Drum & Bass Interview with Phil Tangent


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We're having Phil Tangent as our guest DJ this Friday, so I've seized the oppurtunity and asked him a few questions about his tunes, producing, djing and drum & bass in general. As the site I've given the interview published only the translated version, I thought I'd share the original with you guys, maybe some of you will find it interesting :) So here goes:

Hi Phil, can you introduce yourself in short for a start?

Hi, I’m Phil from a small town just north-west of London called Leighton Buzzard, UK.

How did you end up producing Drum & Bass and have you ever considered producing any other music (or have you already done it)?

I have dabbled with other genres but my passion lies with Drum & Bass. Initially, I chose not to produce DnB as I believed I couldn’t be as good as other producers who were already releasing on labels. However, I started entering competitions on Drum & Bass Arena’s production forum which restored my confidence and faith in myself. The constructive criticism I received from other like minded producers inspired me to push myself more and more and I would recommend this to any budding producers out there.

What kind of music (artists, bands, producers) influenced your own take on music the most? Care to share your favourite album or any song in particular?

It’s difficult to say as I’ve been influenced by so much music over the years. My parents have an extensive record collection consisting of soul, rock, reggae (and even German beer-drinking songs) which I would often dig out and find some great samples.

I’ve been inspired by house music too; my friends Ash and Chris ran a record shop in my home town. They’re huge house music fans and introduced me to some great artists like Onionz & Joeski, Derrick Carter and, Nick Holder.

My first venture into the world of Jungle/Drum & Bass was back in ’96 when a friend of mine gave me a copy of*LTJ Bukem’s compilation ‘Logical Progression’. I listened to it at every available opportunity and was the soundtrack to my walks to and from secondary school. Two tracks that stand out for me are Chameleon’s ‘Links’ and Blu Mar Ten’s ‘B.R.O.’ both on the same cassette.

What's your opinion on the current state of Drum & Bass, do you like its direction towards a wider audience and the expansion into even more subgenres?

I think every genre/sub-genre of music has its place. Drum & Bass is really healthy right now with boundaries being pushed and so much talent breaking through. Plus, you’ve got the likes of Fresh and Rudimental pushing DnB to the masses. If this means more people coming into an otherwise underground scene then that can only be a good thing.

Which one of your tunes do you enjoy the most and why?

Hmm...this is quite a tough question for me to answer. I’d say the tune I was most proud of would be ‘Lunar.’ I would never have imagined the reaction it receives. One girl came up to me when I was playing a Soul:ution night at Fabric and thanked me for making it. That was a very special moment for me.

I noticed you were sampling vocals from the likes of Björk or Peter Gabriel before, do you enjoy sampling while making new music?

I love sampling and fusing the old with the new. I’m fascinated with it. I sometimes find if I start a track with a sample or texture, it gives me a foundation for starting a track. I’ll tend to build pads and synths around the sample then take the sample out. Once I’ve got a mainframe for a tune I’ll start auditioning one-shot samples – be it vocals, hits or short riffs – and see what works.

You've already mentioned that your parents have an extensive record collection, so I presume your sample bank comes from here. More and more producers tend to use sample packs nowadays, how do you feel about that? Is it something you've already done, too, or do you prefer making everything by yourself? If so, why?

My samples come from a wide range of sources from my parent’s record collection to sample packs. However, if I’m using a sound from a sample pack I’ll try and personalise it by pitching it up/down, adding effects or chopping it up and adapting it to my tastes. I use VST’s for a lot of my pad sounds as there is so much you can do with them. I also like to resample a lot of my own sounds – bounce them out, edit them in soundforge and then load them into the DAW again and adding more fx onto the ones that are already on there. It’s all about experimenting with the sound.

You've been releasing music on Commercial Suicide and Soul:R, you've played on the launch parties of Marcus Intalex's and Calibre's latests albums, have you ever thought of collaborating with Klute, Marcus or Calibre? Do you regard them as the leading figures of soulful melodic Drum & Bass with an occasional dark twist in it?

I have but I haven’t got the balls to ask them. Ha ha! All three have been truly inspirational figureheads for me within Drum & Bass and it’s a really humbling experience to be part of their labels and nights.

I know you've already worked with New Zealand's Tokyo Prose (and the result was splendid), is there anyone else who you'd like to meet in the studio in particular?

Thank you...I spoke to Sam (Tokyo Prose) yesterday as it happens and we spoke about possibly doing another collab so watch this space.

I’d like to work with a lot of producers – too many to name. I’m currently working on various projects with Stu Pennygiles. We recently signed a tune to CIA Deepkut so we’re writing a b-side for that. The man is an encyclopaedia of soul music.

Speaking of albums, is there a Phil Tangent LP in the process of making already? If so, when can we expect it and on which imprint?

Not at the moment but I’ve always wanted to write an album as it offers freedom to explore other genres of music but I’m not ready yet. I’m enjoying writing and releasing singles at the moment.

We've talked about you playing on Soul:ution nights and others, so I guess it's obvious you do enjoy DJing, you've been doing it even longer than making your own music, haven't you? Do you consider it a part of your job or do you think of DJing and producing in separate?

You’re quite right. I’ve been djing for 15 years and I fkin love it!!! I started djing as it enabled me to play the music I loved to people that may never have been lucky enough to hear it. Whether they think that or not is another thing. Djing and producing do go hand in hand. However, I feel for dj’s that are at the top of their game but tend not to get booked because they don’t produce their own music. I always wanted to make my own music and have been writing music/songs for around thirteen years collectively.

There's been a few discussions about that lately as some producers don't regard DJing as an art (of creation), hence they don't feel like doing it (or doing it so often) anymore and they prefer doing their "live acts" as opposed to that. What do you make of that and what's your opinion about live acts? Have you seen any and have you enjoyed it?

I’ve heard about this. I love live acts. I saw Dr. Meaker at a friend’s wedding reception recently and really enjoyed the energy. You could tell they loved what they were doing. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, I do regard djing to be a creative art form combining two tunes to create a hybrid. I still get a buzz from a great mix.

If I'm not mistaken this is the first time you're going to play in Czech Republic, have you ever been there before? Where did your favourite party took place?

I’ve never been but I’ve always wanted to go. I’ve heard great things so I’m really looking forward to it. I couldn’t pin point one particular party as I’ve enjoyed them all. Having said that, it was a dream to play Fabric and Sun & Bass.

In your sets you're including quite an amount of older stuff, is there any tune in particular that never leaves your bag?

I love mixing the old with the new. I believe in going back to go forward and without meaning to sound patronising, educating and introducing people to music that has influenced and inspired me over the years. Utah Jazz’ remix of Roni Size – ‘It’s a Jazz Thing’ hasn’t left my bag and neither has Breakage – ‘Staggered Dub’.

Any closing words?

Thank you to everyone who has supported me and my music. I’m really looking forward to meeting you and playing for you guys. Roll on 28th June!!!


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Cheers Jack! To be completely honest, this is a dream come true for me, he's one of my all-time favourite producers and to manage to bring him here to play for us is the highlight of our gigs for me. Also it happens to be the last party in our current club, the timing couldn't be any better.
I agree with his pick of his best tune, have to add this one for sure though :)

Looking forward to the release of We Don't Talk Anymore, too, another great tune of his :)
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