May Roundup

Time for another roundup of the best releases in the underground D&B scene; read on for new releases from Renegade Hardware, Flexout, Warm Communications, Invisible and more…

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Not Your Idol EP [Renegade Hardware]

The news that the legendary Hardware would be shutting it’s doors in February next year came as an unpleasant surprise here at the Dojo, but it seems that the label is planning to go out in style with plenty more releases on the books between now and next year.

Their latest EP presents four fresh tracks with something of an old school tinge to them, harking back to the golden era of techstep that Hardware played such a big part in. BTK & Cold Fusion play with soulful lyrics over a monstrous bassline on Not Your Idol, while Battery serves up a clattering roller propelled furiously forward by Photek-style bass stabs.

Elsewhere Loxy & Ink keep things gritty with old school break chops set to a throbbing low end and creepy high-end atmospherics, leaving it to NC-17 to close the EP with another massive roller, tinged with classic jungle samples. Massive business as usual from Hardware; check out the clips below and hit up their store to pre-order a copy now.

Q&A – Fade

The ever prolific Ukrainian producer Fade has had a pretty big year with a slew of releases across a bunch of labels. His latest venture sees him releasing a full album of collaborations on his own Faded Music imprint, and the quality remains as high as ever. We thought it was high time we caught the man for a quick Q&A, so read on for Fade’s thoughts on all things D&B.

DNB Dojo: It’s been a pretty busy year for you with releases on DSCI4, 117, Avantgarde, Grindhou5e, and of course your own Faded Music imprint. Have you got any particular highlights? How do you decide what music to send out to other labels and what gets released on your own?

Fade: Yes, I have been producing a lot of music lately and I’m happy to see it released. The main reason for creating Faded Music is that I had so much good unreleased music, that hadn’t got attention from other labels. So if I really feeling track and it’s not been signed anywhere I put it out on Faded Music.

DD: The collaboration LP you’re dropping soon features a massive array of different artists, some better known than others. How did the different tunes come about? Who was your favourite producer to collaborate with?

F: That was idea to collect together artists that I find interesting with different tunes, different moods. All that stuff has been produced in different times, but I can say that we worked on this compilation for around a year and I am really happy with the results.

I think my favourite collab partner is Peter NC-17. Making collabs with him is always fun. We just finished one track and are working on a couple more.

DD: On the subject of collaborations, if you could pick any artist living or dead to work with, who would it be?

F: Hard to say…if I had to choose someone from current bass scene it would definitely be Noisia. From other music I’d pick Cypress Hill.

DD: Living in Ukraine the recent political turmoil must have been difficult. Is it hard to make music under those circumstances, or do you draw inspiration from what’s going on around you?

F: I’d not say that it’s difficult. Let’s say true. War between Ukraine and Russia is really horrible, a few hundred kilometres away every day people are dying. This year is the  hardest in the history of our country. And for sure it’s hard to think about music, but when you are living in such a stressful situation for more than half a year, you start to learn how to abstract and music is one of the ways to not dip into depression.

DD: What’s on the agenda for the rest of 2014?

F: I have got some releases coming on labels such as DSCI4, Beta Recordings, Different and Alphacut.

DD: Any shout outs?

F: I wanna say big ups to those artists who been involved to this project. Abiotic, Nitri, Heavy1, NotioN, Fathom Audio, Meth, 2SHY, Dess. Thanks to James for PR works, my wife Julia for amazing artwork. And all listeners for supporting our label!

You can check out clips of the LP below; watch out for it dropping at all good digital stores from July 28th.

New Blood Rising EP [Grindhou5e Audio]

NC-17 certainly knows his big bad neurofunk stompers and the latest Various Artists release on his Grindhou5e Audio imprint shows he has a bit of the A&R in him to boot! The EP features a selection of dancefloor weapons from up and coming producers worldwide and the quality is difficult to argue with.

All the tracks are solid but highlights for me come on Mr. Explicit’s old school reese tearer Dementia (a proper throwback to the early techstep/neurofunk of a decade ago), Fade’s dub-infused How I Do and the angular riddims and stabbing lead of Everest’s Citadel.

The release is out now on Beatport so check the clips and get to gettin!

Headroom EP Part 5 [Viper Recordings]

Viper Recordings serve up the latest installment of their Headroom EP series with fresh new tracks from tech and neuro producers across the scene. Sadly Prolix’s Ringtone Raver proves a bit one dimensional (especially compared to the superb tracks on the recent Project Trendkill album) but elsewhere we’re treated to solid dancefloor business from Trei, NC-17 & Soulculture and Insomniax.

The highlight of the EP by a big stretch though comes on KG’s Woodblock Riddim, combining a tribal percussion line (with, you guessed it, woodblocks) with some tasty mid bass growls and some excellent atmospheres. Check out all the tunes below and grab the release from your favourite digital store now!

Break – Symmetry Sessions Vol. 1 [Symmetry]

Break returns with the latest release on his Symmetry imprint featuring a quality selection covering all the styles of D&B. Calibre turns in two different remixes of They’re Wrong in his signature smooth liquid style, and DLR gets in the studio with break on the mighty tech destroyer New Design.

