2015: The year in which Friction firmly cemented his position as one of the most talented DJs in the scene, developed his weekly Radio 1 residency into a must-listen for D&B fans all over the world and oversaw his label as it added a fine selection of releases to its timeless back catalogue.
There aren’t many people more integral to the D&B scene than the Shogun Audio boss, and as he reflects on the year just gone, it seems that his plans to make next year even bigger are well in place – that includes releasing an album.
We spoke to Friction about next year’s projects and how 2015 panned out…
2015 According To… Friction
“This year has been hectic; I’ve been writing lots of new material lately and I’ve toured more than ever over the past twelve months. I played in Japan, China, Africa, America, Australia… pretty much everywhere! The best place I played was a festival in Johannesburg set in a shipping yard on a dock, it was such an amazing show and a wicked crowd. On home soil, the best festival was probably Glastonbury for the live Essential Mix, that was insane.
“I guess I’ve had four jobs this year… DJing, producing music, presenting a radio show and A&Ring Shogun. It is difficult getting it all in at times but it has to be done. Simple things such as not taking my phone in the studio can help massively; social media can be such a distraction these days. Some people have been saying it’s more important than the actual music this year but I definitely don’t agree with that; just look at two of my favourite producers, Break and Calibre – they’re non-existent on social media and continue to be two of the best in the game.
“I’ve really enjoyed doing the radio show this year. Filling Fabio & Grooverider’s shoes was always going to be a tough job and it’s taken me a while to really get confident with it but I feel like I’ve finally made it my own show now. Playing tunes is always easy because there’s always good D&B being released but really feeling at home was a bit more challenging. It was nice having Tony Colman (London Elektricity) on the show a day after the sad passing of Diane Charlemagne, they were very close and he did her a brilliant service.
“In terms of my production, last year I did quite a few remixes but this year I haven’t had as much out. I guess Freak was the focal point of my year as far as releases go. I didn’t even plan to release it but started to end pretty much all of my sets with it and the reaction it got was so strong and provided such a feel-good vibe that I just had to get it out there, luckily people seemed to like it! To be honest I’m just totally geared up ready for 2016, I’ve got a constant stream of music to come…
“There are a few releases already lined up and I’ve got an album to come at the end of the year. I think I may need to take some time off DJing because I’ll definitely need a break at some point. I guess my career has gone the wrong way round; I DJed first and then learnt how to produce as time has gone on. I’ve always known my way around a studio but in the past I was never someone who could engineer and produce a track from nothing, but now I can. I remember working with Camo & Krooked about five years ago on ‘Stand Up’ and being blown away by how technically good they were in the studio – that was a real wake-up call.
“It’s been a great year for Shogun, finishing with the Rockwell album was brilliant. That album exceeded everyone’s expectations and highlighted how gifted he is in the studio, just in case people needed reminding… Next year is jam-packed with releases; the likes of Fourward, Joe Ford and Karma are going to take everyone’s heads off, I can’t wait for their stuff to come out! The scope for those lads, as well as quite a few other newcomers out there, is really exciting. We have another new signing to announce in the new year as well which I’m really hyped about. Resurrecting our Shogun London parties was a big thing this year too and our events game is looking stronger than ever for 2016.
“In terms of D&B as a whole, I think it’s been a really healthy year. Quite a few of sub-genres really popped off which made it so diverse; there’s been great liquid music, great tech music, nice dance-floor stuff… it just feels like it’s in a good place. There’s been a lot of talk about whether D&B getting regular radio airtime is healthy or not this year and in my opinion, any attention brought to the scene is a good thing. What I’d like to see next year, however, is some D&B that isn’t massively commercial get on a radio playlist – something a little bit different that doesn’t follow ‘the formula’. A few of the D&B tracks that get played on radio are just pop songs, let’s be honest…”
2015: Friction’s soundtrack
“His album, Forest Hills Drive, came out at the end of last year and I’ve been listening to it on repeat this year. He’s probably my favourite rap artist of 2015 and was really good when I saw him live.”
“They make really chilled future R&B and they’ve been my go-to artist when I’ve just wanted a bit of time to take a breather this year.”
“I’ve been listening to Obsolete Medium for the past few years as Rockwell has played me bits throughout its production and I can still listen to it now and think it sounds fresh which shows how well produced it is. Seeing it make it into Billboard’s top 10 albums of 2015 recently was amazing and a great way to end the year.”