Akuratyde Talks Design And Modern Conveniences

2020 has seen the release of lots of great music and the launch of several exciting labels. One of our favourites is Modern Conveniences, the brainchild of producer and graphic designer Akuratyde.

We sat down for a chat about the project, releases and its beautiful artwork.

What inspired you to set up your own label? Can’t be the easiest time to do it!

Yeah, I actually had this planned well before COVID struck but it took awhile to get all of the pieces in place so the first EP didn’t end up coming out until August.

It started early 2019 with a favor. I do graphic and website design for a living, I designed Kid Drama’s site and in return he remixed “Plume” from my first album. Around the same time Kharm reached out to me and offered to remix a song from my album, and then I ended up designing the website for Random Movement’s record label, Flight Pattern, and he also did a remix for me. I sent them to Chris BMT and he liked them but didn’t feel they were quite the right fit for Blu Mar Ten Music so he urged me to release them myself. He even got me set up with their distributor so that the release could be on Spotify, iTunes, etc.

Originally I was just going to release those 3 remixes but more people kept reaching out wanting to remix my tunes and I figured I should do a proper label instead of a one-off release.

We will come back to your graphic design a bit later on but I’m interested to hear more about that first EP. Was it a bitter pill to swallow when Chris said he didn’t want to put them out after having all these artists remix these tracks?

Not really. Chris is very straightforward and blunt with his feedback because he keeps the bar extremely high when it comes to quality and consistency. I know him well enough to know it’s not personal. Plus, I knew it was a bit of a risk getting those remixes done without consulting him first. He was very supportive and helped me a lot with getting my label setup. I’m really happy with how everything turned out because I’ve wanted to run my own label since 1999.

Seems like they really supported you as an artist, how come it took you 21 years to finally take the plunge and set up a label?

Honestly, I didn’t know where to start. When Chris offered to set me up with his distributor that really set things in motion. After that I began researching business licenses, etc.

Yeah, that side of setting up a label is enough to put anyone off. So, now you’re up and running, how are you finding it?

It’s a lot more work than I realized! I’m finding that it takes up a large part of my week, but that’s partially because I’m taking it very seriously and trying to offer a really high quality package; from the branding and artwork to the releases themselves. It’s stressful but also really rewarding. I love reaching out to artists and asking them to do an EP for the label and then getting it delivered a few months later. I just received two different ones in the past week and both EP’s are sick! I can’t wait to share them with everyone.

Are you prepared to give us an insight into who these artists might be?

Not yet, I’m still sorting out the release schedule for 2021 so I don’t want to announce them now and then keep people waiting.

I can tell you that I have an EP from RQ dropping on Dec. 18th. It’s called Solar Wind and it’s backed with a remix by Tellus. The EP is a bit different than RQ’s recent output, it’s a little darker and techier. I’m hoping people will think it’s an interesting direction for the label because it’s a sound I’d like to explore on further releases while still keeping the main focus on melodic music.

Ah, that’s interesting. You know I’m a big fan of RQ, I look forward to hearing that for sure. I love it when a label inspires producers to try something different, can we have a sneak peek at the artwork?

Of course!

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Your label, Modern Conveniences, has a very distinct look and style to it. Can you tell us a bit about its inspiration?

Thanks man, I really appreciate that. I’ve been surprised at how many people have commented on the artwork, it’s really fulfilling as a graphic designer to get feedback like that.

The direction of the art was inspired by a couple of different things: first was the name. I’ve had that name kicking around in my head for awhile as a potential song or album title. It’s a commentary on how we have all of these amazing technologies and completely take them for granted. Once I settled on that name for the label I knew the artwork should be a bit edgy as a counterpoint to the somewhat bland and vague name. I’d been looking at a lot of ’90s cyberpunk artwork online and though I’d try to incorporate some of those elements along with something a bit more current.

The second source of inspiration was the desire to do something completely different from my other artwork. I do a lot of artwork for different record labels: Flight Pattern, Locked Concept, and none60 to name a few. I wanted to create something completely unique to my label so I wouldn’t feel like I was repeating myself. It’s fun and challenging as a designer to try something new that I’ve never attempted before.

Do you think the art will inspire the music producers make for the label? Or vice versa?

I always wait until a release is finished before I start on the artwork so it’s definitely driven by the music. I do a 3D render for each cover but I try not to interpret the release title too literally. I usually listen to the release a few times while doing the artwork for extra inspiration. For me it’s more about finding a vibe that fits each release and also reflects the aesthetic I want for the label.

I suppose at some point the label’s aesthetic might inspire some of the music I’m receiving from producers and if that happens it would be really cool. Visuals often inspire the music I make so I could see it happening once the visual style of the label is more established.

With that in mind, how did the music on this new RQ EP influence the cover design?

Great question. The title track is called “Solar Wind”, and there’s also a song on the EP called “LV-426”, which is the famous planet from the Alien franchise, so I began thinking about terraforming planets and big wind turbines. I ended up making this geometric render which sort of reminded me of a fan or turbine. As I mentioned earlier the EP is rather dark and moody so I went with a color palette which I felt reflected the vibe of the music.

