Yes Meg, how’re you doing?
Hello hello, very well thanks. Yourself?
Good. Yeah, fucking weird times at the moment. I hope you’re alright and not going crazy.
I think we all are in our own little way, aren’t we?
Yeah, I feel like it’s getting to that point now. I was decent with it for a while, but with the weather like this, it’s a pisstake!
Well, thanks for taking some time out of your lockdown to answer some questions for Goat Shed.
It’s also mad that I get to interview you as we used to party back in the day. I’ve seen your transition over the past 10 years – from DJing house parties and in random fields to now being an integral part of the D&B scene.
Yeah it has been a while now hasn’t it, it has been a journey!
It has indeed. So lockdown… Have you been keeping yourself busy?
I have been getting out doing a bit of gardening but apart from that, it has been full-on music. I could honestly sit at my computer for 12 hours a day so I have appreciated it and definitely benefited in some ways. There are pros and cons to any situation. I guess I’m making the most of it. As soon as lockdown happened I think I wrote 3/4 tunes in 5 days. I just had the creativity and time. As soon as that happens, I can’t take myself away from the computer.
How else has it affected you as an artist?
Well, I work a job but gigs do keep me afloat in a financial way. I miss going out and playing shows. All these tunes I’ve been making haven’t even been road-tested. It’s really odd, I have never done it like that. Everything’s been tested on some sort of sound system. Back at house parties at least it was tested to some sort of audience.
I definitely hadn’t thought about that…
Yeah, it’s good seeing people’s reactions so it’s weird that tracks are going out like that but we have just got to get on you know, we can’t stop. I just hope there will be some big parties by the time we are all allowed to see each other again.
Imagine THEE first party back!
I know, I’m thinking that is gonna be next year now.
It’s so sad…
This year though, you have recently gone live with your Patreon page?
The guy that I work with, I have him to thank as he told me to start it up. It divides my time up nicely because I’m not constantly working on trying to finish music, which gets quite stressful when I’m not feeling that creative. I can just record a video or a tutorial, write samples, or create presets and patches. It keeps my brain ticking over. The fact that people are willing to put money aside for that is amazing. It’s helping me so I have to thank anyone who has signed up. It’s good to give back and I am learning a lot.
They do say that teaching is a way to become a master of your skill.
Yeah, I have to stop and think. To translate to people of all skill-sets has been the challenge. I am learning how to get my point across in the best way possible and a few bits about extra software. I know that isn’t too much of a big deal but for me, it’s untouched ground. I’m glad that I am gaining these skills. I did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with my patrons the other day to get the live streams going. Hopefully, I’ll be doing more in the future.
Were you yourself self-taught?
Yeah, Andy just picked up the software. I did a bit of education within 6th form for music tech but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I used to play guitar and was self-taught with that. So in terms of creative learning, I was very independent. I had all the free time in the world back then. I couldn’t imagine starting to learn something like that having no prior knowledge at the age that I am now. I just wouldn’t have the time to stick at it. Respect to people that do!
Yep totally, there are people doing it!
Let’s talk about the Stay at Home Festival…
Yeah, round 2?
Well, how about round 1? You were certainly a favourite on the lineup.
Yeah, it was good fun. It is amazing that people are engaged during this time and music is still powering through. I didn’t wanna do a standard stream where I was just facing the camera though. I personally don’t wanna watch that, I’d rather listen to it. I conjured up the idea with my housemate that we were gonna mess around with it. I was pretty nervous, to be honest!
Yeah, I don’t really get nervous for gigs. I just felt, with all the set-up and no-one knew what I was gonna do. I don’t really mix much at home and haven’t been able to DJ in a while. I was like shit, probably should have got a bit of practice in but it was all good. I enjoyed dressing up for it and just having a vibe.
You have been known to rock an all in one…
And yep, there was a lot of talk over your get up for Stay at Home. The hazmat suit, the bottles of bleach, and the disinfectant.
Ha ha, disclaimer there… that was no bleach, that was WKD. I went on Saturday morning to my local shop, Budgens, to get some stuff (candles) for my housemate as it was his birthday. It was 8.30 am and the guy denied selling me my WKD whilst there were loads of real bullish men around. I had to put my big WKD on the side and walk out with my candles. I was too embarrassed to go back and had to go to a different shop.
The commitment! So, physical or virtual festivals?
Obviously physical. You can’t beat that vibe, not at all. With the virtual festivals, it’s cool when you are playing but then you switch it off and it’s like, did anything really happen? It’s just me in my room with a camera pointing at me.
Did you have a few bevvies to get in the spirit? A few WKD’s?
