we went down to Music House to cut a dubplate, Brockie was there, heard it and asked if he could cut it too, he played it as his last tune on Kool FM that weekend which really made my life at the time!
After that, I started on my journey making music full time. 1994 was such an amazing year musically and I’m just grateful to have been around it all considering I was a just a 15-year-old kid.
Later on, I got to know many guys in the scene, did some uncredited, lowkey engineering on tunes and at times I just made tracks and gave them to certain cheeky people who put them out under their names!
As I became a bit more skilled on the sampler I taught a lot of techniques, like filtering and mapping, to some big artists on the jungle/DnB scene. I’d go round and show them how to do certain tricks that were not common knowledge at the time, no Youtube tutorials back then! Either someone schooled you or you found things out by trial and error.
Must have been mad being on school work experience and hearing Shy FX making dubplate specials! That track you made was called “Assasinz” and remains unreleased. How old were you then and why didn’t it come out? You still got the plate?
I still got the plate, crusty and battered but it still plays!
SOUR & Sub Base wanted to put it out, but I wasn’t happy with it enough to release it. I was 15, had no clue what I was doing really and was just happy to make a tune, have Brockie cut it and perform it at Jungle Splash, that was enough for me. I guess I wanted to just learn, get better and be able to work all the gear myself before putting anything out there properly. So I got an Atari ST, a cracked copy of Cubase, my dad’s old hand me down Akai S1000 sampler and went to school cutting up breaks in my bedroom, stealing time whenever my dad’s studio was free!
I know from your social media posts about your love of Reinforced and Tom & Jerry. What contact did you have with the Dollis Hill community?
Just deep respect and appreciation for those guys, it was probably the “Journey From The Light EP” by 4 Hero that turned a hobby into an obsession for me. I was lucky to go down to the Dollis Hill HQ and meet the guys once in the ’90s, but didn’t want to bother them too much that day and was a little bit starstruck! But yeah, Marc is an online pal these days, him and Dego have remixed quite a few of my productions and tunes, we’ve also produced on the same albums for artists like Terry Callier and have been featured on the same comps and stuff, that’s big for me just to be linked in any way to the guys who inspired me so much as a kid.
Recently Marc put me in touch with Stretch after they heard a few tunes I was messing around with for fun in between projects and we got some jungle releases cooking in the oven, Venom will return!
I’ve also let Marc know that if he ever revives Reinforced or the Enforcers series that I still hold a glimmer of hope to be on one, even if I’m 70 by the time it happens!
You made a mix of Rivets and Shells which contains an unreleased Tek9 dubplate. What’s the story behind that track and can you tell us a bit about how you got it?
Haha! No info to give on that one… just one of many plates and DAT’s that I’ve cut, ripped or borrowed from many secret sources and pals over the years. Since the early 90’s I’ve been collecting rare dubplates, digitising them and have built up a pretty sick collection of rarities that I like to draw for now and then… From Photek and Dillinja to Reprazent and Optical I got a lot of holy grails in the collection…but still a few out there I need!
There was a Dillinja tune that Randall had called “New York Sax” that was one of the first things he did when he signed to FFRR that I would pretty much kill for!
I really enjoy mixing that music, there are few things as fun as throwing down a classic hardcore jungle mix!
That era of jungle featured a lot of rare groove and ragga samples, I’ve been introduced to some great 70s LP’s through people like SelectaBwoy and various websites and groups that catalogue sample sources. What’s your view on sampling and can you recommend any old original tracks that ended up in jungle?
Sampling is the backbone of the genre. A backbone that was integral and has been kinda lost. Even though I grew up with jazz and soul music I have learned far more about those genres, and others, from sampling, digging for new samples and tracking down samples that others used has been a vital education.
My thoughts on sampling? It’s great when done right, like pretty much anything in music.
It’s also these days great seeing the online communities that are into finding sources for breaks etc. I wish we had that back in the day, certain breaks were closely guarded secrets back then and finding a new source for an exclusive, unique sounding Amen or Think break was a big thing!
Gotta be careful not to be too much of a snitch but check out…
Maxi – Lover To Lover
Idris Muhammad – Piece Of Mind
Brainstorm – Journey To The Light
Reese – Just Another Chance
Starvue – Body Fusion
The Jones Girls – Who Can I Run To
Take 6 – I Am On My Way
Jeffree – Mr. Fixit
Roy Ayers Ubiquity – The Third Eye
Azymuth – Brazil
For just a few of my personal favourite samples used in classic jungle tunes…
You had releases on Chronic and Hardleaders in the late ’90s, can you tell us about these, how you made them and what your artistic vision was at the time?
Yeah, to be honest I was never really happy with my tunes and was a bit of a perfectionist that wouldn’t give out or finish my best ones, at that time I was still learning and trying to improve the basics so most of my tracks never came out but every now and then someone talked me into releasing something! DJ Ash passed a couple of my tunes to Karl at Hardleaders for those releases, Andy C played one of those tunes out on plate while I was standing in a DJ booth with him and Ash unaware who I was or that I made it. That was massive as his work throughout the ’90s was a huge influence on me.
