Interview mit Spirit (Inneractive Music)

Duncan Busto a.k.a. Spirit. Für viele Leipziger DIE Überraschung bei der letzten Metalheadz Session im Conne Island. Als Produzent und Labelchef erzählt er über seine Whitelabelstrategie, warum der Kopf noch immer das beste Instrument eines Musikers ist und wie sehr ihn der frühe Reinforced-Sound geprägt hat. Ach ja, und England wird Weltmeister.

Booga: How did you experienced the Metalheadz Session at Conne Island two weeks ago?

Spirit: I enjoyed it a lot. Everyone who was there seemed to be getting into it and going with the flow of the night. It was a good lively crowd.

Booga: There are some pictures over here, you might have a look at.

Spirit: Nice, some good shots.

Booga: Everybody I talked to about the night was like: „This guy called Spirit was really great, offered some heavy tunes and mixed very smooth, I think he was more into music than Grooverider this evening.“ Does this surprise you?

Spirit: Hmmm.. dunno. I must admit I enjoyed Groove’s set a lot. It’s been a while since I heard him play and it’s good to be able to catch him for a couple of hours than the usual hour in the UK. It’s good to know that people enjoyed what I was doing though. I was getting really into it. For me it’s the 2 hour plus thing as well.. you can go through different moods and build it up and down. There’s so much good music out there. I’m definitely more into longer sets. It also always seems to work well with Rage MCing. He knows when the moods are changing and flows with it well.

Booga: In the UK the DJ’s are more limited to 1 hour sets?

Spirit: In a lot of places, yeah. There are nights around the country where there are samller, more concentrated line-ups and you can get 1 1/2 hours or maybe more but there don’t seem to be that many.

Booga: Your skills in producing bold and deep tracks are well known by Drum’n’Bass aficionados but less people consider you’re deejaying as well. From my point of view I would persuade anyone who is a promoter because I really like your style.

Spirit: Thank you very much! I’ve been DJing for a long time, gonna be close to 20 years soon. But along with that I have old DJing habits… A lot of newer people seem to be aiming for that quick mix, drop after drop impact syle but personally, I’m playing all these tracks that are 5/6 mins long so I like to give people the chance to hear them.

Booga: Do you have some favourite tracks at this time?

Spirit: There’s quite a few at the moment, always some stuff from the Tactile crew, whether it’s together or individual. SKC’s „Butchery“ is one of my faves at the moment and Commix have done a killer remix of one of their tracks for dispatch. Some tracks from Goldie’s next album, a break remix of an Invaderz track.. some wicked Breakage bits.. lots, haha.

Booga: Let us talk about your label „Inneractive“. What was the purpose of establishing your own label and where do you head at with the label?

Spirit: In the beginning it was mainly an avenue to release stuff that I really liked more on a personal level. It all began with „Memories“. It was a track I really liked and no one else was showing much interest so it was time to build a new home for myself. It’s now developed into my main outlet but it’s now incorporating music from other artists that I’m really into. This year will probably be more geared towards that as last year was all centred around Puzzle Box. Time to catch up! It also gives me a chance to work for all the other labels I’ve been promising to work for over the last year or two! If all goes to plan, there’ll be music from Heist, Tactile, Phobia, Outrage as well as some remixes from various people before the end of they year. There will still be some from myself though before I start work on the next album in about a year’s time probably.

Booga: You split your album tracks on four 12 Inches. So goes the naming „Puzzle Box“. Why do you wanted to let the buyer decide instead of releasing the album in one piece?

Spirit: These are difficult times… Financially it can be quite a big layout for a four-piece album. It gave people the chance to buy the tracks they wanted on vinyl instead of forcing them to pay more, while concentrating the full album on the CD. To be honest, the way it’s structured is how it’s heard on the CD, with the four extra tracks. Releasing a four-piece vinyl album to me is still nowhere near an accurate representation of Puzzle Box anyway. A large part of vinyl sales are to DJs these days and as it wasn’t a compilation of dancefloor hits I think it was good to give them a choice.

Booga: Yes, a good decision. And then you put four more tracks on the CD Release: „Underground Noise“, „Intermission“, „Mirror“, „Where Do We Go From Here“. But the last one isn’t a reminiscene to the rock band Filter?

Spirit: I have no idea, haha.. I must admit to never having heard anything from them.

Booga: Ha! It wasn’t meant that serious…

Spirit: Hahaha! It was designed as a kind of deep Techno/Drum’n’Bass crossover.. instead of changing the tempo on the album and doing the ‚token non dnb track‘ I wanted to keep it as a full Drum’n’Bass album but explore certain elements further.

Booga: Sometimes it is hard to get hold of all your activities. Speaking of founding new labels you are a pro: Underground Noise (3 untitled Releases by Spirit in 2003), DS LTD. (only one release as Digital & Spirit in 2003), SPCC (with Cause 4 Concern in 2005). Where are they now?

