2018 is shaping up to be another exceptional year for heavyweight D&B-related albums: Mefjus, Bad Company, Blocks & Escher, OneMind, Amoss, Ivy Lab and more have all slipped us a long’un so far and we’re not even half way through the year.
Earlier this month Skeptical became another stand-out name on that list with his long awaited debut album Enjoy This Trip. Four years in the making (between single releases), it succinctly wraps up why he holds such a unique status in the genre: 12 tracks of rolling minimal menace, warm and weighty and prone to short sudden cosmic diversions, it galvanises the signature he’s been honing since his early footsteps on Ingredients, Dispatch and, of course, dBridge’s Exit Records who he’s become an integral part of for over five years. Ranging from the filthy electrical hisses and sizzles of Duck Soup to the jazzy, broken beat finale Violet (which is named after his grandma and samples records from her old collection), Enjoy This Trip summarises where Skeptical (AKA Ashley Tindall) has been and where he’s at and hints at where he’s heading.
“It’s been amazing,” says Skeptical of the album reception so far. “I’m still buzzing about it. We had my album launch the other week. A Wednesday in London, I was really worried no one was going to come, but the turnout was great. It was mad. It’s properly inspired me again to get back in to the studio. Sometimes after a tour it takes me weeks or even months to get back into the vibe but I’m fully ready to roll out now. I’ve already got a little stash of tunes together; I’ve finished six things and they’re all good and working out in my sets. I’ve managed to start some other bits and finished some remixes. Yeah, I’m really happy man.”
The trip continues. While we wait for Skeppy freshness, we asked him for his own persy favourite trips. Enjoy…
Bulgaria: Toboggans, strippers and the Mafia
“This was a few years ago and a really mad trip. The whole day started off funny; I woke up in the morning and rang my mate who was coming. He had an even earlier flight than me so I was checking he was already on the road. He’d only just woken up and had to drive like a mad man to Gatwick to make it. That set the scene for the weekend. We arrived, and it was thick thick snow. So we went to the ski slopes and flew down the hill in toboggans. Then I went to do my set and found out it was in a strip club. It was me, Darren, George Phizix and Strategy and just one of those massive ‘what the fuck?’ moments. You’d look up from the decks and see a pair of tits fly around! It was funny; people usually stare at the DJ but this night there was none of that. Everyone was looking at the girls! I had another set in Bulgaria a few days later so had a rest then was about to get ready for my set and got a call saying the club has been taken over by the Bulgarian mafia! They’d locked the club off and didn’t want the likes of me playing there. I’m glad I didn’t have to play while the mafia are in the building to be honest. I was like ‘cool’ and went back to bed!”
USA: Sick crowds, shoddy Airbnbs
“I have to include my first album tour of the US. Me and SP did 10 dates; Boston, Toronto, New York, Seattle, Dallas, Portland, Denver, San Francisco, Calgary, Vancouver. It was the first time I’d done a lengthy tour with Stew so built our brotherly bond even more. The whole trip was great and we had a good reception from the crowds. But we did have a few problems along the way. All with Airbnb. Every place we booked for our rest days between shows we couldn’t get in to. Our first one in New York was just closed. Totally locked up. No way of getting in at all. No contact from the host. Fucking Nightmare, basically. Luckily we know Adred who let us stay in his house but otherwise we’d have been screwed.
“The next one in Seattle we couldn’t get into for hours. We were just stranded outside for hours. The same thing happened with the other places. Every one of them had a dodgy lock or a bad code or some type of weird shit going on. We didn’t even get a refund on that one in New York. Robbing bastards. We were completely jinxed. Stew said he’d never book an Airbnb with me again!”
Thailand: Filthy monkeys
“My wife and I went to Thailand and Hong Kong a little while after we got married and the whole trip was as beautiful as you’d expect. But this one particular night will always stay with me…. We stayed on this island they call Monkey Island because there’s load of monkeys there. The hotel was one of those dream places where you could only get there by boat or via a monkey trail. The hotel was so friendly and thoughtful, and they’d made this cake for us because they knew we were staying for a special occasion. They also left some snacks and treats and drinks. A really nice touch, you know?
“We thought ‘nice, we’ll save that for later’ and went for a swim and a drink and some dinner and that. Then we came back to the room thinking ‘yeah, time for a nice juicy bit of cake’ and it was fucking chaos mate. Cake everywhere. All over the place. Packets of stuff had been opened and flung around. The fridge was open, orange juice poured over the floor. At first we thought we’d been broken into. But then we saw a sign about locking the patio door. The monkeys had come in and just smashed up the place. Trashed the gaff. We’d been looking forward to the cake and it was all over the walls, in the bed, on the floor. Gutted. They even opened the fridge and drank the cartons of orange juice. Some mornings we’d wake up and see some monkeys on the balcony and it’s like ‘I bet it was you, you little bastard’ Next time I go I’m going to make a cake with a balloon inside! Take that monkeys.”
Manchester: Sowing the seeds for Marka
“This is going back to like 2009 or 2010 and it was just a trip that always springs to mind as an early sign I was heading in the right direction and was the first time I’d heard Darren dBridge play my music. I’d gone up to Manchester to meet George Phizix, we’d been talking online for a bit and I wanted to go up and catch a vibe. At the time I’d signed Another World to Exit which would come out a little while later on the Mosaic LP. We went to the club, which was a Soulution night of course, Darren’s intro was Process of Elimination and it went down a treat. More than I’d seen my tunes go off before. It was a really nice feeling that made me feel like I was on the right track. The whole trip was really important; because it wasn’t long after that George, Strats and I went on to write Marka.”
Columbia: Pure beauty
“I’ve literally just come back from Bogota and I have to include it in this list because it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever played. I had no idea what to expect before I got there but from the moment I landed and saw how nice and green everything was, I knew it would be a good trip. The place, the people, the food, all just awesome and the city is beautiful; loads of great artwork everywhere and so much colour. And the party itself was going off! 400 people crammed into a room with two speaker stacks and a perfect vibe. I could do it all again right now. I’m lucky to go to some great places and I’m always humbled by people who invite me to play and create these trips, but I enjoyed this one especially. After 10 days in North America it kinda took me by surprise. If you ever get to go to Bogota make sure you do!”