This month sees the ever-rising skills of Euphonique land on one of the Bristol’s oldest D&B institutions: Ruffneck Ting.
Run by founding member Dazee, Ruffneck Ting played a huge role in Bristol’s influential D&B movement throughout the 90s. Their parties were the stuff of flame throwing legend. Their mixtapes featured every pioneer involved in the genre from Bukem to Hype (they can even be spotted on cult clubbing film Human Traffic) and various members of the crew were responsible for institutions like Knowledge Mag and Kosheen. After a break during the 2000s, Dazee reloaded the label with like artists such as Jinx, K Jah, Vytol, Dawn Raid, massive albums like The Xtraordinary League Of Junglists series and events across Bristol. With a tight crew and its raw, energetic jungle signature fully honed Ruffneck Ting has never been healthier. And Glow is proof.
Euphonique’s debut EP for the label (and the first of a few EPs she’s set to drop over the coming months) Glow is out March 20. It goes a bit like this.
To mark the release we caught Dazee and Euphonique in interview mode to discuss inspirations, techniques and have your own personal clone. Get to know…
Euphonique: Who, or what, was it that inspired you to make music and how did you start?
Dazee: It was demand. We’d started Ruffneck Ting, things were getting busy and I didn’t have enough tunes to play. It wasn’t like tunes flooding in as they do now, you’d be lucky if three or four tunes came each week that fit your style, so the obvious thing to do was to make them myself. Markee [Ruffneck Ting co-founder] was already tinkering and we made the first things on an Atari, with early Cubase sequencer softwear and a Roland keyboard.Those were the Substance tunes we did together. Then I got a Roland 760 sampler and wrote my solo stuff on that. It felt really natural at the time. It was easier, in a way, than now. A lot less directions you could go in. You had a set amount of sample time and it was very limiting which helps you focus, I think.
Euphonique: Yeah, there’s more to think about nowadays. Less hardware and equipment, but there is more you can do to make sure it’s ‘finished’.
Dazee: Definitely. So…. Where exactly are you hiding your clone? There has to be more than one of you to make all that music, do the gigging and collabing…
Euphonique: (Laughs) I wish there was a clone! I never really feel I’m doing enough if I’m honest, guess it’s a blessing and a curse. I think a lot of musicians feel the same way.
Dazee: I think what I’m trying to say is much respect to you and how hard you work!
Euphonique: Thank you! I’ve tried to spend every spare minute I can on music, and this year I’m trying to put some focus on my personal life too. It’s constant battle and trying to get that balance right.
Dazee: The work / life balance is so hard. I think it’s the price people feel they have to pay for success…
Euphonique: My question follows on from that. What keeps you motivated to do music? Say at the end of the week, when you’re driving to a gig at daft-o-clock on a Sunday morning or you’re trying to get your music heard and it feels like no one is listening… What keeps you going?
Dazee: There are a few things. I set myself a high standard. I get perfectionist about sorting my set out and practicing my mixes so that keep me focused. But mainly anything label or people related keeps me going. Collabs I’ll get finished much quicker than anything I do on my own, for example. Commitment to the label and other people is a much bigger driving force for me. Another thing is that I teach at BIMM so I’m constantly keeping up with the technology. I learn stuff for, and from, the students and that motivates me. It can be draining and sometimes you do need to switch off and that’s important to do too. How about you, what keeps you motivated?
Euphonique: I was thinking about that too. I used to teach as well and that was a big motivation. The students would ask about a topic or technique and I’d have to go and research it and sharpen my skills on it. I think just wanting to share my music has been a driving force full stop for me. When I start a piece of music and it starts to mean something to me then that’s a motivation to share it with others and inspire them too. No one’s gonna hear it if you don’t get it done, right?
Dazee: Totally. That brings me nicely to my next question. What’s your favourite tune you’ve written and why?
Euphonique: That’s a really hard question! Favourites constantly change but there is one that means a lot to me which I’ve been sat on for a few years. I did it with Lady Soul. She’s wicked. I wrote the lyrics after a crappy time and writing was a massive release emotionally. I recommend writing to anyone, I’d never sing or MC or anything but writing them and getting it all down really helped me and hearing it all come together, having Becky sing the lyrics, was special. It’s got a lot of personal meaning to it. I should probably release it one day.
Dazee: Definitely. I had a similar project with a collective called Eden in the early 2000s and it was the same thing. I was doing a lot of lyric writing with the singer. We never put anything out as individual tracks but some tracks did appear on a commercially released mix. It was a shame I didn’t release it. It meant something to me. You should definitely release that track.
Euphonique: Yeah I hope to one day! Just need to make the final tweaks and get it out there!
Dazee: What’s the strangest DJ experience you’ve ever had?
Euphonique: (Laughs) Two spring to mind, both costume related. During one of my Glastonbury sets this group of people dressed as sexy clowns came up on stage acting like chickens. They stayed in character all the way, clucking towards me making eye contact. It was hilarious and totally surreal.
Dazee: (Laughs) What was the other experience?
Euphonique: It was a Halloween thing in France and they’d really gone to town on the costumes. Proper make-up and all sorts. It was in a pretty rural area and no one spoke much English, even the promoter, And my French isn’t all that, so I felt quite disconnected surrounded by clowns, zombies and witches In character. It was just really bizarre, but epic!
Dazee: Brilliant! I DJ’d as Maleficent at Westfest one year and Darth Vader last year at Area 404. I do love a good Halloween costume!
