“There must be something in the water, or maybe the Schnitzel…” Disaszt
Austria is spawning some serious D&B talent right now. In fact it has done since the turn of the century.
Beyond the usual suspects – Camo & Krooked, Mefjus, Fourward, Dkay, Ill Skillz, Body & Soul – are a whole league of exciting, forward-thinking artists all exploring, celebrating and pushing their own sound. Read on to find out who they are, what they’re up to, where they’re doing it and why it’s happening in the first place
Austrian D&B: A Brief History
If you want to get super old school then Austria’s reputation for musical innovation and culture goes right back to Mozart, Strauss and Schubert. But, more recently, the lineage of Austria’s current hotbed of beats and bass talent can be traced back to the mid 90s with what was called the ‘Vienna Sound’
A melting pot beat scene fronted and fuelled by acts such as Kruder & Dorfmeister and Luv Lite Massive, their parties at Vienna’s Flex club really set the blueprint for everything that’s happening now.
“Flex Club is one of the most important clubs where D&B comes from here. It was the second living room for Kruder & Dorfmeister, it’s where they were inspired and where they played 50 or 100 times. They connected things for a lot of people.” – Rawfull.
It was trip-hop, hip-hop, beats, funk and drum & bass: Beat culture was established and everyone was connecting, forming crews and inspiring each other. It was only a matter of time before dedicated drum & bass events and labels started popping up. In terms of events, Trife Life – founded by Aziz, a man who’s recognised as one of the most important figures in Austrian drum & bass foundations – and Spaceants’ Wicked (which still runs to this day) were one of the country’s very first drum & bass promoters.
“Trife Life played the biggest role in the early 2000s. They set the agenda and booked almost everyone for their nights at Flex. Flex was one of the biggest clubs in Europe at the time – the soundystem and crowd were, and still are, amazing. It was a different world, going in there from the countryside. That grungy, ravey vibe. It was perfect and Trife Life really set the tone.” Camo & Krooked
“If I remember right, with Trife Life the whole crew thing spread all over Austria (Wien, Linz, Graz, Innsbruck, StP). Then DKay made it as producer and maybe this was a motivation or starting point for many DJs and heads to follow into production…”
“Anyway, all these crews built the scene and anointed the next generation of drum & bass heads and crews. So today, all over Austria and especially in Vienna, you still have loads of crews representing different styles and you can choose each and every weekend from different D&B parties.” – DJ ReSista
From the Junglistic Sisters (Austria’s first all-girl D&B crew) to Trife Life, which later merged into the Futurebeats crew (which comprised the likes of Mat, Body & Soul, Rawfull and the team who would later go on to promote Urban Art Forms and Nu Forms festivals and manage acts such as Camo & Krooked), the crew mindset and beat mentality still exist to this day. Mefjus, who cut his teeth with his own crew and event in the small town of Wels called Sound Symbiotic, believes this is a unique characteristic that makes Austrian drum & bass what it is today…
“In Austria it’s still very urban, it’s hip-hop, it’s skateboarding, it’s all part of the same culture in a way that’s unlike other countries.” – Mefjus
All the elements in the right place
Many cities and regions have an explosive / exciting scene at one stage but, more often than not, it subsides after the first generation has relished in its excitement. This hasn’t happened in Austria. If anything, the scene – in terms of how many artists, parties and styles are covered – has never been bigger.
“There have never been as many shows from a raver’s point of view! My Facebook is full of invitations to events almost every day in Vienna. Producers are really exciting, too… A few on Mainframe, a few on Viper, a few on Playaz. Austria continues to have a bright future for drum & bass.” – Camo & Krooked
Depending on who you speak to, the main reason for this is either the size of the country, the fact that Austria scored some massive international success at a critical development point in the country’s scene or the fact that crews are generally cool with each other and help each other out. In reality, it’s all of these and more…
“The connection between promoters and the audience is a very close one. The parties here have been going on for so many years and it seems to rapidly spread across the whole country.” – Aaronic
“Historically, this is probably due to a handful of people who passionately worked to put the music out there in every way. From the early 2000s producers like DKay, Illskillz, and ourselves Body&Soul have made their way on internationally respected (UK) labels. For Austria is a very small country the fact that some people made it outside of Austria has really boosted the scene because a lot of young bedroom producers and DJs probably thought they could make it as well. Drum & bass has kinda been made into a genuine and homegrown Austrian dance music.” – Body & Soul
“Where there are a lot of fans, there will always be a few who want to be more than fans, people who want to contribute to the scene. That was how and why we started.”– Fourward
For Body & Soul, one of the first drum & bass outfits to really develop international exposure alongside DKay and Rawfull’s Ill Skillz project, it’s all about motivation. The fact that all of these acts scored their breakthrough tracks on labels such as Bad Company’s BC Presents, Renegade Hardware and Dylan’s Freak Recordings validated their role in the scene on a global level. When DKay and Epsilon hit 14 in the UK charts with Barcelona on BC Presents, it proved that anything was possible, and that you didn’t have to be from the UK. It gave the entire scene a huge uplift… From the ravers to those who wanted to contribute more.
