There’s a special sweet spot between neuro and breaks that remains relatively under- explored…. That dark dynamic and ludicrous send of weight, but slowed down so your brain can take in all the details, it’s a sound that’s often touched on by artists (often on experimental EP or album tracks) but seldom followed up or developed. Until now.
Say hello to Symbiotik, a brand new label that’s set up specifically to be a home to this ‘neurobreaks’ fusion. Founded by AKOV and Screamarts, both of whom have reputations in experimental pastures beyond the drum & bass sound they’re both best known for, the label collective also includes Glitch Shop founder and fellow kindred spirit Pluvio. It launches this week with two killer collabos: Tartarus and Biogenesis. We asked the trio some questions to find out more…
AKOV & Screamarts – what a collaboration! How far do you go back? How deep do you go?
Screamarts: Alex and I met for the first time at an Austrian festival a few years ago but it wasn’t until more recently after that he invited me over to work on our first collaboration.
AKOV: Yeah, it wasn’t until 2019 that Marv’s music hit my radar, but it was clear to me through his music that he had a methodical and professional approach to his sound. I wanted to know what it was like working with him so hit him up for a collaboration.
Screamarts: The first couple of sessions we had together were very fruitful production-wise and we discovered we have a very similar workflow. We just started doing more and more until we eventually also started hanging out as friends. I think the reason why we started making music together is that we had a mutual respect for each other’s creativity and something just clicked. When we write music together we both bring a lot to the table like a symbiosis. Our first finished track Disfunktion led to my signing on Eatbrain, so I will be forever thankful for that.
AKOV: I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Marv has an inhuman work rate which is a big part of why he was my first choice to start a label with.
Haha, yes! So how did Symbiotik come about? And what can we expect from the label?
AKOV: I’ve always toyed with the idea of fusing neurofunk with breakbeat, starting with my bootleg remix of Leftfield’s Phat Planet back in 2014 and always had the intention of making more tracks like that. I got so caught up in neurofunk, though, that it never came to fruition bar a couple tracks here and there. Fast forward six years and we’re locked down in a global pandemic. I had no pressure anymore to keep putting out D&B so I finally just sat down and started writing whatever I wanted.
Shortly after, the remixes for Droptek’s Revolver and Pluvio’s Renaissance materialised. The latter was actually how I got in contact with Rew and realised he shared my musical vision. I really like how both remixes turned out and that’s when I had the feeling that I’m onto something. So, a few weeks after the remix came out, I contacted Pluvio and said, ‘Hey wanna start a label with me and Screamarts?’
Pluvio: Interestingly enough, I had always considered Alex to be the only one who dedicated himself to the neurobreaks sound, compared to other artists that just dropped the token track here. So when he agreed to get involved on a remix I was pretty stoked. This interaction sparked the conversation about the lack of weight behind the genre and subsequently resulted in Alex inviting me to join him and Marv to develop the label. Since then we’ve begun to gel as if we’d been doing this for years, even though I’ve only been chatting with them for a couple of months now – it’s a pretty dope experience.
Screamarts: Yeah, Alex called me this random afternoon and just straight up asked me if I wanted to start a label with him, not a phone call you usually expect to receive! Of course I agreed, I always wanted to start a label but it didn’t seem feasible without a team, now we have that team! Since Alex’s pitch was for a non-D&B label or at least one that isn’t D&B focused, I was excited because I think most producers inevitably branch out musically at some point but never find a home for these tracks. This label will be mutually beneficial on a creative level and hopefully will be so for the larger scene as a whole. All three of us are excited for what neurobreaks can be and hope that some people feel what we do and we can inspire more artists to make this kind of music.
Pluvio: When you think of breakbeat you most likely think of The Prodigy and Stanton Warriors among the more successful pioneers of the genre. Or, on the other end, a whole slew of cheesy 2000s-era rave music. But we wanted to capture that energy in a heavier context. Although this fusion has been explored by some of the greats in the past, for instance Noisia with their recent Collider from Outer Edges, Culprate’s Phantom, and even a decade back, Joe Ford particularly inspired us with Distilled. What we want to do is actually commit to this sound and explore the possibilities of a heavier take on breakbeat.
AKOV: I find it fitting that Drum and bass started by speeding up breakbeats and now that it’s had 30 years to evolve, we’re slowing it back down to its original tempo but with a heavier and more modern sound.
