Top tier tear-up tag-team Killbox have announced their second album: Divine Profits
Landing on Ram Records just over two years after their debut collaborative album Pleasure Palace, Divine Profits takes off where Audio and Ed Rush left us with their last Killbox explorations: shaking uncontrollably in the corner, not knowing what day of the week it is.
Raw, unkempt, unpredictable and punkish in its spirit, just like the last Killbox dispatch, it’s the sound of two D&B titans having fun in the studio, pushing each other and stacking up substantial zeroes in the give-a-fuck department. Just like Pleasure Palace, it’s brought together with a concept, a wry social observation and some rather tasty artwork. Unlike Pleasure Palace, a lot of it has come together during lockdown, adding a whole new mindset and approach to their operations… And even more of a broader sound palette.
Divine Profits will be released as individual tracks over the coming months. It kicked off last month with Epicentre and continues this month with Mutiny. There’s plenty more to come. Here’s where Audio and Ed Rush are at right now…
Killbox are back. This is the first new material in a good two years, isn’t it for the two of you?
Ed Rush: Yeah it’s been about two years, I think, hasn’t it?
Audio: Yeah, go back to the first version of Epicentre and it’s about two years old. We didn’t have a sort of hiatus, we’ve been writing all the time, hitting a few stumbling blocks of creativity and moments of busyness for both of us individually but it’s always been there bubbling away.
Ed Rush: It’s been organic in the way it came. It’s not really been forced, we just did things when the vibe was right. Both of us are constantly writing stuff so when we do get together there’s always a plethora of ideas to call upon. We might just take a little bit from here or a little bit from there, or maybe some projects that we weren’t quite into we can still pull some stuff from and make use of. It’s just trying to find a way to bring it all together.
Trying to find time as well, I’d imagine? In the time that’s passed, you’ve been doing loads of Virus celebrations and Gareth, you’ve launched a label. I guess finding time is the challenge. I think you do everything in real life collaborations, right?
Audio: Yeah we’ve always prided ourselves on that. It’s always been together in same room. I might tweak mixes and stuff, but usually everything comes together in the same room. Obviously that was another challenge with the pandemic. There was a time when we were getting our heads around that whole situation. For a while making tunes wasn’t top of the priority list was. Making sure the kids are fed and there’s money in the bank was the main thing. Unfortunately, when you’re working on a big project, you’re not going to see any returns on that for a long time, especially if you’re not gigging, so we have had to go back and forth online a bit more than previously but it feels good to have done another body of work together.
Ed Rush: It was also about finding new ways to try and keep the keep the creative juices flowing in these new times. I found personally like a lot of my inspiration would come from gigging at the weekends. I’d go out on the weekends, or be at a party with my DJ friends, and I’d hear new material that would give me inspiration in the studio. Basically trying to capture the vibe I’d felt when I heard it. Not having that on a weekly basis now really changed how I found inspiration.
This aspect of the production process during lockdown is entirely unique and fascinating. The whole process of a track, from inception to WIP to the stages of roadtesting you’d do, or your peers would feedback if you’ve given it to them on dub…. None of those physical processes are there right now. It makes production a lot more conceptual.
Audio: Yeah totally. If I’m if I’m honest, it’s probably been really good for me to have this whole break and get away from that mindset because I do sometimes concern myself too much with what other people are doing. Not in a negative way but you engulf yourself in that sound and you put pressure on yourself to sound relevant and current and sometimes that focus can push aside your artistry. Now I’ve come out of that once I got into the swing of it I got loads done. I got so many tunes, so many remixes. And it all feels fresh because I’m not listening to anyone else or out at raves. I’ve not listened to promos for months.
Have you ever, in your adult life as a DJ, had such a long break without checking new music?
Audio: Never ever ever. The very idea of doing that would terrify the shit out of me. But it’s been great. I feel like the stuff I’m writing is really what I want to do is not influenced by anything else. I really miss not being able to play them out but nothing can be done about that. It’s about appreciating the new mindset.
Ed Rush: And the way that the way that people are accessing the music now, because they’re not raving, has changed too. And I think that affects the way that you write it, too. You can take it slightly deeper or it doesn’t have to be so dancefloor or hard and rinsing. This gives you a bit more scope to being a bit more creative and maybe push things in directions that you wouldn’t normally do so. It’s like wiping the slate clean and pressing reset. We’ve all gone back to finding our own personal ways of finding inspiration.
Totally. That fits in with Killbox anyway – you set this up as something completely free from your roles as solo artists. There’s never been that pressure to be the best because it’s always been about two mates having fun…
Audio: That was exactly it. The reason we started it was because we got on, we had a laugh DJing together, had some great sets back-to-back and wanted to do more of them. It made sense do to make a body of work; we both have a vision of how we want things to sound and look like. We both love the creative process and things like naming tunes and the artwork. So in that way it’s very serious for us but in more of a creative way.
