There was a time in drum and bass where the beats were sharp, amen drum kutt like a hot knife through rumbling subs and the Beastie Boy’s had a top jump up hit with “intergalactic”. Fresh Kutt records changed the sound with HUGE bass sounds. Beats chopped to the tightest degree and samples that showed how important the 5 Elements of Hip Hop were in the growing Jungle Bboy culture. Behind the boards was a man shrouded in mystery. TMS-1, the battle master, The Prisoner of Technology, and main producer behind the label. I got the chance to catch up with him and talk about the label, his history and what he has coming next!
“Back in the day, I was a battle master”
Your sound was very heavy on the B-Boy influences, Are you a B-Boy? How much did the 5 elements of Hip Hop culture come into play with your production mentality?
The 5 elements has played a massive part in my life, its inevitable that my sound would have that flavor/attitude (& sample’s) in it, as In my early years (around 1983) I was heavily into the early electro/hip hop scene, practicing relentlessly my body popping / robotic skills, to tunes like, Hashim’s Al-Naafiysh, and Cybotron’s Clear so and so on. I soon joined a dance crew called Force 11 and was having dance battles against other local crews, this was along side some old friends who also went on to make a name for themselves within the music industry such as M.T.S – Undercover Agent (aka) D.A.Z (Juice and Splash Records) MATT (Ego Trippin / Hi Def Recordings) Embee (Fuze – Juice and Splash Records) and Arron Courts (creator of the S-CAT circuit bent instruments) to name a few. Even back then I used to mess about doing “tape pause mixes” on my double cassette ghetto blaster, and the usual trying to scratch on my mums high-fi turntable (much to her disapproval.) One of the first albums I bought as a kid (excluding the Street Sounds, Electro Albums) was “Jam on Revenge” by Newcleus, I played that album to death and it still gets aired to this day while driving about in my car (love it) I finally got my first pair of (budget Memorex) turntables along with a Gemini MX2200 mixer in around 1986, That’s when long time friends MC Prism and Robin EE and myself formed a little rap group called the “Triple Fresh Bunch” (obviously I was the DJ in this trio as my rap skillz were none existent) that was just pure unadulterated fun. It wasn’t until early 1988, that i saved up my money like a man possessed to buy my first pair of Technics 1210’s turntables, which i then happily locked myself away, learning and perfecting my scratching and mixing techniques.
Those B-Boy influences can be clearly heard on tracks like “Deadly Tekneek” “Battlemaster” and “Breakdance” plus my scratching on the Beastie Boys “Intergalactic” and the Wu Tang’s Buddha Monk “Got Like Come On Thru” remixes.
Incidentally, the voice of the MC sampled on the Beastie Boys remix saying “make some noise for the dj because the dj is bustin some serious stuff”, is the voice of my old friend MC Prism (just thought I put that little bit of trivia in there ha ha ha)
How did you find yourself behind the producer boards?
By 1989 the whole acid house/rave scene was in full swing in the UK and this is when i joined a group called “Temple Of Life” in which my role was like a human sampler, providing the break beat & scratching snippets on the turntables and In 1990 we released our first (and only) release entitled “E.D.P – E.P” which was a 4 track 12” released on a white label.
Joining the band “Temple Of Life” was a massive influence on me, I learned so so so much from the main band members Spencer EE & Flying Doctor C, the other band members included my good friends (again) Robin EE & MC Prism. The knowledge I got by being apart of all that gave me the desire to make my own tracks and It was also around this time that I started Dj’ing on local pirate radio stations like Cyndicut FM, Dance Zone FM, Twilight FM, to name a few.
It was also around 1990 that i linked up with the man K-Dub (Kirk) who was a regular visitor to my “mix up nights” I used to hold round my house (out to the Room Of Life crew). One fateful night K-dub brought round his Roland W30 Workstation with a built in sequencer & sampler (24 seconds) just to see what I could do with it, and to this day I still have it.
