Friction doesn’t really need an introduction, his importance to the world of drum & bass is clear for all to see. Not only did he create one of the genre’s most respected labels in the form of Shogun Audio, he’s also the host of BBC Radio 1’s esteemed drum & bass show and is one of the elite selection of D&B operators who can boast a place in Drum&BassArena’s prestigious Hall of Fame, where he sits along the likes of Andy C and Goldie.
He’s a man who is more widely known and loved for his incendiary sets rather than his production abilities, but with a flurry of recent releases and a handful more on the way, that looks set to change.
We caught up with the undisputed drum & bass don to talk about his recent increased studio time and to get his views on the how the scene is shaping up.
Just me in the studio with some of my favourite producers and no pre-conceptions – just making proper drum & bass with fat basslines and a beat. Tracks designed for the dancefloor!
You’ve just released Scatter and Battle Scars, is this a sign of more to come from you?
Yeah man definitely, in the last three to four years I’ve really tried to push my production and engineering skills on. When I came onto the scene I was predominantly known as a DJ who would produce a little bit now and again, but I now want to become just as well known for my production as well as my mixing. It’s hard finding time for the studio with the radio show and playing live shows every week but I’m really enjoying the time I do get to spend in there at the moment.
Would you say you’re going back to roots with your new stuff?
Yeah, my recent tracks like Long Gone Memory, Led Astray and Kingpin are all pretty song-based tunes that wouldn’t sound too out-of-place on daytime radio. I haven’t really had a chance to make tracks like the ones I used to make – like Set it Off for example – which are proper straight-up drum & bass tunes. The tracks for the VS series are going to be more like that; just me in the studio with some of my favourite producers and no pre-conceptions – just making proper drum & bass with fat basslines and a beat. Tracks designed for the dancefloor!
Will these get a release at some point?
Yeah this series is going to be released in four parts, and after the final release it’ll all be packaged up and available for download and on limited edition picture disc vinyl. There are six more collaborations to come so there’ll be eight altogether. I’m really excited to get it out there and show what I’ve been working on.
Lots going on then! Have you enjoyed hosting Radio 1’s drum & bass show?
I’ve had the show for just over two years now and I absolutely love it, it’s definitely packed out the already hectic schedule but it’s a great addition to what I do. I love the responsibility of being the worldwide voice of drum & bass! Playing the best in what the genre has to offer on such a big platform is an absolute privilege, and was what I dreamed of doing when I was younger. So yeah, I feel blessed to be able to do it.
Are you happy with how Shogun is shaping up at the moment?
Definitely, I always am! We’ve got Rockwell, who has his own unique style and makes amazing music, then we’ve someone like Icicle who’s been doing his thing for a while and is so talented, especially when it comes to his production ability in the studio. We’ve also got new talents like Joe Ford, Fourward and Technimatic, who are all brilliant artists doing great stuff. So yeah, we’re all really proud of where Shogun stands at the moment as a label.
If you could pick out one producer who you’ve got your eye on, who would it be?
There’s a lot of fresh new talent out there at the moment, but I think Joe Ford is gonna blow people away especially. I’m so excited to see what he’s got lined up, his new stuff is going to absolutely annihilate people!
Do you think the emergence of drum & bass in the charts is healthy for the genre?
Yeah, any kind of chart hit for drum & bass is a fantastic thing, and a really big look for the genre. Every now and then people will go mad about a new genre for a bit before it fades away, but drum & bass is always here – it’s such a strong industry and the inclusion of it in the charts and on daytime radio shows helps that big time. The scene is strongest when there’s depth in all the sub-genres, whether it be liquid, techy stuff or more commercial tracks. I think the resurgence of house music has helped the genre too – people are starting to make more musical tracks because of it.
What shows are you most looking forward to in the next few weeks?
As always it’s going to be a pretty hectic summer with a lot of big parties, but that’s what I love doing. I played at We Are FSTVL last week which was massive and a good way to kick off the summer. I’ve got to mention Detonate Festival too which is coming up in a few weeks. The line-up for that is absolutely ridiculous! I always love playing for Detonate and this one looks set to be particularly special.
Friction – Versus Volume 1 is available June 8. Pre-order now.
Friction is playing at SW4 on Sunday August 24. Full details.