In Conversation With Ripple

Growing up in the former Czechoslovakia against a turbulent political backdrop that resulted in a change of political power from communism to democratic rule – then the dissolution into independent countries Czechia and Slovakia – Ripple have grown up in the aftermath of many socioeconomic and cultural changes.

One thing that has always remained constant though is their love of music. Meeting in a studio in Prague in 2017, PmdR and Spill soon formed a personal and musical bond that has seen them become Let It Roll resident, release a full-length LP and many other single releases, including what is arguably one of the best drum & bass bootlegs in years, both via established labels and self-released.

With a brand new single – Yesterday – out last month and plans for many more lined up, UKF welcome this Central European duo to hear their story so far.

Music is obviously a lifestyle for you both now, but has it always been this way?

PmdR: Music has been a part of my life from a very young age. I started tape-recording it and later made my own mini mix tapes on CD. I never really differentiated too much between the genres, so it was a mixture of rock, rap, r’n’b, EDM, pop and other styles.

Spill: A total lifestyle! I can’t imagine living without music. From my childhood, I remember being partial mostly to tunes and songs with distinctive melodies. For instance, I recall stuff like Mike Oldfield’s Moonlight Shadow, the Tubular Bells (I, II, III) albums, Haddaway’s What Is Love or Guru Josh Project’s (RIP) Infinity very vividly.

PmdR: I became partial to punk rock and metal, only to later exchange that for hip hop (especially local artists like H16 and Chaozz). A couple of years later someone played the holy trinity of tracks to me: they were Dillinja’s Twist ‘Em Out, Spor’s remix of The Qemists’ Stompbox and Pendulum’s Tarantula.

Spill: With the internet becoming ever more available, it was easier to also find music. I was mostly partial to trance, which I still have a soft spot and I still like to listen to sometimes. As my musical journey progressed, it wasn’t until much later that I found out about dubstep and drum & bass. It was the UKF YouTube channel of all places that completely changed my life and all of a sudden, here we are!

Yes! Obviously drum and bass is huge in both your countries but how has that developed over the years?

PmdR: The way I see it, both the Czech Republic as well as Slovakia are very mature when it comes to dance music. There’s a great house and techno scene. When it comes to drum & bass, it’s still mostly about neurofunk around here, but slowly the tides are turning and people are starting to grow fond of other sounds within the genre as well. Sometimes you can even hear drum & bass on the radio nowadays, which, except for like one or two dedicated shows, would never of happened a couple of years ago.

Spill: I’m personally very happy to see drum & bass getting aired on both Czech as well as Slovakian radio. It motivates me to keep working on myself and to try out different stuff, too. But in the end, drum & bass is always going be the place where I feel at home.

Beautiful. So previous to this you were DJing separately. One of you is from Czechia and the other from Slovakia, right?

PmdR: Well I was the one who was a little more prolific when it came to DJing. I was already a part of Let It Roll bookings back then and had gigs pretty much weekly. And yeah, I’m from Slovakia, but at that time I was residing in Prague. For my two cents, I think it’s a real shame that our countries have split. Since our languages and cultures are very similar, I believe that if we’d have stayed united, we might have been better off. In the same way I’m enjoying this kind of connection in our duo.

Back to Prague… The city seems to have a strong D&B scene going on!

PmdR: What I enjoy about Prague is its cosmopolitan nature. When it comes to the drum & bass scene, it’s very much similar to the other parts of our countries. The scene is quite friendly on the inside. There are people who are going fully underground as well as people who are into the more radio-friendly stuff, yet they get along and respect each other to a certain extent.

I’d like to big up Let It Roll, Roxy, Storm Club, Cross Club and many more who live and breathe the scene. But it’s not just about Prague, it’s about the Czech Republic and Slovakia as a whole. It’s quite obvious people around here love drum & bass.

Spill: I feel very blessed for all the opportunities and experience I got in Prague. The drum & bass scene around here is friendly and the crowds enjoy the music. It’s true that neurofunk is still the king in our countries, but the more melodic stuff is slowly getting more popular and I believe that is going to continue in the foreseeable future.

Please tell us a bit about your individual journey’s as producers. How did you both get into making music?

PmdR: Well I’m more of a producer in theory. Thanks to the long hours spent in the studio with Jirka I’ve grown very fond of it, but to become a really good producer, it’s vital to spend many, many hours honing the craft and I’m still just getting there.

Spill: I started trying out in FL Studio back in 2007. I tried to learn the melodies I liked, tried composing my very own first tracks and slowly learned how it all works. It wasn’t until 2016-2017 that I started focusing more on mix downs and sound design. And in 2018 we started releasing on Skankandbass, with our first single Portal/Infinite River. The most important part for me though is to believe in myself and in what I’m doing. I’m following my dream!

That’s inspiring. You seem not to pigeonhole yourselves into a certain style. How has this helped when gaining a following?