The music is also pretty stripped back and minimal so I wanted to reflect that in the design. I kept it a bit simpler than some of the other covers, just one big image as a focal point with some clean typography.

RQ is a really well-respected designer and it’s always a bit nerve-wracking sending my work to other designers for approval but he was really happy with it and didn’t suggest any changes.

You recently released Redesigned Vol. 2. How would describe this set of remixes and how did they come about? More web design favours?

The Random Movement remix was a web design favor. The rest were all producers that reached out to me and wanted to do a remix. I’m friends with Method One in real life, every time he comes to LA we hang out and the last time he was here we got brunch and talked about him doing a remix of “Lost Summer”.

I’d been pestering Kharm for years as I’m a huge fan of his stuff. Every year I’d message him and ask when he was going to write some new music. That eventually lead to our tune “Enamoured”, which we released on Microfunk earlier this year, and then he decided to take a crack at “Into The Sea”. I love the way he flipped it into an autonomic tune. I really like when producers change the tempo of a song for a remix, it gives it a completely different feel.

The Margari’s Kid remix came about from us chatting on Facebook. I love how stripped back his remix is, it’s also got such a different vibe from the original. I tried to be really thoughtful about the way I grouped the remixes on Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 because I waited until all of the remixes were complete before deciding on the tracklists. Vol. 2 is definitely a bit brighter and more joyous and that was by design. I wanted to have a nice contrast between the two and I’m really happy with how they both turned out.

Links: Web / Bandcamp

Artwork Gallery

Krust – The Edge of Everything (LP and Remixes)

The Edge of Everything” by Krust has undoubtedly created a rejuvenated interest in drum and bass. What makes it more exciting is that the furore centres around the return of a pioneering artist from the 90s, not the sound of the 90s or a perceived jungle resurgence (we all know it never went anywhere). Catching the attention of the media, with positive comments in publications diverse as the Metro (a daily London newspaper) and “rock’n’roll” focused magazine Mojo, “The Edge of Everything” has once again put drum and bass firmly in the spotlight.

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For hardened fans of 170 BPM sonic experiments “The Edge of Everything” may not go far enough, a contingent of the 90s crew may be left thinking “where are all the breaks?” after the rolling intro of “Hegel Dialect” might give the impression the LP was going to lean to a more retro sound. As a drum and bass fan who has a passion for both of these styles, it’s when you except that the album was never going to be as straightforward as a continuation of “Coded Language”, or was ever going to contain an unreleased 90s VIP of “Jazz Note” that the LP really comes to life and can be enjoyed in all its cinematic glory.

At the end of my first listen, I wasn’t really sure what I thought about the album. I’ve since played “The Edge of Everything” a number of times and still manage to discover new things I like about it (the spoken word and ambient sections particularly striking a chord). For a long time, I’ve said drum and bass shouldn’t always sound like the golden years of 93-96 and this collection of moods and soundscapes certainly lives up to that mantra. A lot of 90s producers have been vocal over the last couple of years about making a return or producing new music, often never materialising. Krust has achieved what I always hoped, a return to the ethos that made him such a pivotal player in pushing drum and bass forward, without returning to the sounds we all know and love.

I’d urge anyone who has played the clips and thought it wasn’t for them, to play the album through in its entirety, once, twice, three times… the more you invest in the album the more you’ll get out of it. It’s a luxury a lot of artists can’t afford, I’m sure if one of the less established producers from the burgeoning 170 scene had crafted this it wouldn’t be up for DJ Mags “Album Of The Year” award for example. “The Edge of Everything” rewards research into its origin and is best approached with an open mind, if ever a modern drum and bass album warranted sleeve notes this would be it.

My hope is that it introduces people from outside the scene to artists like DYL, RQ and ASC as well as labels like UVB-76 and Pinecone Moonshine who have been pushing the more experimental side of DnB for a number of years, largely unnoticed by the mainstream.

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The list of artists on remix duties is exciting but perhaps not quite what you’d expect, featuring pioneers from the electronic music scene rather than modern jungle luminaries. Masters At Work craft an early 2000 style broken beat version of “Antigravity Love”, complete with bonus KenLou dubs. Batu delivers a suitably out-there take on “Space Oddity”, resembling a wild journey through the cosmos and Crosstown Rebels label boss Damian Lazarus weaves a mystical cosmic tapestry of 4/4’s and electronic bass to create a hypnotic take on “Keter The Heavenly”.

The real highlight of the first remix package comes from Four Tet and his first drum and bass production. Beginning with a mystical chime melody, this optimistic and melodic spin on “Negative Returns” slowly builds layers of looped drums to create a funky and organic roller. As the remix progresses, the instantly recognisable riff from the original takes the track on a more electronic path before the chime melody returns with added PFM style pads. Its been a great year for music, and the arrival of Kieran Hebden to the 170 landscape might just have resulted in my favourite remix of 2020.