“Barcelona was even played on Austria’s commercial radio. It was the first D&B radio play ever over here. It really started the ball rolling. I also saw a lot of UK labels pick up international artists after they found out that a non-UK person had written it. Quite a few labels that had ignored me (because I wasn’t London) suddenly started releasing music by Europeans in the search for the next big hit.” Dkay
“Good producers give Austria an identity as a drum & bass country which motivates promoters and ravers and good parties motivate young talent even more to become good producers and so forth. Besides, and I dont think this applies to many territories, different crews and promotors try to symbiotically co-exist. Different event concepts can find their niche which is the reason the scene is very diverse and healthy here. There´s not a lot of bad rivalry going on.” – Body & Soul
And here’s where we hit Austria’s two key secrets: communication and cooperation between crews and refusal to sit in one style. From Body & Soul’s turbo-charged tear-ups to Camo & Krooked’s velvet, evocative dynamics by way of Coda & Pandora’s juicy jump-up… Just within drum & bass alone, Austria covers the full spectrum. Blu Saphir label boss Jay Rome moved from Germany to Austria because of this very virtue…
“Austria has always been very strong in drum and bass for being such a little country. I think it’s because the media and club culture in Austria have never been focused in one special genre in electronic music. As we have it in Germany with techno/house for example. There’s always a competition within the scene in especially in Vienna for bringing things forward. We have a lot of good promoters now which survived at the end doing brilliant nights nearly every week and because of that there are automatically a lot of new youngsters which are focused into the forward thinking productions and are of course very motivated to succeed. – Jay Rome
Essentially the mindset and attitude that kickstarted the scene almost 20 years ago at clubs such as Flex has set the benchmark to this day. Rawfull has been the head booker at Flex for years…
“We have the perfect infrastructure and size: the right type of clubs, the right type of people and some really good producers, DJs and promoters who made it. It’s no big secret, it’s no big deal. We’re a world city but we’re still very small so it’s easy to connect everyone from lots of genres.” Rawfull
And that communication remains no matter how big the local artist gets. Mefjus explains how when he plays in Austria he is still ‘Martin from Linz’ while Daxta attests to Camo & Krooked’s open nature…
“I think the reason why we bring out so many exciting artists is the love in the scene, you will always get an honest answer if you send a tune to any of the big guns like Camo & Krooked. I guess that helps a lot in the creative development process. – MC Daxta
Austrian D&B: The Labels
While a lot of the local success has come about through international label recognition, there are still a selection of key national labels that should be recognised. Now defunct labels such as Trickdisc, Brigand, Ill Skillz Recordings and Nasca have all played a role in the country’s illustrious 170BPM past and set the history, but these are the imprints currently in operation and dealing serious goods….
