Would you rather have hands that kept growing as you got older or feet that kept growing as you got older? Would you rather be transported permanently 500 years into the future or 500 years into the past? Would you rather have to read aloud every word you read or sing everything you say out loud?
These are dilemmas that can keep us awake all night. This Dilemma, however, keep us up dancing all night with her sublime souful drum & bass…
No brain tickling conundrums necessary; Dilemma – AKA Brighton-based Piper Hewitt-Dudding – has been consistently blessing us with warm, sunny-side unhurried liquid since her debut in 2016. Her music’s been supported by the likes of Skankandbass (who released her debut), Hospital (with the still killer springer Mercy with Ownglow) and Soulvent, the label where she’s been most consistently spotted with a series of singles and compilation appearances; the most recent being February’s guitar plucking strutter Transfix and this month’s Limbo and Gone To Soon featuring vocal legend Robert Manos… Two tracks we’re lucky to be hearing. Last September Piper had her bag stolen. In it was her laptop and hard drive that contained the last four years of her work.
Thanks to some life-affirming community support and generous friends, Dilemma’s back at the controls and working her way through every artist’s nightmare. Now armed with a rare chance to totally rebuild her set up, sounds and studio habits, a new level beckons, here’s where Piper is at right now…
I know we’ve caught you just before work, so what’s your day job?
I have two jobs; I teach music production in a college and work for a charity called AudioActive. We do youth work through music. It’s free to pop by with all kinds of music production workshops and facilities. It’s a great job, I love it.
Awesome. That’s so important for the next generation!
Absolutely. There are a lot of young people who might have been failed by the education system or have mental health issues but can develop confidence through music. It’s amazing. I’ve been doing it for a year; I started as a volunteer then started full time last September.
Must be awesome to see the kids develop
Totally! There’s a kid called Rufus, he’s 13 and he makes the most amazing acid house. It makes me jealous at how at how good he is. Imagine how good he’ll be in five years time? There are some really talented rappers and songwriters and we do sessions for all of them.
Was there anyone who inspired you or gave you that type of opportunity you’re doing with your work?
Too many. Everyone at Soulvent have been nurturing and exciting. Skankandbass continue to support me and encourage the best out of me. BCee has been really inspiring and booked me for my first big gig at Egg. He’s amazing. I know there are loads more people I’ve forgotten but yeah hopefully I’m paying that back now with my work.
Definitely. Sorry to hear about your bag and computer getting nicked by the way!
Oh man, it was so debilitating. Really was the worst. I’d come back after a summer away. I’d installed loads of new bits on my computer and was really inspired. Then the day I went to register at the college and show my passport and everything I had the bag nicked in the pub. My laptop, my headphones, my passport, my other ID, my purse. Everything. I was gutted. I’d lost all my projects, all my samples, everything from the last four years… And I suffered pretty bad writer’s block. It shook my confidence and I was beginning to wonder ‘should I be doing this any more?’
Ah man. The silver lining is the kindness of people!
I was so touched by that. It was raised so quickly and the amount of people sharing it or donating things like samples or patches was just amazing. Everyone came out in full force, it made me think ‘okay I need to carry on’…
I’ve spoken to artists who’ve had a similar situation and, once they’ve recovered from the loss, they’ve appreciated the chance to wipe the slate clean. A bit of re-invention or level-upping I guess…
I guess so yeah. All those ruts you find yourself falling in, or things you just do out of habit, like using particular synths or anything like that, you can’t do any more. You do have to start properly afresh. Random Movement, who’s another awesome guy who’s supported me from the start actually, said something similar happened to him but the stuff he wrote afterwards was so much better. I just need to get over that grieving process and get back into it.
How did you get into this in the first place. I think I read you were a goth to begin with… How do you get from goth to soulful drum & bass?
It’s weird isn’t it? People look at me and think ‘she loves her metal’ and I do, I love loads of alternative music. I grew up half hour down the road from Download Festival and was raised on Rage Against The Machine, Led Zeppelin, Slipknot and all that kind of stuff. The Prodigy and Pendulum would fit into that category and both played Download over the years.