As mentioned earlier, I’d highly recommend listening to the album in full. Ideally with no expectations as to where you think it might go. With that in mind, one last bit of advice, avoid the edits of “Antigravity Love” and “Constructive Ambiguity”. The original versions of those two tracks deserve to be listened to in full and in context of the LP. The fact they don’t follow an easily consumed template arrangement is a strength, not something that should be dismantled.

Buy: Krust – Edge of Everything / Antigravity Love (Masters At Work Remixes) / Edge of Everything (Remixes)

Premiere: Sonic – Prince of Cambridge (Sneaker Social Club)

“Prince Of Cambridge” by Sonic is taken from the forthcoming album “The Eye Of Jupiter“, due to be released on Sneaker Social Club early December.

We recently caught up with the producer to discuss his early days making music alongside Silver, his studio set up, the LP, video games and a variety of other subjects.

The interview will be published later in the week, until then you can read an extract below where Sonic talks about the track we are premiering today, “Prince Of Cambridge”, a gritty take on the early Good Looking sound.

We asked Sonic about his priorities when making music…

“I think the vibe is most important, much more so than polish. I guess it’s a reaction to that period of DnB where everyone had to have Pendulum snares or whatever, haha… Also the goal of keeping things different, never settling comfortably into producing more polished versions of stuff done previously. I most admire people like Miles Davis, Sun Ra and Herbie Hancock, who never let things get stagnant, who always searched out the new.

As I mentioned I’m using an entirely analogue setup these days. A lot of the tracks are even sequenced on the Amiga, sometimes I literally just record the output direct to stereo off the desk. “Prince of Cambridge” was made that way for example. It’s the Amiga doing the breaks, layered with late 90’s EMU bells and strings, and an analogue synth or two, recorded direct. The title is a nod to Traumprinz aka Prince of Denmark who is an artist I find hugely inspiring. Like Four Tet, he makes what he wants to make, genres are not important. I often speak with Four Tet about my stuff and he always reminds me not to get too caught up in genres. That became a credo for me.”

“The Eye Of Jupiter” by Sonic can be pre-ordered here: Bandcamp

Premiere: BTK & Ink – The Last Scroll (Dispatch)

“The Last Scroll” is taken from the “Hollow LP” by BTK, forthcoming on Dispatch Recordings.

The late 90s and early 00s, which this album was inspired by, often focused on a paranoid, dark vision of the future dominated by global power and AI. As we approach 2021, we find ourselves living out the harsh reality of a world where technology grows more powerful and gains more control over our lives every day. As a result, BTK’s “Hollow LP” seems a fitting soundtrack to current times.

BTK fuses human and electronic elements to create a futuristic, twisted alchemy of funk infected by technology. Organic drums and percussion sit loud and proud behind a deluge of digital bass. Vocal tracks are filtered and processed to further the human/electronic fusion.

Featuring collaborations with Gremlinz, Ink and Jumpat, the album is dedicated to his long term production partner, Ed Optiv. The title, “Hollow”, reflecting the sad sense of loss felt by BTK and each track a poignant and a powerful tribute to the producer.

The album is released Friday, 27th November exclusive to Beatport and the Dispatch store with its general release, 11th December.

Buy: Dispatch Store / Bandcamp

Premiere: Akuratyde – Lost Summer [Method One Remix] (Modern Conveniences)

The Method One remix of “Lost Summer” by Akuratyde is taken from “Redesigned Volume 2”, forthcoming on Modern Conveniences.

This second instalment of remixes from the Akuratyde back catalogue is a much more positive and celebratory affair than the darker tones of the labels debut release “Redesigned Volume 1“.

The Method One remix, premiered here today, is an upbeat take on the original. A thoughtful and bright reinterpretation perfect for the dancefloor with its exuberant beats pitched vocals and jubilant harmony.

Elsewhere on the EP are contributions from Random Movement, Kharm and the wonderful Margaris Kid.

We asked producer and Modern Conveniences boss Akuratyde to describe this new set of remixes and how they came about…

“The Random Movement remix was a web design favor. The rest were all producers that reached out to me and wanted to do a remix. I’m friends with Method One in real life, every time he comes to LA we hang out and the last time he was here we got brunch and talked about him doing a remix of “Lost Summer”.

I’d been pestering Kharm for years as I’m a huge fan of his stuff. Every year I’d message him and ask when he was going to write some new music. That eventually lead to our tune “Enamoured”, which we released on Microfunk earlier this year, and then he decided to take a crack at “Into The Sea”. I love the way he flipped it into an autonomic tune. I really like when producers change the tempo of a song for a remix, it gives it a completely different feel.

The Margari’s Kid remix came about from us chatting on Facebook. I love how stripped back his remix is, it’s also got such a different vibe from the original. I tried to be really thoughtful about the way I grouped the remixes on Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 because I waited until all of the remixes were complete before deciding on the tracklists. Vol. 2 is definitely a bit brighter and more joyous and that was by design. I wanted to have a nice contrast between the two and I’m really happy with how they both turned out.”

