Monday, 28 July 2008

Assigning Blame

Given the sheer number of artists that seem to pop up day by day, there are few Drum N Bass veterans that have earned their medals of honour and can proudly say they have been there since day one. Before digital downloads and internet discussion forums, there were a selected number of highly creative DJs and producers on the brink of something of new. Blame was right there alongside them.

“I started making tracks in 1990, when the term 'Drum and Bass' hadn't been created. I guess i was one of those like-minded guys listening to Fabio and Grooverider, wanting to speed up my hip hop breaks and fuse them with house and techno sounds. Work experience at a studio got me hooked on production, and I spent all my spare cash on studio time.

It was at this point that he wrote ‘Music Takes You' for one of Drum and Bass’ most celebrated and well known labels – Moving Shadow. In what Blame can only describe as a ‘blur’, his music career kicked off right then. At 17, he had a track in the Top 40, at the top of the dance charts.

“After pissing all my money up the wall (and having a great time), I decided to take things seriously with my music, so I bought my own studio and learnt all the equipment. Around 1996 I signed to Good Looking and mixed the Logical Progression 2 Album, and produced loads of singles and an artist album.”

His signing with Good Looking would be short lived in the grand scheme of things, unfortunately. There has since been talk about Blame’s leaving LTJ’s Good Looking Records in Drum and Bass various Drum and Bass circles. For him, it was quite simplistic, “Getting music and business right is a really complicated balance”

After parting ways, he went on to sign tracks to Charge, Metalheadz, Hospital as well as launching his own labels 720 Degrees and Blame Music. “I really wanted to leave my mark in this music, and felt that there was a futuristic sci-fi soundtrack edge to Drum and Bass that I could bring to the table, so 720 Degrees was created for that.”

“In the last few years I have signed tracks to Charge, Hospital and Metalheadz. It’s great, as I’m a massive fan of these labels anyway and really good to be part of the history. Ram, Prototype, Creative Source and Playaz are other labels I would love to have releases on at some time, but it’s all about getting the right track at the right time. There is something really special about building your own label’s identity though.”

The first release off of Blame Music is different, to say the least and may not be what people expect. As a producer, he intends to use the imprint as an outlet for everything experimental, tribal and oriental. “I just want to bring more flavours into this music and try and push the envelope a bit, as the same formulas seem to be dominating Drum and Bass at the moment.”

It’s no secret music sales have dropped all across the board and Drum and Bass is no exception. Despite being a vinyl enthusiast (“I still love playing vinyl whenever I DJ!”, he says) Blame has no problem adapting to and serving those new to the music in digital format. “ At heart, I think it’s really important to supply mp3s of the catalogue and not alienate the new fans that have never played vinyl. But for me, I will always try and keep vinyl alive.”

He remembers his days digging in the crates fondly and feel strongly that Drum and Bass has strong ties to the use of vinyl. “I used to love picking up coloured vinyl, or square 10 inch releases back in the day. It’s a massive shame but vinyl is a dying breed, the spirit of Drum and Bass seems to be missing when vinyl is taken out of the equation”.

With the whole resurgence of new-rave and people like digital and Randall Bringing back the old school hardcore sound, Blame currently is toying with some of the sounds of the old-school and the possibility of bring some of his old sound back. “Yeah that would be a lot of fun. I’ve just released a track called 'Flashback' which has all those sounds in the background... a real trip down memory lane!” In the meantime , working diligently as ever, he is working on his own album at the moment, building on the sound and success of 'Stay Forever', “It has really inspired me to keep pushing on and writing the next chapter of my music.”

And so, as the next chapter for Drum and Bass unfolds, Blame is at the forefront and balancing so delicately the nostalgia and history of the old-school, while never forgetting the importance of experimentation and progression of the new. If that’s not a recipe for success, when what is?

Words by: SOS

Competition: Win a copy of 'Stay Forever'

To get your hands on a copy of Blame's latest release for Mampi Swift's infamous Charge imprint, simply email with the words "blame competition" in the subject heading. We promise not to sell your email address to any Nigerians but we may email you with Drum & Bass related information.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Go West...

Atlantic Connection and Jeryl's Westbay Recordings has plenty of goodness signed up for the coming months. Kicking off with the vinyl releases taken from AC's debut album 'Tomorrow's Not Enough'. First up is 'Danger Zone' featuring Lynx, a silky smooth ride through liquid D&B territory, on the flip of that one comes 'Touch This' ft. Kemst, a slick crossover between Drum & Bass and Hip Hop that should satisfy any fan of that distinctive Westbay sound. Following that will be the outstanding follow up to one of Westbay's biggest releases to date 'Can't Destroy Love' as AC and Minds One go back in on the formula to create part two. Backing that one is another quality collaboration, this time with Youngman MC who provides some smooth lyrical flow for 'Soul Musiq'.

Not to be outdone, the sister label, Westbay International, steps up the pace with some more hotness from Concept & Shnek and Loxy & Matt U (yes, Loxy on Westbay!). 'Bedford Ave.' is already getting plenty of praise from DJs like Fabio and 1Xtra's Mistajam, despite being consistently misnamed 'Bed For Dave' thanks to a labelling issue at the mastering house! 'Supastar' comes correct on the B side with some LFO business that's hard to resist. Next up, Loxy & Matt U bring the jungle-funk with 'Jumanji', a fast paced blend of beats, bass and percussive layers that just doesn't let up. Matt U goes solo for the second track, 'Charger', another concoction of beats and bass with just enough of that Westbay attitude.

Plenty more lined up from the Westbay camp with talk of a 'Tomorrow's Not Enough' remix album, exclusive artist EPs and more. Check out their Myspace for audio clips of some forthcoming tracks.

Hey Good Lookin...

Without a doubt one of Drum & Bass’ most successful and recognisable record labels, Good Looking has always stood for quality atmospheric and soulful music. With one of the scene’s living legends, LTJ Bukem, at the helm, the label erupted as a breath of fresh air upon the raw and irrepressible Rave scene in the early ‘90s and has stood as a testament to how far across the globe well produced and thoughtful electronic music can reach.

Of course, LTJ Bukem is still one of the world’s leading DJs and his career has seen him tour the length and breadth of the world spreading the Good Looking word wherever a set of decks and an up-for-it crowd can be found. And now, after a break from releasing music, Good Looking is ready to roll once more with a selection of exciting 12” singles from some of the freshest talent that musical Drum & Bass has to offer, and LTJ Bukem’s next long awaited instalment in the ‘In Sessions’ series is set to drop this autumn.

First up will be a name familiar to any Good Looking fan, Furney. This artist dropped the awesome ‘Drum Tools’ on the flip side of the last Good Looking single (LTJ Bukem’s own ‘Switch’), and here he comes again to provide you with some more silky smooth sounds with ‘Pipez’, a track that features on the aforementioned ‘In Sessions’ CD recorded live from Exit Festival. Backing that up will be another of the scene’s leading lights, Utah Jazz, with the soul-fuelled ‘Leap of Faith’, a track that cements his reputation as one of the hottest producers on the block right now.

Following that will be another outstanding selection of split artist singles featuring Funktastics and Peyo, Soulmatic and Furney, Tayla and Ink & Perpetuum, and as you can see, the future is looking very good for the Good Looking camp.

GLR 69 - Furney – Pipez b/w Utah Jazz – Leap of Faith
GLR 70 - Funktastics – Wild Willy b/w Peyo – Old Times
GLR 71 - Soulmatic- Self Belief b/w Furney – Distance
GLR 72 - Tayla – Turn it around b/w Ink and Perpetuum – Say Never