(1991 – Me, writing a track on K-Dubs Roland W-30)
It was from then that myself and Kirk started messing about with making tunes and started to build ourselves a little studio set up in my bedroom, which consisted of K-Dubs Roland W30 Workstation, an Atari st 1040 computer (running the first versions of Cubase) a basic budget 8 channel phonic mixing desk, and not forgetting the turntables, it was with this set up that I learned my arrangement and sampling techniques and K-Dub and myself had such a laugh doing it over the years (good times) That’s how the producer within me was born and the birth of the Prisoners Of Technology (TMS 1 & K-Dub)
(Our first little studio set up – 1992)
Tell us about yourself, What got you into DNB/Jungle in the 90s?
As mentioned before, I used to Dj and there was a point in the beginning of the 90’s where some Dj’s went the pure house route and others went with the break beat route and it was a no brainer that the tunes i was buying and playing where getting more and more influenced by the break beat. It was listening to early groups like the Blapps Posse, The Prodigy, the Ragga Twins and labels like Moving Shadow, the list could go on forever, they were all a massive influence back then and also hearing Dj’s like Dj Hype bringing his turntable skills to the rave scene, there was no going back and before I knew it I was a true born junglist, producing my own style of DnB!!!
Trick of Technology and True born Junglist were HUGE for the sound, with some of the cleanest amens and an entirely new Jump up sound. What led to the creation of those tunes?
Thank you for those kind words. First and foremost, it was due to the arrival of my beloved Akai S3000XL that was the total game changer sound wise, but I’m jumping way ahead of myself, I will come back to the S3000XL later (I’ll reeeeeeeewind), in around 1993 K-dub bought a large amount of studio gear, and on his equipment list was an Akai S1000, I remember we were both blown away with how much sampling time we now had to play with. The down side (for me, not for K-dub) was that the studio was now based at K-dubs house, and this meant I had a limited time in the (big) studio and the little time I did have was mostly spent learning all of K-Dubs new equipment. In fact, the few years the studio was at kirks I don’t think we managed to ever finish a single track off but i learned a shit load while it was there, as I had loads of time to read manuals while I was at home, although some of the unfinished tracks we did do back then were pure smashers, you can listen to a couple of tracks done by K-Dub and myself at around that time
Then the day came when Akai announced they were to release the new Akai S3000XL, I literally nearly wet myself with excitement, I could not wait to get my hands on it, I heard there was holding a music expo in London (at Wembley arena I think) and they were going to be demonstrating and taking pre-orders for the new sampler, I made sure I was first inline to put my name down for one, and when it finally arrived (1995) it changed my whole world!!! I was now able to bust out beats and twist bass lines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I don’t think I slept for about 5 months after it first arrived. Sorry, just realized I’m babbling on about the akai (but I do love that machine). Any hoo, to get back to your original question of “what lead to the creation of trick of technology”, well to cut a long story short, it was a combination of building up a strong and varied sound library over the years, reading equipment manuals and magazines (religiously) like “sound on Sound” “The Mix” “Future Music” (every time I was on the toilet,) learning how to manipulate samples on the Akai 1000 in kirks studio and how to make the most of the effects and not forgetting learning from early on how to arrange a song in to a style that I could call my very own. All this mixed with the frustration of not having a pro sampler at my house for well over a year, all exploded once my beloved Akai S3000XL arrived, and that explosion resulted in the track “Trick of Technology” being made, which is one of my favorite tracks, as its my little baby, so much frustration, happiness and knowledge went into it. I don’t think i could ever top it, the energy that the second drop brings after the mad scientist speech, still gives me goose bumps, looking back I did kind of turn in to that mad scientist. The track Trick of Technology also demonstrates that it’s not what you got, but it’s how you use it (studio wise). The only equipment used to make Trick Of Technology was an Atari ST (Cubase), Akai S3000XL, 8 channel, Phonic mixer and that is it, all the equipment used can be seen in the photo below.
(This is all the equipment that Trick Of Technology was made with)
It was after I done Trick of Technology that I persuaded K-Dub to move all his equipment into my place, to which he agreed too and as the old saying goes, “I was as happy as pig in shit” (see picture below)
(The P.O.T studio – K-Dubs equipment was now in my bedroom)
As for how it got released on vinyl, well back then getting hold of the initial money needed to release a track would have been a mission, plus I never thought my tunes were anything special (I always thought “its just another tune” on with the next) But it was around this time that Neil (Dj magic) started to be a regular visitor round my house, we used to help him out by doing him a few “special” VIP mixes of our tunes so that he could drop them in his set’s on the radio, as he was a up and coming Dj on the blag for new material. He was full of “enthusiasm” about the tracks coming out of the studio and then in a conversation, Neil (Magic) told us that he had contacts (a wealthy uncle) that could help us get our first 12” cut and that he would front up the money, and all we had to do is pay him back (result I thought) This is how and when the three of us joined forces to create our own record label and the track “Trick Of Technology” became our first release on our label.