PmdR: We’ve never really pigeon-holed ourselves, we just make the stuff we’re feeling at the given moment and that’s how it sounds in the end. We trust our fans to think of our sound as the Ripple sound and not just a part of some specific subgenre of drum & bass. So far so good, I’d say, although quite a few producers were telling us we’d do better to stick to a particular sound, but we’re quite stubborn and it seems that our fans like that.

Spill: No pigeon-holing! I’m open to all the music genres.

Moving on to your album last summer – Effect – would you say that it reflects your styles and your personalities? Is it possible that one of you prefers the harder sound and the other something more melodical, or is it an equal blend of the both of you?

PmdR: We started working on our LP during the pandemic and it was quite an experience. Aside from the fact that we tried working with producers from abroad for the first time, we also tried to give it our all and get all the emotions and different kinds of music we enjoy out, hence the variety.

Spill: Each tune was initially an emotion or a feeling and it was quite challenging. The tracks were our best ideas from over the past two years, yet the biggest progress came during the last two months before the deadline as I was rushing myself to make it on time. Stress level 100! Truth be told, I’m glad to have got this over with so I can focus on other projects!

Your remix of Sub Focus Stomp was a big moment… How did the idea for that come about?

PmdR: As far as this opportunity goes, it was all very spontaneous. Since we didn’t have much time to make the remix, I took a train to go see Jirka in Prague and in about two-three sessions we put it together. We wouldn’t dream of getting into the top 3 and feel really proud about the fact that we did. We also feel the same about the fact that we heard our tune in Sub Focus’ sets. It’s a proper motivation for us.

Spill: I didn’t even want to do it at first, I just said ‘I’m gonna try it’ and I didn’t really polish it that much, since the deadline was super tight. It was a great opportunity though, and I’m really glad we took it. The result went far beyond my expectations.

We have to talk about the Depeche Mode remix! It takes a pretty brave producer to touch something as sacred as Enjoy The Silence…

PmdR: Thanks! It was very challenging. I mean it’s remixing one of the most important songs in music history, right? I chose this song since I’ve loved it ever since I was a child, both the original and Mike Shinoda’s re-interpretation.

Spill: It was quite daunting indeed. I wanted to capture the feeling of the original but enhance it with a modern sound. It was a huge challenge and of course – I wouldn’t do anything I wouldn’t be feeling with my whole heart. That’s also the reason why I have my closets full of started projects which I feel like they’re not ready yet in their current state.

Did you get any feedback from the band about the remix?

PmdR: We would obviously like that but we find the possibility of it ever getting near them quite unreal. But let’s be honest, getting feedback from Depeche Mode would be a massive thing and if it somehow happens one day, I’m really curious to hear their thoughts on it.

Your latest release Yesterday is an absolute festival banger. Is this track self-released?

PmdR: Yeah, unfortunately there aren’t many imprints in Central Europe which could offer a home for the music we’re making. And since there was more than enough time to educate ourselves in various other fields related to music during the pandemic, such as self-publishing, we’ve decided to head in our own direction. That being said, we’d love to achieve releases on labels such as Hospital, Pilot, Sleepless or Liquicity in the future. It would also be great to see Let It Roll recordings resurface at some point, as at the end of the day, Let It Roll is the brand we owe a lot to in regards to our evolution over the past couple of years.

Spill: I’m just happy to have the opportunity to compose and release whatever we want. But we definitely wouldn’t turn down the offer to release on Hospital or Liquicity!

What would you say are your main aims and goals for the next 6 to 12 months?

PmdR: The most important thing is to keep working on our sound and making tracks. For this festival season we have another two summery tunes done and ready to be released. Apart from that, we’ve started to put together a list of producers who are going to have a go at remixing the tunes off our LP. We’ve also talked to a couple of people about possible collabs, but nothing’s set in stone yet, so we’ll see about that. Last but not least, we’ve started experimenting with other tempos, but nothing’s really agreed yet with any collabs.

Spill: Drum & bass is always going to be our number one genre. I’m not opposed to trying out different stuff, but there’s still enough time for that. My own priority is to keep improving both in the studio as well as on the decks.

Speaking of which, what about gigs now? International travel is starting to open up again, so where might we see you playing over the next couple of months?

PmdR: For the moment, we’re mostly performing in Central Europe. We have quite a lot of gigs in Czech Republic and Slovakia, and also a couple of dates in the surrounding countries like Austria, Germany and Poland. I’m yet to fulfil two of my biggest dreams though, which are to perform in the UK and in New Zealand, but I believe that’s going to change soon and we’re going to be able to bring a little bit of the Ripple sound over to the UK soon!

Best of luck with the new single and all future endeavours!

Thank you for the interview, we really appreciate the chance! Love & peace!

Ripple – Yesterday is out now 

Follow Ripple: Facebook / Soundcloud