Everything is temporary: Don’t worry about what hasn’t happened. Live in the now. Appreciate the moment.
This is the current vibe for Amoss AKA Andy Tweedale and James Evans. Having spent a year in the writers’ block wilderness working on their long-awaited debut album, a chance one-liner by OG MC Codebreaker gave them the perspective they needed: stop giving a fuck, don’t worry about what else is going on in the scene, do what you love.
Everything Is Temporary is the result. A 16 track tale that digs deep into the raw, rolling sound both they and Dispatch have become synonymous with. In their own description, it’s a moment in time as they take stock what they’ve achieved over the last 10 years together, how they want to develop it and why they love the music so much in the first place. Their refreshed mindset was clear the moment they announced their album with this jokes video…
Release now out, long grey beards shaven off, but the attitude is the still the same. Most things are temporary, but class is permanent. This is why Amoss are in the best place they’ve ever been right now…
Everything Is Temporary… Cool title. We can thank Codebreaker for this, right?
James: Yeah that’s right. Codebreaker lives a few doors down from where we were living. One day we went over, talked about where we were at with the album and those were the very first words on his opening monologue. It helped us shape much more of a concept. It connected with where we were at on a personal level and where we were at while writing the album.
How long were you working on it before that concept got solidified? Did the concept give you a focus? Were you lost in the wilderness before?
Andy: We always knew what we wanted to do; go over styles we’d done before and explore them in new ways. In way, kinda celebrate 10 years of writing together as Amoss. We’d been on that path for a good year or so but not feeling like we were progressing much but as soon as we heard the phrase ‘everything is temporary’ it seemed to fit perfectly. It resonates with what we think of the scene, how the music has changed since we first came into drum & bass and fell in love with it. Everything changes, but you have to roll with it. Those lines gave us a confidence boost to stop worrying about what people think.
James: There was a lot of self-imposed pressure from our own overthinking and questioning. We’d done many singles and EPs but writing for an album is a much bigger concept. The concept helped us realise not to worry. It is what it is. It’s a snapshot of us in time.
It’s also a sad title. The fleetingness of existence and all that
Andy: My girlfriend said it was sad too. I didn’t see it like that. Instead it felt more like I should stop dwelling on things. I suffer from anxiety massively and it help me think about it differently; don’t worry because tomorrow it won’t matter. In one year, twenty years, it won’t matter. It’s about what you want to do at this moment in time.
I like that. Creative people worry too much; you’re constantly second guessing what people will think. The best stuff always comes from a natural place.
Andy: When we started the album we put out a massive piece of paper, wrote lists, thought about classic albums we should listen to and understand why they had the impact they had, think about the styles we wanted to cover, how many skits, how many downtempo bits. All of that.
James: I really liked the idea of going into an album like that. But so much thought went into that we were missing the whole focus of what we were meant to be doing.
Andy: This was also around the time there were a lot of really good albums. Ulterior Motive had put theirs out. Xtrah did a big thing for Invisible. These big projects were coming out and you can’t help but be influenced by it and judge yourselves against it. But over the course of the album we have successfully removed ourselves from the scene in a way that we don’t feel as involved in it so we’re not comparing ourselves to other producers.
You need to switch off from what else is going on around you
James: I think it’s good to switch off full stop. I don’t listen to any drum & bass now unless I’m preparing for a gig. It’s weird when I tell people that. They ask where my inspiration comes from but it comes from everywhere but drum & bass.
There was a feeling when it was regurgitating itself a few years ago because people were only seeking inspiration from within drum & bass. I think this has changed again now and there’s an exciting trend in the albums being released this year. Blocks & Escher, OneMind and you guys are all coming from a similar stance in this sense. Going back to the roots, bebunking what’s been happening for the last few years…
James: You mentioning our names in the same list as those guys is a massive compliment! For us we were looking at the styles we’d done but change them into something we hadn’t done personally.