Yeah true. The production now allows things to slap at that tempo more. Tell us about Tartarus and Biogenesis.
AKOV: After we agreed to start a label, I invited Screamarts over and we wrote, recorded and mastered both tracks in four hours and then went on to make another two the same day. That’s how much pent up inspiration we had in us. Partly fueled by the feeling of being frustrated from labels turning down our more creative offerings, and partly because the writing process was very familiar to how we make D&B. It has all the same elements, just slower.
Screamarts: The creativity was so crazy these past couple of days. I always bring my latest sound design , drums, FX, basses, breaks etc to the sessions and Alex has a similar approach, so we had a lot of sounds to work with already, one project was a D&B one we changed, while others were ideas that Alex already had and we made a full thing out of it together. For the first time in ages we were pumped about making something new. Tartarus demonstrates our collective vision for what we want neurobreaks to sound like perfectly. It kind of wrote itself through pure excitement and a feeling of freedom.
I love hearing non D&B works from artists who are best known in D&B. But I do worry this is the start of you two fading backwards into the hedge Homer-style and disappearing from the realms of 170. What are your thoughts on this concern I have?
AKOV: I imagine the result will be quite the opposite, when you don’t feel trapped in a genre, you’re more likely to bring other inspirations back into the genre and have fun making the music again. So all my drum and bass offerings are likely to be more creative than ever going forwards. So don’t worry, we are by no means hanging up the D&B, but this is definitely a transition into a more varied chapter of our musical lives, both live and in the studio there will be a healthier balance between D&B and everything else.
Screamarts: D&B is very important to me. It will remain my main focus musically, but to be part of an ‘old made new’ type of movement, and to have the freedom to experiment with something new that I think especially D&B heads will enjoy is very exciting. To expand on Alex’s point, it’s definitely helped immensely with writers block which I haven’t really experienced that much lately, and this is something I struggled so hard with in the past.
Yeah I hear that! So you’ve mentioned neurobreaks and I just want to quickly highlight your influence here Pluvio as the man be hind the old label Glitch Shop. Glitchhop is responsible for influencing so much cool stuff that’s happening now. Things like the Music Squad came from the Neurohop forum and Inspected are always pushing the boundaries and effectively came from that glitch melting pot 10 or so years ago. What are your thoughts on this and do any of the aesthetics or approaches from the glitch hop style have any relevance to Symbiotik?
Pluvio: The Neurohop forum certainly paved the way for artists to start exploring obscure genres with neuro influences as it was inspired by Ammunition Records sister label Caliber (circa 2012) which was established to home these experimental neuro tracks that weren’t specifically D&B. I think that’s partly where the relevance of its role lies to inspiring Symbiotik. My background has been rooted in these explorative genres, Alex has always featured experimental tracks on his EPs and Marv has been creating dubstep and house under the name Mylo Fane. Between us we’ve started to utilize our expertise in these fields to push this relatively unexplored marriage between neurofunk and breakbeat. It also perfectly describes the symbiosis of the label, which is where these two worlds collide.
Screamarts: Glitch hop has always had a profound influence on my music. Especially Koan Sound and the early Joe Ford slower tempo stuff really inspired me to experiment with sound design. (Still does to this day)
AKOV: Yeah, I remember discovering Joe Ford on Ammunition, he used to be called just Ford back then. His glitch hop was very influential. I often regarded a lot of the artists experimenting in those areas as a complete god tier of creative, a class of their own.
So what comes next on the label and how frequent will the releases be?
All: We will be releasing singles with A/B sides primarily, aiming on a monthly basis after our debut release. Our main goal at this stage is to release all the material we are sitting on up until January and establishing the sound of the label. No one really knows what neurobreaks is yet which is kinda nice cause we get to make the rules. We’ve experimented with quite a few different moods on the forthcoming tracks and it’s exciting realising the possibilities the genre opens you up to.
Are you looking for artists and demos?
All: Yes, absolutely! Starting January 2022 we will be accepting all demos to our email email@example.com.
As long as the artist submitting the music has paid attention to our vision for the label then we will give it a strong consideration. We’re hoping this label will become a home for all artists who feel they don’t have an outlet for their weirder and wonderful ideas.
What else do we need to know about you three and your label right now?
All: It’s impossible to tell what the future holds when trying to do something new, we’ve hit the ground running though and we’ve been challenging a lot of artists to step out their comfort zone and have a go at neurobreaks.