Akuratyde “Redesigned Volume 2”, is released on Modern Conveniences Nov. 20th, 2020.

Buy: Bandcamp

Two Hungry Ghosts Chart (November 2020)

Various charts covering forthcoming promos, new releases, forgotten gems and timeless inspirations.

Dave Sector (Two Hungry Ghosts)
Source Direct – Dangerous Curves/Game Play (Forthcoming Tempo)
Scape – Storms On Saturn (Forthcoming Two Hungry Ghosts)
Liquid Aliens – Are You Sure I’ll Be Ok? [Remaster] (Liquid Wax)
San – Subject 9 (Rua Sound)
Dillinja – Deep (Deep Jungle)
Low End Activist – Engineers Origins (Forthcoming Low End Activism)
ETCH – Strange Days EP (Forthcoming Seagrave)
Jamie Myerson – Precept (Self-released)
Akuratyde – Redesigned Volume 2 (Forthcoming Modern Conveniences)
Fugees – Killing Me Softly [Dominic Ridgway Bootleg] (???)

Jem-One (Metalheadz)
Jem-One & SR – Giants (Dub)
Jem-One & SR – Double Zero (Dub)
Friske – Untitled Killer (Metalheadz)
Jem-One – Monkey Man (Metalheadz Platinum)
Jem-One – Dimensions (Metalheadz Platinum)
John Rolodex Featuring Khadija – The Rainmaker (Metalheadz)
Fanu – B-Side Science (Metalheadz)
SR – Skat (AKO Beats)
Goldie – I Think Of You [Jubei Remix] (Metalheadz)
Jem-One & SR – Untitled Jazz (Dub)

Yorobi (Jungletrain)
Sully – Werk (Astrophonica)
Krust – Keter The Heavenly (Crosstown Rebels)
Pessimist – Love In The Jungle (Illian Tape)
Immortal Minds – No More Mind Games (Forthcoming AKO Beats)
Earl Grey – After They Turn The Rigs Off (Inperspective)
Pessimist – No Fxxxing Soul (Illian Tape)
The Untouchables – Kan Hubuh (Mutable Beats)
Eusebeia – Infinity (Forthcoming Earth Trax)
Om Unit & Seekers International – Mic Up (Berceuse Heroique)
Sun People – Amaterasu (Dub)
Bonus: Yorobi – Example 20 (Pollination)

Si 2 Bad Mice (Over/Shadow)
Photek – The Water Margin (Photek)
Digital – Space Funk (Timeless)
Foul Play – Open Your Mind Remix (Moving Shadow)
Omni Trio – Living For The Future [FBD Project Remix] (Moving Shadow)
Madcap – Any Track From The EP (Vibes 93)
Photek – Consciousness (Metalheadz)
Peshay – Piano Tune (Good Looking)
Sully – Swan Dive EP (Astrophonica)
DJ Pulse – Stay Calm (Creative Wax)
JMJ & Flytronix – In too Deep (Moving Shadow)

Ben Repertoire (Repertoire)
Necrotype & Law – Wasting Time (Repertoire)
Dillinja – Hard Noize [Break Remix] (Valve Recordings)
Concealed Identity – Io (Repertoire)
Law – Knowing (AKO Beatz)
Pugilist – Syphon [Coco Bryce Remix] (Dext Recordings)
Madcap – Morning Time (Soul Deep Recordings)
John Rolodex Featuring Khadija – The Rainmaker (Metalheadz)
San – Subject 9 (Rua Sound)
Bungle – Runaway (Eloisa Records)
Baby Namboos – Ancoats 2 Zambia [Dillinja Remix] (Palm Pictures)

Grave Grooves (Dead Trax)
San – Subject9 (Forthcoming Rua Sound)
Guava – Pitch Control (Banoffee Pies Records)
Benny iLL – Who, Me? (GD4YA)
ERAM – Tr00 Brazilian ShHit (Raiders)
Heritage – London Fields (Ruffset Records)
Acidulant – The Gangster In You (Balkan Vinyl)
K-Lone – Cheque The R8 (Dr Banana)
Pugilist – Regwoth (Forthcoming DEXT Recordings)
Hornsey Hardcore – FloorBurn (Hornsey Hardcore)
Main Phase – Neater (Hardline Sounds)

Neil Sherwood (Tell Me I’m Dreaming/Noods)
Tenderlonious – Ragas From Lahore (22a)
Swordman Kitala – Kimbalagala (Blip Discs)
Andrew Ashong & Kaidi Tatham – Sankofa Session (Kitto Productions)
Mark de Clive-Lowe – Dreamweavers (Mother Tongue)
The Whole Truth – Lord Quench My Soul (Parkway Records)
The Neighborhood Character – There Will Be Magic (Self-released)
Aybee – Rebirth EP (deepblak)
Haze City – Excursions 4 (Casse)
Raúl Monsalve y los Forajidos – Bichos (Olindo Records)
Kareem Ali – We Are Stardust – (Self-released)

