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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

S.F. Producers DJG, Dials, and Jus Wan on the Local Bass Music Scene and Their New Compilation

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 8:19 AM

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How did the Brownswood label guys find you?

Jus Wan: I just got an e-mail randomly from this [Gilles label partner] Alexander [Stevenson] who asked me if I wanted to release a track on their first Brownswood Electr*c comp. I sent them a bunch of tunes and they wanted to release "Miles Away" then but I guess for whatever reason it didn't make it on to that edition. They still had it for the second one.

DJG: I did an interview and a guest DJ mix for a guy named Oli Marlow, who runs Sonic Router blog. I think he and Alex from Brownswood were friends or working in the same office. Before that I had communicated with a guy named Tom at [the label and club] Fabric in London. He and Alex also work together. So they probably all trade tunes or are in the same office, so the word gets around.

What inspired the songs that each of you contributed to this compilation?

DJG: "Automatic" came about as a result of one of these lucky days in the studio where you just sit down and the tune just builds itself and you're just witnessing it. You just do what you can to get out of the way and not think too much. At the end of 2010 I was frustrated and really confused and unsure of where to go with dubstep and bass music in general. I wasn't feeling what dubstep had turned into. I was questioning what my sound was. I just missed intricate drums and beats that had a bit of a swing and something interesting going on.

I hadn't written any music in months, and that was the first thing I came up with. "Automatic" was like this portal into a certain sound that I have continued developing. I've slowed the [beats-per-minute] range I work with down quite a bit. "Automatic" is about 136 b.p.m. If I made it again today it would probably be about 130. It was definitely a turning point for me, it was a catalyst. It was like, okay, "I still have something to say ..." I think Justin was feeling a similar thing towards the music at this time too.

Jus Wan: It would be putting it mildly to say that I've also been as frustrated with the direction of dubstep music and bass music in general. That's haunted me forever really. I had a good year when I first started; I was really inspired and cranking tunes out and not really thinking about too much about it. But since then I'll write a tune and get really excited about it and within a month I'll listen back and think "this tune is terrible, I should have never sent it to anyone!"

DJG: It's a shame spiral Justin!

Jus Wan: Right now if I tried to write music I'm not really sure what I would do. I feel pretty out of touch with everything going on. I don't feel too inspired by anything in dubstep or bass. The [music] feels kind of ephemeral right now, like nobody knows what they're going for. It's sounding like, "Just do some weird shit and as long as it doesn't sound like any thing else it's great!" It's hard for me to get inspired by that.

I have been getting back into the [early and mid-'00s] West London broken beat tracks. I have piles of those records in my house that I started to listen to again and I really like it more than the dubstep tracks I've been hearing the last few years. I don't think I'm actually capable of writing [broken beat] music because it's very jazz-based with a lot of instrumentation. But I like it; it's inspiring.

DJG: You wrote "Miles Away" around the time we were both messing with 170 [b.p.m.] stuff, right, Justin? It's a like a new minimal approach to writing drum 'n' bass music that [UK producer] D-bridge and some other artists were pushing. Both Justin and I became interested in that sound and we both did a couple of tunes [in that style]. I did a 12" for a label called Warm Communications with two of my songs and a Consequence remix.

Jus Wan: Yeah, around that time. My track for the Brownswood comp started with a chopped up break in it. I had Dean help me with the bass tuning a bit. The synth patches in the song on the Brownswood comp are probably the most intricate I've ever created, with tons of filters and side-chained effects. But I always felt like my tracks sound not focused enough. Like if you listen to DJG's songs they sound so perfectly chiseled and every sound is distinct. There's not a lot of noise in between the instruments; they're so clean.

Dials: I've been writing music since I was 14, about a year after I got my turntables, but I never had a reason to finish anything. I'd always make loops. I used to make mash-ups. I have tons of unfinished songs. But I made "Pillowforts" for the Brownswood compilation and enough people told me it was done, so I guess it was done.

DJG: Noah, a lot of people I've talked to are surprised by the substance of the track and the kind of personal feelings it conveys. Did you take a different approach to it compared to your edits and loops?

Dials: I think that that after DJing clubs for 13 years I really want to make a band. I remember for a long time trying to make dubstep songs and they wereen't sincere at all. It didn't work for me. Before that, in the early 2000s, I was really into folky electronica. I'm really trying to write something that is sincere, because I'm more interested in art than just club tracks. I play a lot of that music but when it comes to my own stuff I just can't make a bangin' dubstep song, it's just not me. I made a mash-up of the Kurtis Blow [Corrected: Grandmaster Melle Mel] song "White Lines" for this gig I played in Barcelona and it totally blew up. But [making tracks like that] gets old to me after a while. It's more interesting to do what comes natural.

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