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Annelies Rom

Q&A

In Conversation with 1991

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In Conversation with 1991

1991’s career has accelerated since we last spoke with him two years ago, when he had just released his debut album, ‘Odyssey’. Anno 2024, he has been touring with fellow WORSHIP artists Sub Focus, Dimension, and Culture Shock, and recently signed a record deal with major label Polydor. This resulted in exciting releases like ‘Worlds Apart’ and ‘Horizon’. The record deal gives him the freedom to explore new sounds and tap into different inspirations. 

“I might hear a rock song and start to wonder what that would sound like if it was drum & bass. I like to take that musicality and put it into a dance floor vibe,” 1991 explains. His remix of ‘Perfect (Exceeder)’ by Mason vs Princess Superstar is a perfect example. He recently returned from his third US tour with WORSHIP and toured New Zealand and Australia earlier this year with Hybrid Minds and K Motionz, so 2024 is shaping up to be a busy year for 1991. We had the chance to catch him for a chat, and we chatted about his inspirations, where he’s going, and how he has seen drum & bass changing over the past few years. 

Hi 1991, how are you doing? 

I’m doing great. It’s been a really exciting year so far! About a year ago, I started talking to Polydor, the major label, and they were really interested in signing me. Since then, I’ve just been doing a lot of writing. They signed me in the summer, and ‘Horizon’ was the first single I released with them. I’ve just been in the studio and in writing sessions a lot of the time. All of that music’s starting to come out now, which is really exciting. It’s all going down really well. I feel really excited. I’ve got a new single coming out around mid-April with Cameron Warren on. That one will sound completely different from anything I’ve ever made, so you can say I’m feeling inspired at the moment. 

Where do you get your inspiration from?

A lot of things inspire me. My upcoming track has some rock elements to it. It feels like a late 90s early 2000s kind of track. What really inspired me to tap into this sound were genres like French Electro, and UK acts like Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy. I’ve got a real mishmash of inspirations. My Spotify playlist is the most random playlist in the world, and everything is in there. You’ll find some SZA, Sleep Token, lots of house music, Steve Lacey, and some Lil Yachty even…  Loads of different inspirations.

I also listen to drum & bass, but mainly when I listen to all the new music that I get sent or what’s doing well in the charts. I also listen to people’s mixes because I want to hear what people are playing. But if I’m hopping in the car or when I’m walking down the street, I don’t tend to listen to D&B very much. I just don’t get much inspiration from it these days. When I started out, I was super excited to listen to drum & bass all the time; that’s the main reason why I started producing. I still love the genre, but it’s not the main thing that I listen to. My Monday to Friday is working on drum & bass and working on my DJ sets, so on my time off, I like getting inspired by other types of music.

Your debut album came out two years ago. With all of your current releases, is another album coming up?

Not for a while. The album process is slow and can be quite long. I find it a lot more exciting to be able to release singles. I could write something today and potentially have it out in one or two months, whereas, with an album, you have to write it a year before, maybe. You can’t really release anything at least six months before it comes out. You also have to deliver the album super early, so it feels a bit less fresh when it comes out. I loved the whole process of my debut album, Odyssey. It was fun to work on the conceptual idea of the album, but at the moment, I just want to make straight bangers. I want every track to be a really strong single. It feels really exciting as an artist to make something one month, and then two months later it comes. It’s a really exciting prospect because then you feel more excited about it, and it also gives me the chance to tap into different influences. You can switch it up with every single, which is really liberating. Like I said, my inspirations are so different. I might hear a rock song and start to wonder what that would sound like if it was drum & bass. I like to take that musicality and put it into a dance floor vibe.

How have you grown in the past two years?

I definitely grew a lot during the process of creating my album. It taught me a lot about songwriting and working with singers and other artists to put everything together. That feels like such a long time ago now, though. I feel like such a different person now. A lot’s happened since then. I’ve been touring a lot and have released a lot of music. I think my sound has developed a bit more, and my productions have developed a bit more since then. I feel like I’ve gotten better at everything during those years. 

