Interview mit dBridge (Exit Records/Autonomic, UK)
Wenn dBridge auflegt, produziert oder sein Label repräsentiert, dann spricht er aus seinem Inneren und bindet sich nicht an irgendwelche Genres, geschweige denn Trends. Diese Eigenschaft macht ihn zu einem der wohl interessantesten Künstler in der elektronischen Musik. Fasziniert haben sich die Menschen auf die Autonomic Layer gestürzt und sich intensiv damit beschäftigt, um zu verstehen, was denn diesen dBridge so besonders macht. Dabei ist es doch vermeintlich so einfach: „We are here to represent our side of things, our interpretation of electronic music which happens to be sort of Drum & Bass influence but, you know, a bit of this and a bit of that.“ (Quelle)
Anfang April besuchte er uns in Leipzig. Tina und Dubbalot hatten die Möglichkeit, einen Tag nach seinem Auftritt mit ihm sprechen zu können, um mehr von dem ihn umgebenden Universum zu erfahren.
IT’S YOURS: When you left Bad Company, did you have a plan, what you want to do next?
dBridge: I think, starting a label was always a plan – already at the time of Bad Company. I just knew, I wanted to continue making music, that was the only real plan I had and the best way for me to do that felt like starting my own label. That was pretty much the main plan.
And did you feel like you needed a new sound? Were you bored by what you did before and wanted to start something new?
Yeah, the direction Bad Company was going at that time, that wasn’t really me. It wasn’t what I was feeling musically. I didn’t feel that any of me was getting through with the group. And at the time as well I didn’t really know where I wanted to be, because in terms of being a part of such a mainstream group the whole scene just felt really disconnected from it. I didn’t like it musically, so I wanted to find a new direction and I kind of found that by going down to the Swerve club nights by Fabio and listen to people like Calibre. I kind of felt more at home on that site of the world than I did with the mainstream. So that was searching for the new sound.
So with your label you wanted to go back to the underground?
I always – not really strive to – but end up there in a weird kind of way. Drum & Bass goes up and down, good stuff gets popular, it just gets a little bit over the top and it gets overly simplified and then ends up sounding shit for me. There’s these standardized elements – we all know you can do that, but there’s no inventiveness in it. That wasn’t something I wanted to do.
It was a struggle at first: I was wondering, if I will still be accepted and also if there ever will be a scene for me, whether I would be a relevant part. I still have that worry today.
And it took a while [until Exit was successful], but it was nice to be able do the things I wanted to do and work with the people I wanted to work with as well – like Commix, Fierce or Concord Dawn. I’ve always enjoyed working with other people.
I think the other difficulty was coming out of such a successful group; especially with DJ Fresh kind of going off and doing his thing. He was getting success with RAM, he had a Headz release and got a lot of love. So people watched it and what’s he gonna do, so there was that kind of weird pressure. But I hopefully coped with it well and I kind of thought, if I stick to my guns, it will pay off eventually.
And how did you get into the half tempo sound?
I don’t know, I suppose it didn’t really come to me until the Autonomic time, but I suppose it has always been there.
We [dBridge & Instra:Mental] kind of felt more comfortable with it and other people began producing it, so altogether there was more of it. And also the crowd was a bit more receptive to it as well. We’ve literally thrown everything at the Drum & Bass crowd. I think at least my audience is okay with following me in whichever direction I choose to go.
How did you meet Instra:Mental?
Down at Swerve too, but I also wanted to meet them after I heard their thing on Soul:R. It really blew my mind. It was nice to meet someone who is likeminded. I just seemed to get on with them really well and we bonded over Jägermeister, I think. (laughs)
Yeah, that’s a special bond. And was there also something special for you working with them?
Yeah, definitely. It was quite a way to get to their studio, it was literally on the other side of London. So I had to get on the Tube every day to the end of the line, get picked up and taken to their studio, which was on an Island in the middle of the Thames. So it was always a big adventure to get there and then we got there and there was all this outboard equipment and it was just fun again. We’ve gotten used to kind of working in a box, on laptops. It was almost like they were stuck in the past, but it was good they had that approach. And it was nice as well to look around in the studio and realise, „Actually I’ve got most of this stuff.“ It just has been dotted around London, because I left it in certain places and let people borrow it. So it was good to bring all my stuff back together and up to their studio. Yeah, the period around 2007-2009 was a really good time musically with Autonomic and where that took us. Really good time.
You did the Autonomic Podcast and also a label called Autonomic. Did you do the podcast just to promote the label? What was the connection between the both of them?
Not at all, we actually did the label because people got on us, cause they wanted to have the tunes. So we realised that we have to release them. We kind of did envisage releasing a lot of stuff that we made for the podcast. It just never really happened and I am kind of glad in some ways, cause the podcast is a slice of history which I like. Good solid 12 layers and we didn’t like overdo it or water it down. I enjoy listen back to it and I can’t even remember half of the tunes.