You mentioned track titles. Divine Profits is a nice satirical one…
Audio: Yeah it’s a snapshot on society really, and all the bullshit. When you brush the bullshit all aside, it’s all just what it looks like. Me and Ben do what we do because we love it. We couldn’t not do what we do as artists. We make music because we fucking love it. But not everyone comes from that honest place. There are people who do things for the wrong reasons. I’m not just talking about drum & bass, I’m talking about everything. Every industry. There are people that take advantage or just blatantly copy an idea and exploit it and they shouldn’t be in the position they are.
Taking it back to the music, you can hear that a lot in drum & bass. For every innovator there are hundreds of clones….
Audio: Mate, when all the foghorn stuff came in like it was like a fucking herd of cattle running from one field to another. You can see all the producers just running for their foghorn presets. I got nothing against foghorns, but the few who were doing it really well should be left to it. That’s their thing. You do you.
Ed Rush: I think it’s part of human nature, though. We have this herd mentality and as humans we seem very into following trends. That’s why fashion exists because we are. We want to feel like we’re part of something, part of the popular sound whatever it might be at the time. It happened with Pendulum years ago. They came along and, all of a sudden, everything for two years sounded like a Pendulum record. It’s the nature of the beast. And I think if you’ve been in a game for a while, or you have a true artistic integrity or a vision, you can sidestep that and channel those influences but in your own way.
I would say that Rodan has a little foghorn element to it. More in a turbine kinda way. It’s like having your head stuck in an engine on an airplane or a million motorbikes revving in your brain. And I think that’s like the ultimate foghorn in a way. Like a drone, which has been part of tech-based music forever.
Audio: Oh yeah I agree. And it didn’t just blast a horn then have a minute’s silence then blast the horn again and do fuck all else!
Ha! Are you always in album mode when you get together a Killbox. Or are you always building a body of work that could potentially become an album?
Ed Rush: We just write music whenever we get together. The first time round we were getting together weekly, then it became bi-weekly. We’re just trying to be as prolific and productive as we can be while also being responsible for other aspects of life like being dads and running labels. But we got to a point where we realized we had enough for a second album and that changes your direction when you’re studio because you know not all the album has to be dancefloor so it opens other creative doors.
Was there anything you wanted to develop or improve from Pleasure Palace?
Ed Rush: No not really because each album has its own journey. Once you decide on the concept, then you can zone in a little bit and make it feel more conceptual. Once we came up with the idea of the stained-glass windows for this one we had a bit more of a vision of what we wanted to do and geared more towards that direction. Before that, you’re just getting ideas together. But once the album is in mind you can try different things and stray a bit further from the dancefloor.
Audio: I think the older I’m getting, I don’t want to necessarily want to have everything always at your throat. We’ve spent years making really very aggressive music so it’s quite nice now to flex and put different hat on.
So the third Killbox album will be folk music?
Audio: Yeah, we’ll go acoustic, get the drum kit out….
That said, Divine Profits doesn’t sound like you’re mellowing with age at all!
Ed Rush: Yeah, I think that’s just the music we’ve both been drawn to from the beginning. With our separate careers as well. Anyone who knows us will know we’re always pushing in that direction but it’s more about the approach and how you keep excited. You can’t do the same thing over and over again. I’ve done lots of things at different tempos that probably will never see the light of day but they’re good exercises to do and often lead to other ideas I put into drum & bass tracks.
I know you did a bit of house music a few years back. Not sure if it was anonymous or not…
Ed Rush: I did! That was something I enjoyed doing. It’s nice to put your head in a different zone. And then as a result of that, you end up with a slightly different sound palette for things. Like using house stabs in a D&B track, for example.
Awesome. How’s the album being released? Track by track?
Audio: Yeah either monthly or six weekly. We’re just gonna keep it consistent. We’ve handed in the first six and we’re just buttoning up the last six or seven tracks and keep on building it up. When we release the full package there’ll be some special little things in there and there’s some artistic stuff that’s going to tie everything in is just ridiculous. We’re really excited about that.
Awesome. So in a way it’s still work in progress?
Ed Rush: Yeah. And over the time we’ll write new things as well, which might change things. We’ve actually just finished a collaboration which will add a whole other dimension to the album.
Audio: We literally finished it this week and it’s a proper vibe. It sounds like an old Virus record to me.
Ed Rush: Or maybe No U-Turn but for 2020.
Sick! I’m wondering who that could be. Same generation as you?
Audio: No no. New guy and a good friend of ours. It’s been a long time coming. We’re saying nothing, you’ll have to wait and find out…
Killbox – Mutiny is out now on Ram Records. Watch out for more Divine dispatches over the coming months