Established by Disaszt in 2008, Mainframe is by far the most renowned and prolific D&B label to emerge from Austria. Like their country’s wide-armed D&B sound, their output and artist repertoire covers every bass with brand new talent and established legends alike. A proper institution. Soundcloud / Facebook
Fresh out of Linz (Mefjus’s stomping ground), Moshbit have been dealing D&B, dubstep and all things in between for several years. With a focus on finding new talent – both locally and globally – Moshbit’s joyous unpredictability and ear for freshness has become something of a signature. Soundcloud / Facebook
Based in the Tirolese mountains, Knockout Audio live up to their name with their events and releases. They don’t put out a huge array of releases but when they do, they’re worth checking… As is their fine line of podcasts. Soundcloud / Facebook
Run by Pandora and UK-export Coda, Switch! represent Austria’s love for jump-up. What began as a monthly event in 2007 is now a full-stack operation with events, podcasts and killer releases from artists around the world. An Austrian heavyweight Soundcloud / Facebook
Salzburg crew GreenClub host monthly parties with some of the best names from around the world. Their label isn’t quite so prolific but if the reputation of their events is anything to go by it’s only a matter of time before the label develops momentum too. Soundcloud / Facebook
Established 18 months ago, December 2014, IN:DEEP is run by respected Vienna selector Phlage. Sitting somewhere in that dark, spacey pasture between Shogun and Cyberfunk, its eyes have been on the international prize since day one as it regularly releases music from artists around the world such as New Zealand’s SYMT and Germany’s Vince Grain. Soundcloud / Facebook
“Another Austrian label which we think is too underrated would be IN:DEEP and the distinctive characteristics of this label are their deep, dark and qualitatively releases. We hope that Phlage (label owner) and his imprint soon earn´s the recognition that he deserves.“ – Sepia
Representing Austria’s most soulful side, Jazzsticks is now in its sixth year of business and is a serious player in the traditional liquid movement. Fully international (like its bossman Paul SG himself), Jazzsticks is developing its own unique, international crew from Flowrian to Pulsaar to Furney. Soundcloud / Facebook
Two labels for the price of one: Jay Rome’s Blu Saphir began in 2005 and has since gone on to spawn Digital Blus. Widescreen scene coverage, releases range from soulful to savage and there’s been some legendary names on the discography too… DJ Chap, Bassface Sascha, Muffler, Submorphics and loads more. Soundcloud / Facebook
Austrian D&B: The Parties
Austria’s not shy of an awesome club, party or festival or two. While Vienna’s Flex will always hog the spotlight (rightfully too – it’s a proper ravey sweatbox with an illustrious history to match) but there’s also Bergwerk, Neusiedl, which is based down an old mineshaft and Dom Im Berg, Gratz, which is carved into a mountain (its name translates literally to cathedral in mountain) and many many many more.
Below is a list of key parties that have helped to develop, inspire, motivate and move Austria’s D&B faithful.
NuForms Festival – June 30 – July 2
From the ashes of Urban Artforms, rises Nu Forms. Organised by Christian Lakatos (Camo & Krooked’s manager), NuForms is one of the biggest bass festivals on the planet. Name a DJ and there’s a strong chance they’ll be performing at the event’s Wiesen location over the three nights: Andy C, DBridge, Dub Phixiz, The Prototypes, Goldie, Etherwood, LSB, Marcus Intalex, Ed Rush & Optical, Icicle, Maduk, London Elektricity, The Upbeats and LOADS more. In case Austria wasn’t already heaving with drum & bass, this really seals the deal. Basically for anyone not in Austria over this weekend, you’ll notice a distinct lack of D&B parties… Everyone is here! Full details.
Repping the bass spectrum across all of Austria with weekly events since 2011. Ruhestorung translates to disturbing the peace… No noise complaints from us!
Based out of Innsbruck but regularly spotted across Austria with up to two events per month, TabulaRasa cover all drum & bass substyles and have loyal, dedicated following.
A leading D&B event at Vienna’s Fluc for well over 10 years Vollkontakt rep the full spectrum every fortnight.
Proper jump-up every month at Club Auslage, Vienna. Guests joining Coda & Pandora include the likes of Heist, Jayline, Hedex and LOADS more. They also host special larger events at Flex.
One of the longest standing D&B nights in Austria headed up by Body & Soul’s Rob, Rawfull and Christian Lakatos, hosted at Flex. Future Beatz’ monthly events are the stuff of Austrian legend.
Future Beatz kid brother, Beat It takes over Flex every Thursday and heralds nothing but local and national talent. Even on a school night it’s known for selling out.
The longest running jungle night dating back to 1995 and still running to this day. Head honcho Spaceant focuses primarily on jungle and breaks and has been a permanent, highly popular fixture at Flex since the venue opened.
Another heavyweight player, Mainframe have been hosting events in Austria for 14 years. Their monthly missions at Arena feature epic line-ups and they have their own open air festival planned this September.
Celebrating their 10th anniversary, Graz crew host monthly D&B events at Postgarage, Graz, where all styles are welcome. Recent guests have included Cyantific, Culture Shock and Rene LaVice.
