James Hutchins, - on 26/6/12
James Hutchins speaks to production duo Simon Mortlock and Andrew Greening about old DnB mix packs, studio setups, pre-95 influences and what the future has in store for them and Siren records.
When you first started out, how did you describe your music to your family members? Simon: My mum is into Abba and Tina Turner, and R.E.M is about as risque as she gets so trying to explain DnB to her has always been a bit of a challenge. Occasionally i give her a blast of our latest bits on a car journey somewhere and she nods along looking a little confused. I have an older brother and sister who were both into similar stuff when we were young so its not so alien to them. I guess rather than explaining it i just play it- it's quite hard to put into words!
Andrew: Good question. Drum & Bass 10 years ago certainly wasn't as mainstream as it is now, it wasn't on the radio as much - I think my parents had little or no point of reference. Fortunately I come from a musically open minded family and my parents had seen my older siblings get into rave culture years before I started going out so I think they were pretty familiar with the concept of the constant looping bass lines and drum patterns (which is fortunate because they would have to put up with quite of lot of those emanating from my bedroom in years to come). I remember trying to explain to them that it was some of the only music to really come from England, hoping to appeal to their patriotic side!
What are your first memories of Drum & Bass? What stood out for you back then that made you think, “this is the music for me”? A: My very first memories of Drum & bass were probably around the last year of primary school - Summer 1994 - Shy FX's Original Nuttah was breaking into the charts! Still an anthem even now and such an unforgettable vocal, I'm sure that one sticks out in a lot of peoples memories. Little did I know years later we would make music for Shy. As far as later on when I got into going out and then into production, Bad Company were definitely a huge inspiration. Every tune of theirs sounded totally different from the last, but you could hear a BC tune a mile off. I think the riffs and melodies in their tracks set them apart - and the riffs still sound amazing now even when the production sounds a bit dated. I remember seeing how packed crowds in Fabric (the first few months it had been open) would react to Andy C dropping Planet Dust, and thinking I wanted to know how create something that could evoke a reaction like that. I don't remember much else from a lot of those nights.
S: Around 1991/2 i got some old Obsession 1988 tapes from my friend's brother. A Donovan Badboy smith tape in particular had a massive effect on me and really sparked my love for breaks and synth sounds i had never heard before. I bought some beltdrive decks in 1993 and since then have been obsessed with this music we now call drum and bass. There are standout tunes like Doc Scott's Shadowboxing and The Nine which definitely re-affirmed that this music was something i wanted to be involved with for the long term.
You’ve teamed up with Universal Project to form the collective, Siren. How did you guys meet and what sparked the production combo? S: I met Aaron in the mid-late 90s doing pirate radio then lost touch until maybe 2004 when we put a demo CD through his door. He called me back a few days later saying he was into the CD and offered us the chance to remix Jackhammer, which ended up being our first release. When i moved into his flat in 2008 we were working so much together it seemed natural to come up with a new name and spare everyone the mouthful that is "Vicious Circle & Universal Project", it doesnt exactly roll off the tongue!
For the production heads out there, talk us through your set up. What does the VC studio look like? A: My set up is pretty basic, Quad Core Mac Pro / Macbook Pro, Logic, RME Fireface 800, Adam A7X's and lots of software - all the usual suspects, NI, Fabfilter, Soundtoys, Waves, etc.. Thinking about investing in some UAD kit though. My studio has a palm tree in it also, and lots of Auralex.
S: Logic 9, Imac, Mackie 32;8(glorified volume control these days:/), Virus, Korg 800, Nord Lead(which actually belongs to Nocturnal:)), loads of software pretty much listed above.
Moving through to 2012 brings the direction of Siren Records. Tell us some more about the label. You’ve just released Siren002, in the form of a soulful collaboration with Need For Mirrors. How did that relationship came about? Many drum and bass producers have ventured in the non-Drum & Bass realm. Is this something for Vicious Circle? S: The label is a platform for us to release exactly what we we like. We want to represent all the different styles which we are into so thats mellow right through to the darker stuff. The brief is just quality music. The Need for Mirrors collaboration came about through chatting over AIM. Mosus came down armed with some killer samples on a sunny day and we just rolled it out really quickly. We wanted it to sound as organic as possible and it's almost completely sample based.
A:I wasn't instantly drawn to dubstep when it first started emerging a few years ago, but I've got to say it's grown on me immensely. I think it's matured hugely as a genre in a short space of time, there seems to be something for everyone - I'm particularly into some of the deeper, darker stuff by guys like Distance, Icicle, Proxima, Kryptic Minds etc. Theres a sub-movement with some amazing producers developing there. Our first dubstep single was released this week on Ben Verse's Crunch Recordings, it's been getting lots of support from across that scene which has been really encouraging.
Of any genre, who are your top three favourite DJs of all time? A: Andy Ceeeeeeee of course!!!! Jazzy Jeff is an absolute don. Randall got me into mixing(Si)
What are your top three Drum & Bass tunes pre-1995?
Deep Blue - Helicopter Tune
Photek - Consciousness
Shy FX - Original Nuttah
Hyper on Experience - Lord of the Null Lines (Foul Play Rmx) - Moving Shadow
Remarc - Ricky - Dollar Records
LTJ Bukem - Atlantis - Good Looking Records
What does the future hold for VC and Siren Records? We are currently working on solo projects for Critical Music and Metalheadz and collaborations with Kasra, Jubei and Verse are in the pipeline. We have some new 140 stuff to follow our debut release on Crunch and are definitely looking to explore that tempo more in the future. We've also done a cheeky bootleg which we'll be giving away very soon so keep your eyes peeled. The next 12 ready for Siren is being mastered next week; our remix of Laura Sheeran's Forever Love which is getting a lot of early support from Friction, Calyx and Teebee, Lenzman etc and Emma's Dilemma, a little bassline roller doing the rounds. That will be out some time in August.
start selling tickets with ease
start sharing your music for free