The UK's no stranger to its fair share of influential, game changing artists that make an indelible mark on the face of future musical scenes. The UK's jungle and drum and bass movements sent shockwaves through contemporary dance music culture, and the effects have been felt ever since. Producers that have gone on to shape the sound of electronica's obsession for bass - Goldie, Photek and for our latest Pulse Podcast, Steve Digital. Famed for monstrous tracks on labels such as Metlaheadz, Timeless, Critical and EXIT Music, Digital's cannon of music is held in high regard as some of the biggest tracks in his scene. But after a short break, he's returned armed a more, eclectic sound and a brand new imprint - Mor'Manik - besides lining up a string of releases on Tectonic and more. Pulse grabbed some lowdown on history, current scenes and the constant evolution of a very British sound as he mixed Pulse.119...
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Steve, you've been receiving lots of props lately for your contribution to the UK's alternative electronic scene - did you ever think that 'bass music' would gain so much prominence in today' musical landscape? No. Not with everyone listening to ‘bass music’ on their tinny mobile phone speakers! Jokes aside, yes because the bass music movement feels like that busy time in the late 80’s and early 90’s when artists were experimenting with new synths, samples, audio workstations and sequencers. A lot of great music was created and the same thing is happening now.
Do you think that drum and bass scene is in a healthy state at present? Do you think the genre is becoming more open minded and creative, as opposed to just making tracks that are tailored for the dance floor and in a generic structure? I think the Drum and Bass scene is very healthy but may seem a bit clouded because of the force of the bass music movement. Top dj’s like Kenny Ken, Brockie, Hazard, Simon Bassline Smith, Andy C, Chase and Status, Dj Hype, Storm and have a lot of energy in their sets that keep the dnb club scene alive and buzzing. It seems like today’s ‘open minded and creative’ style is more suited to when you’re listening at home or on your Ipod as opposed to years ago with artists like Goldie, Photek and Doc Scott being creative and open minded but still smashing the dance floor.
Your contemporaries such as Photek went on to leave the popular music consensus for other avenues such as production and scoring; have you been dabbling in other projects too? I can’t say that I have.
You've been producing for years and have seen the trends come and go - is the music industry becoming fickle in this day in age?
I’m from an era when dj’s played a great track for longer than a month but as there is so much music around you can probably find something fresh just as good to play the next day. The same could be said with a record label and an artist. A label could put there all into an act then 6 months later there is an option to work with an act that is much better. I don’t think the music industry is fickle it moves very fast just like a lot of things do these days.
There's a forthcoming track coming out on Pinch's Tectonic Plates Volume 4 compilation - tell us a bit about this track and how its reflective of your current musical leanings. I have a track called ‘Larry Shite’ on Tectonic Plates Volume 4 that is definitely the kind of thing I’ll be producing and playing in my bass music sets however, the same applies to tracks with a techno, dubstep or acid vibe and anything else I like that turns up.. The title ‘Larry Shite’ is a very short declaration on how unromantic I am! Barry White? More like Larry Shite! An appropriate name for a track that is not right for a sweet night at home with the missus!
You've released tracks in the past on many different labels including Violence, Metalheadz, Timeless and more recently, Commercial Suicide and EXIT Records. Back in the days, just what length did people have to go to have tracks released back in the day? what's been the biggest obstacles to arise over the years in your opinion? I feel it’s a lot easier to be heard because of online networks whether you’re a Dj or producer due to the ease of upload and send. I used to drive far and wide to meet up with record labels at their office or at Music House where I used to cut dubs. I enjoyed spending time driving around crate digging for samples and meeting with artists for tracks to play on the weekend but now I ask for tracks by email. Easier but boring! I wouldn’t say there are much obstacles now but back in 2003 I sent 3 140bpm tracks to ST holdings with the idea of starting a label with phat beats and heavy bass lines called ‘Heavy Handed’ because I wanted to do something different. He thought about it but it didn’t happen. Nowadays with mp3’s costing nothing to release it’s easy for everyone to start their own label or movement (I feel ancient after answering this question!)
After 18 years of producing and releasing 4 albums, are you looking to release another LP? Yes I certainly will. I love dnb so I’ll definitely be releasing another dnb album. There will be an album on Mor’Manik in the future although, I’d like to consistently release 10 EPs before I even think about it.
You've also recently kickstarted your brand new label Mor'manik - tell us about this new initiative, are you going to be exploring grey area's between different sounds and styles? I’m digging deep down in my brain to explore my own musical experiences from the mid 80’s when I was a kid listening to electronic pop, hip hop, dub and reggae, the early 90’s when I was raving hard, the year 2000 when Total Science, Marcus Intalex, Calibre and Spirit were totally amazing through to this present day with the whole bass music thing. I’ll mix all that up in a pot and the results will be released on Mor’Manik.
What are your thoughts on some of the new sub cultures and global producers to be popping up on seemingly never ending basis? Does it ever feel like music is too saturated, like it's the opposite of organic? It can feel a bit crazy and manic and that’s why my new label is called Mor’Manik because one day I feel that I’ll be adding to the manic pie haha. I don’t think it’s saturated as I love the idea of everyone doing as they please resulting in all the amazing global music cultures and genres that are very inspiring to me however, I do find some of the names for sub cultures quite funny. Does the name ‘Ambient Industrial’ even make sense? Is ‘Disco Polo’ Disco favoured by Prince Charles and his mates? Warning! Warning! No girls allowed because we have ‘Brostep’ in the house!
Finally, Pulse are honoured to have a mix from you – is this typical of your usual sound and style, or does it contain lots of surprises? My pleasure. .. Personally I think it is typical of my style because of the music I’ve produced and enjoyed over the years but some may think different if they only know the more popular tracks in my discography. The main thing is I’m happy with the mix and the tracks I’m producing and I feel my tracks will only get better because after the longest holiday ever I’m refreshed and very dedicated to my music whether it’s for my own labels Mor’Manik and Function or signing tracks to other labels.
Digital's 'Manik Mash EP' is out now on Mor'Manik