YouTube comments: can’t live with them, can’t work out what should be on NFS 3 without them.
For better or worse they’re the soul of the platform and the closest semblance of a community a channel can have. We don’t need to tell you that, though. This is UKF, home to some of the most notorious comments in online bass music culture.
Rockwell knows these commenters all too well. A man with a heavier dislike/like ratio than other UKF regular favourites, he actually welcomes the naysayers. He understands and appreciates he’s not their cup of tea. Even at shows he can see twinges of a disapproved chorus.
“I know that what I do, and the tunes I write, won’t please everyone. Sometimes I go into an arena and you can see people looking at me like I’m weird. Sometimes I get a sense of frustration from people,” he explains. “Or I get the idea people who go to raves don’t want to be challenged. They go to a liquid night and want to hear liquid all night or neurofunk night and hear neurofunk all night.
“I grew up in an era when DJs would play a soulful tune, a neuro tune and a jump up tune all together. It doesn’t happen so much now. People get in their lane and go straight ahead. I understand that. None of us make much money from releasing music, it’s all gigs and you have to keep people happy. But I don’t want to be DJing bored, hanging over the decks playing tunes that are all in F and all have the same drums. I want to challenge myself, I want to push myself, that’s where the enjoyment comes from anything for me. It’s why I make, play and listen to a wide variety of music.”
Cue: Chorus Of Disapproval, the first substantial body of work to come from Rockwell since last year’s remarkable album Obsolete Medium. Ranging from gully 160 physical thumpers (Out Of Vogue) to blissed out rolling steppery of the title track, it’s Rockwell at his broadest, baddest and zero-fucks-givenest.
“It was nice to leave the album behind and just make dark stuff again,” he tells us. “I think if I’d have put a darker track on the album it wouldn’t have worked so I just wanted to make darker music again. I’m really happy with it. I’m sure some people will disagree though…”
People like these guys… Just a handful of Rockwell’s harsher detractors on UKF over the years. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. Here’s Rockwell’s…
Riton – Rinse & Repeat (Rockwell Remix)
Rockwell: “Fair enough mate! It’s a random 4/4 garage D&B thing, it’s not to everyone’s taste. And fair enough on the look, too. That’s why I cut my hair lately. It got a bit much looking like an extra from TOWIE when you’re actually going for a James Dean look but clearly not pulling it off! Fair play for calling everyone a c*nt and not me a c*nt. You’re alright.”
Rockwell: “Where do we start? I think I’ve actually responded to this guy anyway but for the record… The snare isn’t a snare – it’s an 808 clap. If we can’t use them any more than most of house music has to go in the bin. The vocal might be a little loud because that’s the consistent request when you write a remix – can you make it louder? Plus, when that vocal comes in, there is very little else behind it so it’s going to sound pretty loud and stand out.
The kick hasn’t got any weight because it’s transient for an 808 kick so the kick goes all the way to the bottom – it’s a little pop to give the 808 kick some weight. That’s just a mixdown choice. I’m not going for that really meticulous, perfect mixdown. Other people are great at that – I have my own mixdown preferences and style.
I do have problems with my mids, he’s got a point there. I do wonder whether I’m scooping out too much or not enough. The version Friction played would have been an unmastered early version and BBC compression is unforgivingly harsh.
If you’re going to beat me round the head for sounding the same – there are people out there copying each other tunes. It’s ridiculous. We’re talking about carbon copies. Yeah some of my tunes sound similar because they’re written by me! Go through my discography – it’s healthy mate, there’s variation.”
Rockwell: “I’ve been causally destroying drum & bass for 15 years now and I’m not going to stop. I love bending it into any which way I can make it bend. Sorry mate!”
Rockwell: “It doesn’t miss the point to Detroit ghettotech, though. Go and listen to a DJ Assault mix and tell me I’ve missed the point. Ghettotech is gully – it sounds nasty, really gritty and confrontational. That’s what I love about it. It’s not about Detroit techno!”
London Grammar – Hey Now (Rockwell Remix)
Rockwell: “The whole idea behind this was contrast. Having that beautiful intro and delicate vocal then a really gritty drop. The whole thing with remixes is you’re given a brief when you do the remix. You’ll often be asked to make something in a particular way. My brief was to make a club tune. So I stayed true to the original and true to the brief. It works for me!”
Rockwell: “Ah Uberdude… I didn’t make a song that sounds like the people you like. Sorry mate! Mind you, if you’ve been listening to D&B for two years and you haven’t got any further than Hospital, Ram or Viper then you haven’t got very far. There’s a whole world out there – immerse yourself!”
Please Please Please (Play This On The Radio)
Rockwell: “No, it’s a really crap mash up of a tune called Vamp by Outsider on R&S and a C&C Music Factory tune which is where John B sampled the stab from and where High Contrast sampled the vocal. I’m referencing what they referenced and I actually referenced that acapella because I love that High Contrast tune. It was in fact the reason I bought turntables. True Colours is one of the best drum & bass albums ever written full stop. Homage? Yes. Rip-off? No.”
Rockwell: “Dude! I suspect we don’t have the same interests in life, am I right? I’m sorry I wrote a tune you didn’t like. As for UKF putting out mainstream stuff? Am I mainstream? Really? I think you’re confused. People have called me mainstream because I don’t make neurofunk – a sound which has been hugely dominant in the last few years. It’s not what I make.
And my track makes you want to die? Get a grip. Don’t listen to it again, find something you do like, do lots of it and enjoy your life! Don’t worry about me as I can’t say I’m worrying too much about you…”
Rockwell: “Failed drumstep but successful drum & bass!”
Rockwell: “Ha! That would make my life a lot easier too. Why make a six minute epic when DJs are going to rinse through it after the first drop? Short attention spans have a lot to answer for.”
Rockwell has a lot to answer for…