Destination Bristol: home to more drum & bass events, labels, DJs, MCs, vocalists and artists per capita than any other city, town or hamlet on the planet*… Including Intrigue, officially the city’s longest running event.
Established January 2003, the brand has been representing consistently, championing the full range of deeper and soulful drum & bass styles for 19 years as an event and for 12 years as a label.
Now fresh from their weekly lockdown streams – hosted in true trooper fashion by label founder Ben Soundscape and partner in rhyme, time and crime Collette Warren – they’ve been back in IRL form since last summer and will be celebrating their anniversary in style with a heavyweight VA album Intrigue 19 and birthday party at the city’s famous boat-turned-club Thekla.
The event takes place on February 18 with LSB, Doc Scott, Commix, Dazee, Myth and Cybin while the album drops a week later on February 25. An annual tradition for the label since 2014, the ninth Intrigue VA LP features exclusive cuts from the likes of Myth, Objectiv, Zere, Creatures & The Skeptics, ZeroZero & Peas, Mosaic, Dazee & Collette Warren, Stereotype, Tephra, Kathryn Brenna & Bazil MC and Amante.
Singles from the album are set to drop from Jan 14 kicking off with Ben Soundscape’s – Seize The Day, then Cybin’s Consequences on Jan 28 and finally Myth’s – Defiant on Feb 11. We called up the Soundscape for more details on the album, the label and his thoughts on the changing face of drum & bass culture’s most fabled and influential cities outside of London.
*Almost definitely probably
Intrigue 19! Tell us everything…
Intrigue 19 is a various artists album to celebrate 19 years of the Intrigue club night, which started way back in January 2003. I’ve been releasing these albums yearly since 2014, and the latest instalment is one of my favourites as it really has something for everyone. It represents quality drum & bass, right from the deeper through to the darker sound.
We’re bringing some brand-new names to the label alongside artists we’ve been working with for a while, and the level of production on all the tracks is super tight. A total of 13 sick tunes from Cybin, Myth, Objectiv, Zere, Creatures & The Skeptics, ZeroZero & Peas, Mosaic, Dazee & Collette Warren, Stereotype, Tephra, Kathryn Brenna & Bazil MC and Amante, alongside an Accelerated remix of R1C0 and a track from myself. Massive big ups to all the artists involved!
Lots of familiar Intrigue faces on the album but tell us about the freshest members to the family…
I wanted to reach out to some newer artists to Intrigue to switch things up a bit and bring a bit of a heavier sound to the album. Dazee is a Bristol legend and I’ve wanted to involve her for a while, she made this banger called You Wish with Collette which is perfect for the album. I’d been speaking to Jay Myth for a while about doing something, and he sent in Defiant, another banger. We’ve also got Bristol’s ZeroZero and Objectiv making their Intrigue debuts, both with more soulful tracks than they are normally known for. We also welcome Zere for his debut Intrigue release, all the way from California. I thought it was really important to involve some new names to keep the project diverse and interesting for the listener.
You mentioned this became an Intrigue tradition a few years back, what inspired it?
It started back in 2013, I’d been speaking to my distro (big up Rico @ SRD) for a while about doing an album. I was getting sent a bunch of really good demos at the timeand thought a various artists compilation would be a perfect way to bring them all together. We discussed making it an ‘anniversary collection’, and originally we thought it could mark 10 years of the club night. But it took a year to get everything together so ended up being called Intrigue 11! The first one went down so well I decided to make it a yearly release to tie in with the night’s birthday. Every year I’d add a track until last year, when the album had 18 tracks. This year I decided to make it a standard length album with 13 tunes, as with the longer albums I felt some tunes were getting overlooked.
Totally. 19 years is a long time isn’t it? What have been the biggest changes for you as a label over that time?
The main change was the transition from vinyl to digital releases. When the label started back in 2009 we were focused mainly on vinyl, but unfortunately within a couple of years vinyl sales had really started to fall across the scene. So we decided to focus more on the digital side and only do vinyl occasionally. This has worked out well and in the last year enabled us to release more music than before, thanks to the quality of the tunes being sent in and that the costs are a lot less to release on digital than the vinyl format.
Also on the party side, you’re the longest running D&B night in Bristol… What have been the biggest changes in the city from a D&B point of view?
One of the main changes since we started is there are a lot of nights representing different styles of D&B now. Back in the day it was just drum & bass, now we have many more subgenres and there are nights that cater for all of them, which is a really good thing. We’ve also seen the return of label nights in a big way too, with promoters teaming up with labels to rep their sound. Look out for Intrigue collabs with Shogun, Dispatch and Metalheadz coming soon!
Intrigue adapted to the pandemic and continued represent via streams throughout the challenging times… What was it like to bring it back to IRL dancefloors when you could last summer?
It was incredible to come back to real dancefloors back in July last year. We’d all waited so long and the atmosphere was unreal when we came back. Our first event was a Shogun collab and it went off – packed to the rafters with amazing sets from Pola& Bryson, GLXY, Monrroe, GEST, Visionobi and Linguistics, as well as all the room 2 crew. Thekla is an amazing venue too so it was great to be back on board the boat!
Yeah Thekla is legendary! So what else can people expect from the label this year?
After Intrigue 19 we have a bunch of killer singles and EPs coming from Objectiv, Dunk, Lurch, RoyGreen&Protone, Creatures, Accelerated, Michael E.T., The Skeptics and myself. I’m gunning for at least one release a month provided the quality is there.
What do you hope to see more of in 2022 in general?
I’d love to see more smaller venues open up in Bristol. I miss the days of being on the same level as the DJ in an intimate venue. Big up the Dojo crew! I’d also love to see more crews working together – we’ve worked with some great people in the last year and you can really achieve a lot more working together.