Elsewhere NC-17 & KC dish in another big bad slice of tech with the positively militant Slimeville and Break explores his deeper side on jazzy D&B stepper Wondering Why and dubby downtempo outing Dem Babylon. Overall it’s another essential release from one of the best labels in the scene! Check out the beats below and grab your copy on vinyl or digital now.

Q&A – NC-17 [Mainframe Recordings]

Toronto’s NC-17 has racked up quite the rep with a string of releases for the likes of Viper, DSCI4 and Renegade Hardware, showing a versatility of style and the sort of attention to detail that elevates D&B producers above their peers.

His latest EP for Mainframe Recordings continues that trend with a diverse array of tracks and some nice collaborations. Ahead of the release we caught up with him to find out about his hookups with Ray Uptown, his favourite techstep tunes and the Toronto scene.

DNB Dojo: The title track from your EP features some really slick vocals from Ray Uptown, how did that collaboration come about? 

NC-17: To be honest I don’t really remember how we hooked up. I know I had heard some of his work in the past and I thought his material was very interesting & unique especially from his leftfield approach. I know we linked up on Facebook and talked about potentially working on something together in the future. A few months had rolled by and I received a message on Facebook Chat from Ray letting me know he was headed to the studio. Luckily I took that day off work and was working on something that I had laying round for ages which was a leftfield minimal Hip- Hop influenced DnB track. I had been trying to finish it for a while but I always felt it was lacking the vocals that the track truly deserved. So I sent him the WAV & the rest is history!

I let Ray know my that my  Hip-Hop influences growing up were mainly the West Coast sound, especially from artists like MC Eight, Ice Cube, Spice 1, Ghetto Boyz, Easy E, Too $hort and others from the early to mid 90’s. I let him know exactly what I was after. Then literally 2 hours after sending him the WAV he had a clip of what he had done and I was in love. Literally he hit a home run out of the park! Once I finished it I felt it was it was a perfect fit for Mainframe for the EP I was working on. When I sent it to Disaszt he fell in love with it and we both felt that ‘Sex, Drugs, Lies, Alcohol & Video Tape’ was a perfect title for the EP.

Ray Uptown is a seriously talented vocalist and it was a pleasure for me to work with him. We also just finished two other tracks, one which is forthcoming on a major label which I can’t talk about just yet.

DD: Sleaze Disease sounds like a nod to the old school techstep sound of late 90s Virus releases. What’s your favourite record from that era?

NC: The late 90’s & early 2000’s are easily my favourite time period for the techstep sound in Drum n Bass. I think mainly because back then tracks had a lot more soul & funk. I feel a lot of today’s tech step is missing that. If I had to pick one record that captures that era perfect it would be Funktion by Ed Rush & Optical. I think that record captures the true essence of that era & it gives me chills every time I hear it. Also, it would be a crime if I didn’t mention the Matrix Sleepwalker LP. From the first track to the last its pure brilliance, definitely the soundtrack to any Jedi!

DD: How’s the Toronto scene these days? I understand there’s quite a thriving ragga jungle scene in the city, does that crossover with the more modern D&B scene or is it quite segregated?

NC: The Toronto scene can be up & down. There’s no doubt the promoters out here love their old school, which makes it really hard for artists to get work, especially some of the newer producers/DJs coming up. But I must say it is slowly getting better, especially compared to a few years back. More promoters are starting to think progressively, even though some promoters cherish and will never let the past go, no matter what. But, to be honest, we have so many great promoters now that this is less of a problem than before.

I also want to add that, at the moment, Toronto has been producing a lot of great artists such a Marcus Visionary, Rene La Vice, Nusense, Stranjah, Artifice, Statistic & many others.

DD: NC-17 used to be a duo but I believe it’s down to just Peter these days, how and when did that come about? Do you miss the partnership?

NC: Yeah, we actually haven’t been together as a group for quite a while now. I started the group in 2005 and had a few releases on various labels and Korosiv was part of another group and jumped ship to NC-17 in 2007. To be honest, from 2007 to 2009 we worked very well together, but after a while both of our tastes in music started changing and it became a struggle for both him and I. Every year we would work less frequently together and our musical differences just took their toll on both of us. For a very long time, at least for me, it didn’t feel like a group. Both of our sounds were totally different to a point where very little music was getting done together. Not to mention that both of us were also at different points in our lives. We kept holding each other back creatively so we decided it was best not work together. Being in a group is very much like a marriage and some times it just doesn’t work out for whatever reason.

I don’t miss the partnership because now I am free to make whatever I want to make without having to have someone else’s approval on everything I do. Partnerships are great when both artists are on the same page creatively, but when it’s the opposite it can be a creative nightmare. Since being solo I have been able to make five times the amount of music I was making before. There’s no room for being lazy because it’s all on you!

DD: What’s been your highlight of 2013?

NC: The highlight of my year was my time spent working hard in the studio. There is so much in the pipeline I can’t wait to announce all of it.

DD: Any Christmas tips from the NC-17 household?

NC: Stay safe and remember to always to help the less fortunate. Christmas is a time where I find people don’t stop to think of people who are in way worse positions than us, so if there is anyone reading this, even if its some thing little like buying some one a sandwich or donating to the Salvation Army, please help people who are going through a tough time through the holiday season.

Check out the clips of the Sex, Drugs, Lies, Alcohol & Video Tape EP and watch out for the release dropping on Mainframe Recordings from December 16th.