(When ignorance was bliss – from left to right – Magic, TMS 1, K-Dub)
It was hard work to find a distributor at first, as all the distributors we did go to with Trick Of Technology said “we cant take it on, nothing wrong with the tune but your not known sorry” but when it was finally released (by jumpstart distribution) we had all the top distributors ringing up after, saying “can we distribute your tunes” ha ha ha. It was from then that we chose S.R.D to be our distributor and I must say a massive thanks to Paul Riko from S.R.D who looked after us and also Nicky Blackmarket for his help in supporting us from the very beginning and throughout!!!
How did you get that HUGE bass sound?!
My bass lines on the P.O.T tunes was all down to finding the right raw samples to start with, then it was down to knowing how to use the Akai S3000XL’s filters and in-built effects to give them that fluidity & movement, (note to self —-→ I must remember not babble on about the Akai) plus, back then it was all recorded through an analogue desks, straight to D.A.T, unlike todays all in one digital studio’s “in a box” there was more room to push levels when going through the analogue route.
K Dub and Dj Magic used to produce with you. What happened to the crew?
This was (and still is) a common misconception that all three of us used to write the tunes “together” to answer this I have to go back to the beginning. So, after Neil’s uncle helped us with our first release and it easily made its money back (I think they were very surprised at how well it sold), Neil’s uncle then took some interest in to what we was doing and assigned us with a “manager” (Harry, who worked for Neil’s uncle) to guide us through the business side of things, as at the time, we knew absolutely nothing about it. Harry presented us with a 5 year contract to sign between all three of us (the contract set out the shares of our label fresh kutt) and this was when the whole propaganda of “we all produced the tunes” was put to us by Harry (who himself was a (old school) band manager back in the early 80’s) Harry told us it was important for all of us to be seen by everyone as though we all did the tunes, especially in any interviews we did. The idea behind this was so that it made it easier for Neil (Dj Magic) to infiltrate the Dj circuit and get more bookings, as his job was to promote the label and basically be “the face” of P.O.T. & our label, which suited me fine, as I was never confident at doing the whole networking thing plus this meant I could be left alone in the studio spitting out tracks 24/7, while leaving all of the whole networking spiel to Neil.
Also to re-enforce this propaganda that “we all produced to tracks” If you have a look at volumes 1 to 6 on our fresh kutt label the only information on the vinyl about who actually wrote the tunes is “all tracks by P.O.T,” followed by all our names, so its not surprising that everyone thought we all wrote the tunes, but as I said, Neil had to be seen as being apart of the tune making process to get those all important Dj bookings and make his job of networking easier (more credible) I haven’t got a clue how magic got away without getting busted by other writers & producers ha ha ha but all credit to Harry as his plan proved itself to be a winning formula!!!
So from 1996 until 1999 The Prisoners of Technology/Fresh Kutt label did consisted of three members, and each member had a vital role to play in its success and also a share in the label, which were as follows:
(P.O.T Studio equipment owner & co arranger on some tracks)
(25% fresh kutt shareowner)
(P.O.T promoter, Dj & co arranger on some tracks)
(25% fresh kutt shareowner)
So everything was running smoothly for the first year or so, everyone knew their role, and the label was selling units, everyone was happy. This was until around 1998 when cracks started to show when Magic (Neil) started believing his own hype, blah blah blah. I wont go into details or ill never finish this interview but It was these “cracks” that lead to the release of FK Vol 8, which was our first track to featured all three of us as writers (but on separate tracks, I’ll explain) The A side of FK Vol 8 featured Muther Fuckin’ Real which was K-Dubs first time at being the main writer of a P.O.T track. Once he had finished it, I then gave it a little remix, just to put my stamp on it (quality control) but all credit goes to K-Dub on that track, my contribution really was just editing and production work. Then on the B-side, myself and Neil remixed a little tune I had been working on called Shine but after we had finished it turned in to the track Flavor 98.
