Piquing the interests of cherished scene players such as Artificial Intelligence and Rockwell, Thread has been doing all of the right things to get his slick style noticed.
Moving to Bristol from Warrington, a small town between Liverpool and Manchester, Dan’s primary focus has been to completely submerge himself in drum & bass and jungle culture. Which – alongside his love for creating soul-drenching drum & bass – has reaped exceptional results, scoring the release of his debut EP Deep Cold on the mighty Integral Records.
There’s something different about Thread. The depth, the tone, the vocal samples. His work is captivating. After featuring in our ‘One’s To Watch for 2022’ list, we were keen to have a natter with the man himself, to discuss his consistent trajectory into the scene. Oh… and his studio session with Justin Bieber.
Dan, talk to me… where are you from? What is being a human being on planet Earth like for you?
It’s good! I’m from Warrington, which is a little town in-between Liverpool and Manchester. I moved to Bristol about five years ago to get a bit more involved in the scene and to network. I’ve ended up getting a job working in recruitment too, which I really enjoy! I love living in Bristol, there’s such a huge music scene here.
Yeah the d&b scene in particular is LIVELY! So that was the big pull, right?
It was partly the d&b scene and partly because I went to visit a friend in Bristol and just fell in love with the city. In Warrington, there isn’t a drum & bass scene at all, but in Bristol, there are so many people that live near me that have also done the same sort of thing. They wanted to get away from their hometown and get more involved in the scene. It’s definitely helped being there. For example, I went to a show at the Thekla. Artificial Intelligence were playing there. I’m friends with Phaction so we went to meet them backstage and I was speaking with them for a while, which is how I ended up getting the integral release.
Yeah! So there are always lots of little moments like that happening in Bristol. Every time I go to a d&b night, I can always meet someone that can get me more opportunities. I’d recommend Bristol to anyone that is in the same sort of situation I was in in a small town where there’s not much going on. Definitely move to Bristol and network and meehttps://open.spotify.com/track/2cmiqycIZ9vRKDK8zvr2hi?si=01e380a600594891t all the heads.
Dan, what first got you hooked on drum & bass and how did your love for the scene progress from there?
My brother is a producer who goes by the name of Subdue, he started showing me drum & bass after getting into it at University. I knew a few of the tracks he was showing me from artists like Chase & Status and Pendulum at first, but that was it. Then, the first proper gig I went to I saw Rene Lavice and Spor in a dingy, intimate little club in Liverpool. I went there with a mate and instantly just loved it. I fell in love with the whole thing, the sound-system, the vibe. It kind of snowballed from there. I feel like with drum & bass you’re really into it, or you’re really not. You get this addiction to the scene.
You really do. How about your production?
I was in bands for years before I moved to Bristol. Whilst I was discovering drum & bass, I was also at University studying music technology in Huddersfield. I started testing the waters there. Obviously, at the start, the stuff I was making wasn’t great, but I feel like, over time, I started to get to grips with everything and enjoyed experimenting with sound design techniques. I also worked in a studio in Liverpool for over a year where bands like the Blossoms and The Coral came in. I ended up taking any chance I could to use their studio. So during that year, I spent all my time watching these engineers mix and master these bands. I’d absorb and note down their techniques, and what plugins they were using, and then use them for my own tracks when I got home. Around that time was when I wrote my first track. I remember showing some mates and they were like ‘oh this is quite good!’. I spent about one year on this particular track. I made other bits but knew that tune was the one to put out.
So when it comes to your production, do you have an aim? Is there anything you’re trying to say with your music?
It’s not completely thought through, whatever I’m feeling on that day is usually what I make but with my liquidy sort of stuff, I’m just experimenting with sounds and going until I hit a certain vibe. If I get a shiver down my spine, I’ve done something right. I just keep on going until I get to that point. I think it’s important to make sure that you don’t settle for something boring. Keep going until you hit that vibe. With my heavier stuff, in a way, I throw everything at it. I like experimenting with distorted sounds, resampling stuff, making interesting synths. I’ll spend quite a lot of time on the mixdowns too. I have two completely different ways of making music, a vibey side and a more experimental, heavy side. In a way, working like this keeps writer’s block at bay.
Do you feel like it’s common for new producers to settle in terms of finishing a track, as they assume they’ve reached their potential, rather than pushing through to get to that vibe?
I think in a way, it’s a time thing. I think people fall into the trap of making something that sounds decent and then running with it. Whereas, if you keep going that little bit longer, you may be on the brink of making something amazing. Something you’re truly happy with. I think a lot of producers want to make as much music as possible, when that’s the case, you do just need to wrap something up and move on. It’s a weird one. I’ve made tracks that are a bit boring and I’ve sent them through to people and they’ll be like ‘…there’s nothing really to latch onto’. So yeah, most producers have made those tunes but I think it’s just realising that ‘ok that one didn’t have much of a vibe, but I’m going to work a bit harder to really capture a vibe on this next one’. I think the key is finding a good riff that captures people’s attention.
Something that gets stuck in people’s heads. There have been a few big names in the scene that have been bigging you up recently. Is there any particular camp that tickles ya pickle or specific artists that you’d love to work with?
I’ve been quite fortunate that I’ve released on Integral which is one of my favourite labels, everything they put out is fantastic. All of the artists on there are amazing. There are labels like Overview aswell that I like. I have a track incoming on a VA with Overview in the near future, which is really exciting. It’s good to finally be working with those guys after being friends with them for a while. Gemini Gemini too, Halogenix’s label. Love their output and of course, huge fan of Halogenix.
In a bid to help others starting out in the music industry Dan, what nuggets of wisdom would you share with those wanting to get into the scene?
Put the hours in and never stop making music. Even when you have writer’s block or you’re going through a bit of a creative drought, don’t be disheartened. We all go through these blocks. Keep going and power through, you’ll get through to the other side, even if it takes a few weeks. I’d also say, don’t rush things. There are some people I’ve met that will say ‘I’m releasing on this label – they’re only small though’ but that’s absolutely fine. As long as you believe in what they’re releasing, it’s great to work with small labels and also labels that are at the same level as you in their experience. You can work up together. A lot of people think that you just shoot up, but if you look at the scene, there are very few people that went from zero straight to 100. Most people have done their time and grafted hard for many years before getting noticed. It’s a long process. If you want to do it, you need to be in it for the long haul.
We’re finishing off with a random fact about yourself Dan! What have you got for me?
I once assisted on a studio session with Justin Bieber, met him in person, and bought him a Chinese and a Subway! The subway that we bought him, he ate half of it and left it in the fridge for about a month. No one wanted to throw it away just in case it was worth something.
Ha! Smart move. People are weird ay…
They really are.