Spirit: Actually, Underground Noise will still be running.

Booga: Good to hear that!

Spirit: That was designed as a purely white label experiment. A lot of music is about names and labels. The idea was to just let the music speak for itself and try and break through those barriers. They’re all tracks I really really like, not throw away pieces I didn’t want to release anywhere else. That’s why one side of UN003 is on Puzzle Box, it was kind of the advance warning for the album. They’re also limited to 1000 of each. A reward for the peple who actually bothered to check them out, as 1 & 2 are sold out and now deleted, and 3 will be coming soon. This is actually the first time I’ve spoken about Underground Noise, maybe more people will find out about it now.

Booga: I have the UN 001 two times but not 002 – anyone interchange? Ugh …

Spirit: Hahaha! Maybe it’ll be worth some money in 10 years!

Booga: Your word in some wealthy ears, ha! The latest label joint venture is PhuturoInna: You remixed „Cool Down“ from Juju and he remixed your legendary „Moving Target“. How come?

Spirit: I’d had this idea for a while about doing split series with other labels. I first mentioned it to Klute but nothing ever came of it about three years ago, and I’ve been planning one with Dispatch… But when the album took over there wasn’t really any space for it. Then when I was in San Francisco last year, Juju asked me about remixing „Cool Down“ and there was the opportunity. I think it’s worked well and again, like Underground Noise, it’s another way to try and break that names and labels barrier. Hopefully there’ll be people who’ve bought Phuturo releases and have never touched an Innercactive release. They’ll be able to have an insight and vice versa. It’s about expanding each other’s sound to more people.

Booga: Once you said in an interview, your head is the best tool for making music. But surely you don’t make music with the same set of instruments and programs since you started with. Do you see some influence due evolved technology?

Spirit: Definitely but the basic principles are still the same. You can have the newest and best gear in the world and 100 GB worth of sounds but unless can think how to put them together it won’t help one bit. Life is much easier these days though. Recently I’ve been working solely on a powerbook and I’m very happy with the results but you can have too much. Too much at your fingertips can sometimes mean you spend more time tweaking sounds than making music with them and you can lose the direction of the idea you started with… Peope talk about the production quality of drum and bass these days. To me it’s not that important what so and so did with this filter or how so and so did that as long as the mood is right and it sounds balanced. Having said that though, software like Kontakt does give you possibilities that you could only have dreamt about ten tears ago!

Booga: So you rather assimilate the technology in your sense than the other way round?

Spirit: Definitely! The equipment is meant to be the slave to your mind, rather than letting yourself be a slave to technology.

Booga: Did you ever had a mentor while your first steps in making Drum’n’Bass?

Spirit: Not really, there were peope around but we were all close to the same level back then. Digital, Klute, it was more playing each other music and feeding the reaction back in.

Booga: What would be your number one advice for a beginner in making Drum’n’Bass music?

Spirit: Have patience! Hahaha! Actually, that’s quite serious. Talking about advancements in technology, you can own a decent home specified PC these days and be able to make music on it. And a lot of people are jumping the gun when they’re not ready. There are a lot of labels out there and plenty that will release almost anything it seems. My advice would be to seek and heed the advice of some more experienced people. If you’ve got what it takes, bide your time until that potential is being met. Don’t just jump on the first person that offers to release your music if it’s really not ready yet. If you start out on the wrong foot, it’s diffcult to get people to listen afterwards.

Booga: How would you describe the influence of Reinforced Records and their releases to you?

Spirit: Reinforced… yeah. That whole ’92-’94 sound was the golden era. It changed the face of breakbeat music forever. I think it still has a strong prominence today without people realising it. A lot of the harder stuff still uses a lot of those types of sounds and breaks. And it’s more quoted as the Metalheadz sound but really it’s an extension of the Goldie sound, which was all part of that era alongside 4 Hero, Manix, Doc Scott… The big pads and strings, the riffs, the break programming. It kind of annoys me a bit when it’s called the Metalheadz sound. Not because it not paying tribute to Reinforced but to me the Metalheadz sound is more wide-ranging. It’s almost like people have forgotten that Alex Reece, Wax Doctor, Photek, Hidden Agenda, Peshay, tracks like Doc Scott’s „Far Way“ where all an integral part of the Metalheadz sound. It’s definitely a big influence for myself but I’m also just as happy making tracks like „203“.

Booga: The reason I ask is that I became aware of certain sounds you use and were used in this time. Some example: Nasty Habits „As nasty as I wanna be“ EP from 1992 (Reinforced #1233). The spinbacks on nearly every track which you obviously like. The plug bass sample from „Let’s Go“. The fingersnap sample from „Here Comes The Drumz“ – also very nice used in „Heavy Handed“ (Timeless #029). I mean, this is truly history and you keep it alive.