“Coincidentally” It was only from FK Vol 8 that the label started to put full detailed information on the vinyl about who actually wrote each individual track (hhhmm a very strange coincidence but I wasn’t complaining, better late then never ha ha ha).
(Propaganda in full effect on all earlier releases)
(Only from Vol 8 Full detailed information underneath each individual track appeared)
(This detailed information carried on until the label ended in 1999)
While I’m on the subject of who wrote what, I can remember being pressured by Harry at times into giving up writer’s percentages on the tracks I wrote to “prevent arguments happening” ???, An example of this is on the track “Battlemaster” the registered percentage split ended up as (TMS 1 = 96%) + (K-Dub = 2%) + (Magic = 2%)??? But as I didn’t fully understand the whole royalty percentages “thing” and we was all good mates at the time, I let a lot of it slide.
This is not to say that K-Dub or Magic had nothing to do with any of the P.O.T tracks, as I said we was all real good mates when we started, it was inevitable they had some influence on the type of tunes I was producing and writing at the time and that’s why they received “co-arrangement” credits on tracks I done like boogie, push da buttons, trick of technology remix, total control and Sweet Vibrations, as they either individually or both happened to be in the studio (for a coffee and a smoke normally) at the time I was writing them, they just had nothing to do with any of the tracks I did solely on my own, which were, Trick Of Technology, Feel, Battlemaster, True Born, Breakdance, What Does It All Mean, Cold Blooded, Crazy, One Two, So Dam Tuff, Doomsday, Unknown, Intoxicate, Expressions to name a few, as these were all Written, engineered & produced by myself.
Before the label ended K-Dub did get to write his very own P.O.T track called Rollercoaster that featured on FK Vol 10 (see picture below) and the only other track written by Neil on the label was the track called Twister, (which I had to help him with) which also featured on Vol 10 and if you listen to both of those tracks, you can easily tell the difference in style and sound compared to any other P.O.T tune. Any hoo, I hope this settles the mythical story of “we all wrote the tunes together”, as you can probably tell it’s been a touchy subject for a long long time, ha ha ha
(The last ever release on our label was Vol 10 – a triple pack E.P entitled Bass 1999)
Right, ill get back to answering your original question now…
The finale nail in the fresh kutts coffin came in 1999, when i found out by accident that the (5 year) contract we had signed back in 1996 with Harry was biased to say the least, If any music layer saw that contract they would of just laughed, I was gutted when I found out that the people I put my total trust in were actually taking 50% of the money (profit)!!!!!!, no wonder we wasn’t seeing any of it, in fact I would of earned twice as much if I had wrote tracks for another record label then writing for our own label, how do you work that one out???? It was at that point that I said “fuck that” and stopped making the tunes for the label, which meant fresh kutts had nothing to releases, which in turn sadly meant the end of our label but on the plus side it was the end of getting mugged and ripped off.
So, what happened to “the crew”? Well since the label ended in 1999 I’m still tight with the man K-Dub, he comes and visits, in fact he has just popped round to have a read of this interview and we’ve been sitting here reminiscing about the good old days, (as there was some real great moments and laughs over the many years while it was all happening) we even talked about getting together to work on some old tunes that we didn’t get to finish while the studio was at kirks house. As for Neil, I have not spoken a word to him since it ended in 1999.
With remixes from the beastie boys to 187 lockdown and more you were very busy on that end, was it a blessing or a curse for your output?
I see it as a MASSIVE blessing!!! As it got the P.O.T name and sound into places were we couldn’t of dreamed, Plus I just love remixing other artists work, as the concept of the track is already done for you. But the remixes did cause some arguments between “the crew”, as this was the time (1998) that the cracks started to appear between Neil and me. The first remix to come in was Kung Fu by 187 lockdown, i remember locking myself away in the studio and doing it from start to finish (simple, job done) as I was the one who wrote and produced the tunes, it was obviously my job to do the remixes, but when the next remix job came in, Magic wanted to be more “involved,” so I got all three of us in the studio together to do it.
Before I carry on, remember me saying about all of us co-writing on FK volume 8, well fortunately Volume 8 worked out pretty well, because I still had full control of how the masters ended up so they still had that P.O.T sound and feel that I put into all my earlier work.
