Two weeks ago we dropped this frenzied flashback…
Swaggering with the funky stench of the carefree 09s, it’s the work of a seemingly unknown freshman Myro.
Dig a shade or two deeper, though, and you’ll find he’s behind some of the biggest dubstep stories this decade and is no stranger to the studio as a member of Statix, Mediks and Astronaut in previous years.
Best known as Disciple and Illuminated Artist Management co-founder (alongside Dodge & Fuski) Rossy Burr, over the course of three years he’s signed, developed – and consequently now manages – some of the new generation bass premiership: Virtual Riot, Barely Alive, Dubloadz and many more.
Somewhere amid running the label and managing big acts he’s found time to not only return to the studio but take time to research what many would believe to be dubstep’s golden age. Like many of his recent critics, he’s not using Virtual Riot’s infamous Serum preset pack, either… He’s unearthed the original pre-Massive synth and dug deep into sound he made a pretty accurate prediction on late last year.
Here’s how the Myro project came about, the story behind Virtual Riot’s notorious preset sample pack and clear thoughts on how dubstep can retain its current re-found freshness and excitement.
You’ve been sitting on Playa for a while…
Yeah I have. One thing I’ve always had an ear for is following patterns and predicting trends. Like most, I found a lot of the dubstep in the US late last year beginning to sound a little stale… Similarities in sounds and less attention to really exciting songs. In an attempt for DJs to stand out or one-up the DJ before them it has also became the norm to be making dubstep at 150bpm instead of 140 now, too. I’m all for evolution, but we’ve ended up in a place where the kind of music we all fell in love with has been forgotten about. It’s become more about ‘head-banging’ rather than dancing… Don’t get me wrong though, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with dubstep at 150bpm! As far as I’m concerned, Barely Alive and Virtual Riot are the world’s best at that sound right now alongside Skrillex and Zomboy but dubstep doesn’t groove in the same way at 150.
It’s lost its funk
Yes. One of the things that attracted me to dubstep in the early days was the beat syncopation, how the hats shuffled and I think that’s something that’s been forgotten about. In the last 18 months I believe we’ve also seen a shift in focus on production too. Everyone is so obsessively bothered about their mix down sounding like Zomboy or their track being as loud as Knife Party that they’ve forgotten to inject any sort of heart, soul or vibe into their tracks. I believe people are hungry for the vibe again, not the perfect sounding kick drum. I love that my mix downs are a bit shit and the top ends messy. If my drum hits were as good as Zomboy, the vibe wouldn’t be the same. Trends and fashion run in cycles so it was only a matter of time before people became hungry for the vibe again.
So that’s what you did…
Well I’ve been feeling it for a while but nothing was happening so I thought ‘why not put my money where my mouth is?’ I went back over all my favourites from when I was 15/16 years of age and listened to all the old Caspa & Rusko mixes every day in the gym on repeat. I tried to avoid as much new dubstep as possible – besides the acts I manage – and retrained my brain to get back into the old mind set I used to have. I started from scratch and found myself falling in love with all the early Hench and Dub Police releases all over again. I downloaded every Mary Ann Hobbes guest mix I could find online and came back to my UK home Bristol for a while just to allow myself to be influenced by this city again. I also started to research and think about the synths and plugins that were being used during that time and found that a lot of it was Albino. All the early Rusko and Bar 9 releases were all made on it.
Pre Massive. Old school. I had to find a crack of it because it’s no longer available. I learnt how to use it but then I found a problem… When you start to put the sounds in the tracks, the level of production has come such a long way that Albinos wave forms are too thin to match the level of today’s drum production. Nothing was working so I had to re-think my approach. I didn’t want Myro to be a complete carbon copy of 2008/09. If this sound is going to come back, it has to carry the same vibe but it needs to be a fresh approach. So I went back to Massive and tried to create the older Albino sounds in that. Once I worked it out I wrote 8-9 tracks in a month and while I was doing that, all the signs of my prediction were kicking in.