Rui Fradinho (Eclectic Beats Music)
Byron The Aquarius – Ambrosia (Axis)
Andrew Ashong & Kaidi Tatham – Sankofa Season (Kitto)
Diamond – Hal’s EP (Flat White)
Deborah Jordan – Horizon (Remixes) (Futuristica Music)
Various – Breaking The Beats (Z Records)
Jazz N Palms – Jazz N Palms
02 – Jazz N Palms
Oscar Jerome – Breathe Deep (Caroline)
Str4*ta – Aspects (Brownswood)
Contours/Yadava – Cosmic Echoes (Anma/Flumo)
Gerardo Frisina – Moving Ahead (Schema)
Bonus: Fradinho – A Bright Future (Eclectic Beats Music)

THG005: Various Artists – This Used To Be The Sound Of The Future

This Used To Be The Sound Of The Future” is a compilation consisting of tracks made for, or featured on, the original incarnation of the Two Hungry Ghosts blog.

This 20 track album contains songs by Gremlinz, Earl Grey and Greenleaf, as well as previously incognito collaborations between Dave Sector and Dominic Stanton under the Romero and Argento guises (both named after a shared enjoyment of Italian horror movies).

References to the formative years of drum and bass feature throughout the album, from the Creative Source inspired “Floral” to Acid_Lab’s Photek style drum patterns.

Other highlights include the frantic jungle of Earl Grey’s “Sick Mate”, and the atmospheric, DeeJay Recordings tone of Scape’s three tracks.

Although some of these were available for free several years ago, many are remastered and available in a lossless format here for the first time. The 1995 version of “Show Me” by The Regression Sessions (Sonar’s Ghost) was previously unreleased.

Many thanks to all the artists involved, whose passion for golden era 90s drum and bass fuelled this project. Also to Robb from Next Phase, a guiding force during the early years of the blog, and a consistent source of inspiration. Thanks to Chris from Omni Music for putting me in touch with many of these artists, and allowing me to feature remixes of “The Hidden” previously released on his label.

To Dominic, for producing the Romero and Argento projects with me, and providing so much great music to feature on the blog while still undercover.

Lastly, to the second Hungry Ghost, for being there from the start and helping me realise my vision.

This compilation wouldn’t be possible without you all!

Like all Two Hungry Ghosts releases, the proceeds from this download will go to charities who focus on homelessness, hunger and poverty around the UK.

Buy: Bandcamp

Premiere: San – Half In (Rua Sound)

“Half In” by San is taken from the “Subject 9 EP”, forthcoming on Rua Sound. A collection of breakbeat dominated tracks, 70s movie score style keys and FX’s laced with anxiety and uncertainty.

In an era of promo campaigns and press shots, it’s incredibly refreshing when a new artist emerges with little to no info publicly available. All we know about San is that it’s an alias for a Bristol-based techno producer. Shrouded in mystery, this is clearly an artist who is well-versed in breakbeat culture and extremely proficient on the controls.

The “Subject 9 EP” contains four tracks of unadulterated breakbeat science, drums are dismantled with the precision of a surgeons scalpel then reassembled into complex aural assaults. “Half In” sounds like a collaborative work of 70s Lalo Schifrin and 90s Source Direct, the whole release raises the bar significantly for odes to the golden era of drum and bass.

It’s hard to know whether the EP is a love letter to the 90s or a series of diss tracks aimed at second-rate, formulaic drum and bass releases designed to cash in on the jungle resurgence. Either way, it serves as a warning from the shadows that producers and labels need to up their game.

Buy: Bandcamp

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Jem One Interview And Shadow Premiere (Metalheadz Platinum)

Metalheadz just keeps going from strength to strength! The latest in a serious year of releases is “The Rain EP” by Jem One, featuring six tracks of classic Headz darkness. We caught up with Jarrod to discuss the EP, graffiti and being part of the Metalheadz family.

Check the premiere of “Shadow” below, which is taken from the digital version of the EP that is available now from the Headz site and Bandcamp,

Hi Jarrod, cheers for taking time out to talk with us today! Your latest release, “The Rain EP”, is out now on Metalheadz. What can you tell us about it?

I suppose it features various tracks from a period where I was experimenting with my style a bit. Before Headz, my tracks were very amen/breaks influenced, quite retro-sounding and in this period, I was trying other things out. However, my sound is retreating to its original roots once more.

It features six tracks in total, all with that distinct dark Headz vibe. Seems pretty fitting for these uncertain times! How did these tracks take shape?

They were made through a desire to explore different shades within my music. However, they all contain that darker Headz vibe as that is really the core of my being. There’s also a vulnerability that I hear within the music as well, this I feel is due to the stress and anxiety I felt when getting signed to Headz. Obviously for me to get onto Metalheadz was my dream and when I finally did, I instantly began to feel pressure as the quality of music is exceptional, to be honest, I’m only just relaxing after three years.

I hope you feel in a better place now, it’s refreshing to hear such honesty. Does producing music help you to deal with the anxiety or does it put more pressure on you?