I talked to Damon (Kid Drama from Intra:Mental) the other day, because someone started to upload some unreleased Instra:Mental tunes and there was a lot of the stuff, that we’ve done together, that I’ve completely forgotten about. And I literally went through my hard drive and found a lot of these great tunes, that still haven’t seen the light of day and hopefully never will.
Speaking of hard drive, is there any connection between Autonomic and your new podcast series HeartDrive?
I think there is kind of, it’s a connection between me and Damon at the core of it. You see Al (Boddika, the other half of Instra:Mental) isn’t there, but I think it’s again our interpretation of it. Some people maybe thought Autonomic was something else and they tried – and that’s the same with all music – to deconstruct it and reverse engineer it and then thought, „Oh, Autonomic is these snares and these sounds and this kind of thing.“ But it’s not really about that. Me and Damon talking and looking back it’s more about emotion, friendly competition and pushing each other musically, fucking with rhythms and trying things out. So I think the emotion and the connection is definitely there. HeartDrive has parallels to Autonomic, but what we created there is hard to even try to repeat. Damon and me just wanted to work again together, so that’s probably the core of it and this is what we’ve come up with. Just the fact we were both involved will always give it that sort of sense running through it.
The work is different though, because Damon is based in Australia half the time so we’re getting used to working without being around. But I’m liking what’s coming out of it. I really enjoyed the third one, there’s some really good stuff on it – the Module Eight stuff. But for the next one we’ve set quite a little a challenge for ourselves. So I’m looking forward for the next one.
And Boddika didn’t want to join?
Boddika is doing his own thing. I know that Damon and him have been talking – I am not sure if they make any tunes again but maybe. I think he said something that was like, he will never do Drum & Bass again, so he is not allowed to come back. (laughs) No, of course he is. I’m sure that in time, if he’s around, it will happen. It’s hard to say something like, „I am not gonna do that again.“ It’s just his talent at that tempo, so I’m sure, he has done some stuff that he has never played to anyone, secretly he is probably making a lot of it.
Now that you are making the HeartDrive podcast with a lot of new tunes as well, are you going to revive the Autonomic label to release some of them?
Not at the Autonomic label, but we’ve got something in production. We did in some ways regret, that a lot of that Autonomic stuff didn’t come out, so we are doing our best to get the HeartDrive stuff out. I don’t want to say too much, but we are working on it. They’ll be available this year.
Exit Records is a phenomenon I guess, there is not really a straight line or a certain style, but it’s always upfront and always the new stuff. If you look at Alix Perez and his album release on Shogun compared to his release on Exit, it appears to me, that he kind of changed to fit into that „Exit thing“. But what is that „Exit thing“ and how do you create that?
My approach is to ask people to built something for me, if I like their music. Occasionally it happens that I hear a tune and I want to sign it, but more often than that, I hear people’s tunes and then ask them to built something for me specifically. I almost feel like I get the best work that way. The Perez EP for example: I think he wanted to make his own little statement as well, coming out of Shogun. He is a talented guy and he just wanted to try different things and I’ve always liked his stuff so I was glad to give him an outlet for that.
It’s the same when I ask people to do albums. I don’t get involved in terms of directions or anything like that. I just want them to deliver the album, that they want to release. Because being a producer myself, I don’t like the idea of someone telling me how to make my music, so I wouldn’t feel right to do it to someone else. I am fuzzy, but it kind of works that way. In terms of the label we’ve gotten into lots of different directions, but I think through that the main thread is my taste, I suppose. It’s the extension of the music I am into. I think that’s the ethos.
A lot of labels have got kind of a sublabel. Are you maybe planning to do „Entry Records“?
(laughs) No, I’ve kind of had that because I had Exit Versus and then I had the Aptitude series. And I’ve got another label project, but that kind of feels like when you have something that’s almost not good enough to go on this label, so you put it on this one. And I don’t like that idea.
And if you just have too much stuff to release at the same time…
If it gets to much, the Mosaic albums kind of covers that for me.
Is there another one to come?
No, because… uhm, maybe I need to think about it. It could be. (laughs) I’m actually collecting quite a few things and it could very well be.
Last year there was also a reunion of Bad Company, wasn’t there?
Yeah, sort of. Almost.
So how did it feel to get back together?
Honestly, it felt strange. I wasn’t sure about it. And when Fresh pulled out of the project, I nearly decided to not do it, just because it didn’t feel right. But I kind of committed and he literally pulled out in the last minute.
It was fun though. It was good seeing people’s reactions. It was a reminder of those old days. People going batshit crazy to the music and it was weird listening to them because production wise they don’t really stand up. The mixdowns are awful.
Yeah, but it was like all those tunes together in one condensed hour – like a power hour of Bad Company. It was good. They’ve tried to repeat it, I had offers to do more of it. But it doesn’t feel like something I wanna do. It’s not a direction I really feel I need to go in. It’s always a part of my life. I’m definitely proud of it, but I don’t want to bring it back in any way. I don’t feel there’s any need for that.
