Dubstep’s current rude state of health has been undeniable throughout 2019 with a whole new wave of sounds, ideas and fusions coming into the mix. The output on Truth’s label Deep, Dark & Dangerous this year is just one example of how rich 140 music is right now as slew of next generation talent have all dished out triple-D heavyweight releases this year.
Khiva, Shlump, Distinct Motive, JLeon, Samba and Angelic Root are just some of the artists they’ve supported on their label this year, along with their own material which has been ramping up in the last few weeks. Both their remix of Shlump’s Alien Technology and Robot Society have dropped since late November. Now they’re dropping Risky. A devilishly dark and dangerously funky piece of work to sign the year out, it comes complete with their own addictive retro style video game where the highest score by the middle of January will win a massive Truth merch bundle.
Elsewhere in 2019, the duo have had an equally bountiful year. They gave us the powerful Pixelated Pixie track for UKF10 – Ten Years Of UKF album, dropped a disgusting quartet of leftfield funk-ups on Wakaan with their Unexpected EP and extensive toured their dual New Zealand / North America locations, including their first full domestic Deep, Dark & Dangerous tour of New Zealand and Australia.
With the promise of more Truth original material and plenty more rudely healthy designs from their ever-growing DDD troupe in 2020 we called them up to look back over their last year of the decade and see what’s coming next…
Been a strong year for DDD. Loads of wicked artists on the label this year…
Tristan: Yeah we had a lot of great releases from guys like Samba, Distinct Motive, Shlump, Khiva. Some really cool new artists have joined us too. Guys like like Jleon, Angelic Root and Wraz. We’ve focused on putting a lot of effort into next year and it’ll be even more intense.
Dre: It’s been great to bring through a lot of new artists and just the sheer amount of great music that’s come to us has been amazing. The sound itself is popping right now in terms of the quality, production, the amount of people around the world. Guys form Japan, Norway, Canada, west coast, east coast, places in small Midwest cities. It’s crazy how far and wide the sound has reached and how much good stuff is coming. Lately it’s been like ‘I want to sign this this and this’. We’re fussy bastards too; we have a specific thing we’re about and a flavour we want to push with the label but lately it’s been awesome and made our job a lot easier.
I think that’s reflective of health of music in general isn’t it? You’ve released some far-out stuff too. Tracks like Distinct Motive’s Itchy Fingers and Khiva’s Butterfly Effect.
Dre: It’s a special sound we’re looking for. I’m glad you mentioned Khiva’s Butterfly Effect, that crosses some amazing boundaries for me. You got those jazzy 20s, 30s sounds then that incredible drop. It’s got so much character and has that edge. She’s killed it. We’ve captured that with a lot of these new artists. Like Angelic Root for example. He’s a new guy, we’ve just dropped his EP, he’s only 21 but it sounds like he’s straight from 2006 or 2007. It’s like a raw foundation sound.
Tristan: I think the scene has a whole has taken influence from a lot of places. UK guys like Rygby and Lord Jabu who are using some unique sounds. Dayzero in Japan making mental shit. Sectra makes stuff with noise and crushed weird sounds. There’s a massive variety out there and it’s very experimental.
Super healthy and super global…
Dre: It’s great man, it is really healthy. We’ve toured all the way through the times when people were saying dubstep is dying. There was always good music during all of that time but right now it’s like a whole new chapter and energy. Like a second renaissance. For years we’ve battled that weird anti-dubstep mentality. It went through an up-and-down history but now it’s in a nice place and none of that shit matters any more. It’s a hybrid sound, it doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s just dope music.
You did your first Deep Dark & Dangerous tour on home soil in New Zealand this year, right?
Tristan: There’s been plenty of DDD takeovers over the years worldwide, but this was our first proper tour downunder. We got Khiva and Sepia over for it, too. It was dope. It’s very underground over here compared to the States and Canada so it came with its own challenges but it exciting to see what people were interested in and to bring these shows here. Watching Khiva grow over the last three years, it’s gone crazy for her and it’s amazing to get her over at this stage of her career.
You’re helping the next generation. Who did that for you?
Dre: Mala did that for us. He was the first guy we met and we gave music too. He was the first guy to bring us over and got us to play at DMZ. We got booked for a lot shows after that night and did some big tours.
Tristan: It took us touring Europe to be noticed here! It was like local musicians weren’t taken as seriously at the time, that’s changed a lot now.
There’s a strong soundsystem culture in New Zealand isn’t there?
Tristan: Yeah it’s growing at the moment too. The Subtle Soundsystem is the flagship dubstep system here but there’s been a bunch of systems appear more recently. Eyes Down Sound, Roots Fire Sound. It’s interesting to watch that grow, five to ten years ago they didn’t exist in the same way.
There’s been a strong love for reggae and dub culture in New Zealand for years though, right?
Tristan: There was a famous Bob Marley tour in the 80s and a lot of things popped up around then.
Dre: A lot of reggae bands too. There was a band called Herbs who had a chart hit. And that’s stayed part of the New Zealand sound with bands like Salmonella Dub and Fat Freddy’s Drop and Katchafire Bands like that set it up so when dubstep came in it was ready to go.
Let’s talk about your music this year. We copped Pixelated Pixie which has loads going on in it. Those triplets…
Tristan: Yeah it does have a bit of a different vibe. The intro’s got that double time triplet so it sounds like a weird time signature before it drops. It’s definitely on the more major key / happier vibe than we do with some of our other tracks.
Dre: It’s still dark and on the Truth vibe but it’s got that old school rave vibe that we love, too.
There’s been a nice little flow of new things from you guys in the last few weeks. Are we about to hear more?
Tristan: Absolutely, we have a whole bunch of new stuff coming up! Because we’ve been spending so much time on DDD we’ve sometimes felt Truth stuff hasn’t had as much of our attention. There’s been a lot of times where we felt we couldn’t or shouldn’t do both. But we’ve worked out a way so we can continue releasing Truth stuff regularly but also run the label regularly as well. We want to be able to release music by artists we love and our own stuff.
Dre: We’re stoked about Robot Society. We made it and got it out super fast. We made it in August, tested it in Outlook and Shambhala and got it out quickly. We got the artwork done, got it to the mastering house fast, I think we’ll be doing a lot more of that release flow. We’re doing singles with full artwork and a lot of energy and promoting it like it’s an album. When we dropped Robot Society people thought it was an album!
The more you invest in those details, the more it cuts through the noise and shows you’re committed to the music. It’s not a throwaway DJ tool…
Dre: Yeah we’ve got some exciting ideas about want we want to put out around each release. We have a game for the new track Risky. A fully original Truth game. It’s a throwback 80s arcade thing with amazing pixel art. A kind of Missile Command vibe. The highest score will win a really cool bundle of things too.
Dre: We’re so stoked about it. We want to do more stuff like that. Stuff outside the box. Different ways to celebrate and highlight the music, do things differently and keep ourselves and Truth fans excited. We’re really excited about what the new year and new decade brings…