With Chronic, my best mate John was V’s in house engineer. Bryan heard a few bits and put out a couple lil’ rollers we did, which was awesome. A real honour to be on those labels which at the time were pretty much Dillinja, Roni, Ray Keith and those guys, who were gods to me. There was even a tune we did that Bryan signed up to V that ended up being lost to time and space somehow! I need to track down my DAT box as I’m sure there is tons of unreleased stuff that was supposed to come out on those labels somewhere!
What can you tell us about that unreleased V track? Heavy on the amens?
Nah, it was a jazzy little track that my dad helped me out on with a Weldon Irvine sample, around ’96-’97, will have to dig it out one day, can barely remember it myself, so many tunes get lost in time! I made a whole ‘Venom’ mini-album for Talkin’ Loud that is probably sitting in a vault somewhere that never came out too!
Like a lot of people, I ducked out the drum and bass scene in the late 90s as the science in the music seemed less important or even lost. Around this time jazz labels like Talkin Loud and eclectic labels like Mo Wax were releasing tracks by the likes of 4hero, Photek etc. It seemed a great way of continuing the ride created with the conception of jungle. What was it like rolling with the Talkin Loud crew and hearing those sounds leaving the studios before the public?
Yeah, my history with Talkin Loud and Gilles goes way back, my dad was one of the first artists Gilles Peterson signed. In the early ’90s he was starting to check out the jungle scene that was bubbling, he came to me as he knew I had started DJ’ing and was into it. So I kinda became his little junior jungle advisor for the label as it was considering signing a few artists. He asked me who to sign and I recommended Dillinja, Roni Size and Tom & Jerry, he ended up getting 2 out of those 3, so not too bad!
As I started making tunes, Gilles cut and eventually pressed a remix I did of one of my dad’s tunes “Still A Friend of Mine” as a Talkin’ Loud promo, which is now going for a pretty mental amount on Discogs whenever it comes up for sale.
I later signed a deal with Talkin’ Loud as a solo artist in the late ’90s. It was an amazing label, so diverse, jazz, brazilian, hip hop, house, experimental music, it opened my eyes to a lot of styles and sounds which led me to branch out a bit from jungle into different styles.
Can you give us a handful of titles from that era you still hold important today?
Oh man, so many tunes, so many genres!
Here are a few that were big in the Monday night Bar Rumba days of the ’90s.
Nu Yorican Soul – The Nervous Track
Bel Air Project – Dark Jazzor
Incognito – Fearless
Reprazent – Brown Paper Bag
Carl Craig – Bug In The Bassbin
Theo Parrish – Music
Moodymann – Misled
The Pharcyde – Runnin’
4 Hero – Loveless
Raw Deal – Headless Horseman
Jazzanova – Caravelle
Spacek – Eve
MAW – Moonshine
Vikter Duplaix – Manhood
Too many good tunes back then man…
“Atmospheric Funk” by Wax Doctor too, that was a big crossover track between the jungle and the jazz/dance worlds… I remember Gilles, Earl Zinger and I went to Speed at the Mars Bar club when they first moved there and as we walked in Fabio was playing that on dubplate. I turned to Gilles and said, “whatever the fuck that is, you gotta get it for Talkin’ Loud man”. He smiled, marched up to Fabio and asked what it was, came back and said “Atmospheric Funk” by Wax Doctor…
A few weeks later a bike courier turned up at my house, out of the blue, with a Talkin’ Loud record bag stuffed with all the latest promos from the label and in there was a promo of that tune, with a big Talkin’ Loud Logo on it! Great times man.
“Atmospheric Funk” is one of my all-time favourites, Wax Doctor certainly knew how to ride out a sample. Got any other Speed stories?
No particular stories, but every visit was a huge inspiration and I heard so many future classics there every time I went… Bukem and Fabio were incredible DJ’s & those sessions were unforgettable, a mad mixture of people there as well, celebs, producers everywhere, nodding away! I did a mix recently just made up of tunes from and inspired by those nights at ‘The Mars Bar’.
What was it like being around Gilles when all this was going on?
It was a brilliant education, I’d tag along with him whenever I could to Bar Rumba or Blue note, Kiss FM then later BBC Radio 1 when he started there, he’d play groundbreaking music in every style and genre, every week seemed like a revolution. Gilles schooled me on so much stuff and opened mine and many other artists eyes to a larger musical world than the ones we came from.
Some of the more experimental drum and bass producers walked away from the scene to produce other styles of music, helping to form the Broken Beat movement. This was the perfect outlet for people into the more forward-thinking side of jungle and ignited my love for music again. What were those early days like?
Brilliant days man, there was a vibe in the air and a feeling that I hadn’t felt since ’94, real groundbreaking original rhythms and sounds were being put together in a whole new way. The West London boys, Bugz, IG, 4hero, the European guys too like Jazzanova, Peter Kruder etc. It was just a great time for experimentation and breaking rules and knocking barriers down. Monday nights at Bar Rumba in those late ’90s was life!