Andy: You’re right. It definitely felt like drum & bass was eating its tail for a bit. When I came down to London in 2012 almost every time I went to Fabric it would be three or four hours of nonstep neuro. As much as I love it, I can’t deal with the same sound over and over. There was a little time when I felt it was very stale. In a way the length of time it’s taken us to make the album has helped
James: Yeah if we released it a few years ago it might not have got the same reception because everyone was really focused on neuro. But there is a call for the grittier, rawer sound of drum & bass again.
That said, Timedrops has a certain neuro quality to it! It’s a mental track… Eight minutes and so many sections. It concludes the album really thoughtfully
James: Yeah that developed a life of its own. We had this mad delay on the end around six minutes where it was meant to stop and I thought ‘fuck it, let’s go into another section,’ We added more percussion, then raw breakbeat, then more 808 and it came together. It does conclude the album nicely and summarises what you’ve heard.
Andy: It’s definitely the heaviest, almost neuro-like track on the album. It’s got a massive reese, it’s mainly one shots and doesn’t have much of a break. We weren’t going to put it on the album because we felt it didn’t fit but then decided it was important to have those influences on there because we did, and still do, love a lot of good neuro. Timedrops has got three drops and builds and builds and builds. It’s super heavy for the sake of being super heavy. We’ve not done a track like that before.
That’s the heaviest tune, but what was the hardest tune to make?
James: SE27 was the one that broke me and made me sit down and work on it. Our style of production has never been about pin point accuracy. It’s about the vibe. If that works then production quality doesn’t need to be perfect, it’s about the song. But we needed to create more space on SE27. That took the longest, but hearing it out at the album launch and watching everyone go nuts to it was very rewarding.
Andy: For me it’s a choice between The Cardboard Man and Chrongraph because that started so differently and we were stuck on it for a long time. I thought it was shit for so long but then I learnt so much from it because I saw James transform it, he took out all the sounds, mangled it and turned it into a sick roller. He essentially remixed it in a way.
That sums up the essence of a good co-lab
Andy: Yeah we’ve been writing as Amoss for 10 years and before that in various bands. We have a good way of working with each other and feel comfortable with each other being pretty brutal on each other’s ideas but arriving at the point we need to get. It’s different way of writing but the best tracks we’ve done have been done that way.
There must have been some beef or rows over the last 10 years?
James: We’ve never had a row! Working closely with each other we learn about ourselves as much as each other. I’ve learnt, or tried to learn, not to be such a stubborn producer. You need to get past that and know that nothing works perfectly straight away. You’ve got to let each other build an idea until they’ve done with what they want to do. I’ve been known to be very stubborn.
Andy: No comment haha! But yeah, we’ve been very lucky. We’ve not had an argument. Maybe we’ve pissed each other off a bit but not to the point of splitting. Everything we do is 50/50, we’ve always made sure if one person isn’t happy then it doesn’t get done. It’s a cool creative relationship and friendship.
You can hear on the podcast and the album announcements. You’re having fun at the end of the day.
James: Obviously we approach the music seriously but yeah there are elements in the album and podcast where we don’t take ourselves seriously and let our personalities come out a bit.
Andy: Some people think we talk too much on the podcast but you can listen to a mix if you don’t want talking. I’m glad personality comes through in this way. We’ve always tried to have as much fun as possible and not take it too seriously. We’re not very serious people. When we were first getting started and were coming down to London and playing gigs we were seeing how seriously some people took it all and it was fucking hilarious. You have to maintain the humour or it breaks you.
I think drum & bass is guilty of this a little too often!
James: Definitely. In fact if there’s one thing I’d like to project in this interview and just all the time anyway… To any producers coming through right now, please remember to have fun. Pass music around, share stuff, make connections, be friendly with people. Trust us, you get further that way and you’ll enjoy it a lot more!
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Amoss – Everything Is Temporary is out now
Image: Chelone Wolf