Interview taken from KMag: James Pullen aka Mistabishi burst onto the drum & bass scene in 2007 after trading his stock in the banking sector for a career making beats in the production studio. His debut album Drop landed in 2009 and received rave reviews, whilst tracks such as Printer Jam found acclaim and support from the likes of Radio 1's Annie Mac. Since then, bass music has ballooned in its popularity, topping festival bills, infiltrating the UK charts, and scoring number one records. Mistabishi however, took a step back from centre stage and went under the radar for a number of years. Not much has been heard from him since then, until Kmag recently caught up with him to find out what lies ahead for one of the industry’s most talented yet enigmatic figures, as well as his views on the future sound of live drum & bass and Hackney Warehouses.... It’s been a while Mistabishi but you are back! How have the last couple of years treated you? 2009 was pretty nuts. Kinda spun me out really. Everything started getting really claustrophobic. I moved over to Hackney Wick late 2009 into somewhere that had lots of space. It’s a warehouse district, so lovely wide open living spaces with vaulted ceilings, and I said goodbye to the Hospital Records lot and went back to work, albeit working for myself this time. You released Three Tunes on October 1st, an EP made up of three cuts which feature on your second long-player, TRIP, forthcoming on Noh recordings. Could you tell us a little more about the album? TRIP is comprised of things that went down well here over our summer parties. In other words the tracks that people seemed to remember and ask me about afterwards. Personally, it's the kind of thing I'd stick on for a motorway journey as it's all pretty much continuous - a long drum and bass mix, but bookended with two dubstep tracks. The first half is more psychedelic and melodic, influenced by the sound of some local psy-trance free parties. The second half is a lot rougher - still quite Psy but far more aggressive, and more the kind of thing you'd hear at the squats. I'm really interested in acknowledging the two sides of DNB's psyche: the euphoric and joyous side, and the moody angry side of it. Fans on either side of that spectrum are so quick to write-off the other, but they're both completely valid. We’ve heard that you have returned to the free warehouse parties and the roots of the scene, what’s it been like for you, is this part of the inspiration lying behind the new record? You can do what you want here really. As a party-goer, it's far more liberated and I think that feeds into what people are willing to do as artists. Before, I found what I was doing musically and the parties I was going to were becoming very constrained and contrived. The music was starting to get incredibly formulaic and bogged down in rules and market concerns. Also the smoking ban had kicked in, there seemed to suddenly be a huge increase in security guards, and it was all getting a bit child-safe and boring. So I came here, where you can still smoke a spliff on a dancefloor, and play whatever you want, in whatever way you want. Amongst the more ravey side of things here, there's been a big rise in the use of hardware to perform on, which I found really interesting, and was something I found lacking elsewhere. You’ve recorded a 15 minute clip of yourself producing live; could you give us the lowdown on what’s going on in the video? It's a really basic machine, the Korg EMX1. It can't record or sample, it only has a handful of preset sounds on it, plus a synth engine, and drum machine. You have to program it with the kind of style you want, but once you do that, it's very easy to adlib on and improvise with. You get full control over the structure of the track because you have immediate access to every layer and effect in the music. It's really fun, and allows you to connect with the music way more than just playing recordings. I have a more comprehensive rig I use sometimes but really this is all you need to rock a party. You can even sync VJ programs to it via its midi out. In the past you have commented that the DJ booth separates the DJ from the crowd too much. Is bringing electronic music to a live frontier something you have been working on a lot over the past couple of years? I dunno if I’ve ever said that. I just like the music. I'm not a performer. People like Beardyman and Exile do that, but really, I just try to provide a mood for a space and let the audio do its' thing. As someone who actually makes a lot of music, it's only fair that I play my own stuff. That's about as close to connecting with a crowd as I can hope to achieve really; people dancing to things I've made. How do you go about creating live tracks? Is it built around total improvisation or do you set out with some sort of track blueprint in mind? Like I said, you program in what you want, and then you improvise around what you've programmed. Slow things down, change the swing, mute the drums, or a synth part, filter things up and down, create some kind of flow basically, or just let it loop round and round endlessly until everyone leaves! I'm still reluctant to call it 100% live really. There's still a lot of preparatory work that goes into it. I just thought it was worth doing like this to show people that there's a lot more you can do. People in techno have been doing hardware sets for decades. In fact the first ever techno parties were done like that: nothing more than a drum machine and a few synths chained together. To be honest, that is all you really need to put ravers in bits. So next time we’re down at one of your raves will you be making beats live, or is it an objective for the future? Well yeah, that's kinda how we do it. My neighbours do the same thing. Just jack the stereo outs of your hardware straight into the back of a Void rig. Obviously most places it's into the DJ mixer, but the best way is to use the front of house as your master bus and build your mixdown into it like that. I've used other bits of hardware to get a more 'produced' sound, but often the less kit you use the more real it gets. What is your verdict of live electronic music at the moment? Everyone seems to want to do a live thing now, and people want to reach some kind of consensus over what is live and what is not live. Maybe the market is dictating this I don’t know. More people steal records these days than buy them, so I suppose people are trying to get as much out of the performance side of things as possible. I was never really that fussed either way, I just want to make music and go out to music I like, but I did think it was worth doing that vid to show people what can be done. What would encompass a perfect live setup for you, what have you been experimenting with? I do have what I feel to be the perfect live setup. The EMX slaved to a big Akai DPS24 with the Juno 106 for sub, and Nila Raja providing textural vocals. It's practically impossible to get that rig into your standard DJ club, let alone take it abroad, hence the whole EMX only thing. The next LP is basically a recording of that rig with some light mastering over it. Can you give us a roundup of what’s in store for the rest of the year? No idea really! I recently bought a flat just off Bow Road so that needs to be done up and sorted out. Maybe a few more road trips, holiday in Jamaica maybe, put this record out, maybe start accepting non-local gigs again. Give us an average ‘day in the life of’ Mistabishi.... Wake up at 8, play with Lucy until she has to go to work, pick laptop up off floor, browse internet and Saxo until something forces me out of bed, probably mess around with some form of audio or video in the listening room, have lunch, have a smoke, meditate/get a bit panicky about the state of western society, maybe burn off a few calories, go back to either the laptop or the listening room, cook dinner, eat it when Lucy comes home, play with her until we fall asleep. Who’s your favourite producer out there at the moment? DNB wise, Current Value. He has the most interesting sound for me. It sounds real. Paul Epworth is still top-dog of all soundboys tho really. That guy just seems to be involved with everyone's best work. Jon Hopkins is obviously a badman, and constantly seems to venture into unexplored terrain. Are there any up-and-coming artists you’ve seen that we need to keep an eye out for? Wish I paid attention to unsigned stuff... I'd be able to answer this question properly. I like what Opiuo from Australia is doing, I guess that's up and coming as far as us Brits are concerned. I'd love to see that really blossom and for many other people to make tracks like him. Anything else to add? Keep an eye my website, and on the store in general. Loads of amazing music coming through this portal recently. http://www.kmag.co.uk/editorial/features/mistabishi-interview.html Do like some of his tunes. Will the scene forgive him for his DJ sacrilege though?