With regards to the drum and bass scene after the mid 2000s, I think it became music based far more on technique and formula than ideas and feel, it has lost something that I think people are yearning for and starting to bring back, at it’s best, it should be a balance between tech wizardry and rule-breaking, bring back those breaks and samples sometimes too!
Your Viper Squad release on Far Out was a landmark release for the scene, what did you use to produce these tracks and what was your vision when working on them?
No real set vision, just trying new things and starting to combine all the influences into an original style. That music was drum and bass, house, jazz and hip hop all coming together to form something new. It was probably the last music that I made on hardware samplers, specifically the EMU samplers of the time which were absolute beasts, with hardware EFX machines, big desks and early versions of Logic Audio on an Apple Mac, expensive gear at the time! People don’t know how easy they have it these days, with infinite FX plugins and recording time/channels etc. It’s a far cry from the Atari ST & Akai S1000 I started on!
So, let’s move on to your debut solo album “Macumba Quebrada”. What can you tell us about its vision and production?
Again, it’s just distilling all my influences into a form and trying to make a unique almost unclassifiable album, it has a bit of everything from my musical life in it but doesn’t fit in a box… One of the main things on this record is rhythm, I wanted it to have a real heavy, almost primal use of rhythms.
There’s a heavy Brazilian, percussive influence, as well as elements of Detroit techno, Chicago house and of course a lil’ London hardcore/jungle dust in there somewhere too.
The music was done on my laptop in between my bedroom in Dalston, my girlfriend’s house in Brazil & a little studio set up at my uncle’s house in sunny Scotland.
You’ve produced albums for some of the most iconic jazz and latin artists like Azymuth, Marcos Valle, Terry Callier, Incognito, Ivan ‘Mamao’ Conti and Sabrina Malheiros. To be honest, that’s quite a mindblowing list! How did you go about approaching producing your own LP? Is the process similar or completely different?
Every artist and every project is different, there are no rules. I finished my electronic-based album completely on a laptop, with samples, software synths and plugins just after I recorded Marcos Valle’s latest album “Sempre” in a more traditional vintage studio in Rio, with live horns, drums, percussion, a lot of analogue gear and real instruments. I really enjoy doing different things in different ways, I’d get bored doing the same music the same way all the time.
I have a friend who done some work experience for Far Out years ago and he commented on how friendly the team were, especially Joe. Is it a similar community vibe you experienced in the 90s?
Yeah, I mean it’s a different world now, music biz wise. But we are trying to do our thing and spread good music as much as we can! Not many labels are doing what Far Out are doing, electronic music, foreign music, big productions with incredible musicians playing real instruments too, it’s important that there’s still labels trying to push boundaries and put out quality music.
The album covers everything from deep house, broken vibes and even a little uptempo drum and bass track yet is still really cohesive. How have you achieved this and what do you think the reaction will be?
Thanks, cohesiveness is key, especially when there are such varying tempos and sounds. As far as what reaction it will get, I have no idea. I just do music how I feel I should at the time. If people like it great, if not that’s cool too. I’ve had a few emails from some artists whose work I love, who have reached out to me to say they got the promo and how much they like it, that is always inspiring and reassuring, to get the thumbs up from your peers.
Your dual residence between Rio de Janeiro and East London really shines through in your music. How do you think this has influenced your sound?
It’s all in there man, definitely… Like the jungle influence and the hip hop that I grew up on its just part of what I am and what I do now, consciously or subconsciously. Working with Azymuth and people like that you can’t help but learn, expand your horizons and musical arsenal, I hope it comes through in the music.
You’ve been making and producing music for a very long time, now with your debut album under your belt where do you go from here?
Who knows! Gonna keep making all sorts of music hopefully, just finished a heavy jazz-funk album in Brazil for Far Out Recordings and already got about 30 tunes for a follow up solo album… Hope to head back out there and record another LP with Marcos Valle next year.
Actually, in between projects this last couple of months, I’ve been sat in my bedroom in Dalston, carving up old classic breaks and returning to the jungle that I started with. That has been really fun and I think some of it will be making it’s way out too, bringing it all full circle!
Finally, both Talkin’ Loud and Far Out have put out some great drum and bass tracks/remixes. Got any recommendations for people who may not have checked the labels?
Of course, the Reprazent and 4hero albums on Talkin’ Loud are now considered classics of the genre. There were some great remixes on that label, the Nicolette remixes by Dillinja “No Government”’ and Krust “Beautiful Day” are personal favs & 4hero’s remix of Courtney Pine’s “I’ve Known Rivers” was a big one, Andy C, Rider, Optical, Peshay and many others did great remixes for the label as well… Too many to remember!
Far Out put out a “Misturada” compilation back in the day that was all Drum and Bass remixes of Azymuth tracks that were dope too. Both labels have vast catalogues of incredible music that anyone who loves music should investigate.