Not many other artists have released music on the same array and amount of labels as Neve in the last 12 months. Since September 2018 he’s been hammering out an immense range of goods on the likes of Hospital Records, None60, Trust Audio, Guidance, Lifestyle, Overview, Unchained and his own label The Dreamers.
From thick gloopy technoid halftime to sinewy, slippery tech funk via classic house 160 revamps, Neve has laid everything on the table through these releases; his explorative calling card, his versatility and his ability to capture that raw, grainy vibe the best underground has. Behind the scenes he’s also been touring and producing a funk band, he’s exploring the house music world, he’s been building up a massive collaborative trip-hop album and running The Dreamers, developing it into the most recognised and respected Italian drum & bass labels in the history of the genre.
To say he’s little bit busy, then, is like saying Calibre has ‘one or two’ dubs. We called him to find out where he’s at and what else is coming. We left a little worried he may actually start gravitating away from drum & bass. Just like his recent Overview tune; there are positives and negatives to Neve’s current status…
How are you man?
Quite tired! I’ve been touring to a few shows of a funk band of friends that I produce.
Funk band eh? Tell us more!
One of my friends Crimson, a really good DJ, producer, teacher, bass and guitar player. He’s got different bands and after a few years of producing drum & bass together he asked me to produce his funk band. It’s so cool to sample musicians in a live session instead of vinyl. It’s a new experience for me. We did an album in two months. They’re called Funk Rimini.
I’ll check them. This is one of many things you’re doing right now. But I want to get some history on The Dreamers. The longest-running, most established Italian drum & bass crew!
Yes we are into our 13th season now, based in Turin. It started with Rollers Inc (Mighty M & De Niro), our grandfathers. They’re the original pioneers here, then they brought in the youngers. Bow, Kermit, Sciso. Myself, Skip, Venz. We keep on making parties and together all these years we still do them. For me personally my story is different. I lived in Turin for five years and joined the crew, but I’ve moved around a lot of different cities. Right now I’m in the north, near Austria, to create the label. It’s cheaper here for me to live how I want; run the label and write music. I can put more time into it. It’s all about time isn’t it?
Our biggest enemy. I know it’s been hard for drum & bass to take off in Italy, right?
Yeah. For the first period, 15-20 years ago drum & bass was rave music, not clubs. There were only a few clubs that pushed it. But it grows in time. Every city has a crew and things are growing time by time. It’s accepted now, lots more than it was. People are realising the best drum & bass parties are small, 200/300 people, small place, cool vibes, cool people. This is the underground, we need to remember that. Discovering that is a passion for the majority of people who work in drum & bass over here. For a lot of people it’s like a second job while they do other projects. This way it stays underground and is run by people driven by party.
But this is also a problem because the dream so many people have of making drum & bass all their lives just isn’t possible financially. Unless you are incredibly talented or lucky. It’s not an easy job – if you want to live with the music you have to work on a broad spectrum of things, maybe make other genres of music that make you more money. But it’s wonderful that drum & bass is still there and that people make it work for them and spread love for the music.
There’s a lot of love for The Dreamers. When did you feel things were taking off and people outside of Italy were paying attention? I first found you when Was A Be released on Subtitles and I checked his other stuff.
When Fabio was signed by Subtitles and Shogun Audio it was a big thing for Italy. A lot of our singles had been big tunes for us at our parties for years. We knew it was working but we had been sending our music to all these labels and they weren’t getting back to us. So I decided to set up The Dreamers so I could get my music and the music of my friends out there. I take responsibility ,maybe because now I’m one of the oldest of the group, as guys like Kiril, Synth Ethics and Was A Be are younger than me. I want to help them get out there and give them as many opportunities as I can.
So you’ve come from old school but you’re very much part of the new school
This is important for me. I make a lot of music on hardware I’ve collected and I love that classic house sound from the 90s you get from a lot of those synths. It’s something I try and put it into the drum & bass sound. But now it’s making me want to make house music as well. So I’m also producing funky house and making house tunes but playing them live.
