Bassline Smith Interview - 10 Years Of Technique

Joey AdhD

sweaty scouser
VIP Junglist

Tell us a bit about your first experiences in the world of Jungle/D&B back in the early ‘90s?
In the very early years of jungle/D&B before what can now be considered the so called split of genres, I can clearly remember playing all styles of dance music in my sets which was great because it worked really well; a 'mish mash' of styles but all revolving around the same BPM. D&B came from all flavours and styles, from reggae to hip-hop to techno and house - that's what’s great about D&B, it's got all flavours! I can remember playing at parties like AWOL, Elevation, Shelley’s and Pandomonium and the atmosphere was amazing - kind of intense, fresh and forward thinking, as if we somehow knew this was something new that was happening. But of course no-one knew that a new genre that would still be here 20 years on was forming among the sweaty ravers and forward thinking DJs.

How do you feel the scene has changed, and moved on, since then?
The whole D&B scene has moved from a UK thing into a world phenomenon, with followers all over the globe. I don't think there is anywhere untouched now by the sound of D&B. The whole scene has become more professional, and it has now become clear that putting on parties, running record labels, DJs and MCs and producers have now made it their profession. Everything is a lot more on point from that side of things. The music has also evolved through producers experimenting and pushing the boundaries and also by embracing new technology and developing their skills, which in turn has definitely taken the music to new heights.

The internet has really helped spread the sound of D&B into a global thing because before you really had to come to the UK to experience first hand what was going on - but of course that was then. Now you can be living and breathing D&B from the other side of the globe what with all the websites that focus on the music, producers, DJs and so on.

Is jungle/D&B your sole passion or are you a lover of all dance music?
I do have a passion for most styles of music, away from D&B though. My favourites are jazz, funk, soul - anything with a good bassline gets me going! I also like some dubstep out there – it’s got that bassline that you can feel make your bones shake!

A lot of your music is influenced by hardcore as much as jungle - what was your response when the scene split and went its separate ways around 1993?
Well, at the time I didn't really think much of what was happening, I just played the music I liked from a DJ standpoint, and from a producer’s point I was just getting producing my own music, so for me I was more aware of how I wanted my music to sound as apposed to anything else. I was experimenting with speeding up breaks - hip-hop breaks - and sampling my own funk tunes and basically just getting my teeth into my Atari 1040 and Akai sampler...

When you set up your first record label in 1991, Absolute 2, you showcased music from the likes of Doc Scott, Nookie and Ray Keith - are these artists you still have a close affiliation with?
We have all moved on to do different things but I know that they have a great respect for what Absolute 2 Records did for them as it was a label that took them from virtually unknown artists to recognised producers within a very short period, and it’s very difficult to achieve that especially nowadays.

Which other artists in particular have been significant in your development as a DJ and producer?
I think from a DJ/producer’s viewpoint a variety of DJs/artists have been significant. Jonathon at Rock City gave me my very first break as a DJ - as an 18-year-old - and this gave me the belief that what I was doing had a future. Des Mitchel at BCM Tenerife/Magaluf taught me how to mix and scratch, himself having been a world champion - but it was his showmanship behind the decks that was to leave a lasting impression.

In 1998 you met the Drumsound duo - how did you meet them?
We met at a regular drum & bass night that was happening at the time in our home-town Derby. We both were resident DJs, and from that connection at the club we developed our relationship into producing tracks together and spending time in each others’ studios. One of the first tracks we did together was our first release on Technique in 1999, a track called Future Tech which, even listening to this track today, makes me feel it was ahead of its time.

What made you hit it off in the beginning?
I think hit we hit it off instantly because we had lot in common socially. No-one else in and around Derby was as passionately into the music as we were, and we just bonded because of this I think. Music often brings people together to share a common will.

What have been the most successful releases for you so far?
We have a string of really big tunes over the years. The Odyssey, which we signed to Grooverider’s label in 2004, was a massive tune for us and probably our biggest to date. It was championed by the man himself on Radio 1, with the famous slogan “Don’t call my phone for this tune!” Everyone wanted it as it sounded so fresh and different for that time. It went on to being in Mixmag’s top 10 tunes of 2004. Our first album closely followed that - The Nature of the Beast - and tracks like Crossfire (Danger), Tyrant and King Of Kings all were really well received. We've made so many tunes, it’s hard to just name a few.

You’ve released on virtually every big-name label in the D&B business now. How’s this come about? Do you think it’s because you have a particularly versatile sound?
Definitely! We have always tried to keep things fresh by not 'painting by numbers' and doing the same tune five times over. One way of keeping things fresh is to make different styles of D&B, plus we try and make tunes depending on how we feel. If it’s a hot day, we wanna make something uplifting and its freezing cold, maybe deep or dark. It was also one of our goals to have a tune on the top D&B labels as that would show our versatility.

What prompted you to set up the label back in 1999?
The label was set up to showcase the music we had produced together. We both were making tunes at home in our respective home studios and over a period of time started making more and more tunes together. It was natural to join forces as we both have so much in common and a strong belief to succeed in the world of music. Having had the experience of setting up my own label before it was a no brainer that by merging our creative and business talents we could start something that we would make a success. Technique was all about starting a new imprint to showcase our new partnership.

Now, after 10 Years of Technique Recordings, looking back over the last decade, what have been the highs and lows for you personally, and the label itself?
Well, the low points were in the early years really. Trying to get support for our music and discovering that even though we thought some tracks were great, we were gaining little support from the wider D&B community. But to be honest, that’s also the thing that has driven us. We've worked hard to establish Technique into what is now considered to be a quality D&B label.

How many releases have you had now, and how many units have you sold approximately?
Technique has released over 56 titles and has now sold over 350,000 units. Worldwide Audio Recordings, which is our subsidiary label, has just hit release number 20 and that's also selling really well.

Which artists do you have signed at the moment?
Tantrum Desire - new kids on the block from London, gaining great momentum and recently tipped for greatness by Grooverider, and they have remixed two of our finest moments (Welcome To The Jungle and Cape Fear), and they've really done a good job.

Technicolour - amazingly talented liquid funk producer that's really beginning to shine. Elastic can be found on our new compilation and its a great track from him.

Phetsta - hailing from Perth, Australia, Phetsa has been with us for six years and has released some great tracks. Look out for The Sun VIP, which has been a favourite on Annie Mac's Mash Up this summer.

Just to finish up, are there any final words of wisdom you wish to impart on DJs, producers and junglists out there?
Just keep doing what you love and keep the faith in the music.