Drum & Bass Arena interview and mix

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 13.18.08

Maja from Drum and Bass Arena got in touch to talk about my 100th release, my remix of ‘Facade’ by Facing Jinx. It turned into a discussion on all sorts of topics including Jinx’s stag weekend and wedding, my development as an artist/producer, some information about my new project Phil:osophy, why I love DJing so much, and how to make all your food taste better.

Read the full interview here: https://breakbeat.co.uk/interview/philth-100-tunes-deep-and-counting/

I have also put together a new mix. This is a snapshot of some exciting new music and what I have been playing in my recent club sets. Of course that means a handful of late 90’s bangers are sprinkled across the mix – showing my age!

Philth Tips #2 – take some time off!

This might sound even more counter-productive than my last blog post – because of course you need to work hard and be consistent in order to keep improving. Yes you need to hone your skills, and that comes with repetition. And this tip is actually the thing I struggle with the most, feeling like I should be in the studio every single day to keep up with all the other producers. But sometimes it just feels like you’re banging your head against a wall and nothing is working. No ideas, no inspiration, everything you record sounds rubbish, Break’s tunes sound much better than yours….

Time to step away. When you’re stuck in a rut the worst thing to do is force it. You end up getting frustrated, then disheartened, disillusioned with the music, then you convince yourself you need the next bit of equipment or magic plugin in order to break through the wall. The reality is just that you need a break. And coming back to my previous post, that means a complete break from DnB, so your brain can soak up some inspiration from other sources. Go and do something else. Watch films, read books, listen to Stevie Wonder, take photos, paint, spend some time cooking nice food, whatever your hobbies are…. maybe even go outside occasionally.

I find that all my best tunes come when I have had some time away to clear my head. Sometimes this is down to work, being a teacher and a DJ can take over and I don’t have any studio time for a few weeks. But that just makes me more excited to go back in when the time comes.

I use a lot of my travelling time to think about music, to gather my ideas and prepare myself to create. I fill my phone up with notes, some of them can be quite technical (beat patterns for example) but more often it is more related to a concept or feeling. I have lists of track names, lists of samples, I have themes that I want to write about (sharks, space, rain), and when I finally come back to the studio I am raring to go and the music seems to pour out. Don’t get me wrong, in these happy periods I will binge and stay in the studio for 12 hours a day – and then the night shift. But this is because I have had some time to think about what I want to say.

Try it. When you aren’t feeling inspired take a break, get some distance, and go back into the studio when you actually have a strong idea of what you want to write. The music will flow naturally when it is ready….

Philth Tips #1 – Stop listening to drum & bass!

This might seem like a ridiculous tip coming from a DnB DJ/producer, but I’m not telling you to give up on the genre and go and listen to techno… This tip is aimed at helping producers to avoid getting caught in the trap of listening to so much DnB and suddenly running out of original ideas.

As a producer who is learning, of course you need to be aware of what is happening in the scene, but it shouldn’t be the only influence going in to your music. If you spend your free time listening to DnB then it is impossible not to be directly influenced by it, and you’ll find that that your music inevitably just sounds like a copy of the latest banger. This used to happen to me all the time, I would check loads of new releases on my journeys back and forth around London and then when I got into the studio all I had in my head was other people’s music.

This can happen whatever sub-genre you are into; listening to a load of Dawn Wall will send you into the studio searching for euphoric samples and rolling beats, listening to DLR all day is a sure fire way to end up getting stuck in a loop trying to match his funky basslines, trying to match Break’s drums will never make you feel good, and a day listening to Noisia will just make you depressed and not want to write music! Even if the influence is just sub-concious (and it often is) you will still end up mimicking the artists you love and who inspire you to make drum & bass.

I’m not saying you should cut yourself off from the scene, and of course it is important for DJ’s to be up to date so it impossible to cut DnB out of your diet entirely – but it is possible to manage your time and let those promo emails stack up for a while. In a period of trying to write new music it isn’t healthy to spend loads of time listening to all the new releases in the search for inspiration. The great thing about jungle and early DnB is you could tell what other styles of music a producer was into through the samples they chose to use. As well as just the samples, its the influence and mood from other styles that can have a massive effect on what you write, and it is much more interesting to take influences from other styles and bring them back into a DnB context.

When I’m focused on writing new music I listen to anything other than DnB. Often a lot of funk and soul in the mornings, and tonnes of ambient music, soundscapes and film scores. I find Spotify is a great tool for doing this, it exposes me to a huge range of artists that I wouldn’t hear otherwise. Every week I find a new composer who blows me away. Sometimes the killer sample just arrives through a search for new music, but more often it is the overall vibe and palette of sounds that provides the spark of inspiration to write some original DnB. Bringing these different influences back into my music helps me to create something with more depth. Of course the drum and the bass themselves are still the essential elements, but I try not to get bogged down worrying about making them sound like somebody else. I concentrate on the overall vibe of the song and then engineer the beats and bass to suit my vision.

Here is a collection of music I have been building over the last year, there’s no real method to the curation of this playlist it’s just things that have caught my ear and I want to hear again. Listening to this playlist so many times on my travels is giving me a whole library of ideas to draw upon when it’s time to get back in the studio….