After 11 years of consistent releases on some of the most influential labels in the game from Viper to Virus, and collaborations with some of the sharpest soundsmiths in the game from Matrix to Mefjus, InsideInfo is finally ready to present his debut artist album to the world.
Timing is everything: never one to bash out releases for the sake of it, or get too cosy in one particular sound, an album was always going to be a deep, enduring and ultimately serious undertaking for the Essex producer AKA Paul Bondy.
Comfortable where he’s at technically as a producer, professionally at Viper and personally in his life, he’s taken the plunge and spent the last two years scuba diving deep into his craft and his own identity, experiences and what makes him tick.
The self-titled end result is rich in the same signature layered details you can spot in so much of his banger-heavy discography; deep in the album are hundreds of references to his life, past and inspirations coded in the textures, titles and techniques. And, of course, the stylistic range. From the tornado soul of Glimpse (surely a contender for potential festival slayer this summer) to the hip-wriggling 80s spacefunk 82 via the instant-shoes-off drum eruptions of Mania and heavy metal heroics of Revenant, this is the widest and most personal representation of InsideInfo we’ve ever experienced. Also, it bangs!
We needed to find out more…
It’s about time! 11 years since your first release…
My initial plan was 10 years but, well, that didn’t happen. I finished it on my 10th year, we mastered it just before Christmas. I’ve been in this weird, empty place state of mind ever since because it took up so much of my life for two years. Not solidly, there were gigs and everything else, but a long time. I didn’t intend to wait so long but it never felt like the right time to release an album until now. What’s the point in committing to something so big when I don’t feel ready? I felt happier building slowly with single releases. But it felt right to do it now. I’ve moved into my house, I’m really happy with Viper and I’ve got great people around me.
Bren Futurebound actually gave me the album deal with Viper back in 2012, and since then they’ve allowed me to just grow and go on my own path, in my own time and in my own way. I’m really grateful for that, and thankful he’s given me a lot of support and encouragement since the day we first spoke back in 2008! So yeah, it’s taken a while but it felt like the right time to start.
You’ve never rushed things anyway. It’s the classic drum & bass way – no one gets anywhere with real longevity by spamming the shit out of things.
I’d love to be able to spam a bit more to be honest! I spend too long on my tracks to do that. I put a lot of work into each track and I can write prolifically. Ideas come easily but realising them is another thing and I think I try to reinvent the wheel too much with each track, which takes quite a while.
Do you mean you make all new sounds and samples from scratch for each tune?
I do a little bit but yeah, I try to make every track sound new and exciting. To me at least. I don’t want to write 100 tracks that sound the same. If only to keep it interesting for me. Different themes and sounds and ideas. It takes a while to do that. I look at other artists who put out a lot of tunes and I get jealous but I’ve been on this for a long time and don’t see myself changing any time soon. For a while I wondered if I’d ever do an album.
I started to expect one around the time of Mythos. The momentum has never died down since then. Did you feel any need to write an album at that time?
I did. Me and Martin (Mefjus) were going to write an album together, we started it and ended up with 4/5 tracks but they ended up being Footpath, Leibniz, Pulsation and Talisman. I’m glad it worked out that way, I love collabs, especially with Mefjus, but I wanted my first album to be solo. I felt I had a lot of ideas I wanted to explore and build this thing on my own and not do any collaborations on it at all. I wanted to keep it selfish in that type of way.
Yeah it’s only vocalists you collaborate with isn’t it?
That was one of things I wanted to do – working with singers and musicians. I find it really interesting working with artists like that because they have a different perspective. It also means tracks get finished sooner because I’m not locked away on my own working things out for myself and get stuck. You start questioning yourself in that type of state. But I had some great help from my manager Asad and Larry Calyx. He’s a very good mate of mine and is really constructive with feedback, saying what could be better or could be different. So his presence is strong in the background of all of this.
Sounds like he executively produced it!
