Rewind: It’s the arse end of 2014, The Others has just laid down one of the best My Style mixes in Dub Police history. Release-wise he’s dishing out his broadest beats to date – the almost trance-like Empire, the deep and groaning J:Kenzo collaboration The Prophecy, the pixelated melodic majesty of Voyager.
Early 2015: Cued up on his Soundcloud was Lions & Tigers & Snares, an absolute stomper of a track that suggested to everyone that more dynamic, widescreen bass business was to come from the Sub Soldier very soon.
But it didn’t. In fact the last 18 months has been the quietest we’ve known for The Others since he emerged.
Or has it?
Turns out he’s been very busy with side projects (including a whole bunch of ghost writing) and has returned to The Others project with more enthusiasm and vision that he has in years. Now packing a powerful and satisfyingly dynamic four tracker on Subway, here’s what he’s been up to and what he thinks about dubstep and where it’s at right now…
We last spoke around My Style. Almost two years ago… Not a lot of productions come our way between then and this new EP. What’s the story?
I took a bit of a break from The Others. I felt I was forcing ideas out. I wasn’t enjoying the process as much and no one was really inspiring me so I had a break from The Others and focused on additional production and ghost writing.
Ghost writing! I know you can’t say who but can you say what style?
Mainly dubstep, pretty well established stuff, too. I also did some house music and various other projects. It’s nice to have those opportunities to explore.
How does this work then? Do you tell people behind the scenes that you’re a ghost writer on the sly? Or do people just straight up ask you because they rate your productions?
Well I’ve always expressed an interest in doing things like that and I do love having the opportunity to try things without putting my name to it officially. People have asked me to work with them on mixdowns and a lot of the technical stuff and I love taking ideas and developing them. It’s very easy to get stuck in your routine so a lot of it is more like executive production in a sense. I’ll sit there with a fresh pair of ears and suggest different directions or melodies. Collaborating is so much fun because of this. Working with other people means you can bounce off each other and try new ideas. So in answer to the question, people would generally come to me with an idea and see if I could help them develop it. Some ideas I knew I could. Others I would decline as I didn’t think I could help them.
Any really nasty EDM stuff?
No, no EDM stuff. But the house stuff was very cool and very credible and a different world to work in. But most of these guys I’ve known for years anyway through industry stuff and shows. They’re all guys I can sit down with and rip apart their idea and I know they won’t take offence as I’m being constructive.
Do credible artists call on ghost producers?
It’s pretty normal to seek out guidance or opinions from your peers for sure. It’s not a case of losing the skills or not having the ability, it’s just being stuck on your own in a room with the same loop going over and over and over. It can drive you fucking crazy. So that’s when additional ears, vision, ideas can really help – you lose the bigger picture. People are very judgemental of their own stuff sometimes!
Here’s a judgement on Lions & Tigers and Snares: It’s sick! It’s about time too… It’s been on your Soundcloud for well over a year!
Thanks man. I made it towards the end of the My Style period when I was just getting a bit jaded with the sound. I sat on it for a while and didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t want to write any more similar stuff to turn it into a full release so I kept it on dub. A lot of the guys were playing it because it sits in the middle so the harder, more EDM guys have been playing it but then on the other side Caspa, Youngsta, N-Type have been playing it. I just wanted to make a full release and work out which label it should come on.
I think everyone just assumed it would be on Sub Soldiers or Dub Police…
They’re fully focused on the Caspa & Rusko stuff at the moment so I looked elsewhere and came to work with Subway. I haven’t left the label, I’m just trying different things out and I’m sure I’ll work with them again but it’s nice to try working with other labels. I’ve done bits on Wheel & Deal and Tempa but not full EP projects so it’s been a big learning curve working with new people. It’s been really inspiring.
You sound inspired musically!
Yeah I am. I’ve been going to a lot of shows to just listen and watch the reaction of other listeners and noticed this massive gap. On one side you have the big EDM sound which is huge in America and the deeper sound that’s consistent over here and Europe but very hard to break in America.
I play both sides of the Atlantic and I want that balance. It’s the balance I’ve always been in…. I’m not quite deep enough for the Deep Medis of the world but I’m not hard enough for the major EDM-style dubstep of the world either. There’s a big void between the two worlds and I want to fill that gap with my own stuff. Not strategically – I’m writing what I want to listen to. That’s the thing; you should write what you want to hear. Be that change you want to hear! I can’t hear the same style for six hours straight. Variety is crucial.
Yeah. It’s a really interesting challenge though; I don’t want to be middle of the road, so all of these tracks have to have real presence and real energy while resonating with guys from both sides. I could go away and write massive balls-out EDM stuff. I could go away and write the soulful minimal deep stuff but that wouldn’t be being true to myself. These new tracks and this new challenge is what I’ve always been about but I’ve become inspired again and have a new goal with it.
So what’s next?
I’ve got a lot of collaborations on the go. Obviously there was Proxima on the EP, which is actually quite old now, but there are loads more. I just really enjoy working them and getting new ideas and inspiration. Some come out, some don’t. That’s the way it is. But right now I have tracks on the go with Funtcase, Youngsta, Trampa and something with Emalkay. I love working with anyone – it doesn’t matter what sound they make, it’s all 140 and it’s all got a place. I want to bring it all together as it’s been too fragmented here for too long. Look at the UK and there are very few dedicated dances for us.
Where do most of your shows come from then?
American and mainland Europe. Which I love. But you can’t beat a home crowd. All my mates can come along and it’s a proper vibe. I miss that…
I miss those days, too. Birmingham’s Rainbow Warehouse and fabric every single weekend.
Those were proper dances weren’t they? Birmingham had loads going on, Leicester, Manchester, Leeds, Brighton, Bristol… So many great nights. Now there are only a handful. But things are on the pick up and there’s a lot of activity. It won’t be like those mad old days when you had the whole momentum of dubstep and EDM blowing up in America and everything going crazy, I think it will be more refined when it comes back round.
Previously I think one of the issues was that there were too many producers biting the styles of more established producers. You had millions of Skrillex copies and J:Kenzo copies with exactly the same blueprint. But now there are new guys coming through with fresh ideas and they’re going to be at the forefront of this wave.
Who you feeling right now?
Some of them have been around for a while; Kahn & Neek have been killing it for a while now, Bukez Finezt, obviously. Truth have impressed me loads by breaking down the barriers and putting deep music out on Firepower. They’re showing that the barriers we perceive don’t exist. Trampa’s smashing it. Swindle is in a league of his own. And I have to shout Caspa & Rusko. Their new approach is so refreshing. They don’t care about rules and formula; they’re just making buzzing music. That’s what the world needs right now.