ClashTone: The D&B supergroup we never knew we needed

Eatbrain’s label manager, an ex-Modestep member, Wilkinson’s musical director, and 1/3 of London electronic band Mai Davael walk into a bar…

…. No punchline, just one seriously soul punching drum & bass supergroup.

While the likes of SaSaSaS and Kings Of The Rollers have long been making waves with their respective jump-up and not-a-sub-genre supergroups, a new crew are stepping up to the spotlight. This supergroup, however, comes from the dark and gritty depths of neurofunk. Made up of Tony Friend (Modestep), Jack Nelson (Mai Davael), Jade (Eatbrain), and Pete (Jolliffe), just on paper alone ClashTone are blatantly a force to be reckoned with.

While perhaps not as dreamy as N*SYNC or the beloved Backstreet Boys (although that all depends on who you ask), what ClashTone bring to the table is hair-raising, imaginative, complex, and unadulterated drum & bass that is guaranteed to put them on the map. Drawing from the diversity inherent in such a clan, Clashtone’s wide range of backgrounds, influences and talents all come together flawlessly in this first three-track taster of what is to come.

They’re the neurofunk supergroup we never knew we needed. Here’s what they have to say so far…

Hey guys, thanks so much for joining us today – how are you all?

Pete: Well. Thank you.

Jack: I’m great thank you!

Tony: Good thanks, super excited about the release of our first EP. It’s my first musical release since I left Modestep so I’m really excited to be releasing music again! We’ve been perfecting our sound for about a year now, so we are really happy its finally ready for people to hear!

Jade: I’m on a flight home after two incredible shows. Tired but pumped.

So, ClashTone is a really interesting collaboration. How did you four came to work together?

Pete: I went to make some music in Edinburgh at the end of 2017. Tony heard the music and jumped on it and we started formulating a sound. We needed some neuro basses and Tony knew this kid Jack and eventually we ended up banging on Jade’s door. Before any of us knew it we had a body of work and we were talking about releases.

Tony: I actually met Jack when he got in contact over Instagram for a production lesson. He ended up playing me some of his tracks and I was blown away by his skills. We asked him to join us as we started working on an EP. We actually hit up Jade as Eatbrain was our dream label at the time. We ended up going over his to place in Budapest and we all got on really well. He managed to add that final bit of magic to the music that we were missing, and it’s been all systems go since then!

Jack: It was pretty shortly after I’d met Tony when he’d let me know of this initial idea. So I’d joined when Tony and Pete were initially thinking of creating a joint project. I’d had some small-time drafts, bits of bassline and drums mainly, which I didn’t have many ideas on developing, so the idea came to create them into these powerful and moving tracks.

Jade: I first encountered Pete and Tony when they sent me demos for Eatbrain. They were musically surprisingly interesting, but the sound design lacked a bit. I offered to help them fix the sound. This is something unusual, but nothing unheard of. The really unusual turn of events started when Pete messaged me saying they would come over with Tony to my studio. They did, and I met two great guys in person. The sessions were a good start. But after they left, I felt like I could do so much more with the tunes than mixing the sound, and I messed around with the projects. At this point they were at least collabs, but we decided to take the ultimate step and I joined the gang…

And what’s the craziest thing that’s happened since then?

Tony: I think it would have been just booking a ticket to Budapest with Pete and going to meet Jade in his studio to talk about tunes. We had never met before and only spoken a couple of times on email, but we really wanted to be in the same room, so we just booked a flight and went over to meet him. We actually ended up having an amazing time, learning so much and getting on really well. We have been back there since to work on more tunes and even watch the World Cup together!

Jack: Seeing the reactions to the new music. We’d agreed it was good to be selective who to share it with so Pete and Tony shot it over to some of their mates for live sets. Getting to wake up to videos of the music being played at venues across the world including Boomtowns main stage and Nass was something else. Getting to see the crowd react so well to our music was truly inspirational. (Jade was testing the tunes out in his sets)

Coming from three quite different backgrounds, what would you say are each other’s greatest strengths in terms of this project?

Pete: I can make drums. Tony chops samples. Jack can make basses. Jade can do all of the above and has great ears for mixing!

What is the work process like for a quartet? Are you all in the studio at once, or is it more bouncing WIPs around online?

Pete: Hectic. A flurry of WhatsApp all at once in the middle of the night. Followed by silence. Followed by plane tickets. Followed by Dropbox. And repeat!

Jack: We had a couple sessions with each other, just to get some ideas around and develop existing ones, but primarily its sharing project files from one person to the next. Usually it would start with me, then Pete, then Tony then Jade.

Jade: Usually they start and I finish the tunes. Some tunes I just fix a final sound, others I completely turn upside down. There is no strict recipe to follow. Tony and Pete came over a couple of times to my studio, which was a lot of fun, but given the geographical distance, sadly we can’t do that often enough. We do have skype conference calls though.

So, how did you guys come up with the name ClashTone anyways?

Pete: It kinda paints a good mental picture. I am not sure why we didn’t illustrate that?

Jack: We’d created a WhatsApp group to share ideas and chat. In this we decided to come up with a name. It took a while, sharing long lists of random names until we came up with ClashTone, I think it was Pete or Tony’s idea for the name.

Tony: We came up with the name when Pete and I wanted to start our own label to release some of our demos we had lying around. This never ended up happening, but the name stuck so we went with it!

The release is some of the grittiest, most interesting neuro we’ve heard in a while – but when you’re not making neuro, what are your ultimate guilty pleasures?

Jade: Thank you! That’s not our full spectrum though, those three tunes are the ones that fit Eatbrain’s image. We have a diverse collection of tunes, influenced by every corner of D&B. Neuro is only a slice of the cake. We draw from liquid, jungle and jump up.

Tony: I love making liquid and jungle. Anything gritty with a UK flavour. I will have some of my own solo stuff coming out later this year, but it’s a lot more chilled and musical. Keep your eyes peeled for that.

Pete: I run 12 miles a day! And make drum and bass as Jolliffe

Do you find you all listen to/draw inspiration from the same type of music? Have you found your different backgrounds in music bring different influences to the mix?

Jade: That is the point! The ultimate reason for this project is the wide palette of colours we bring to the table.

Pete: I listen to Debussy and Brahms. I am fairly confident that the others didn’t cite these as influences.

Tony: I think we all listen to different kinds of music and it shows in the ClashTone stuff. But ultimately, we all have a massive love for drum & bass and have for the longest time. 

Jack: I think we share a mutual love and fascination with Culprate and Noisia for sound design, which I personally use as inspiration to find new ways to craft basslines and mix up ideas. 

Finally, what can we expect to see from ClashTone in 2019?

Pete: Releases and hopefully more artwork!

Jade: Huh I really wish we could talk more about that, but it’s early to say. Big things for sure.

Jack: We’ve got some incredible pieces in the works, so keep an ear out at drum and bass events, you never know which one may make a sneak appearance!

Tony: We actually have some crazy stuff lined up for this year. Nothing that we can announce right away, but we have some big collabs, remixes and more EPs dropping a little later in the year…

ClashTone – Ninja Scroll is out now on Eatbrain

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