Well when we all came together in the studio to start the remix for The All Mighty Beat Freaks it was a big mistake, and one I was determine never to repeat, it was just messy and I cringe every time I hear that tune, I cant believe it actually got submitted, let alone released. It was after that remix that I realised all of us in the studio doing a track from start to finish didn’t work, so from then i made sure I done the remixes on my own, as I wasn’t about to see all my hard work and the name P.O.T go down the drain just to satisfy Neil’s tantrums and as I mentioned before this was when the label started to put who actually wrote the individual tracks (which now actually worked in my favor, ha ha ha) that’s why on all the remixes I done by myself e.g. Beastie Boys “Intergalactic” and 187 lockdown “Kung Fu” and Furry Phreaks “Soothe” they all have the information that says “Prisoners Of Technology – TMS 1 remix” but we did all pull together on the Buddha Monk (wu-tang clan) Remix, but the secret to that was I made sure the track was built and structured before we all went in the studio together, so it was just a case of re-arranging bits here and there just like there contributions on the tracks like Boogie, sweet vibrations, delikut beats remix and trick of technology remix.
What was it like being tapped to remix the Beastie Boys classic “Intergalactic”? Tell us the story behind that one.
Well as I mentioned earlier, I was once a young Break Boy who was into the whole Hip Hop scene and it was so freaking surreal that little old me, a small time bedroom producer now had an opportunity to do a remix for the legendary “Beastie Boys.” Words cannot describe how I felt. I heard (from Harry) that they had sent their acapella’s to a few drum and bass artists that were popular at the time and were asked to submit their remix of their track “intergalactic” so they could pick the best? I don’t know how true this is or who else actually got asked, maybe it was a false story made up by Harry? Who freaking cares!!! All I knew and was bothered about was dealing with the pressure of doing a remix for the BEASTIE BOYS ha ha ha it was a truly great day (moment) when I got the phone call to say my remix had been chosen and that it was going to be featuring on their first single to promote their latest album. Harry said they paid £3000 for the remix (although, again that could have been a false figure, as I never did see the money anyway)
Here’s another bit of trivia about the Beastie Boys remix, originally the final mix featured “all” the vocals off of Intergalactic but I also done a stripped down vocal version (club mix) to give out to Dj’s and I put both mixes on the D.A.T that got submitted, I was surprised when I found out that they had decided to go with the stripped down vocal mix and never used the full vocal one (madness). But get this (the trivia gets better) remember I mentioned earlier about accidently finding out about the bad deal we was getting, well it was around this time that the Beastie Boys (Grand Royal) got in touch with Harry saying that they loved what P.O.T was doing and they wanted to sign up P.O.T for an exclusive 5 (five) album deal!!! (I still have the contract tucked away) I remember having lunch with Grand Royals UK A&R person and talking about what their contract involved and the plans they had to put P.O.T on the map, first in Europe then America, it was so surreal, but as it was around that time that I found out that my own team had been screwing us over, I refused to sign anything that had any connections with them, no matter who was offering the contract.
At the time your tunes started dropping, the fashionable were looking to the more jazzy, liquid sounds. What made you want to go against the mold and put out Jump Up?
Because it was the only way to go !!!!! ha ha ha, I never for one bit see it as “going against the mold” I see it as i just did tunes I liked to do and doing them the only way I knew how (simple as that) but don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the whole liquid sound and plus the older I get the more appealing it becomes at times, lol
Tell me about the transition from Fresh Kutt to BattleMaster?
Well when fresh kutts was dead in the water and the biased contract was now void, I released a few (white labels) tracks that I saved up while I was “on strike” like torn, Robot wars, Blair Witch, Raw Sex, Techno City. The list goes on and on. I then decided to take a business course, which lead me to submitting my own business plan to the prince’s trust, who then gave me the funding to set up my own record label called Battlemaster Records and I was now finally “left to get on with my work without being placed on trial by FOOLS” lol (that’s the mad scientist speech, for those that don’t know) although, this didn’t stop Harry sending me a contract to try and be apart of Battlemaster but I wasn’t so “green” as I was in 1996. I sent the contract to a music layer and (not surprisingly) it came back with a sea of red writing and rings around whole paragraphs. Needles to say it never got signed.