I’m much better thank you. It can be a double-edged sword. I’ve realised it is all about the ego and acceptance. When we make music, we put our heart and soul into it? and then we either gain acceptance or rejection. This goes even beyond getting stuff signed, even now when stuff is released to the public, I can fear what people may think of it, worry that I may be judged, that people might think that its shit. However, there’s also the other side of the same coin, whereby I may get my ego stroked a little and that can be very empowering believe it or not in the way that gives you confidence. But, over the last 6 months, I’ve finally learned to let go a little and just let be. It is what it is. I’m not afraid of these feelings, or about talking about them, they are part of the human condition and I think that vulnerability within my self and the music I make is an integral part of the sound I create.

Do you have a favourite from the EP?

Yes! Monkey man. This track was made straight after a bout of sleep paralysis. During the episode I was aware of this skinny tall being with no face just staring at me around the corner of my door, I couldn’t move, and I was freaked! When I awoke, I was full of fear and went into my old studio to take my mind off the feeling and wrote the basis of this track over the next few hours. Still to this day when I hear it, I can feel that ‘being’ caught within it, I find that fascinating.

Do you often use music/art for cathartic purposes? Are they other examples like Monkey Man?

Yes, I have done. Sometimes they might not be full tracks, they can be parts within a track like say a string section, or even an aggressive bassline/ beat structure. I often use emotions that are within myself and express them through sound. I’m sure that sometimes I don’t even realise that I’ve done it and it’s a subjective experience. However, there must be a release in a healthy way for emotions that may be in me at times in my life. In days gone by, I would have used other means to exorcise my demons through bingeing on alcohol or food, or through anger or other negative means of trying to express pain, but that just creates a loop of pain that goes on to feed into the emotions that are already needing to be expressed. Nowadays, I meditate, I have done for about 10 years, but over the last few years, its become my lifeblood, that and my partner, Sarah and my close family. Through these positive things within my life and by allowing myself to express through art and music, I’ve been able to gain a deeper understanding of myself as a physical and spiritual being and I can better navigate strong emotions that may befall me.

What do you want people to feel when playing this EP?

Well, I’d like them to enjoy it! Lol. To be fair, I hope they catch a vibe and at least feel something if they feel nothing I’d be worried haha.

We’ll get into your art in a minute, but I feel your musical style is very much like visual graffiti. While the beats are bold and upfront, like graffiti, the background is equally as important with sounds morphed from their original form adding depth and colour to your tracks. How do you go about producing your music?

Yes, I can defiantly see the connection between Graff and writing music, to me, it comes from the same place. Everything starts with a feeling, a concept and a loop. I can’t create anything without a vibe as a solid foundation. From here, I usually start with the breaks and begin to layout the pace, flow and step. Then will come the bass and ill maybe chuck in a few samples or a pad and begin to create the overall vibe. From here I’ll use these building blocks to create the arrangement and it’s here that I begin to see the piece as a whole and see where it needs balance, detail, shape and space.

This is the third year in a row now you’ve released an EP on one of the Headz related labels, how did you originally hook up with them?

I originally signed a few tracks to the old Ruffige label back in 2007, 2008? I knew Goldie from years before that in the local Graff scene. He lived in Walsall, West Midlands at the time, and ran with a mutual friend ‘Dez’ (RIP). However, the Ruffige things never came out. It was three years ago about that I began to chat with Script from Scar and we became close. He passed some bits to Ant for me and Ant thought a couple of things had potential, so I then went on a mission writing a shit load of music until they found some tracks that they wanted for Methxx, they forged the basis for the first two EPs.

Did you get one of those calls from Goldie I often hear about?

Haha, yes! I still do and they are always a highlight. The only problem is they are always at God knows what time in the middle of the night. I blearily answer the phone and hear maybe Yoda or some other madness chatting at me for 20 mins, lol.

What was that like!?

Goldie is an absolute legend man. Back in the day, Id stand watching him when he painted in awe, he was just the king man, I can’t explain how we looked up to him. Now, I’m an adult, I’m still in awe of his genius, however, I also know my own self-worth now and I see him as a guiding influence. Sometimes he just calls to give you strength, to send love and show his support, other times he calls and gives you the benefit of his knowledge and musical guidance. I’m not ashamed to say that he’s part of the power that drives me to create.

One of the things I’ve always loved about Headz is the sense of community, similar to Reinforced and Moving Shadow the label had a group of artists that helped shape their sound. What does it mean to be part of the Headz family?

Its surreal, and I still can’t fully accept within that I am a part of that legacy. The label is one of the most professional labels I have worked for. You are looked after every step of the way and nothing is forgotten. Goldie, Ant and Tom and all the others behind the scenes, run a tight ship and it’s a pleasure to be on the label. I am so very proud of every artist and release on the label. I’ve made a really good friendship with Script and I thank him for being integral in my reintroduction to the label.

I think it’s probably fair to say it’s most producers dream to have a release on Headz. What is it about the label that’s kept them at the forefront of drum and bass?