So you wouldn’t do it again?
No, I don’t think so. I don’t really need to, I think. Because I’ve got so much going on with my own stuff, with what I wanna do, working with other people on other projects that’ll be hopefully as big as that. I don’t really feel the need to go over old ground like that.
For example you also have a Techno project called Velvit…
Yeah, I’m still trying to work out if it’s Techno or House (laughs).
When did you start it?
I think a while back. Even when working with Instra:Mental. Because that was always something they were doing as well. So probably around 2007. We’ve always dabbled, but I was never comfortable releasing it. Only in the last two or three years I felt comfortable enough to release it and in the last year to DJ under that name as well. I’m still finding my feet, still feel like I’m making mistakes and still ain’t sure, because I’ve been doing Drum & Bass for so long and I know it so well. So it’s exciting and I like that kind of fear and unknown, but I just don’t wanna piss anyone off – especially myself. I don’t like the idea of making a tit out of myself. I’m encouraged by people like Marcus and his Trevino, but he’s always had the love for House and Techno and I don’t pretend to know a huge amount about the scene, but I know what I like and I know the music that I don’t like, so all I’m trying to do is my interpretation of it. I’ve been getting some love.
And I got this other project with Radioactive Man called dBRm. We’ve had a release on Craig Richards‘ label. We’ve got a follow up coming up, just finished it.
I just enjoy making music really – I think that’s the bottom line. It would be nice, if I could kick it all under one name, but it just tends to confuse people. It’s good, I’m enjoying it and I’m looking forward to see, where it goes.
And how ambitious are you about it? Do you want to push it more?
I think in some ways and as I get older, I do. Cause the crowds a little bit older. It can be hard work sometimes with Drum & Bass. The thing is I’ve got a lot of projects going on and sometimes I spread myself too thin, but it’s definitely something I wanna pursue. At the same time I got this thing called Binary Collective, I got the HeartDrive stuff, Module Eight, all these things, that I wanna do and pursue. So it’s almost like it depends which one takes off in some respect. The HeartDrive feels important to me. Me and Damon we have some ideas what we’re wanting to do and how we want to present it as well. And he’s the same with his Jon Convex thing as well. I think we can explore both worlds and see what happens.
Then again you’ve „only“ made one album so far. Are you too busy running a label or do you like sticking with singles better than making a LP?
No, I’ve been trying to finish my second album since 2007. It’s weird, I don’t know. I think some of it is fear. It’s that old difficult second album syndrome. And a lot of the stuff is me singing on it as well, so it just feels a lot more personal. But it’s almost like the content of what I’m singing about, it’s not really where I’m at at the minute, because it’s been so long. So it doesn’t feel like it’s representing me as I am now. Will, my label manager, he’s been like, „You just need to pull your finger out and get it done.“ And I suppose in some ways having Exit makes me not have to. I mean, I put out other people’s music and all these other things and all these other projects I’m involved in. I think probably the main thing – it sounds sad – but it is fear. Cause the stuff is there, but don’t wanna hear what anyone’s opinion of it is.
If you have a very personal relation to it it must be hard to put it out there, I guess.
Yeah, it is. Cause I’m a bit of an Emo at heart, so some of the songs there are quite „Ugh, cheer up!“ There’s a side of me that just wants to put it out without any fanfare or anything like that: Just put it out, so it’s out of the way. But I sit on the Internet as much as everyone else and you get infected by what people say. There’s this fear of like – I don’t suppose it’s rejection rejection – but yeah, I don’t know. I have to do it for the right reasons I think. I’ve written the album and I’ve written it as is. It was for me rather than for everyone else.
Maybe I just need to let go. But that’s always been my biggest problem: letting go. I’ve got a lot of tunes and hardly any of them ever come out.
We’ll see. I’m not gonna commit to this year or anything, but hopefully soon. Cause I’m dragging it out now. So it’s been 8 years, that’s a lot. I’m sorry. (laughs)
And what’s coming up the next months? What are your plans?
There’s a lot going on this year. There’s a lot of parties coming up, a stage at Dimensions… So the next is Stray EP, Fracture EP, Calibre EP, Chimpo, Skeptical EP and then album. I’ve signed a couple of other albums. There’s the Binary Collective album which is me, Jon Convex, Consequence and Joe Seven. Joe Seven’s written an album, which is really good. That’s ready. There’s the HeartDrive stuff, there’s a project called Module Eight. Somewhere in all of that I need to release some music as well. So it’s a lot. It’s nice to be that busy and it’s nice have that thing that far ahead. There’s a few new artists as well who are working on some tunes for Exit and I’m just at the moment pulling together a really interesting album project as well, so I’m looking forward to announcing that. Hopefully that’s started getting made in the next couple of weeks. There are some cool people involved in that. So yeah, a lot going on.
Thank you very much for the interview.
No worries, thank you. I appreciate it.