Didn’t see this one coming…
Or perhaps you did?
Serum, Voltage & Bladerunner’s currently unstoppable Kings Of The Rollers project has been a major highlight at some of Hospitality’s biggest dances in the last year. Hospital also released their first official production Burnt Ends on Sick Music 2018 earlier this year. The signs were all hiding in plain sight, and it’s an exciting prospect…
The biggest independent drum & bass label, not known for this type of riotous rave-ready D&B, is now backing one of the most influential and heavyweight fusions in drum & bass right now. This is massive for the label, Kings Of The Rollers and every single one of us as lovers of the music.
We caught up with all three members to understand how this unlikely pact took place… And what happens next.
Congratulations! I think this might surprise some people?
Serum: Thanks. It’s definitely a different angle for them and us. They’ve got a really good team and know what they’re doing. To work with them and have their backing and have them helping us to be where we want to be is great.
You fill a unique place on the label roster
Bladerunner: Yeah we feel like that, too. We can create what we want. We’re not competing with other people on the label. There’s a lot of freedom.
Were other labels sniffing around? Was there a bidding war?
Voltage: Yeah a few other labels were interested and wanted to hear our music and help us but the way Hospital came in was solid. They know what they’re doing and the way they present themselves and what they can offer an artist is above and beyond.
Serum: The fact they’re still an independent and have achieved what they’ve done is also a big thing for us. They cover the spectrum and have a lot of freedom, unlike major labels. You’ve got guys like S.P.Y doing his thing, more dancefloor acts, deeper guys like Nu:Tone and Logistics. It feels like Hospital artists don’t have to change what they do musically and they have guidance from the label and support to grow beyond where you are.
And throw some sick parties along the way. Didn’t all this start at the Hospitality Garden Party last year?
Bladerunner: Their parties have been excellent and I think it did start back at that show, yeah. We’ve all been seeing what each other can do in these instances. We’ve been checking out the parties, seeing how we work with the crowd and they’ve been seeing how we work as DJs.
Hospitality In The Park felt like it clicked for all of you…
Voltage: Yeah that felt like we really fit with them on that one. We are different to anything they have on those line-ups but they have their own following. You see ravers strictly at Hospitality events who aren’t at all the other raves. They have their crowd and following who have faith in who they book.
On the flipside, they must be aware of age. Hospital fans are different now to who they were 10 years ago. To put it simply, you guys represent the next generation.
Serum: I think it’s great that Hospital are developing and keeping their brand fresh instead of choosing people and grooming them to do their sound. We won’t ever sound like the biggest artists on their label so picking up on us in this way speaks to me.
Voltage: Plus events that attract the new generation of ravers have been always been massive for us and made us a lot of friends in that way. We’re supporting really new material which resonates with them.
Serum: And also classics as well, though. That balance of new and old has been received really well. Giving that history but staying focused on the new stuff. Being able to drop into a 30-minute section of Bristol classics to a crowd who are not much older than 19 and seeing them appreciate it is an amazing position to be in.
The future’s in safe hands!
Serum: Totally. Parties have been amazing and it’s great to see. Ravers are travelling a lot as well to gigs across the country to see specific DJs. I haven’t seen that in years.
Bladerunner: It’s stronger than ever. It’s just as good as it was, if not better, than it was 20 years ago.
Voltage: Musically, too. There’s an insane amount of good music around too.
Serum: From all corners of the scene. We’ve all got our go-to guys who we get music from and we all want to constantly surprise each other.
Voltage: Bladerunner’s pulling out Ill Truth bits, Serum’s pulling out Alix Perez bits and I’m playing some new jump-up bits. It’s all going in the blender, they’re all rolling. We’re still pushing the rolling sound across the board. Old guys, new guys. Old records, new records.
I’ve heard you drop Netsky in the mix. If it fits, it’s going in…
Voltage: Exactly that! We have no worries over substyles or subgenres, we’re rolling across the genre. There’s a nice shock factor, too. People don’t hear a Netsky tune with a Sub Killaz tune together in most raves. But they should because people buzz off it. We do too.
That contrast and ability to mix two seemingly disparate styles is the essence of drum & bass!
Serum: Yeah you don’t get that in house music. All mellow stuff is a genre, other techy stuff is a genre. D&B has definitely managed to say more solidified.
Voltage: More so now than it has been in years. I’d like to think that us three and guys like Randall and Benny L have stayed true to it being a whole scene
Bladerunner: it’s about finding that line between the styles like jump-up and jungle and celebrating the whole genre.
Serum: You get fans who just want to hear one thing and some promoters only want one sound but we’ve never been about that. People have said ‘you’ve got to choose your side’ but you haven’t.
That’s why you all gravitate towards each other
Serum: I think we’ve all got respect and a massive love for what’s come before us and a certain vibe and putting our own twist on it and keeping it alive.
Production-wise Burnt Ends is all we’ve had so far. So what’s next?
Bladerunner: We’re working on an EP which will come out later this year. There’s some very different things on there.
Serum: It’s great to try out lots of things we’ve talked about or had ideas about but not got round to doing. Or haven’t been able to do.
Like crossover hits or something?
Voltage: If that happens it’s because of the success of the tune, not because we’ve tried to. We’re pushing the same sound we’ve always pushed but we want to raise the levels. We can roll things out but if we take things to the next level and show people we can do more we’ll do it.
Serum: We’ve always wanted to be very broad about what kind of sounds we pull in. You can bring any element into the drum & bass template and that keeps us inspired and wanting to do something different and fresh and exciting.
Voltage: We don’t want people to pick up the EP and go ‘I’ve already heard that sound’. We want to explore things sonically and musically, we’ve bought in some new kit to play with and just want to push things at new levels now we’ve got this opportunity.
Did you think you would be taking it this far when you first announced Kings Of The Rollers?
Voltage: We’d done a few things together and we did a b2b2b set on Rough Tempo which triggered a lot of requests to DJ together. Making music as Kings Of The Rollers didn’t come to the fore until Hospital asked us about release plans.
Serum: Even at that Rough Tempo show we weren’t booked back to back, we just thought we would do it because it would be fun. We have no ideas what each other are going to play but it works and comes together. We like surprising each other. We like out-doing each other and setting each other up for mixes.
Voltage: Yeah the DJ sets are massive for that and we’re constantly vibing off the feedback from the ravers, too. Everyone is inspiring each other.
Even when Benny L is kicking you behind the decks!
Serum: Yeah, we’re all quite used to his thunder slap now. We’re actually in the process of getting an injunction order against him. Benny, you’ll be hearing from our lawyers!