Well this escalated quickly…
Serum, Voltage & Bladerunner only announced their signing to Hospital last April. In fact they’ve only released one EP and a few compilation tracks on the label so far… But all that will change on April 26 when their self-titled debut album drops.
17 tracks heavy and featuring the likes of Chimpo, Redders, Bassman, Lydia Plain and their main man Inja, it’s a whole new level of regicide as the popular trio begin to express the same musicality and variety with their productions as they always have with their epic DJ shows. If you’ve seen them play recently you’ll already be aware of this as tracks such as Mammoth, You Got Me and The Sky Is Falling are causing serious damage in their sets right now.
They’re not the only ones causing damage… To make this auspicious moment in their ever-escalating rise even more remarkable, our favourite regal roustabouts have also enlisted some of the most impressive b2b2b sets we’ve ever seen for their Royal Rumble tour. We called them up for more information…
Album! Didn’t think it was going to happen so quickly?
Serum: It was already in the process when we were signing. We were writing tunes while the deal was being finalised but we did have quite a pressing deadline.
Was there a different mindset when writing the album? Did you file tunes specific for it or did you consider everything you wrote?
Bladerunner: Everything we made, we had the album in the mind.
Voltage: Especially once we had the direction and vibe in mind. Everything was totally album focused.
Serum: In that time, I don’t think I did much solo stuff at all. We also needed it to have its own vibe and not sound like any one of our solo records which I think makes it more adventurous as a result
Bladerunner: There’s still a piece of all of us is on there but in a different way
Serum: It took a life of its own as well. It wasn’t a continuation of anything we’d been doing together in collaborations or as individuals. We’d had that one track out, Burnt Ends, which people thought was our sound. Everyone was like ‘okay Kings Of The Rollers’ are just about foghorns. But we actually did that track pretty quickly from one of Voltage’s ideas. Now foghorn rollers are style apparently. But yeah, we had to set it straight that it’s not all we do.
Voltage: Mammoth is the only tune on the album that does that kind of long note thing going on. But even that’s a different vibe.
Serum: We also wanted to be more musical and have more variety than just bangers.
Voltage: Definitely. We’ve done more musical intros than we’ve done before. Dev (Bladerunner) has done some great ones in the past anyway, but together we’ve done some ones I’m really happy with.
Bladerunner: We’ve found a way of working and an approach between us that really works together and brought the best out of what we all do I think.
Serum: Totally. We’ve also had the added challenge of not using samples.
Voltage: That was a mad challenge to be honest. You get that roughness and dirt from samples so we’ve had to work out a way of recreating that.
How do you do that?
Voltage: We can tell you but we’d have to shave off that beard of yours.
Serum: You know when you sheer an animal and it looks all tiny and weird? That’ll be you.
That will literally be me. I look five without a beard.
Serum: I’m bringing a Gillette to the next gig you come to!
The best that man can get! Back to the album… There’s a much wider sound that I think will surprise people with tracks like Tisno and The Sky Is Falling.
Serum: Yeah people have posted clips of these tracks and have already been surprised when they’ve found out that they’re ours.
Voltage: We’ve been trying to put a different angle on what you can do with intros and vocals in drum & bass. The pianos on The Sky Is Falling were played by the singer Lydia Plain. Things like that show a lot more expression in the intro but without that clinical feel.
Serum: Also with vocalists we didn’t want a pop sound. There’s a lot of great singers out there but they have a very modern, clean sound. We wanted something more ‘out there’. We’ve also got our regulars like Inja and Bassman. Bassman’s wicked because he sounds like a sample anyway.
Let’s big up Chimpo and Redders too….
Voltage: We wanted to work with guys we knew we could build the vibe with but, like Mark said, we were also wary of working with the same MCs and vocalists that appear on a lot of other albums. We just want it to be different and have our own sound and vibe.
Were there any moments where you surprised yourselves during the process?
Bladerunner: Yeah there was a moment when everything clicked towards the end and it started to all come together.
Voltage: We were making the Bassman tune, Shaolin Technique, and we were like ‘fuck! That reese is going to tear people’s faces off!’
Serum: It was actually based on a sound from my very first release. I took it, twisted it and turned it into something different and that was kinda the vibe of the album; we’d start with one idea and end up with something completely different by the end of the track. It had mutated as it went along.
Voltage: I remember when we finished You Got Me. It was as total different tune to what we started with. It turned into a monster
It really is a monster! I’ve heard you play this a few times…
Serum: I’d say that was the first real big tune off the album that we started playing out and DJs were asking us for. That and Sky Is Falling. It’s been really nice to see that and build the tracks up a bit.
So with the Royal Rumble tour as well, there’s a lot going on right now!
Voltage: Yeah it’s been hard work, won’t lie!
Serum: Hospital push you. We’re used to making a tune and releasing it. But these guys work on all kinds of ways to get the records out and the music out there. We’ve all been working on the line ups for the nights, all the imagery and marketing and promotions. We finished the album a while ago, but the hard work goes on. It’s exciting and exhausting.
Bladerunner: I had no idea how much went on at this type of level. It’s been really interesting, actually. We’ve learnt a lot.
Give me an album low… Maybe your own in-house royal rumble scrap?
Voltage: Not really, I’m happy to say. We all understand compromise and know that if an idea of ours isn’t working we have to let it go and move on. The fact we can all do that pushes any ego out of the way.
Bladerunner: We all want to get the job done and keep making new tracks. All three of us have that type of drive. And we’ve worked together so much we know how we work.
Serum: We’ve been working together for so long, if it wasn’t gonna work I think we’d have known before now…
Back to your actual Royal Rumble, those b2b2bs tho….
Voltage: We’re well happy with them! We’ve gone outside the box with the combinations and believe we’ve managed to pull it off.
Yeah that one with Need For Mirrors, Bailey and Krust…
Serum: Yeah I’m looking forward to that one. Krust is on fire with his selection at the moment, Need For Mirrors and Bailey are sick and dark and twisted. I want to stay and check that. I’m not taking any more bookings that night so I can stay and check it.
These dream collabos are the type of thing messy 7am sesh talk is made of…
Voltage: Exactly! And the fans most likely to have those sesh chats are the new generation who’ve just come into drum & bass and are so into it and eager and crying out for stuff like this. It’s sick to see.
Bladerunner: We just want to bring out the best in the sets and the styles of drum & bass we love. That’s what it’s all about.
That’s wicked. And the DJs are all into the idea too?
Serum: Totally. I saw Frost the other day and he was hyped about the show.
Who’s the special guest with him and Bryan Gee?
Voltage: We can’t tell you that!
Serum: It’s almost like you want to lose that beard…