Euphonique: Me too but mine have never been as good as yours! So what’s been the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in your career so far and how did you push past it?
Dazee: Apart from overcoming the embarrassment of being the only DJ wearing a Halloween costume, I’ve found I work really well in a crew. I like being encouraged and I like encouraging people and I’m really enjoying that at the moment, developing the family on the label. So when the original Ruffneck Crew went their separate ways in the early 2000s that was hard. Rachel and Colin went to London with Knowledge Mag and Markee went off to do Kosheen and I was handed Ruffneck Ting and I didn’t feel I was ready for that. I got involved in other crews like Eden and Dutty Girl which were both wicked, but then when I met Jinx and K Jah and Vytol I could hear the sound and feel the vibes and knew the crew was growing again and I was ready to build Ruffneck back up.
Euphonique: Yeah I get that, the pressures of being a solo artist. It’s nice to share the journey with other people, too…
Dazee: That’s it. Now I’ve got age and experience behind me I’m able to do Ruffneck justice and develop the artists and run the club nights and really put everything into it. I wasn’t ready to do that before. Or I didn’t realise I could.
Euphonique: It’s funny as I’ve always looked at the label – Jinx, K Jah, Vytol, you – like a family, it’s hard to think of it before.
Dazee: That’s exactly what I’m trying to create. A real crew vibe. So next question; what’s the secret to your drums? They seem really lively and energetic. There’s something to them…
Euphonique: I’m not sure I can tell you that! (Laughs) I used to be a drummer so maybe there’s a bit of that in there. A lot of building my drums is from layering – things like clicks and snaps over snares – and experimenting. I find a rhythm I like, replace the sounds and try new things – off beat kicks for example – trying things you wouldn’t normally hear or that are a bit unorthodox. Just experimenting and trying things out, really. The beauty of using a DAW is if sounds crap you can always undo it.
Dazee: Interesting. I’m pretty anti-double kicks but you even manage to make them sound great. Like it’s not too heavy, just lively.
Euphonique: (Laughs) Yes we had a bit of discussion about that when making our tune! I love percussion and little details. I’ve always loved zoning in on the little bits that were changing or weird sounds in tracks that I like. Like using unusual sounds in breaks or fills. Or take away complete elements of a beat, or bringing in new bits of percussion that add new energy. I EQ everything as I go, which means I can get them clean and punchy and hear what’s missing.
Dazee: I love the cheeky reverse snare. You do too…
Euphonique: I bloody love a reverse snare! So what are your favourite two moments from your career so far?
Dazee: Two? I’ve had millions! Glastonbury last year springs to mind. It went from a totally empty tent to a full one in seconds. That was amazing. Any of the outdoor festivals have been moments. Hospitality In The Park was great. Being resident for RUN has been great, too. All of their events just kick off. The whole of last year was a favourite moment, really. But back in the day things like being filmed for the ITV Sounds Of The West documentary. That really captured a moment that was happening and I’m amazed with how cool we all seemed back then! How about you?
Euphonique: Last year, without a doubt. The whole year was the best One yet. Glastonbury especially.
Dazee: I’ve got one more question, a technical one. What’s the most significant recent technique or plug-in that’s made the most difference to your sound?
Euphonique: The moment really started applying subtractive EQing it all fell into place. Rather than boosting what you want to be stronger, heavier or more prominent, thinking about what you can takeaway from some else to make room for it. For example cutting the low end out of this that and the other that doesn’t need it lets your bass come through ams allows its energy to really come through – it avoids that muddy sound you end up with when there is too much going on. You only have so much ‘space’ in one tune.
Dazee: Less is more!
Euphonique: Totally, it’s just making sure everything is needed and there’s nothing there for no reason. In terms of plug-ins, I don’t know.
Dazee: I know you love Ableton’s drum buss.
Euphonique: I really do! It gives that push to the drums once they’ve been mixed. Operator, the main synth in Ableton, is so simple yet so effective, too. But I love Massive – I’ve recently been cheating on it with Serum – and Kontakt for keys. So, final question… How do you think things have changed for women in music since you started?
Dazee: There’s a lot more focus on it now. In the early days we just got on with our stuff. Now there’s too much emphasis on social media popularity but the ones who are shining are the ones getting on with it, running labels, making music and putting everything into it. It didn’t feel like an issue when I started. It was unusual to be a female DJ but it wasn’t remarked on much. I’d still like to see more women getting into production. As a teacher I still see one in 10 applicants as female and I wonder what the reason for that is. One thought I had was that if you’re technologically minded as a woman then you’re more attracted to science or some other sector and not making music maybe?
Euphonique: There are loads of theories out there! But I think it’s good to just keep making women aware they can and should do it if it’s what they’re interested in. For me personally I was making music but always worried about getting it out there, then it got to a time where I was fuming with the people always saying ‘the reason there’s no female DJs on this line-up is because no females produce.’ I was like ‘oh really? Okay then, let’s get theses tunes out there!’
Dazee: Totally. And there are female artists making tunes, promoters are just looking in the wrong places. The next Ruffneck Ting party is full of us. It’s your EP launch party with you, me, Lady V Dubs. All of us producing, Two female MCs who are recording artists as well. Everyone on that line-up is smashing it.
Euphonique: You smash it too!
Dazee: Aw shucks, thanks, I better had on this one! It’s one of my favourite line-ups and I can’t forget the token boys: Jinx and Mixjah. I haven’t started promoting it properly yet but it’s already getting attention. I can’t wait…