No matter how much I wish it were the case, drum & bass has never held the position in the American electronic music scene that it holds in my heart. I’ve been an enthusiast for the genre since the mid-1990s, and have grown more fond of the sound every year. I end up hearing certain tracks, and while I know you, the DAD faithful, have some serious junglists in your midst, it feels like some of these bangers fall on deaf ears. That’s why a track like Pennygiles‘ “Life Goes,” which DJ Marky featured on the Sounds of the Innerground compilation (and I briefly gushed about in Dave Owen’s mix for the Rubik podcast). it was eight (!) minutes of a beautifully-looped sample, and not much else. Not bare bones or simplistic, but just the overall vibe of something I wanted to be about. I had no idea about him then, and jumped at the chance to talk to this Welsh producer about that track, his Red Diamonds EP (which is out today!), and get a fresh mix from him to boot.
I can’t front; I didn’t know about your work until hearing the magnificent “Life Goes” on Innerground’s Sounds of the Innerground, but come to find out that you started out as a DJ in 2006. What drew you to drum & bass?
Thanks, Glad you enjoyed the track, I think my attraction to drum & bass was all from being blissfully unaware of what it was at the start. I was listening to a lot of Detroit techno and Chicago stuff at the time, basically being down to what my cousins were listening to it at the time. It wasn’t until I’d found an old track from Source Direct under another alias that caught me onto it, I had no clue what was going on! All I knew was that the sounds were making a big impact on me at the time. Later on I soon began to find out people like Calibre, Marcus Intalex, etc.
Is the scene in Wales big?
Yes & no. We’ve had some amazing artists come out of Wales and also have some upcoming ones, too, but as far as a scene goes it’s few and far between. Cardiff being the capital holds the burning torch at the moment for nights, etc., but people like myself aren’t from there. We reside in the valleys, locked away creating monsters.
How would you describe your sound?
Trial & error. I’ve never religiously followed or tried one sound, I might be known for my more soulful sounds, but in the studio it can go from 120BPM to 180. I’d say a lot of my sound is influenced by unusual and rough textures. I’m not an amazing engineer at the best of times, so I try to make things from unusual sounds. Giving myself and the listener that “what was that sound?!” feel.
Who are some of your influences as a producer, both within the drum & bass scene and outside of it?
Hmmmm theres so many, it all goes by years in my life. Before dnb, people like Model 500, Green Velvet, Mike Dunn, and Derrick Carter were huge influences on me! I was also into the whole funk/soul/boogie era with the S.O.S Band, Cameo, and Melba Moore. I spent a lot of time in record stores as a teen, so I can end up talking about all types of sounds. There’s nothing I love more than finding out what people like then seeing if I can relate to there styles.
You’ve been getting more exposure for your music over the last few years. Was there one release or kudos you received in particular that made you realize that you’d “made it?”
I don’t know, really, luckily most releases seem to be getting great responses. There was a lot of excitement about getting “Au Revoir Blackbird” out, It seemed one of my more memorable ones and the response it got was amazing! I still don’t think i’ve made it, I’m sure everyone’s opinions of making it vary. I’ll make it when I can look back as an old man and go “I was part of that, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Talk to us about “Life Goes.” That sample is huge, but the track doesn’t stray too far from it’s base for about eight minutes. What was it about that loop that made you stick to keeping the vibe consistent throughout the track?
“Life Goes” was one of those tracks that just worked really fast and well, I was at a point in time where I wasn’t getting much done in the studio (which happens a lot), so I just thought I’d start working on the sample first then about four hours later the track was pretty much done.
Your next release is a three-track EP for Rubik. Talk to us about the Red Diamonds EP and the tunes on it.
I was initially meant to start an album for the guys at Rubik, but I thought I wasn’t ready to start working on an album, so we decided on creating an EP. I had the two tracks (“Ebony Queen” and “Caught In Your Eyes”) finished, so all that was to be done was “Red Diamonds,” which I’d created with Mr. Joseph after a night out in London. It’s always good to work with the Rubik lot, they’re pretty straight-forward, which is what’s needed sometimes.
What else is on the horizon for you, release-wise?
Hopefully another busy year, I’ve got plenty more collabs soon, one forthcoming on C.I.A with Ed:it, another with Phil Tangent on Deep Kut, a release on IM:ltd, Liquid V, a few remixes for some people, and also a remix of one of my tracks from a legend in the musical dnb scene.
What are some plans you have for your career?
Take things as they come, enjoy whatever’s next, and keep focused on the music and what I’m passionate about doing. …Also dog racing No just kidding……?
Do androids dance?
Kraftwerk said they did…so I assume so!
1. Eastcolours – The Light (Phil Tangent Remix)
2. Enei – Mosquito
3. Binary – Concrete Jungle
4. Ulterior Motive & Judda – Timekeeper (Calyx & Teebee Remix)
5. Mortem – Whispers
6. Ed Rush & Optical – Watermelon
7. Need For Mirrors – Debris
8. Dj Hazard – Time Tripping
9. Gerwin – First Defeat
10. Dj Die – Play It For Me
11. Calibre & Zero T – Waterfall
12. Pennygiles & Ed:it – Untitled
13. Alix Perez – Playing Games
14. Mistical – Time To Fly
15. Zero T & Steo – Rising Sun
16. Lovely – The Calm Before
17. Pennygiles, Roygreen & Protone – Misunderstanding V.I.P.
18. Janet Jackson – Go Deep (Roni Size Remix)
19. Action Bronson – Ronnie Coleman
20. Rockie Fresh – Superman Feat. Lunice