Longstanding crew repping the Burgenland region, Neusiedl, Pusztabeatz host monthly events in the mineshaft club that is Bergwerk.
Trommel Und Bass
Salzburg representing! Running things on Austria’s west side since 2007, the TuB crew’s monthly guests read like a who’s who in drum & bass.
Daily One Hour
Luxury liquid soul every month at Vienna’s Roxy, Daily One hour have been a part of Austria’s drum & bass fabric since 2007 with killer international guests.
Fasten Your Seatbelts
Authentic rave business just west of Vienna in St Polten: Fasten Your Seatbelts’ monthly line-ups at Warehouse are insane.
Bass events fit for a king or queen, Royal Bass host events across Austria on a seriously regular basis. They’re set to host their own two day festival this August.
“The Rockhouse in Salzburg and the Bergwerk in Neusiedl. The Rockhouse is actually an old building, built in 1842, and got changed into the exclusive club it now is, but the most notable part the Arches still remain. Finally, the Bergwerk, a club that is situated in an old mine. These two clubs really give you a completely different feeling, when going out.”– Sepia
Austrian D&B A-Z
Finally, but most importantly, the music makers. If you’re Austrian and make drum & bass and we’ve missed you out then please holler and we’ll add you to this list!
Air K & Cephei
Duo with serious stripes on Fokuz and Mainframe. Facebook / Soundcloud
Emerging on Mainframe last year, Aaronic’s picked up a sizeable following in a short space of time. “There’s a remix that I made for a French artist that will soon be announced,” he tells us. “I also have an arsenal of brand new tracks ready to be sent out. Updating the studio as well, which I really look forward to. It’s going to be a busy year for sure.” Facebook / Soundcloud
Body & Soul
Longstanding grit merchants Body & Soul are tattooed to the Austrian drum & bass landscape. With previous on Virus, Viper, BC and loads more, they actually took a break two years ago. But it seems they’re back telling us that they are “putting together some now Body&Soul stuff right now” but “can´t give any detailed information on this yet.” Ominous! Facebook / Soundcloud
Another Mainframe soldier, Break Pitt has been steadily rising up the ranks with dark rollers on the likes of Mainframe, Dub:iouz, Gold Bonded, High Tension and more. Soundcloud / Facebook
Camo & Krooked
Proud Austrian D&B flagbearers and international legends. But you knew that anyway, right? New album due imminently. Facebook / Soundcloud
Coda & Pandora
UK-born Coda and Austrian legend Pandora have single-handedly put Austria on the jump-up map with their Switch parties and label. Pandora has been around since the mid 90s and has done a huge amount for the Austrian scene. Facebook / Soundcloud
The man who set the Austrian D&B blueprint! Still DJing on the regular, he’s not as prolific in drum & bass as he was but is still known to unleash a banger. “It got quiet with Dkay around 2009, so I m a bit retired,” he tells us. “I mostly work as a media composer these days. I wanted to make space for other talent to come through and they didn’t disappoint. Every now and then a tune comes up like my recent Omega Point on Hospital. My hard drive is rammed with music. 2016 might see a return. maybe…” Facebook / Soundcloud
Serious jump up trouble maker with a presence on Playaz, Audio Danger, Smokescreen, Gun Audio and local labels Switch! and IN:DEEP. Keep him locked: Facebook / Soundcloud
Dossa & Locuzzed
Freshly signed to Viper, Dossa & Locuzzed represent the new wave of Austrian D&B. They’ve got loads in the cannon for 2016 too…
“We just finished a bunch of tunes which will be released this year, Himalaya is coming out in April on Mainframe followed by a single on Viper Recordings, then we made a tune with Dope Ammo & Tali and another one for Mayan Audio which will be released in spring. Then we’re playing at some festivals in Austria we’re really looking forward to such as the Nu Forms festival and the Fasten Your Seatbelts festival – looks like a good year so far!” Big. Facebook / Soundcloud
The man behind Mainframe: Disaszt is a bonafide Austrian D&B don. Facebook / Soundcloud
From monkeying around at 140 to becoming a well respected multi-tempo master, DubApe’s bass will have you swinging from the trees. Facebook / Soundcloud
Viennese duo with a slick, soulful and minimal mindset. Previous releases can be found on Context Audio, T3K, Citrus, Sublmnl and IN:DEEP. Facebook / Soundcloud