Oh cool. Is this an alias you can share or secret?
I can’t say anything yet. I have another project too which is important to me. It’s my focus for the last year. When I travel around to play drum & bass I try and hang around and meet musicians, singers, players, producers and enjoy a studio session together, just focusing on the vibe. And through this I’ve prepared a trip-hop album. It’s pure magic and it’s another project under another alias. This is what my soul needs. I put too much energy in the drum & bass world and the return is not that big so I need to do other stuff as well.
This is a big thing for you isn’t it?
Yeah man. It started to hurt me. I was making dark tracks because it infected my soul. So basically I found healing in more good music in other styles and more explorations. It has inspired me.
I bet it’s influenced the sound of the drum & bass you’re making too?
Maybe but I am making every style of drum & bass and always have. It’s not a tip I can suggest to new producers though. I just feel the vibe. If I want to make a hardcore thing, it’s okay. If I want to do deep, it’s okay. I try and include elements of UKG, house, reggae dub things I love. I’m just trying to find a balance of mixing together all the styles. Sometimes I feel I don’t try; it’s just like an energy that uses me to manifest itself. I’m channelling it, or its channelling me to make the art.
This must explain releases on all these labels lately…
Maybe. Some tracks have long stories, they take years to come to life. But since last September I have been releasing all the tunes I’ve made. I had 30 songs and I didn’t want to wait to put them out. Some opportunities came up. Like Hospital asked for something and I was on their Hospitality On The Beach compilation. That was an honour.
But yes I’ve been working with lots of guys and trying to get my music out as much as possible. It hasn’t been easy and sometimes I think people don’t listen. Last year I tried to put together a Dreamers showcase with the core artists – myself, Kiril, Synth Ethic, MC Kwality. We can fill up the whole night. We had five last year but it’s been too hard for me to book these things, it’s impossible for one person to do. I was pushing my friends, myself, mastering the catalogue and trying to live and work.
I hear that. Not enough hours in the day. Not enough hands at the pump.
Yes, at this point I need to create a team that works behind it. It’s like you guys included us in the list of best labels last year. Now we have to work at that level. I’m happy with this but I’m sad at the same because I don’t have the resources to work at that level. We need to rest a little, create a team of right people behind the label. A team of DJs aren’t the best people to run labels. I gave up everything in my life to create The Dreamers and now I need to claw back some of my life. I’m moving to Milan and I’m working on radio there. I’ll be closer to Turin again and I’ll find the team to keep working with The Dreamers.
It’s about finding that balance…
It’s about finding an Italian agency who can represent the Italian scene. That’s what we miss here. If I want to get bookings for me or The Dreamers there is a lot of correspondence involved. I think agencies need to visit our clubs and see how things are here and how the DJs play. It’s why I play all around Italy but not often outside, because I know my value. We bring so many people into Italy so I’d like to see European support for more Italian artists. Basically if drum & bass loses Neve then you’ll have to ask promoters why….
Woah! Are we losing you?
Well I am doing different types of music for sure but this is why I’m pushing out all my drum & bass now. I’m taking a break and evolving and enjoying my sound now and I’m totally free. I don’t have a label that tells me what sound to make, I can just make whatever the hell I like.
So what’s up next?
There’s a new thing that’s come out on Unchained. They’re a great small independent label from China who I have lots of respect for. They do parties, they do it for the music, they’re working really well and I’m proud to be on their label. I also have another release on Overview who are really driven by passion and respect for the music. There’s also stuff on Trex’s Trust Audio, again someone I massively respect. The Dreamers will be monthly releases and next releases will be a 160 project and the future is maybe open to all bass music. I have a lot of fun experimenting with BPM but using the same sounds of drum & bass. Maybe a sub label or a new project? My mind is just really open. I just want to make beautiful vibe and stay happy. There’s no limit.