Yeah like I said, I was a bit nervous so I had a couple of beers. I used to do live streams, the DNBTV ones, and I know from being in the chatroom that everyone’s so critical. At a festival everyone is just getting into it, if there are little slip-ups then people are just still in the vibe.
Yeah, you can re-read comments and they’re all public…
Yeah, exactly. All eyes are on you and you want everything to go right because you know what the internet is like.
Understandable. Do you think virtual festivals could be taken to another level? Like, I dunno, festival food delivered to your house…
Ok, that’s interesting. I didn’t really know where to go with that question but that sounds cool. Maybe yeah, beer deliveries. I hope these things go on after lockdown but can’t imagine the audience is gonna stick around once people are allowed out to socialise again but it has definitely opened a new door. I’m sure people will be getting the software and putting it out there now they know how to do it.
So Stay at Home part 2…
Do you know what, I have got a green screen arriving and I really hope it arrives on time.
I can’t really say much more than that. You have just gotta see what happens.
(Take a look at the result for yourselves)
Let’s go back in time a little bit, to back in the day. I’m sure you lived in the middle of nowhere?
Very much so, I was 4 miles from the nearest shop.
Trek to get beers! Do you think it was harder to make connections and get your music out there because of this?
Maybe the learning curve was a bit slower. It was all done via the internet so I guess it was just learning how to access and communicate with other artists. We had workshops that came to our high school and these guys actually put on nights at our local club, the Jailhouse. They were the ones that were sorting our first gigs in the local town and all the little festivals. They were like mentors at the time and really helped us out. They were a big part of Nozstock Festival!
Big up the Jailhouse and big up Nozstock! How many years in a row did you play Nozstock?
7-8 years! So yeah, I think just speaking with mates that were doing similar things. It was also around the time that Soundcloud was coming out. There were communities within Soundcloud, budding producers, and loads of other artists. From there, everyone did their networking through AIM. I spent a lot of my time on there trying to get tracks across to other labels who then have their own promotion for you.
I suppose with the internet…
Yeah god knows how people did it before the internet.
Do you remember your first-ever setup?
Yeah, it was a set of Numark tt200’s belt drives that I got from my mate second hand. I got some money for Christmas and, I think, Boxing day, I made my dad drive me to go and get it. I was blaring tunes on a guitar amp for months. I spent all my timing searching for and buying records. That was all I did.
You were in a band too right?
Yeah, it was around the same time. I was in bands for a few years. Andy was the drummer in most of those bands so we were always hanging out. We would do band stuff in the day and then in the evening we would steal my dad’s beers, mix tunes, and get really drunk.
Nice, and your first-ever record – Glurg Monster…
Yeah, the first vinyl release. I think there was one before that but I don’t even have a copy of it.
Lost in the abyss, how did Glurg Monster initially come about?
Cyclone Recordings, we were writing beats with them, DP3 and Kano that runs Sinuous Records. I think we did a show for them at the time when we were writing ideas constantly. Glurg Monster was the one that shone through. It was sick to get that first vinyl release, and actually hold it in your hand and play it in sets we were doing at the time. Pretty amazing!
So you have been making music for a solid 10 years now. What do you think the biggest change within the D&B scene has been?
This is always such a hard question because I don’t really follow the D&B scene much apart from what I’m doing. I don’t think this is a scene answer but maybe how I approach the scene…
Ok, let’s go for that then.
Back then, we wanted to release everywhere and put our music all over. In the last few years, I have just wanted to work with a few labels that respect the ethos that I am going for. Looking back, I wish we had been a bit more reserved but I think that is just me looking back at some of my old tunes thinking ‘God, did I really put that out?’ I’m onto different things. That was a time in my life and I shouldn’t look back like that but I think everyone does.
Yeah, that is definitely natural.
I think now, I just wanna keep within a core group with a family vibe like what I’m doing now with Flexout. I have lived with Tom Bassi who runs the label and we are in such a close group of mates. It just makes life so much easier for me and probably him as well.
You are all on the same vibe…
Yeah exactly. We are a family. I think I kinda answered that question.
I’ll give you that one. Can we talk about when two became one (unsure why I quoted Spice Girls)? Andy left about a year and a half ago after your ‘Everything is Temporary’ album. Was that your grand finale together?
It was weird, we had just sent off the pre-masters, we were in that phase. Yet, we were drifting apart creatively and men being men we didn’t really speak about our feelings. I think we went to the pub to celebrate. We spoke about things briefly and it was like, maybe we should speak about this properly when we’re not wasted. It took a while for us to decide what we wanted to do. We wanted to go our separate ways and it was mutual. There were no bridges burnt whatsoever, but we were thinking… How do we approach this for our fans and for the project? It was the biggest body of work we were ever to release and we were about to tell people that we were splitting. It was another 9 months… Andy has got his career, his family now and a baby on the way; he didn’t wanna pursue something that he couldn’t put all of his heart into. I’m glad he was happy for me to carry on the name.
