DNB Vault

Conrad Subs Interview

You seem to be a bit of a mystery.  Suddenly you just appeared in 2017 as a Jungle producer.  If you don’t mind, could you give us a bit of your background?  Where are you from?  How did you get into Jungle/DnB?  What was the scene like in your area?  Seems like a standard question I know, but could you give us a brief bio? 

I’m from a town in the UK called Ipswich which has quite a strong history in Drum & Bass Jungle with artists such as Digital & Spirit, Villem & Mcleod and Photek coming from here. There is a small scene here with some dedicated people putting on regular events. I’ve been making Drum & Bass and DJing for about 18 years, although I never really put in the effort and once family life took over I stopped altogether for about 6 years. But in 2016 I got the itch to start making music again and had to scratch it. So on New Year’s Day 2017 I got a laptop and some software, and went for it!

Who are your biggest influences?  How would you describe your music background?  Did you have a music background before landing in the Jungle scene?  If so what was it? How long have you been doing this? 

I started listening to this music in around 1995 and I’ve been hooked ever since. I like some Hip Hop and a few other bits and pieces but really D&B / Jungle is all I listen to. My biggest influences are without a doubt Dillinja & Goldie. Dillinja has made so many incredible tracks in his time that still hold up, Threshold, Silver Blade, Unexplored Terrain, Friday… I could go on and on and on. The best to ever do it in my eyes. And Timeless by Goldie is still my favourite album of all time, and it really is timeless. Those tracks still sound more future thinking than a lot of stuff now, plus a bunch of his other music like Beachdrifta, Terminator, Dragonfly, Digital were so important to me growing up. But there are hundreds of other artists that have inspired me – Calibre, Ed Rush & Optical, High Contrast, Marcus Intalex & ST Files, Carlito & Addiction, Adam F, Bad Company, Ram Trilogy, Break…. I could list hundreds.

Let’s say you just met a NOOB Jungle DJ and they were asking you for advice.  What are some of the “must have” tracks and/or albums that you’d tell them to have in their crate?

Well I actually think I wouldn’t suggest anyone. I’d tell them to go and do their homework, spend some time and listen to the music and find what they want to hear / play. There’s 25 years of history out there, I envy people discovering this music now and being able to go back and hear tracks like Adam F ‘Metropolis’ or LTJ Bukem ‘Music’ for the first time. The beauty of Drum & Bass is it’s variety.

So, there’s been this topic floating around my Junglist DJ friends about the merits of planning sets or just “winging it”.   What’s your take on this and do you go into a gig with a plan or just fly by intuition?  

I’ll know my first track and that’s it, the rest is just following what you feel. I tried to have a rough plan once but 2 tracks in I abandoned it and selected what felt right at the time. So much is dependent on the ‘feel’ of the night and the crowd, you can’t plan that 2 days before in your bedroom.

I think just about all of us have at least one moment when we caught a dj/producer play live that just blew us away and sent us in a new direction, raised the bar or re-defined things for us musically.  What comes to mind for you when you think about those live sets you’ve caught where things were just different afterwords? 

I saw Goldie play in Ipswich in about 2002 at a night run by Danny C. I don’t think I knew a single track that he played but it blew me away, he created a vibe that night and everyone was in it, that really stuck with me. More recently I went to see Chase & Status at Printworks last year and it was honestly one of the best sets I’ve ever heard which I wasn’t expecting.

Is there a part of the world, a city or a club that you’d love to play that you haven’t yet?  Where is that?

I’ve always wanted to go to Sun & Bass but never had the chance, so to play there would be a dream come true.

You’ve had a pretty productive first few years as a producer. Roughly how long would you say it takes you from the time you start working on a track until it gets released?  Also, is the majority of your focus on production or playing out?  How do you manage that balance? 

Well the time from starting a track to release depends on a few things. I write music pretty quickly, I have to do it that way to keep ideas fresh for myself. Then if I think they’re strong enough I’ll send them to a few labels unless I’m writing for a specific project. Some labels will sit on releases for a while (over a year in some cases), depends how busy their release schedule is. Other labels will snap up a track and pencil a release in straight away. I signed a track this weekend about an hour after finishing it… that was a record haha! This year the DJ bookings have picked up a lot so it’s harder to fit in the production time. I get a lot of ideas down in the evenings during the week and finish them on the weekends when I can… I’ve had to give up TV and a social life to fit it all in.

What opened the door for you as a producer?  Was it a chance meeting, old school homies?  How did that happen for you?

At first I was just sending music to every label I could find that I thought my music would fit with. As I went on and improved, I got releases on some bigger labels such as Soul Deep and Fragmented. DJ Hybrid is the one who really gave me my big break though, I sent him some half time Jungle tracks which caught his ear and he’s supported me ever since. Once you get on these bigger platforms people are more willing to listen to what you make, but you still have to work as hard as possible to get there and progress. That’s not to say I haven’t had set backs. I’ve been rejected, let down, messed about and ignored hundreds of times, but I just use those situations to drive me forward. I love making and playing Drum & Bass Jungle so I don’t see it as work…. But sometimes it is really hard work.

A big trend in DnB right now seems to be a big resurgence of the old school dub plate style and culture, updated with modern studio production standards. As well as a big upswing in popularity of old school Jungle samples, drum pattens and treatments. There’s albums and tracks dropping almost every day that are champions of that sound.  As someone who seems to have been involved from the go in really  pushing this area of the genre; what do you attribute this resurgence to other than the typical cycles in music culture?

I think Jungle, and rave music in general was born out of a reaction against the mainstream. It was normal people making music they wanted to hear that wasn’t out there anywhere else. Jungle / old school Drum & Bass just had a sound, an energy and a vibe that couldn’t be matched anywhere else… completely unique but at the same time feeding off other genres. But now Drum & Bass is the mainstream, topping the charts, daytime Radio, massive festivals… I’m not complaining – I love it and want to see it more. But I think that is still what attracts people to Jungle today, it can still surprise you, it is still truly underground and there is a really healthy scene of people dedicating their time to pushing it forward just because they love it. Real Jungle is about Drums & Bass, everything else comes second.

Lastly: are you playing at Sun & Bass this year? Asking for a friend. 

Haha I think I answered this before, only in my dreams.