Caspa & Rusko getting back together, Cookie Monsta’s Wobble EP…
Yeah. I also saw Trolley Snatcha Tweeting he was thinking about putting out some new dubstep again, Bare Noize returned with the old UKF logo. The Others came back with a MONSTER of an EP, Gentlemen’s Club are working on that old 2009 UK sound, too. Loads of signs, all affirming my suspicions and adding up.
Let’s switch to your other role – as a manager and label owner – some of your guys are a little guilty of competing in that mixdown and sound design war, right?
A little? A lot! Disciple releases that type of dubstep. We love it. But there’s a lot of bandwagon shit happening too. Like I said before, as far as that American 150 dubstep sound goes I believe we’ve got two of the worlds best, so we’re not looking to sign any other artist who’s in the same lane as our guys.
The other bit of controversy is that we put out Virtual Riot’s sample pack. We were the first to release a dubstep Serum presets sample pack. This upset a lot of producers but if I’m really honest with you, I don’t regret a thing and I fully believe it was the right thing to do. Off the back of that serum presets pack, Virtual Riot became the most talked about dubstep artist in the US as far as sound design and production goes. He completely changed the game overnight.
People were moaning that he’d given away the secrets, which in a way is true, but someone had to stir up some controversy and burst the bubble. Even a few of the scene’s figureheads became bitter over our decision to do this but completely missed the point and chose to dwell on the negative rather than the positive. Virtual Riot is king of the hill right now and he’s set a new standard. That sample pack was an invitation to all to get back in the studio, step up their game and create something better.
A few artists have been outspoken on it…
A few! Dubloadz (who is now room mates with Virtual Riot) is one of our own guys who I love to bits, was one of the first to call it out. But after I explained my reasons I watched him get back into the studio and push himself harder than he ever has, to write something that didn’t just sound like everyone else and that’s when he came out with the Cuck Life EP. For me, that EP was the most original dubstep release of the last year. I believe that Megalodon took the same approach over his last EP on Never Say Die as well, he’s worked out a way to use Serum that’s a bit different to everyone else. That’s what we should be doing, not moaning. I’m in this to keep pushing the sound forward, not to keep recycling the same shit and that’s the same attitude I’ve been taking with my approach to Myro.
You’ve been in a few production projects – Astronaut, Mediks etc – but you seem to be the happiest or most excited about Myro…
Statix and Mediks were both trios. Astronaut was a duo. Myro is my first solo project and I’m 100% responsible for everything good that happens but also all of my own mistakes as well. I’ve never been in this situation before and I’m loving it.
Bet you’ve had some great advice from your peers?
For sure. Martin from Bar 9 gave me a lot of insight on how they used to do things and lot of new production techniques came from Virtual Riot – he brought me up to speed. I’m extremely lucky to have the people around me that I do. The Disciple family has never been stronger.
So the old school vibe is high. We all love that. Any way to preserve it for a while?
I think you just have to go with the flow… Who really knows whether this sound will turn into another movement or not? All I know is that I’m having more fun in the studio than I ever have and I’m super stoked that people are feeling the tunes I’m putting out. However, I think history has taught us a few things… Where it all went wrong for me before was when dubstep got so big, so fast and started to make a lot of money that a lot of producers – including myself – started to become very insecure about their art and make compromises. People started to focus so much on their social media numbers, ticket sales and money that they completely lost track of why they started making music in the first place. While all of that is important and shouldn’t be disregarded, there’s something about having a mind set where creating the best possible art unlocks a realm of creativity within yourself that often ends with you profiting more in the end anyway.
Joyryde and TC are perfect examples of producer/DJs who model this extremely well and if you’re ever lucky enough to sit down and have a conversation with either of them, you’ll know why. I’ve learnt so much from them both over the years. If you want to preserve any real progress in any genre or sound – not just this new old school vibe – we all need to take a leaf out of books from artists like them.