Another household name in Austrian drum & bass. Word direct from the foursome is that they’re working on something BIG. “We’re part of the SHOGUN 100 compilation which is currently being releases across a few EPs. Some sick tunes on there! Apart from that and the constant touring, we are in full album mode at the moment. Let’s see how that goes…” Facebook / Soundcloud
Namechecked by Camo & Krooked, Hoob’s diverse-yet-melodic style carries some serious weight. So far the Vienna-based artist has appeared on Mainframe, T3K and Blu Saphir. Soundcloud
The household D&B names keep coming… Since emerging on Blu Mar Ten in 2014 Kimyan Law has blown minds with his experimental, musical take on D&B. Facebook / Soundcloud
“Kimyan Law blows my mind! He made his album on iPhone earbuds and it’s incredible! He’s super-talented!” – Mefjus
Austrians know him as ‘Martin from Linz’, we know him as Mefjus AKA Mr Suicide Bassline, man behind some of the heaviest halftime hurters. Mefjus continues to rep his country at a premier global level. Facebook / Soundcloud
Breaking through with a cutting blend of dubstep and electro, Naked Fish are no strangers to UKF with their 140 sounds but they’re also developing quite a reputation on the D&B side too. As proved by the recent Monolith on Mainframe. Facebook / Soundcloud
Soulful stalwart of the Austrian scene, not only has Paul SG cultivated an awesome label in the form of Jazzsticks but has also released on an insane amount of critically respected labels from Goodlooking to Liquid V to Fabric to Basswerk to Think Deep to Influenza and many more. Facebook / Soundcloud
“For me the more laid back sound from Paul SG definitely deserves some more attention, intricate beats and memorable melodies combined with subtle but forward moving bassline movement.” – RoyGreene & Protone
Stealthy Linz tech-muncher Phentix developed a slick repertoire over the last four years on labels such as IN:DEEP, Citrus and Celsius before stepping up with major appearances on Xtrah’s Cyberfunk and Critical by way of a stunning Signal collaboration. He’s got plenty more, too… A four track EP on Cyberfunk with collaborations with Signal and Disprove plus future collaborations with Incognito, TR Tactics and Xanadu. “So, I’m quite busy,” says Phentix. “Which is good.” Facebook / Soundcloud
“Phentix will blow up any minute. Very good tunage from this guy!” – Fourward
Now captaining the IllSkillz ship solo, as a producer Rawfull is more frequently spotted sporting gutsy 4/4 electro and EDM. However as the man behind some of Vienna’s most successful D&B events he’s still famed for laying down a super-fine 170 set. Facebook / Soundcloud
RoyGreen & Protone
Liquid demons RoyGreene & Protone have soul seeping from every spacious dynamic. Now clocking five years as pros with releases on Innerground, Dispatch, Fokuz, Liquid V, IM.ltd, Rubik and loads more, their reputation is causing big ripples in the deep D&B pools. With two collaboration-laden Eps on Demand Records and Fokuz en route, expect them to rise throughout 2016… And beyond. Facebook/Soundcloud
Frequently spotted lurking round the heavier end of D&B with Dorian, Skore builds serious rolling grooves. With appearances on Co-Lab, Switch! Muzik Hertz and Animated in the last year alone, he’s making all the right jungle rumbles. Facebook / Soundcloud
Breaking through with a high profile win on a Drum&BassArena remix competition in 2013, Attersee duo TR Tactics have gone on to develop a pristine profile nationally and internationally. Armed with a no holds barred signature, they’ve dropped an array of discerning tech science on Addictive Behaviour, Citrus and Mainframe consistently over the last three years. Facebook/Soundcloud
“We think that we can reveal that we are looking forward to a release on Addictive Behavior, which might probably contain another collab with The Clamps and we are working on some new stuff you will hear more about in the near future.” – TR Tactics
A firm feature at Vienna’s best parties such as Volkontakt as a DJ, deep doyen Wingz is now flying high with production stripes. After a string of decent free bootlegs, he made his pro debut on IN:Deep late last year. Phentix anticipates big things… Facebook/Soundcloud
“There are so many good people out there doing sick music. But I would say Wingz from Vienna. He needs more attention. He also plays sick sets.” – Phentix
Images courtesy of Mainframe & Trife Life