Talking about touring, you’ve just finished your WORSHIP tour in the United States. In one of your previous interviews, you talked about how Sub Focus is one of your biggest inspirations. How is it to tour with him?

It’s still a weird thing for me. When I was about 17 or 18, I was getting into drum & bass, and Sub Focus was my favourite artist. I had his first album in the car for maybe a year. I listened to it so much. Now we tour together, and it’s really fun doing all the mundane things, like going out for lunch. It’s all very routine now. This was the third tour we’ve done together, but yeah, I think the younger version of me would be very shocked to see what I’m doing now.

We got to know each other because I supported him on a couple of shows. Then, in 2017, we did a collab remix of ‘Don’t You Feel It’ by ALMA. That was the first time we met, and a couple of years later, we got the same management. Now, we cross each other’s paths quite often. The WORSHIP tour is one of the things that came out of having the same management. Sub Focus, Dimension, Culture Shock, and I also have the same kind of sounds and a similar ethos about music. It always made sense for us to work together. When we did that first one, drum & bass wasn’t drawing as big of crowds as it deserved. Our mission was to try to bring new, younger audiences into the genre to support the growth of the scene, so we chose a bunch of small venues across the continent. We wanted to sell them out and put on a really good show. We did sell everything out on that first tour. The venues weren’t huge, but it was nice to see.  Then we did the second one, and it got bigger. Now, we did the third one, and it was even bigger. The comparison from this last one to the first time… It’s completely different. We’ve gone from 500 capacity to 4000 capacity. There’s a real buzz around drum & bass in the US, partly thanks to artists like Blanke, Ghost In Real Life, Savage, Reaper, Boxplot…, and I want to give a special shout-out to the ‘Carry The Fire’ tour by Justin Hawkes, Bensley, and Kumarion. It’s really exciting to see what those guys can pull off with an all-American lineup on home soil. 

How have you seen the American scene changing?

Especially over the past maybe two years, it’s really bumped up a lot, and a big part of that is that a lot of the bigger DJs are starting to play drum & bass, even the big house DJs like Dom Dolla, Tiësto and even David Guetta have played drum & bass in their sets. The crowds are really starting to understand it now. I feel like they didn’t quite understand drum & bass for a long time, but now a younger audience is coming through, and maybe through the influence of Instagram and TikTok, they’re starting to understand the music. In the US, you now go to shows, which feels similar to when you do shows in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, or the UK. It’s all been really good and exciting lately to see the scene growing.

Do you see that growing of the scene you speak of reflected in the music that’s coming out as well?

You’re seeing it even in pop music now. You’re hearing drum & bass songs go to number 1. For example, ‘Strangers’ by Kenya Grace and Chase & Status have also been really successful lately. They even won the Brit award. It’s becoming mainstream again. It’s come in waves where it’s gone to the mainstream and dipped away and then gone to the mainstream and dipped away again. I think we’re at one of those peaks right now. You can see it all over the world. Globally, it’s grown, not just in America but everywhere.

Speaking of going global, you toured Australia and New Zealand recently. How was that?

It was amazing. That was my first Australia tour, and it almost felt like what New Zealand has felt like for the past five years. It’s starting to become a really good place for drum & bass, which is really exciting. As we all know, New Zealand has been good for D&B for a long time. I  did a bunch of really good shows with Hybrid Minds and K Motionz. It’s always a pleasure to go down there in winter and get a bit of sunshine.  My ideal life would be to go there every summer, so I get a bit of sun and then return to the Northern Hemisphere when it’s summer here and go around the Earth. No winter, that’s the goal.

Any final thoughts?

Like I said before, I’ve got a single coming out in April, and then I think there’s another one in June or July. I’m writing a lot of music at the moment, so I’m going to steadily release singles throughout the year quite regularly. It feels really exciting at the moment, and I’m really proud of the music I’m making, so I feel like the fans will enjoy it. These singles are going to be packaged as EPs later on as well. One last thing I hope to do this year is to do a London headline show, which will be fun. With all the other shows and festivals I’ve planned this year, it looks like a pretty busy one. I’m looking forward to all of it!

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