Mark McCann and Bart van Dijk – aka June Miller – met each other fifteen years ago along the M25 (one of the UK’s most hated motorways) in the back of a rock band’s rickety old tour bus.
The way they met might have been rather fortuitous, but there has been nothing lucky about how they’ve become so respected within the drum & bass scene: nothing but hard work and perseverance (along with tonnes of musical ability, of course) are to thank for where they are today.
Their latest EP – Ups & Downs – encapsulates what they’re all about; experimental hard-hitting drum & bass with impeccably high production values.
“The reaction to Ups & Downs has been really good,” grins Mark, the UK half of the Anglo/Dutch operation. “We’ve catered for what we like ourselves, which is lots of different styles and lots of dynamics. There was some doubt over Saus as it’s different to our usual sound, but because it went down well in our sets we decided to include it on the release.”
An EP is often an indicator that an album is on its way. Luckily that’s the case in this instance, as the duo have a full LP set to drop towards the latter end of the year.
“We’re in the final stages of producing an album which is really exciting,” explains Mark. “We’ve got a name and track listing for it, so we just need to mix everything down and it’ll be pretty much finished.”
“Our concept for the album was to have one continuous piece of music, which has been a bit of a challenge to put together but it falls within our theme of being dynamic – we really want to take our listeners on a journey.”
Speaking of journeys, June Miller have experienced a pretty unique one themselves. We asked them to highlight the various twists, turns, ups and downs of their musical voyage so far…
At that point we even considered stopping the whole drum & bass thing altogether, it really hit us hard…
“To be honest there haven’t been too many downs in our career, we’ve been pretty lucky! But there are a few…
We entered this Dutch music competition about four years ago, which at the time was quite a respected and renowned competition. We got to the final and were tipped to win it but despite our hopes we weren’t even close to winning! It was a bit of a shock considering we thought our production skills were up to scratch and it left a bit of a bitter taste.
At that point we even considered stopping the whole drum & bass thing altogether, it really hit us hard, but luckily we decided to carry it on and six months later we got a call from RAM asking for our music. The rest is history, as they say…”
“The best thing that’s ever happened to us was signing to RAM, which happened completely out of the blue. It was back in the days when everyone used AIM, and I remember one day I left mine logged in and came back to it to find a message from Andy saying he loved our tunes and wanted to hear some more.
At first we couldn’t really believe it and thought he must just say that to hundreds of producers, but nevertheless it gave us a huge boost and we sent a few tracks over anyway just in case he genuinely was interested.
Luckily he came back to us pretty much straight away saying he liked the tracks and wanted to wrap up an album deal. We couldn’t believe it! That’s definitely our biggest achievement to date. Ever since signing to RAM we’ve loved it; all the guys are really into their music and there’s a really close-knit relationship between all of us.”
Someone had hacked our online sharing platform, downloaded all the tunes and edited them slightly before sending them out to everyone.
“About three years ago we knuckled down and wrote loads of music to try and bounce back from losing that music competition. We must’ve spent about four months writing a whole bunch of strong drum & bass tunes which we were really happy with.
Then, one Wednesday night, we decided to take a break in the studio by tuning into the live D&BTV stream to watch Ulterior Motive. All of a sudden they dropped a tune that sounded a lot like one of the tracks we had been working on, followed by another one which also sounded very familiar. We looked at each other and wondered what the hell was going on.
We spoke to Ulterior Motive afterwards to find out about it and they told us that there was a new producer on the scene who had sent them loads of new tunes! Someone had hacked our online sharing platform, downloaded all the tunes and edited them slightly before sending them out to everyone. We had to scrap all those tunes which was obviously an absolute nightmare, but at least Ulterior Motive liked our tracks without realising it was us.”
I recall hearing a Noisia track and wondering how they made music like that, and it really made us want to start producing.
“Of course, the time me and Bart met is another huge moment in our career and a pretty cool story. When I was about 16 I left school and decided to start a hardcore punk record label. Somehow, despite not having a clue what I was doing, it all fell together quite nicely and I began to develop a little roster.
One day I received a CV from a Dutch band and fell in love with their music instantly. I got in touch with them to sort out a contract and my plan was to get them over to the UK for a tour before getting an album out, which they agreed to.
So a few weeks later I got a call from their coach driver saying that they were somewhere along the M25 and I had to go and meet them. After eventually finding them, I jumped in the van and off we went around the UK stopping off at various dingy pubs all over the place.
One of the members was of course Bart. After the tour we stayed in contact and several years later decided to ditch the punk scene and started listening to drum & bass. I recall hearing a Noisia track and wondering how they made music like that, and it really made us want to start producing.”