In my opinion, it’s the sound and the vibe that it offers. There’s something about a Metalheadz track that hits you in all your senses. It’s the B-Boy mentality within the music, the forward-thinking experimentation. The freedom to create whatever the artist wants. There’s also a reflective aspect within the music which nods to the forefathers of this label and you can hear nods to the past within all the tracks that come out.

Their artist roster is now worldwide, demonstrating the reach of drum and bass and the allure of the label. Who are some of your favourite artists?

Man, I love all the artists on the label to be fair, it is hard to pick favourites. I’d say Dillinja, Adam F, Source direct, Goldie. And more recently Friske, Blocks and Escher, SB81, Scar, Rolodex, Fanu, too many to mention.

Do you have any stand out releases from the last few years?

The Blocks and Escher album, “Something Blue” was just wow! And The recent Friske track “Untitled killer”… what a fucking tune.

Talking of community, I mentioned your art earlier. We both share a passion for graffiti. I see you’ve recently been hitting the walls again, do you do that solo or as part of a crew?

I paint with my crew DZB (Double Zero Boys), we’ve been painting together for about 30 years and were all lifelong mates. I’m doing my adult nursing degree now and in training to be a nurse within the NHS, so we only paint at legal spots, however, it’s just great to link up again as a crew and paint wild style. Shouts to Media, Sane, Wingy and Attai.

Any stories you’d like to share from back in the day?

Ha, if you know you know. You’ll have to use your imagination.

There is a clear connection between taking a letter and transforming it and taking a break or sound and running it through effects, putting your stamp on the subject. What parallels do you see between the two artforms?

There’s no difference between them. The feeling behind twisting a letter to create funk and flow is the same as how I approach my music. It’s about putting that feeling that’s deep within me and using that to create the letterform or the breakbeat. Trying to be forward-thinking but having an eye on the past. Also, it’s that B-Boy mentality. Back in the day we didn’t have all the fancy caps and paint that we have nowadays if we wanted a skinny line we had to make adapters to put on top of the can or steal different caps off your moms household products, we had to overcome and adapt. Personally, nowadays, my music set up is proper ghetto. I have a laptop, Cubase 5, a soundcard, a Spirit folio desk and headphones, and I use what’s available to the best of my ability. For example, last week, SR and I had a studio session planned, but due to Covid 19 measures it was called off. However, we adapted and overcame, we linked up via Zoom audio and screen share and made a killer. This is definitely how we will work now in the near future.

It seems you release a batch of music at a time, do you have any other tracks in the pipeline to come out soon or do we need to wait another year?

The release schedule is huge I imagine, so there always going to be a delay from conception to release. However, there’s a couple of things that we made six months ago that Goldie and Ant were interested in, so now it’s just creating those other tracks that will fit nicely with them. SR and I have been working on a few things that we have nearly finished that we hope the label will love, so hopefully, that will wrap up another EP, but nothing is concrete yet. I will only release on Metalheadz nowadays and all my output goes to Headz first and foremost, but I have a couple of good mates with labels and if there are things that Headz don’t want I’m not against putting them out with those. SR and I also set up a personal Bandcamp to distribute more experimental sides to our music like techno, breaks and jungle, but we’ve yet to find the time to take that further.

Cheers man, been fascinating talking! Where can people find out more and connect with you?

My social media profile is pretty small; however, you can find me on Instagram under the tag @jemone_soultek.

Buy: Jem One – The Rain EP (Metalheadz Platinum)

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Premiere: Dominic Ridgway, Stratowerx & Magugu – When I’m On [Constrict Remix] (Regression Media)

The Constrict remix of “When I’m Over” by Dominic Ridgway, Stratowerx & Magugu is taken from the EP of the same name, available now on Dominic’s own label, Regression Media.

“When I’m On” is the first official vocal track produced by Dominic, after a string of unofficial hip-hop bootlegs, reinterpreted into atmospheric 170 dubplates.

We caught up with the producer to find out his favourite vocal DnB tracks as well as more about the release and the effects of COVID on the drum and bass scene.

I thought we could start by talking about vocal drum and bass tracks. Do you have any favourites? Say, one old and one modern…

Yeah, I’m definitely a fan of vocal DnB tracks, I do feel it has to be done right though. I think there’s a fine line before stuff can sound a bit cheesy.

An oldish vocal track I love is by Mr L (Jonny L) called “Oh Yeah”. Great summer vibes. Will never get bored of that track!

A much more recent one is a track off the 2017 album “Delusions of Grandeur” by Soul Intent called “Nearly There (Sula Mae Vocal Mix)”. Played it on a big rig a couple of times. Such a tune. Gets better with each listen.

So, what made you want to sit down and create “When I’m On”, your first official vocal track?

The original beat was just me and my close friend Stratowerx messing around, we were trying to make some sort of grime beat with no real intention of doing anything with it. I’ve known Sam for more than 10 years as we went to university together, he also runs a label called Caught London Sleeping, I feel we have very similar musical roots. More than anything, we were just trying to create something using both our influences.