So there was that and also my mum got Hold Your Colour which I loved. Then Radiohead, who I saw at Leeds festival and that inspired me to see other headliners and I saw Deadmau5 and went through a huge progressive house phase. Then dubstep blew up and I got carried away by that wave and eventually settled into drum & bass, largely through UKF actually, and didn’t take long for me to find Calibre and that was me sold. I started uni and came down to Brighton and really got into the scene here. I couldn’t believe Shogun Audio were based here when someone told me. I’d been down here for a while and had no idea. They told me the address and I started thinking ‘what if I chuck a USB up onto the balcony?’
Ha! That’s gonna get you to the top of the listening pile!
I think so too. Who would ignore a USB chucked onto their balcony?
Haha. So I’m guessing the Brighton connection, and Shogun, led you to Jack Pola and Soulvent.
No they’re all London boys but it was through my uni. It was around International Women’s Day last year and they reached out for female drum & bass artists and we linked through that.
Nice. You mentioned BCee earlier and his post was picked up by national newspapers. The discussion about female talent and equality is getting louder and louder…
Definitely. Especially this year as Hospital have set up an initiative to pledge to balance the equality on line-ups. They’ve created a private group that’s already got 1000 members. It’s great to see something actually tangible happening. There’s been a lot of talk for years but now it’s happening and it’s being recognised as an issue and everyone is sitting down and doing something about. It was the nurturing that was needed. The encouragement. We’re sewing the seeds now for something much bigger in a few years to come.
It’s the stereotypes that need breaking down so girls at any age feel welcome in the studio. Like it’s not a ‘boy’s’ domain like it was in music lessons in school in my experience.
Totally. They’re there from birth; constantly being reinforced. For men, too. Like men aren’t encouraged to have care jobs or be nurses, they’re expected to do physical work.
Never even thought about that from a male’s point of view. You’re right
I’ve had the maddest arguments with people about this. A teacher online said to me he thought men and women were genetically wired to have different interests.
What? Hello 1950s
Yeah right? And he was a teacher. There’s still some worrying opinions out there.
Meanwhile I’m wondering what a Snazzball is…
Ha! I just thought the tune was snazzy and thought it was a funny name.
Ah I’ve been on Urban Dictionary seeing if was a new terminology I’d missed
No! But I’ll make one up now and make an entry on Urban Dictionary.
Sick. So the new release… Let’s chat Robert Manos
Ah I just love him. I had a fangirl moment when we were sorting this out. He came back with the vocals and I was like ‘oh my god this is mental!’ Such a privilege to work with someone of his level and tenure. I’m quite picky with my vocals anyway so I aimed super high and I got it. He smashed it out of the park. I feel spoilt now though. Maybe he’ll work on more tracks for me in the future??
Only one thing to do; throw a USB up on his balcony
So these must have been turned around super quick since you got your new laptop?
I’m lucky that a friend had an old computer I could use, an ancient iMac from 2010. I was able to finish the tunes on that but I was up against the deadline.
So the next tracks will be on the new kit. Any idea when?
I’m still suffering writers block a bit so I wish I could say I’m working on lots of stuff and it’s all ready to drop but it might be a while until another release is locked in. Ideas are slowly coming together but I’m at that questioning myself stage. Jack Pola has been a great influence and told me to stop being so harsh on myself.
Everyone’s their own worst critic!
Especially me. I’m even worse now, which I didn’t think was possible. But yeah, when you get positive feedback from a label or a peer or someone is playing your tune it’s the most amazing feeling… I know I’ll be back in the studio very soon…
Awesome, that just leaves us to ask you those dilemmas… Would you rather have hands that kept growing as you got older or feet that kept growing as you got older?
This is a tough one hahaha! I guess feet, couldn’t work a DAW with huge hands and I could traverse difficult terrain with big feet. I’ll become a mountaineer in my old age. Shoes would become very expensive though!
Would you rather be transported permanently 500 years into the future or 500 years into the past?
Future I reckon. At least there’s a vague chance of D&B existing then. Though I wouldn’t want to compete with those production values…
Would you rather have to read aloud every word you read or sing everything you say out loud?
Definitely the latter! It might be a bit awkward in bad situations, but I’d get some great samples out of it. I might run out of friends pretty sharpish though.
Dilemma – Gone Too Soon / Limbo is out now on Soulvent