2018 has been a pivotal year for longstanding UK bass label Four40.
Celebrating their seventh year of operations, during which they’ve developed a reputation for a wide variety of UK bass styles from bassline to breaks and played a role in the careers of many now headline acts including Holy Goof and Chris Lorenzo, this year has seen them pelt the dance with releases and appearances ranging from stone cold bass legends such as El-B, Jaguar Skills and General Levy to debuts from exciting freshmen such as Bakes.
They’ve also released four massive house and garage collections over the year among releases from the perennially on point likes of Tuff Culture, Kastle, Tengu, PVC and Nu Era. Plenty more is set to drop before the year is out , but first… Their Fabric debut this Friday, November 23. While The Prototypes host room 1, Four40 co founders Hybrid Theory will be taking over room 3, celebrating seven years of Four40 with the likes of Trilla, Tengu B2B Mofaux, PVC, Tuff Culture and DJ Bigoss.
Another pivotal mission for the unstoppable Birmingham bass label, we caught up with them to find out more…
Take us back to the start….The birth of Four40.
We were working with loads of guys who were breaking through but are now massive. That early bass house sound. Birmingham has always been a big bass city anyway.
Back then I was at uni in Birmingham studying graphic design and James from Hybrid Theory was working quite closely with Dezz Jones (Huxley) on a lot of bassline and two step garage records and remixes under their Joy & Pain alias. They did the first ever official bassline remix for Ministry Of Sound of Nothing Going On But The Rent. James and I met by chance at Tempest Records in 2008 and the rest is history. We both had a love for old school 4×4 garage and bass driven music which led us to form Four40. Since then we have seen artists which we worked with both from Birmingham and further afield take the world by storm Chris Lorenzo, Bondax, Billy Kenny, Holy Goof, Notion, the list goes on…
Hit us with some key pivotal moments over the years…
There’s been so many! Takeovers on DJ Cameo’s 1Xtra Show, Tim & Barry’s Just Jam, Get Darker, Sian Anderson’s show and Rinse FM. Stand out tracks like I Killed Kenny’s Lets Go was great because it featured the vocals of Jamie George and showed us how accessible vocal tracks can be. Shorterz’s Wot U Do because it was supported across the board from Jamie Jones to Lee Foss and Gorgon City. And Billy Kenny’s Work because it was supported by Shadow Child and Claude Vonstroke. Hybrid Theory’s Big Deal was a big moment for us, too…
Big up the artists!
Where do you want us to start? There’s been so many… From all the radio DJs who helped he label get under the spotlight and get more attention. Chris Lorenzo really brought bass music into the forefront and played a pinnacle part of what it is today.
Billy Kenny helped us bridge the gap between bass and the tech house scene and Hybrid Theory; when they started to drop their sample packs it definitely changed the game, there was only a select few producers that were making that sound at the time and it made it a lot more accessible for people to make.. From beginners to huge acts, so many artists used Hybrid Theory sounds. To this day you can hear the samples in so many tracks.
About that sound…. You flex from pretty futuristic breakbeat to very traditional house. What are the key things you look for that make a release appropriate for Four40?
We’re constantly switching up the sound, house, garage, bass, grime and everything in between. It’s pretty simple; if we hear something we like then we will sign it.
Bass music is in such a wicked state right now isn’t it?
It’s in a great state. So many artists and labels turning in different directions when the sound shifts. Some of the music that’s coming through at the moment is a mixture of elements from different genres. Bass and garage, for us, will always be at the forefront. But as you may have heard recently the new track we released from Vital Techniques featuring General Levy. We have music for the clubs and music for radio.
And it’s not just coming from the UK, too. Kastle killed it with you earlier this year, right? Shouts to the international Four40 crew…
Kastle did indeed smash it with his EP. The remixes from Zero FG, Leda Stray and Inkline went down very well in the clubs, too. Clarity & Greed are also new acts to the label who we are looking to work with on a regular basis, they are also based out in LA too. The bass scene is massive out there just take a look at AC Slater flying the flag high for Night Bass. It’s amazing to see.
Now you’re repping at Fabric. Tell us more…
That’s right we’re finishing up the year with a lot of big things happening. We were amazed and excited by the opportunity and of course we snapped it up straight away. We’ll be celebrating our 7th birthday down there on Friday November 23. Room 3: Hybrid Theory & Trilla, Tengu B2B Mofaux, PVC, Tuff Culture, DJ Bigoss. Expect high energy and good vibes!
What follows Fabric?
We have also got another massive record from Jaguar Skills following on from his last two singles featuring Scrufizzer and Wheeto which we are looking release early December. We are also bringing through a handful of new artists. One of them being Bakes who is relatively new to the scene which his debut EP dropped in late October.
You’ve got some albums coming, right?
Yeah we have an album from Hybrid Theory, an artist compilation from Kastle, and the seven years of four40 comprising tracks from past and present featuring Hostage, EL-B, Hybrid Theory and many more. There’s a Tuff Culture album, too, but it’s now being released over a period with the tracks being split into several EPs all containing a similar sound with a few surprises. It’s been a long time coming but we’re looking forward to getting it out!