Spirit: Hahaha! Yeah, the fingersnap… you see? There are probably a lot of people out there who have no idea what it is. I think is about keeping it alive but putting it into something new. The attitude of that era seems to be dissappearing too… I was talking to Goldie the other day about how back then people would do something and then feed off that and go a stage further, share the breaks around etc.

Booga: This time in Leipzig you were recognised as part of the Metalheadz camp. How do you rate the steps taken by the label the last 16 months? And how would you describe your attachment to Metalheadz after having seven tracks released there?

Spirit: I can see where Goldie’s coming from. There are a lot of new artists around and he’s been getting into a revival. The name Meytalheadz is back in the spotlight again after almost disappearing for a few years and it’s good to see a prominent outlet for some different music back again. For me, it’s somewhere I will always see myself coming back to. A lot of the older artists have their own projects going but somewhere like Metalheadz is still a base to group it all back together again. It definitely stands for something and it’s still an aim for new producers. It was like the Holy Grail of labels and personally it will hold a special place because of the amount of great music it’s released over the years.

Booga: Goldie said in an interview: „We are not commercial or any of those other people who sound very commercial and produce cheesy kind of stuff. That is not really my sound. People might like it but those people are usually kids. I am 40 years old this year. I don’t listen to kids’ music. I have grown up with this music so I listen to this music in its grown proportion.“ Would you agree since you ain’t no twen anymore?

Spirit: Definitely. I’m not far behind him age wise, haha. I think there’s more to it than that as well though. The dancefloor is the home of drum and bass but it can be it’s own worst enemy sometimes.

Booga: Doc Scott launches his new imprint „Plus30 Rec.“ next time. A further hint of the trend to make more „adult“ Drum’n’Bass?

Spirit: I think there always has been a good proportion of adult drum and bass so to speak. I just think that sometimes it can be self destructive. The emphasis seems to swing back to easy dancefloor music and that’s when you begin to alienate the people who were listening and buying it for it’s more musical content. Then sometimes all you’re left with is that dancefloor and DJ market so you have to start the grind of bringing it to other people’s attention again. It’s getting more and more difficult. Paper magazines are dissappearing fast. That used to be the easier outlet. If you can get the music press on your side then you have them championing it for a while. There’s so much music in this world that you could fill your time with stuff you already know about so it’s not unreasonable to think that sometimes people have to be told that something is worth checking out for them to actually spend the time and money to do so. The internet has it’s good and bad. It’s a free medium. There is no concensus of opinion. One site is telling you that Drum’n’Bass is great, another is telling you it’s absolute crap. With the music press you had a situation where they’d all say it was good because they didn’t want to be left out.

Booga: „Drum & Bass Arena“ released a CD called „The Classics“ this week undertitled „a 40 tracks history lesson“. Do you see a need for the younger generation to become teached like this?

Spirit: The classics… most certainly. It also has „Calling Card“ and „Phantom Force“ on it, hahaha. But seriously, that’s a big yes. It needs to be treated as music again, not just as dancefloor tools. People jump onto compilations of classic Detroit from the late ’80s, why shouldn’t they with drum and bass?

Booga: What draws you into Drum’n’Bass when you were younger?

Spirit: Probably the breaks and energy more than anything. For years it had been the late ’80s house and techno dominance which is when I started DJing. But then that sound all but dissappeared except for Underground Resistance and Plus 8. I wasn’t really into the Euro techno sound of 1990/91 except for the odd track but when the breaks started filtering in it had a funkier edge. And of course, the bass! Warp had begun the sub bass overload but Drum’n’Bass took it further.

Booga: Speaking of the bass. You and Digital formed one of the biggest bad bass teams around: Phantom Audio. Bringing the oldskool vibe to the actual sound in 1999 had an interesting and innovating approach. Did you expect the massive effect it definitely had to the scene?

Spirit: Not at all really. I think it was just well-timed. Everything had become very sterile. I think it had reached that point where technology was overtaking vibe. It was time for something more organic.

Booga: The last track from Phantom Audio I got my hands on is „Heavy Handed“. When will some more Phantom Audio stuff hit the floors?

Spirit: There are no plans at the moment. Who knows what the future will hold.

Booga: I hope there will be some more innovation coming from that shore… On the other side, Outrage represents kind of the next wave. What do you think when I say the tracks from Outrage sounds like he is a protege of Phantom Audio?

Spirit: Ha! I think his sound has become a bit more chopped up but he’s been someone who’s been sending tracks and listening to what we’ve had to say for a while now but I think he’s definitely developing his own raw sound. Breaks with attitude.

Booga: Ok, last question and thank you for your patience! Who do you think will win the Football World Championship this year?

Spirit: Hahahaha! England!

Booga: Thank you for the interview.

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