The footnotes of drum & bass are littered with many oblique references over the years from throwing shoes to big tunas. But in its 25 year history there has been little to no reference to sofas, settees or couches.
Until now… DLR has launched his own label this week. It’s called Sofa Sound and it’s bringing comfortable multi-person furniture into drum & bass vernacular in fine forward-thinking fashion.
Adding to a highly respectable list of labels you can find his precision-produced beats on, (Metalheadz, Dispatch, Symmetry, Utopia) Sofa Sounds kicks off with two fine-tuned heads-down DLR work-outs: Ghostfish (with fellow Dispatch alumni Quadrant) and Don’t Make Sense. They’re available from October 27, they roll out in classic DLR style and they sound a bit like this…
Never one to do things by halves – this is a man who gave us two artists albums and an incredible OneMind EP in the space of 18 months last year remember – DLR is launching Sofa Sounds with a cool promotional ploy that involves us getting free stuff: Stickers and free tunes.
Here’s the deal: you send him your address, he sends you some stickers, you put them in funny (non-dangerous) places, send him a photo of said sticker placement on Insta and unlock a tune: A World That Looked The Same (a collaboration with Hoppa) It goes like this…
Later on down the line this month he’s going to give away another free tune, too. It’s all give give give with DLR right now. We needed to know more….
Sofa Sound… What’s in the name? Surely you want people on the dancefloor not lounging around on sofas?
Sofa Sound is all about the fact that when you’re in the studio, the best sound is always on the sofa! It’s also a nice reflection on how the label’s output is on the deeper side. It’s about making music which isn’t just for the dancefloor; Sofa Sound’s output isn’t two dimensional, we want its output to be more than that.
Tell us more…
So basically the sound for me is my take on traditional drum & bass conventions. In some ways over the past five or ten years I feel like this has been slightly missed throughout the genre and the core sound hasn’t been present in some music. Recently there has been a big resurgence of the original artform, this can be said a lot of genre’s, we seem to have gone full circle. When it comes to the main part of the track, if you’re not able to strip it back to the core drum & bass elements, it doesn’t matter what tempo you’re at… You’re missing the sound. I want the output on Sofa Sound to be simple and effective but always with underlying depth – that’s what the focus will be primarily on.
I want the complexity to be lying underneath a track, for it to create vibes on the dancefloor but then also creating a record which you can also take in at home. In this in particular sense I wanted it to be more along the Bristol flex; those cool samples and twisting basslines, where shit feels a bit simpler and rawer. Sonically I want to keep on going from where I began my career. Picking up all the key elements in what I do whilst omitting those I no longer think is needed, or that I don’t like anymore. I don’t want to overcomplicate the sound whilst missing core ideas. I want to perfect the technique of focusing on the simplistic idea, whilst whittling down on mistakes and honing in on what I’ve done in the past, injecting it into the label. I don’t want to over saturate Sofa Sound and I want to keep quality control strict, whilst putting across what I’m feeling.
The forthcoming track Ghostfish which I’ll be releasing on Sofa Sound is the reason I wanted to start the label. It represented everything I was trying to achieve. It’s the Ed Rush, Matrix and Optical route, a more stripped back, stepped out sound, rather than the hectic dancefloor kind of vibe. It ended up as being quite an old school, stripped back record which places a lot of emphasis on the drums. I tried to make it resonate with the music which people grew up with twenty or even thirty years before. I feel like it worked out nicely and it’s gone off at raves more than tunes which are more conventionally dancefloor. It’s with the double time high hats, groovy funk and stripped out sound which are making tunes hit harder.
Myself and Quadrant had Ghostfish for a year and a half, although the mixdown wasn’t quite right. we spent three or four months slowly but surely not overdoing it, we tried to include all the ideas and goals for the project that we had set out to achieve without getting bored of the track and still feeling enthusiastic about it. Hopefully it takes people on a journey and stands the test of time. Matrix’s older tunes are still relevant even now, ten to fifteen years later. That’s a real challenge within drum & bass these days and it’s something people can buy into mentally.
Will Sofa Sound be your own productions or will you be signing music by new or established artists?
Sofa Sound is not me stepping away from other labels. Sofa sound is about me trying to express myself as an artist and my identity as an artist whilst still honouring people like Ant TC 1, who’ve supported me up to this point. I would never leave labels like Dispatch, Metalheadz, Symmetry or Utopia behind. I have a lot of respect for them and want to continue working with them.
There are likely to be four releases on Sofa Sound this year which will be my own, as it was all about figuring about my brand as an artist. I wanted to express my identity. Starting my own label wasn’t about scheduling or the larger labels, or the whole process. It was about showing what I represented.
To begin with I wanted to use Sofa sound as a label to release my own music on. But that’s changed very quickly over the past four or five months. Through the process of releasing over a hundred pieces of music, I’ve influenced and inspired people. As an artist it’s hard to realise that. Artists like Black Barrel and Dub Head grew up on my sound and they send a lot of music to me. I’ve pushed music by new artists on labels like Dispatch, so I began to realise that I wanted those artists to be on board with me for Sofa Sound too. I would love to create and be part of it with other people. That’s shown with Collective, as for me it’s always been integral to work with other people. The main idea with the label has changed, originally it was supposed to be about me, which will still happen within the first year, but for next year it’ll gravitate more towards working with other people. I don’t want to miss out on their music. I have to honour the good music that’s sent to me.
You launched at Collective earlier this month. How’s this all rolling out from here? I believe there’s free stuff?
It was a soft launch at Collective during the summer which was really nice as it was more of a heads down affair. We’re looking to do a more serious launch in October with a live stream and an after party. We already have dates locked down in Columbia and Switzerland too.
We’ll also be launching our Instagram campaign too which will be rolling out before the labels first release. I’ll be sending Sofa Sound stickers directly to fans for them to place in the most creative places they can think of (whilst being safe!) When they send me the image and tag the Sofa Sound social pages they’ll be sent a free download for a brand new DLR & Hoppa tune as a thank you to fans. We’ll also be sending out a free download as part of a mailer sign up campaign and my first EP will be released in mid-October to the middle of November. That’s two FREE tracks incoming imminently, don’t think this kind of generosity will last forever.. haha
Sofa Sounds launches October 27 with Ghostfish and Don’t Make Sense. Here’s his step-by-step guide to getting your free stickers and download in written and graphical form.
1. Email – email@example.com to request stickers
2. DLR will post stickers to you
3. Put stickers in interesting places and take a picture (don’t do dangerous or silly things)
4. Upload picture to your Instagram and make sure to tag @jamesdlr & @sofasoundbristol but also email the images to firstname.lastname@example.org