Up until recently Forbidden Society was a by-word for hard-as-nails uncompromised hardcore D&B. But times change…
The last few years has seen the Czech bass veteran gradually broaden his musical remit. While he can still bash you inside out with his 3RDKND project with Donny and Katharsys (they will playing together at Let It Roll this weekend) as a solo artist he’s showing a different side to his range. Slowly but surely, since 2017, more and more experiments and deeper escapades have been lurking on his EPs.
Tracks such as Inner Peace, Threshold and Forget The Past – all released in 2017/18 on his Depths and Armor EPs – revealed a much more contemplative, introspective side to his sonics. A side you never could have imagined even as recently as 2015 with his skin-melting Thronecrusher album.
This newfound deeper, rolling side to Forbidden Society (real name Jindrich Brejcha) broadened even more this year with the release of his third artist album Fog Walk in February. A fitting title for a moody, pensive, deep D&B schematic that ranged from smouldering halftime to a bashy grime hybrid with don MC Killa P. It galvanised everything he’d been teasing us with for the previous two years, racked up serial Noisia Radio plays and even led to another weighty release just a few months later in the form of Deadbox, another eight-track EP. There’s loads more to come, too. Here’s where he’s at right now…
This is a new chapter for you isn’t it?
Totally man. To be honest it’s been a few years that I was searching for new inspiration. Hard drum & bass felt like it wasn’t moving forward enough for me. I started listening to labels like Critical and 1985 and the tunes really blew me away.
You’re not alone there, man!
It was a game changer. Before then deep drum & bass didn’t have enough power for my tastes, but this was a different sense of deepness and I started to fuck around with stuff like that myself. My first EP that did that was the Depths EP in 2017. There was still some hardness in there, but it showed me moving towards where I wanted to be. Then I worked, worked and worked some more and eventually I had an idea to release an album. What I was making sounded so different to anything else I’ve done before. I thought ‘would this confuse fans to release it under the same name?’
I thought ‘well it is me, it’s how I’m feeling about the music and what I’m making, so let’s release it under the same name.’ So I did and I had no idea Noisia were paying attention, then suddenly I am listening to their podcast and was like ‘hey, that’s my tune!’ I was completely surprised. It blew my mind. Like how is this possible? Next week they played another one and then again the next week. Three in a row! I thought ‘okay cool let’s carry on in this direction.’
I love it. I’ve discovered a whole new world and new sound. I’m so inspired and writing so much, following the album we now have the Deadbox EP and, again, Noisia played three tunes in a row. So yes, going back to that first question… It is a totally a new chapter for me.
I noticed the changes with the tune Demon Shogun and that whole Armor EP. Tracks like Threshold, which is really soulful and also Forget The Past. That’s quite a loaded title considering the context…
Yes, it was a bit. It was meant in that way. I really enjoyed playing around with liquid elements on that. Again I was wondering about doing it under a different name but I needed to do it and I needed to stand for what I do.
I bet you’ve pissed off some hardcore fans, though!
Yeah I’ve had some unhappy messages for sure. But less than I thought. I’ve had people come up to me at gigs and said they prefer my old stuff. I respect that because they’ve paid to come to the show and have said it to my face. If you say that eyes-to-eyes then I respect you. But it doesn’t change anything. If you’re a fan of someone you respect them as a human being. I haven’t signed any contract with anyone to do one type of music, I can do what I want.
Love that! Fans should respect artists changing direction. Tell me the maddest message you had, though…
I had some really angry comments from one guy on YouTube. He was very very angry. I think this guy must have spent months writing it, he was enraged! It was close to a death threat. I was like ‘woah man, really? This is music! It’s just fun.’ I really wanted to reply but in the end I didn’t. I’m not putting my ass in the fire for someone I don’t know.
Don’t feed the trolls! So is this you mellowing with age? You’ve made some pretty angry records in your time! Focus On Violence, The Smasher….
Haha, yes I am definitely mellowing. The thing is, when I started I was producing hardcore and breakcore tunes but through the years I was less into that sound and style. I didn’t like the progress of the scene so I got into drum & bass and brought those elements into that. Then I moved into pure drum & bass, the neuro stuff, but again there was a point I felt it wasn’t exciting enough for me anymore. I was lying to myself and to the people who supported me. I never want to release music my heart isn’t in.
Amen. But there’s always punchy kinda punky vibe on things you do. Even in new tracks like Rustler. It’s your hardcore roots showing maybe?
Haha yeah. I do try and do that. I want the hardness of the music I’ve always loved but I want to explore how I bring that into the deeper sound. It’s got to be my own direction or style. It’s inspiring and, I have to be honest, I’d forgotten to experiment for a while. I was making tunes for things to mix but now it’s back to ‘fuck it, I’ll do what I want’. It’s freedom.
Freedom with vocalists too. Like Killa P! How did that come about?
A friend of mine from Prague is a grime MC. He introduced me to that world of music and I really wanted to work with an MC. But not with the MCs who are usually on drum & bass tunes. Then I heard Patrick’s stuff, I got in touch, he told me to send some stuff, I did and he told me what he liked. He did some amazing vocals and that was that. He’s such a cool guy and nice to work with.
Nice! So how about bookings? Are you playing deeper now as a DJ too?
No, I’m still playing a lot harder because that’s what people expect of me and why promoters are booking me. They want to hear a hard set and I’ll give that to them. If anyone wants a deep set than we’ll announce it that way. But there is a section for the deeper stuff in every set I do. I know it’s confusing and I don’t want to let people down so if you don’t see ‘deep set’ after my name on the bill then you know I’ll be going in hard.
Makes sense man. That’s super respectful of fans too. So what’s next on this newfound deep trip?
There’s a lot I can’t quite reveal yet but it’s probably okay to say that I’ve been in contact with Noisia a lot lately. So let’s see what happens there. I’m also working on lots of other stuff. I did some halftime heavy kinda Ivy Lab style stuff and I’m sending all kinds of things to labels right now. If they’re interested then cool. If not, I’ll release them on my own label. I’m very happy right now.