Ha! I just love his and Teebee’s work ethic: if they can make it better, they WILL make it better. If there’s a sound or element that can be improved it’s worth spending the time working out how to do it. They’re so detailed, I shouldn’t really compare myself to them. There’s definitely a side to me that says ‘fuck it, that sounds good enough, move on!’ Or I’d never get anywhere…
The art in where to draw a line…
Definitely. You have to say ‘that’s as good as it’s going to be, move on before you kill yourself’
Better than good. Tracks like Glimpse are incredible. It sums up the strong sense of contrast throughout the album. It seems to be something you’ve made your signature over the years…. When you first hear an Insideinfo tune you don’t know if it will drop into a shoes-off vibe or roll-out. That’s a good thing.
I like beautiful sounds and ambient soundscape. I love musicality too. Having that contrast between dark and light really gets me. It’s an almost cliché thing to say now but having something so beautiful riding over something that sounds plain nasty is one of my favourite musical things. I’m fascinated by it.
That sums up the magic of drum & bass for a lot of us…
Yeah definitely. So I wanted to have a lot of that type of contrast in the album. And also emotional things and personal things for me. Things that are uplifting, things that are sad. Some of the tracks are about things that have happened to me in the past. It’s beginning to sound very self-indulgent now!
If you’re not self indulgent on your debut album then when can you be. Is that within titles or maybe lyrics?
I never wrote any of the lyrics directly but I did give starting points and references. So Glimpse is about losing somebody you love. Time Will Tell is about time because I’m fascinated by it and have a lot of clocks. There are also sounds of things I grew up to as a kid. Like video games I used to play as a kid and disco records I used to love. All processed and manipulated beyond recognition of course. I just wanted to the album to be made of ingredients that make me who I am.
I didn’t know you used samples in that way. I always assumed you were very much on the synthesis side of things?
I am predominantly but I’ve started using more and really twisting them out and sculpting them into something unique rather than just synthesising the shit out of a sound. So I’ve enjoyed going down to charity shops, picking up really obscure records and sampling them. Never lifting whole phrases or vocals, we’re talking very small elements and processing them creatively. It’s refreshed the way I work. But the sampling approach is another aspect of what me who I am; a lot of the records that got me into drum & bass were made from that approach.
What aspect of you does Mania represent? That’s a proper stinker…
Ha. Well that began as an idea around four years ago. Those drums have been in my mind for a very long time. I guess the element of me in that is the jungley type of references. One of the first ever CDs I bought with drum & bass or jungle on it was Jungle Mania 3. I was only a kid but I loved it.
How about Revenance then? Something tells me you had an old metal chapter…
I was a huge metaller and even got into death metal for a little. I’ve always loved that energy of rock and metal and I think, when done well, it can be harnessed effectively in electronic music. The Prodigy did it best in the late 90s and that’s always really inspired me. Plus I wanted a big metal riff to play in the middle of my set, won’t lie. The energy that comes off it is amazing to watch.
What other elements of your life are coded deep in the album then?
Loads. Two Minds is about a time when I had a life changing decision and couldn’t decide what to do. That track came out of it because I was stuck between two very extreme decisions. 82 is about the first synth-based music I enjoyed as a kid in the 80s with those big Arp synths, big reverb on the claps and snares and not being too clinically clean on the production. That’s really important I think; keeping some of the imperfections and roughness because it gives it a personality. You’re in danger of losing the soul of the tune if you don’t. There are a very small amount of people who can do that and still keep the soul of a track I think.
Not gunning for first place in the loudness war then?
Ha. No. I stopped worrying about that a long time ago and when I did I realised I was a lot happier. I think if a track is strong enough then it doesn’t need to be the loudest thing in the world. Maybe that’s just down to producing for so long I have things at a certain level and do things subconsciously, I don’t know. But the loudness isn’t something I worry about or lose sleep about.
Last time we spoke the theme was that you’re not doing this to be loved. Has that changed now you’ve got an album that you’ve invested so much time and soul in?
Yeah definitely. You never want to write something and have everyone think it’s a pile of shit. That’s always been the way, even when I said that stuff to you before, but I think what’s more important to me now is for people to feel they relate to the album and for it to play a role in people’s lives. Maybe if it’s that album you play before you go out, or you hear lyrics and find some type of connection with your life. That said, I do maintain the mentality that I don’t want to chase trends, I don’t want to sound like anyone else and I will never give a fuck about radio play. But yeah, I do hope people like this because it’s a very personal thing for me.