Here’s another bit of trivia for ya. On the Battlemaster label I used to go under other artist names so that it looked like it was a “battle” between two artists on every vinyl release, but I did both sides, some of the names I went under were The Musical Scientist, TMS 1, Prisoners Of Technology, The Kids Of Death, The Kangaroo Kid and so on but saying that, there was one track on the label that was not done by myself which was a track called “silver fox” which was actually done by my old mates “Ego Trippin” (Matt & Ian). End of the trivia bits, I promise!
The labels output dropped off after 2004, what happened?
This was a mixture of personal reasons (for to deep to go into on here) and the overall fall in worldwide vinyl sales, so I took the decision to have a rest from it all and just made music for pure enjoyment (just like the good old days) i soon started to release the odd tune here and there for download only.
I’ve also been busy in the studio lately so be prepared for some new releases coming your way very soon.
If you had any one moment that you felt like you had arrived what was it?
I never did have that feeling or moment that we had arrived??? but if you mean what were some of the highlights, then there were loads of moments to choose from.
One of the first highlights was getting hold of the first copies of “Trick Of Technology” what a monumental moment that was
(First promo of Trick Of Technology)
I remember the first time seeing one of my tunes in the official drum and bass UK’s charts in the early days along side some top names which always put a massive smile on my face.
(P.O.T in amongst some big names in the D&B scene)
Another highlight would be when I found out that the track “Kung Fu” went straight into the top 10 of the national UK charts, knowing my remix was on the flip side, that freaked me right out, top buzz.
One of the biggest highlights has to be doing the whole Beastie Boys “Intergalactic” Remix thing, I still to this day have to pinch myself to make sure it wasn’t all a dream, plus at the end of that same year of doing it I remember reading an interview in the music paper called N.M.E with Fat Boy Slim (Norman Cook) and one of the questions they asked him was, “what tune do you wish you had made in the year of 1998” and out of all the tunes he could of picked, his reply was “ The Prisoners Of Technology’s TMS 1 remix of the Beastie Boys “intergalactic” then he went on to explain why he loved it and that he was the only one to have the full vocal mix of it on a dub plate!!! I was totally blown away when I read that (thanks Norman for that memory)
What are you up to now?
Musically, I’m still in the studio writing tunes (that has and never will change) and I still write under the name of Prisoners Of Technology (as a solo artist) as well as TMS 1 or I sometimes use both names together lol. As I mentioned earlier I’ve been busy in the studio lately working on some brand new stuff and I’ve also done some remixes of a few of my old tracks, as I think there needs to be some “original P.O.T – TMS 1 remixes” to brighten & lighten up the D&B scene.
(Going old skool – 20 years old and all the disks still load)
I have also got my old mates Ian & Matt – Ego Trippin (Hi Def recordings) to do a new skool D&B remix of “Cold Blooded” which they have just finished, ill keep you posted with more info of the new material when release dates have been set.
I’ve also just finished doing a 3-year university degree in “contemporary music & technology” in which I got graded a 1st (first) class degree with Honours, I even came top of my year, not bad for an old dog that got expelled from school at the age of 15 years old, I even taught some of the teachers a few tricks in the studio ha ha ha. While doing the degree I learned about the whole sound for film industry and had to write my own music score for a piece of film, as well as produce and record my own foley (natural sound effects) for the film scenes, it was the best fun I had in years, I absolutely loved it.
I also wrote and released (for my degree) a concept album, which features a multitude of genres. The concept of the album is about “the system” and how the system is put in place to controls us all. The album is around 40 minutes long (no gaps in between tracks) and is available as a single download for only a few U.S cents U.K pence !!! If your open minded and into other styles of music why not give it a listen.
Have you kept up with the music? Would you ever consider getting back into the fray?
Yeah, as I said, I’m in the process of unleashing some new material, so I’m still in there (somewhere), I’m really into most of the new skool D&B stuff I’ve been hearing lately but there’s a few tunes that just sound as if they have recorded themselves smashing up their studio (which is not always a bad thing lol) but as the saying goes, “you cant please everyone all the time.”
Any advice for the up and comers?
The most important advice I can give to anyone is to just “ENJOY MAKING MUSIC” no matter what style, as this will always reflect and show in your tunes, if you follow that simple rule you cant go wrong.