It has all worked out?
Yeah, I was the best man at his wedding later that year. I think it bought us closer than we were because our relationship, a lot of the time, was music-related. After that it was like, oh we can just drop that and be mates again like we used to be.
Do you think the way you produce and your approach to music has changed since?
Well, I have learned a lot in terms of production and I’ve been changing workflow techniques. I had 4-5 months out whilst traveling and coming back was almost a new chapter for me, everything Speech Shades onwards. I think there has been a different drive. When you work with two people, you always have to check your ideas with them. Now, I don’t really have anyone to wait on so if I’m being creative enough I can work faster. I have no restrictions on the style or how quick I can get it done but then I have missed that second pair of ears to bounce things off.
Moving onto your releases, in the words of my housemates, “Amoss only makes certified bangers”….
Respect to that!
Do you have an all-time favourite release? A cheesy question I know!
I really liked some of the first stuff that we did with Fre4knc. I liked the way that collab came about. He sent me some tunes and I played them out in Germany that night. I remember messaging him straight after the set like we need to work on some music together. Vortice was the first track we wrote but it wasn’t the first released. Andy and I both felt that we had found someone that we clicked with in terms of his sound. The way he goes about his arrangements, little tricks he does, I felt were really similar to what we were doing. We really gelled when working with Bertran and getting to know him as a friend. The building blocks of that relationship were really good.
So your latest releases…
Easily Suede on Vandal Records is described on Soundcloud as “quite enormous” and “disgustaan”. Any reasoning behind the name?
It was actually named after Bassi. He thought of the track name as he thought that he was that, ‘easily swayed’. That track has been sent about for ages now, over a year. SKS at Vandal, was like ‘can you get me a pre-master in 3 days?’ I’m glad it finally saw a release. That was probably the second track I wrote after I got back from travelling. They all became a blur so I’m glad it found its home.
The Antidote as well on Flexout Audio…
Yeah, just before we went into lockdown. It did have an original sample of one of the main guys from the World Health Organisation but it was a bit cheesy and we didn’t think it should stick. I’ve got a version somewhere where he is chatting about a global pandemic. I think it was the quickest track I ever wrote, I wrote it in the evening and pre-mastered it the next day.
Mad. That is quick. Is Flexout your priority now then?
I have actually got another Fre4knc EP coming out with Dispatch and then one more after that to make a three-part series. I just enjoy playing Flexout gigs. I dunno if you saw the video of us all playing at Outlook Festival last year on the boat party. That was easily a highlight of the last few years of DJing. That set was incredible. You just need to see the pictures. That is all, check the vibe.
You have already answered my next question of whether you have any more EP’s on the way?
Yeah, that one is a bit delayed because it’s gonna come out on vinyl. I’ve just had a date for my next Flexout release which is gonna be 4 tracks including the Speed Shades remix by Grey Code. I know a lot of people have been asking about that. I think that’s gonna come out in July.
I’ve got another Vandal single… and another Flexout EP coming out in August. I’ve got some various remixes that will come out as and when. They’re kind-of finished so I guess they will be around summertime, so quite a bit to look forward to.
I’m sure everyone will be happy about that. I’m just gonna chuck you a few random questions now….
Would you ever consider making anything other than drum and bass?
I used to make a bit of hip hop but D&B just comes naturally to me. Maybe hyp-no. Hip hop and maybe some techno.
Sick, I would love to hear that. Thoughts on foghorns?
Yeah, I mean there are a few that go down well and there’s a few that really don’t. I’ll leave it at that.
Ciggies or tinnies?
There once was a time when it would have been ciggies.
Oh my god yeah, but I don’t wanna go into that.
Ahaa… If you could listen to one album for the rest of the lockdown what would it be?
DJ Shadow – Endtroducing.
Your ultimate studio snack?
Um, what have I got around here? I’ve had some Percy Pigs recently. I don’t snack too much unless I am doing a collab. Percy Pigs or little Sour Snakes!
And what beer are you drinking at the moment in memory of Cranium Sessions?
I had some of these really nice Gipsy Hill Brewery beers – a brewery company just down the road from where I live. They have just done a GF revisit of one of their pale ales and it’s so good. I have been drinking a lot of that.
Lovely. That is all I’ve got for you. Thank you for that James, appreciate it.
Nice one for doing that Meg.
Interview by Meg Babey Davies
All shots pulled from the archives of my old photography