2016: non-stop manoeuvres from Derby bass kings Drumsound & Bassline Smith in every direction.
Production-wise they’ve shown their broadest breadth ranging from shimmering vocal gold of Catch Me Here to some furious firepower on Playaz, V and their own label.
Label-wise Technique has delivered consistently throughout the year with at least two key releases every month courtesy of a global squad that ranges from Kronology in the US to Spectrem in Australia and many many others in between.
DJ-wise it’s the same intense level of activity as they represent in three levels: internationally (as standard), locally as they help to rebuild their hometown’s club culture and online with a weekly Facebook live stream that regularly pulls in tens of thousands of drum & bass lovers.
As they close the curtain on the weird year that’s been 2016 with this year’s Technique Annual, we caught Simon Bassline Smith in a reflective mood.
2016 According To… Simon Bassline Smith
“Whatever it is – if it’s DJing or the label or production, there’s one message: We don’t like just one style – we like the whole thing. We love the liquid, we love the dark neuro stuff and everything in between. We’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t.
But some years it’s easier to express that than others and while I’m listening to demos from the artists we’re developing on the label and when I’m putting my sets together I’ve got this great feeling that I can play everything, anywhere, any place. I don’t worry about playing certain things in certain places and that’s a great feeling because it’s not always the way – sometimes you get eras where a certain sound is dominating and you don’t feel quite so free to be as representative of the whole scene and know the crowd will be with you.
Another thing I’ve noticed this year, which has been really exciting, is that the older guys are being recognised and acknowledged a lot more. Randall’s attention has been long overdue and it’s great to see. The same with Frost and Bryan G who have had an amazing year with V. You’ve also got your Digitals and Spirits and Total Sciences. All these incredibly important people are really getting the attention they deserve.
But what’s even more important is that alongside them you’ve got all these new guys coming through and labels like Eatbrain killing. The SASAS thing has really blown up this year, too. They’re showing their demand by the number of sell-out shows they’ve done. The balance is very healthy. People are looking at what they’re putting in, they’re looking at the bigger pictures and getting a scope of how far back this scene goes and how deep our roots are.
Then on the flip you’ve got the pop guys like Sigma. And while their stuff isn’t everyone’s bag you can’t deny they’re representing drum & bass on an entirely different level and bringing it to new fans and new ears. This is really important as we move forward.
One interesting development for us is our live stream on Facebook. I started a few tests, just five minutes here and there and noticed people were checking it out. So we thought ‘okay let’s go to the next level’ and have done weekly streams from August. The figures have gone mad – you can see regular listeners, you can see the banter, they’re asking details on the music which is really exciting to educate people. It’s our own radio station. It’s personal – you’re in their living room.
I think that connection with people is important. We need to know we’re not all divided. It’s been a weird year and the whole world seems socially unrested. I think it’s mainly economical frustration but it’s come out in other ways. People want change – they think this is the way, they’re told this is the way through propaganda. As much as Facebook has been amazing from a live stream point of view, you can see how dangerous it is and the type of things people are saying and sharing politically are quite scary at times. I have to take it in slowly, digest the information and make decisions on what’s best for me and my family and my people.
Go back to the late 80s and there were events happening around then. A lot of people were suffering and the rave scene came through that – it was a need for escapism. Among all the trouble and strife people still need an outlet. So it’s important that we fight to keep our culture in order to offer that escape.
The Fabric situation reflected this, too. We’re trying to escape all the pressures and circumstances we’re under and they even took that away for a while. Society, politics, youth, art – it’s all intermixed. So to see Fabric reinstated was encouraging. It was an example for everywhere else. We’ve lost so many clubs here in Derby but luckily there’s one new one that we’re working hard to re-establish and develop that club culture.
Politics, youth culture, music, art – it’s all been entwined for a very long time. It’s a melting pot. People say that the club culture is changing and that people don’t want to go out in that way any more and I honestly think that’s a poor excuse – we had club culture in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s… That’s three generations at the very least. It’s down to us not to accept that there shouldn’t be.
Youth need an outlet and a way to release the stress, enjoy themselves and express themselves. Without club culture there’s no dance music industry. It’s not the same Europe or America where they’re opening clubs. We seem to be very isolated in this country and one of many things I’d like to see in 2017 is someone from my generation with enough experience, understanding and influence to get into a position of political power and make our voices heard. A lot of people making decisions are so far removed from what’s actually going on. It’s a complete disconnection.
This is why it’s more important to make a connection musically than ever before. This is what we’re diligently working on with the next generation of artists we’re helping to develop on the label and with everyone who’s locked into the shows and coming to the club. Thanks for being with us in 2016… 2017 is going to be even better.”
Watch out for the long-awaited Odyssey VIP early 2017