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.
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.