I met Magugu last year in Croatia and have been talking about doing something together for a while. I sent him the beat on the off chance to see what he thought, I think within a week or so I had the vocals back from him. I have to give him massive credit for recording his vocals and adlibs etc, I could have just released the acapella as it was, extremely well produced! It all happened quite naturally, to be honest. This is the first real original vocal track I have made I think? It was a challenge but really enjoyable and well worth the stress!

I recently heard some of your bootlegs including Wu-Tang and the Fu-Gees, you’ve taken a fresh modern 170 approach to remix these. How did you go about producing them?

Bootlegging is something I’ve always enjoyed doing, I think it has been a big part of dance music in general. I’ve only ever bootlegged something I truly love, to be honest.

I think the biggest part of bootlegging is the availability of sounds. Whosampled is a massive help, not just for certain tracks but also as to how modern music works. The Fugees bootleg was all sampled off ‘The Score’ record. The intro was exclusive to the vinyl I think?

The Wu-Tang bootleg was a bit different as I used Whosampled to find the original samples they used and just repitched them to 170, as well as an acapella I had on my computer for several years. Bootlegging is more an exercise to see how much you can get out of limited samples and pushing them to be something else.

Is it much harder working with a pre-recorded vocal, especially well-recognised ones like these?

No, I don’t think so, stuff you already know is much easier to work with, both of the bootlegs you mentioned are fully dominated by the main vocal. My job there is just to create a rhythm track to the vocal.

I’ve often said that music should help capture the moment, as much as I love old-sounding stuff there is so much going on in the world at the minute that could be addressed through the music which isn’t. What do you think?

I think its an extremely good point! Some of the best music and art have only ever been created through adversity. Music and art are supposed to reflect the society in a way that politics and words can’t do. Without question, some great art has (or will be) made as a result of what’s currently happening. There has always been a strong connection between how people consume music and how it ultimately sounds. I’ve seen a few posts recently about sit down clubbing and the effect of that. I think its a sad state of affairs but at the same time interesting.

Do you feel, like a lot of others, that the current pandemic has zapped your energy to be creative?

I don’t feel like it has zapped my energy but may be changed my energy. We are in a strange state of affairs right now but I’m convinced something good will come out of it.

Like…?

I’m not sure that’s something I can answer! Lol. Hopefully fewer masks and more bass?

I’m not sure how involved you are with social media but it seems that different sides of the jungle scene are tearing into each other with their opposing views of COVID and illegal parties. What impact do you think this might have on our already small community?

The idea of divide and conquer in social media will always be prevalent! Its a shame it now goes so deep into a scene that is as small as it is. The COVID thing is a whole different conversation that should not influence the music people are making or consuming. Using that sort of thing to your advantage is just a reflection of the utter madness of what’s going on.

At the start of the year, before COVID, I commented online about wanting to hear more tracks with vocals in them. Seems even more relevant now. Do you think this could be a way forward as we approach 2021? Sounds crazy even just saying that…

Yeah, I think without doubt tastes will change as I said before. As to what that is we can only speculate about. Maybe we will get to a point of dub bingo where we all sit down with a card of pre-stated dubs and we can check them off on a piece of paper when they are played! As long as we are all sitting down…. Very sad state of affairs!

You’re releasing “When I’m On” via your label, Regression Media, what kind of stuff do you put out?

I generally release my stuff and some other bits around the 170 speed/ethos. I suppose most things are ethereal deep music that has to be felt and not heard. This release is something new for me and the label. Creeping much more into grime/dubstep.

You also run a sister-label, Regression Media Limited, which focuses on small run lathe cuts. What’s the philosophy behind that project?

The limited thing is more of an exercise to find more value in music I suppose? I’m releasing things that I feel should be released on wax purely so they hold some value, I’ve had issues and messages saying £20 is too much for a record, but in reality, most people would spend much more than that in a pub on a Friday. At least with a record, you get unlimited plays…..?

I have literally stamped RGNMLTD003 today which is available now.

What’s it like working with Lewis and Dexta from 1-800-Dubplate who cut that release for you?

I think we have a good relationship! RGNMLTD003 has taken a little bit longer to happen than I would have liked, but like everything this year things have been a bit wonky. They are both seriously driven people and I’m proud to be having stuff cut there, let alone being able to cut records from both of them for my label. Serious guys. Hopefully, 1-800 and Disc World have a great future.

So after these two, what’s next for the label?

The next digital thing after 019 will be a compilation of everything up to this date along with some new remixes and maybe a couple of the RGNMLTD things in a digital format of 20 tracks. None of this will be confirmed until next year now though I suppose.

As we enter 2021, what would you like to see more off?

I’d like to see more politicians held responsible for their actions.

One last question, why do you all this? I’m fascinated by people’s desire to create.

Lol, that’s definitely a question I ask myself every day. Even more so recently considering what’s going on. I feel a lot of what I do is about legacy and what you leave behind effectively! As to how that eventually turns out I don’t feel is up to me, but up to the people that enjoy my music and the label.

Links: Bandcamp / Soundcloud