Seriously… Who the hell IS this guy?
Here’s what we know…. He’s releasing the first ever solo artist album on Doc Scott’s legendary, 22-year-old label ThirtyOne Records. He’s been dealing out full-strength dubby halftime cuts since 2012. He’s originally from Manchester but currently lives on an island off the coast of Brazil. He seems to really like trees.
Oh, and that his album – The Ride – is a remarkable work of detailed, measured and restrained deep D&B. The type of LP that keeps serving up something new on every listen and even has a hidden message in the track titles, it’s an essential addition for your collection as we move into the bleaker months ahead.
We called him up in an attempt to find out more about this mysterious musician…
Do we know who you are? Is this an alias thing?
I doubt you’ll know me. I’ve never thought about it before but I do keep a separation between my own personal life and the role of Hidden Turn. I know a lot of DJs like to talk about who they are, where they are, what they do. I’m just a very private person. I’m not that interesting! Plus it’s always nice to have a bit of mystery. Let the music do the talking and all that.
Your first sighting on my radar was the Big Dirty EP in 2014 but there were releases several years before that… All pretty early on in this new wave of halftime D&B…
I’ve been a massive fan of all things alternative in the drum & bass world for a long time. In Manchester the dominant sound was pretty full on and aggressive back in the day. But I always loved the more musical and trancey kind of drum & bass. I’ll never forget the first time I heard Amit. He was doing the halftime thing a LONG time ago. But as much as I’m a fan of him or Digital or anyone I admire musically, I never try to emulate or chase them – when I have my studio sessions I just follow what I feel like. I’ve tried full time D&B to varying degrees of success but the halftime thing feels more vulnerable and there’s more space to explore.
I like the use of the word vulnerable…
Maybe it’s a blessing or a curse but my music has never fit perfectly in the D&B pigeonhole so you open yourself up to more critical appraisal. But I feel we’re moving further and further away from that now. I love the idea of just bass music – no rules or boundaries. The people who send me the odd message here and there aren’t always D&B heads. I like that. I like how my music is being played against D&B tunes in non D&B sets in wherever it might be.
From known DJs outside of D&B?
I’m just talking about people who’ve heard the music and feel motivated to get in touch. They’re the most important people for me! I know ThirtyOne sends my music out to DJs for promotion before the release and it’s great to have that feedback – like guys like Bukem, which is incredible – but when normal people like me and you make the effort to get in touch and send a message, it’s amazing. They haven’t been sent it for free, they’ve bought it and enjoy it. That’s the most important thing to me. I never thought I’d be in this situation where I’d be able to share my music. I’ve been doing this for a long time, I love it, whether it goes somewhere or not doesn’t matter, I’ll still make it. It’s a release. A passion. So to share this people is a special experience. Sometimes I get a little emotional about it.
To amplify the specialness, it’s also the first album on 31!
We can’t forget the Future Beats album which is massive and I was lucky enough to contribute a tune to that. But yeah it’s the first solo artist album on the label. That’s amazing isn’t it? I remember spinning Prototyped and Shadow Boxing – I love them so much I had to have two copies to mix them into each other. That young me would never believe this situation! Luckily Doc Scott didn’t ask me to make an album from scratch – that would have caused massive pressure – most of the album was already written before he asked if I wanted to make one. I think he asked me to do an album because I’d sent him so much music! And to be honest, I don’t think I’m a single type of guy. I like EPs and releases with more scope to be a little more adventurous and diverse.
Yeah you started the album from a vault of 60 tracks didn’t you?
Yeah. It was a long process. Made even longer by the fact I was making more as we were refining what went on the album. All my tunes are living things until they get printed to vinyl. It’s a bad thing but I’m a sucker for last minute changes. But Doc Scott was very cool about it all. He made suggestions about which tunes he liked but was clear that he wanted it to be my album and gave me a lot of freedom in terms of track selection and the running order.
You have to draw the line somewhere, right?
That’s a tricky one. A lot of artists will say the same thing – knowing when to call it a day is difficult.
Am I looking too deep or do the track titles tell a story? We’re going through the cycle of life from birth to death here, right?
Yes, it’s three phrases. An album is a chance to tell a story. Sometimes albums feel like collections of tunes and I wanted a journey – there’s no greater journey than the journey of life, right? My life, your life, the life of a tree, a civilisation, a business, a planet. Anything – it always has a start and end. I’m a bit of a hippie and really love the journey and story there.
D&B hasn’t got enough hippies and concept albums…
Thank Doc Scott. He encouraged the concept and I put myself under big pressure. Throwing a bunch of big tracks together wasn’t an option for me. The music has to be the most important thing first and foremost but I like the idea of offering more to explore if people do like one or two tracks. A message and an idea for those who want to go deeper.
So it sounds like you’re pretty prolific… Will you make another 60 tracks before you boil them down to one album again?
Who knows? I do enjoy two or three extensive sessions a week and when I do they’ll be eight or 12 hours fully immersed. I’ll always make music and I’ve got loads of stuff. Some of it is terrible, some of it is a little better. I send batches to the label manager and Doc every now and again and see if they like them. I hope I can release more on ThirtyOne if that’ll have me! I’ve got a lot of ideas. I really should send more tunes soon!
Okay… So you’re based in a remote location which means a massive DJ schedule can’t be paying the bills. Releases don’t pay a living any more, unfortunately. So you’re either lying about who you are, where you are, or this is effectively just a really high level hobby and you have another full time job?
Ha! Well I do work a completely different job, yeah. It’s miles away from music. I absolutely love my day job, though, I’ll tell you that much.
You’re right though – it’s very difficult to make a living from music and most people do have to earn their money through DJing. I just love making music and doing it on my own terms. It gives me the freedom and no pressure in terms of having to release stuff to pay the bills. There are two clear roles in my life – there’s the average guy who does whatever it is he does in the day. Then there’s Hidden Turn who dives deep into music a couple of times a week and gets completely lost in this incredible world that will inspire me for the rest of my life. I love both sides!