Some labels change your life. Their message, sound and energy is so strong it draws you into its own world and helps to characterise your own tastes and where you stand in the endless, bottomless oceans of music. Labels you resonate with personally and musically. Labels you trust with every release. Even if you don’t know the artist, you know it’s coming from the right place.
We’ve all got them. And for Amit, one of those labels is Doc Scott’s 31.
“I’ve always considered both the label 31 and Doc Scott as a DJ, as major influences,” admits Amit who’s largely cited as the originator of halftime and was last featured in this site two years ago when we celebrated 10 years of his seminal album Never Ending. “I remember hearing his sets and thinking that he always played what he wanted to play, regardless of current trends. Because of that his sound was always fresh and progressive. His sets were an education session in ‘dark and moody’, a sound which has always been right up my street. No happy numbers.”
No happy numbers. But the arrival of any 31 release in Amit’s world as he began to cut his teeth as a young junglist definitely did make him happy.
“I used to work in this record store in Slough called Ruff House Records. I was 18 and if a 31 promo came in, no one else got it,” he laughs. “I’d go home, listen and educate myself. I learnt a lot from those early Artists in terms of how they delivered themselves. They created and based everything on their influences and as such, their pieces were unique to them alone. You can look at the run of early releases: Digital, Marcus, Scott… they were the early pioneers. They set a precedent in terms of the quality of jungle and drum & bass. This was a special period and these artists stood out so clearly that you could easily identify who was behind each slate without checking the label. As the years went on and the genre became more widespread, it became more difficult to find these truly original voices.”
This is why Amit’s debut on 31 is a pretty significant deal. His first release outside of his own AMAR imprint since 2013; Red Flag / Form & Dictate are nod to some of his earliest jungle influences while slapping you senseless with that thunderous Amit dub sound. In fact the release so significant to Amit, he requested the original 31 artwork was used for the release…
“I’ve always had a great dialogue with Scott,” explains Amit. “He’s one of those people who always gets back to you and is very honest and supportive. I created this release with 31 in mind and right from the beginning, I already had a vision for what I wanted the end product to look like. I asked Scott if we could use the old artwork and put it on a 10”. This made so much sense to me as I was finding myself as an Artist when those early releases on 31 were being issued. It felt only right that my first release on 31 should have the same look.
This sounds less complicated than it was IRL. The original 31 logo designer John Black had long since lost the font and graphics and a high res version was impossible to find. Eventually they recruited Singapore artist and designer Kiat – a man behind the artwork for many Metalheadz and AMAR releases – who manage to recreate the logo down to the last authentic detail.
“I don’t know how he did it, but he did,” grins Amit. “You can’t tell the difference. He’s one of those talented artists who can trace a font back to its roots like a producer might be able to hear a sample and know where it’s come from. He did an incredible job. It’s exactly how I wanted it to look – dubplate culture, clear vinyl with a modern element. It’s future nostalgia.”
For added nostalgia we asked Amit to salute his most influential 31 releases. Get to know:
Nasty Habits – Shadow Boxing (1996)
This was so different at the time. Built on minimal elements with maximum effect. It was a very powerful release and I’d say that shaped a lot of people’s creative direction, witnessing and hearing it in clubs. So simple but it works. Music doesn’t have to be overcomplicated.
Marcus Intalex & S.T Files – Neptune (1999)
Neptune is an amazing and beguiling piece of work. Obviously the A-side How You Make Me Feel grabbed everyone, too but this was a personal favourite. Minimal bass, Detrit techno influences, that gradual evolution.
Digital – Deadline (2000)
This checked so many things for me. Everything you can say about this record has already been said. Absolutely seminal and still entirely relevant to this day.
Marcus Intalex & ST Files – Love & Happiness (2001)
Marcus’s work was so important to 31. So important to drum & bass jungle. Every slice was a breath of fresh air. One of the most forward-thinking artists there was regardless of any label he’s worked on. You can always tell the Marcus cuts. They stood the test of time and you can hear he knew exactly what he wanted to do. He was a visionary.