You know you’re onto something when Mind Vortex are recommending your beats to label bosses. Such is the case with Blaine Stranger.
The label in question was Viper. They’ve since snapped him up for the long game and his tracks are being hammered by the likes of Futurebound, InsideInfo and Metrik. It’s not hard to hear why; his nuclear blend of influences and references are as memorable as his name as he’s established a penchant for everything from disco to gabber across just five originals and one remix in the space of a year.
His debut Viper appearance last year on the label’s annual Summer Slammers album set the scene with clarity as he headbutted us with the subverted neuro-esque banger Chat Shit Get Banged. Nitro-boosted with added gabber elements on pay-off, it held nothing back. Meanwhile on his most recent release, his range continues to spread as Mesmerise taps into a fast-lane synth-funk mode while Get Down shows off Blaine’s heavier, technoid tastes.
Unsurprisingly, his unabashed bold studio strokes and broad creative canvas are mirrored in his DJ sets, too. Regularly supporting touring international artists in his hometown Sydney, as he’s known for throwing in the odd hardcore tune or old school hip-hop section in his mixes.
You know you’re onto something when you can include both gabber and hip-hop in your drum & bass sets. We hit him up to find out more…
You’re on Viper but we need to thank Coppa for your break, right?
Yeah he featured on my first single Rock With It. We’d done a little deal; he did that vocal for me and I did a remix for his label. The remix came out first and Coppa was actually one of the guys who sent Rock With It around to various people and helped to get it onto Viper.
Who else sent the track to the label?
Laurie from Mind Vortex also sent it to Brendan (Futurebound) I think they attacked at the same time, as it were! As we all know, it’s damn hard getting the attention of any label boss with a demo because they get sent so much stuff so big shouts to Laurie and Coppa for bringing Brendan’s attention to my music!
I’m guessing you know Laurie from warming up for him in Sydney?
Yeah we’ve partied a few times when he’s toured over here. He’s an awesome dude. Coppa is, too but we’ve never met in real life. That was just a classic internet connection. But yeah, after they sent it over Viper got in touch, signed it and a year later it came out.
What a mad year, knowing something is going to come out on a big label. How did you feel? Satisfied you were on the right track? Frustrated that it wasn’t out? Buzzing? Anxious? What?
All of the above! It was good to wait because the track went through various changes and overhauls. In comparison the original version was pretty whack but with Viper’s guidance and my own development as an artist, I continued to work on it until I was as happy as can be. I was definitely eager to have it out and really start getting more things out but I appreciate patience and the need for it.
Patience is key! So was this the same case with the new single Get Down and Mesmerise? And what have you learnt as a producer since you first hooked with Viper?
Get Down is about nine months old and Mesmerise is only a few months, so nowhere near as old or long in the pipeline. It’s cool, I’ve learnt stacks; you come up through the game and gather different inspirations and different techniques. Broadening your mind to different aspects of production. Also learning how to knuckle down and focus and putting myself under self-imposed deadlines. Time management is an art to itself.
Are you juggling a day job too?
Yeah, it’s studio-based though. Mix engineering, studio touch-ups, additional production and things like that.
Do I sense some ghost production?
I hear you. Let’s move onto Sydney. There seems to be a lot of exciting activity in terms of parties in the last few years and Chinese Laundry seems to be a consistent destination for all touring D&B artists.
It’s always had some legendary parties since long before my time and lots of exciting new nights trying out new line-ups! Talent-wise we’ve got some great producers coming out of here now guys on the darker side like Ncrypt and Strafe. And of course Royalston who’s been killing it for a long time. I think Sydney has always had much more of a house sound and the drum & bass coming out of here has been in the shadows of Perth, which has given the world some of the biggest acts ever.
Have Sydney’s lock-out laws been a problem for the scene?
It’s definitely been compromised due to a number of laws. They’ve dampened a few spirits and left people feeling less motivated to put on big parties or pay for acts to tour out here, sure, but there are many more flying the flag. At the end of the day it’s still possible to have a good party here but the scale and amount of the shows has definitely reduced, clubs have shut down and promoters have hung quit. This feeds into a lot of other aspects of nightlife like restaurants and pubs and taxies. Loads of people all losing business because nightlife is being reduced. On a much more personal level, this makes it harder for local DJs to push what they’re doing. Grabbing gigs is a much more of a challenge than it was because there aren’t as many going round.
You support a lot of international acts who tour – is that the first time you met Futurebound IRL?
Oh no, we met before in Las Vegas
Yeah at EDC. I didn’t play but I was over in the US for a family holiday so I decided to shoot through Vegas and meet up with the Viper guys and see how they worked at the festival. That was a really cool experience!
We need to talk about gabber for a second.
I do like playing with various gabber elements like kickdrums and leads and stuff. I’d never do a whole gabber track but a cheeky little section is always cool! And when I play DJ sets I love throwing in the odd 174 hardcore techno tune. I’ve found the Sydney crowd are really receptive to that type of fusion and not total purists.
It’s important to have that melting pot of outside influences. What other elements do you bring into the mix?
Something that’s inspired me a lot lately is Toronto ambient. Noah 40 Shebib is at the centre of all this – he works closely with Drake and those guys. It’s a dreamy 80s sounding hip-hop and it’s inspired a lot of my writing when it comes to breakdowns and verses. All the pre-drop stuff, basically. So that’s a massive inspiration for me, you can really lose yourself in that sound. I’ve been mucking around with some old school hip-hop stuff in my DJ sets, too. It’s important to keep that variety, otherwise I think I’d go crazy or get bored.
Will we go crazy or get bored waiting for your next single?
I hope not! I’m finishing a whole load of things right now, there’s a few projects I can’t mention and I’m also sitting on one track that’s almost three years old but we have a sample to clear… Watch this space.