As the North American drum & bass movement continues to pick up rapid pace, more and more exciting new-generation artists are cutting through the noise and making themselves known.
With a Fred V collaboration landing on Hospital Records this week, a recent remix of Reaper, releases on Wilkinson’s Sleepless and UKF label Pilot, you could definitely say Audioscribe is one of those very artists.
But for anyone who’s followed the NCS platform, he’s been a known name since 2014 and his breakthrough track Free Fall has been streamed over 15 million times.
Back then Audioscribe – real name Dylan – was barely 15. For a while he was worried he’d already peaked before he’d got to warm up. Mercifully a break away to reconnect with his guitar helped him refine his technique and he’s now deep into his career sculpting a unique rock-influenced, anthemic liquid drum & bass signature.
Set to sign out of 2022 with some of his most high profile releases to date, Audioscribe’s position at the forefront of the new North American wave is impossible to ignore right now… Despite not being able to take his music to as many dancefloors as he’d like to.
Diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy during his teens, Dylan is permanently wheelchair-bound and has found many venues and events aren’t accessible for him to perform. As if cutting through the noise and making yourself known wasn’t hard enough…
UKF caught up with Dylan a few weeks ago to discuss his rise, the momentum of American drum & bass, and how he’s dealing with accessibility issues posed by venues and events.
How are you, man?
I’m good! I’m a little busy. I have a lot of releases scheduled for the last part of the year.
Yeah there was the remix of Reaper recently. That seemed very well timed. Everything is popping for US drum & bass right now…
Totally. I think the pandemic helped a lot because a lot of shows got cancelled. This meant that a lot of artists couldn’t make it back over for their bookings and a lot more domestic acts like Reaper, Kumarion and Justin Hawkes got booked.
Also people were stuck at home and listened to a lot more music than they usually would. So I think a few things have helped us be in this exciting position. Before this point it was niche club shows, outdoor 1 am wook festivals type of things. But it’s been embraced in a different way. Just look at Justin. In 2020 he was on the waiting list to play EDC. This year he recently played two shows. Bass Cannon have an entire dedicated D&B stage for a day now, too. It’s crazy. I’m on a Discord group with a lot of peers and friends and everyone is away on tour doing shows right now.
You’re part of that movement. In fact you were ahead of a lot of your generation of US artists as you first broke through on NCS back in 2014
Yeah it was the first or second release on their label. I was about 15 at the time. It felt really weird growing up as a producer with that because I felt I’d already peaked. I’m glad I kept with it and have been able to do what I do now.
I disappeared for six years. I had a side project, re-taught myself guitar. I’d spent four years not touching the guitar so I spent a long time re-learning it because I wanted to bring it back into D&B. I wanted to bring that influence into drum & bass because that was my first musical love. I didn’t grow up with drum & bass. Obviously I heard Pendulum and I’d heard it on game soundtrack but I didn’t know what to call it. My friend Capturelight showed me Liquicity around 2011 and it was like, ‘Ah okay! This is what this music is called.’ I started producing not long after.
Your first track after your six year break was actually on Liquicity wasn’t it?
Yeah Sunroad which was myself, Justin under his Flite alias and Boxplot. They were both big on Liquicity at the time so I was put down as a featured artist even though I actually started the tune. I was cool with it though – I was happy to put a song out because it had been four years since I’d released a proper tune.
The progression has been on ever since… You seem to only deal with pretty substantial labels!
I was lucky and I think the hiatus was a big part of that. I’ve been friends with guys like Justin and Ian Boxplot ever since then. We’d always talk, play games and have group chats. We’ve just always been close, so when I was ready to start releasing on labels again they could put me in touch with the label managers and A&Rs like you guys. Luckily you like what I do and I like making liquid. I’m really glad it streams well, too. I’m can pay the bills off streaming, which is great.
Yeah because it’s not so easy for you to play shows, right?
That’s right. My manager calls up any promoter and asks how accessible the venue is before even telling me I have an offer. It’s super rough hearing I have an offer but can’t play it because it’s not accessible.
I can only imagine. If I think of all the DJ booths I’ve been in – very few are particularly accessible
Totally. It’s not a thought that crosses people’s minds about anything, let alone a performance artist. I’m not surprised either, because I can’t think of any other DJs who are in a wheelchair.
Massively. Can I ask if you’ve been in a wheelchair all your life?
I have spinal muscular atrophy, also called SMA. I was diagnosed around the age of 10 and have been in a wheelchair slowly but surely since nineth grade. I was athletic as a kid and very active but I would get tired very quickly and, from about 15/16, I’ve been permanently in my wheelchair.
I wanted to be an athlete when I was younger but I could tell that wouldn’t happen because I was slower so I was already focused a lot on the music. So I was joining bands and doing that type of thing. Then I got into production and, when my SMA got worse, that was the deal sealed. It is what it is; I’m happy I’ve found something I love as much as production.
You’ve found your calling
Yeah I love it.
So with the accessibility, has there been any progress in recent years? Accessibility is becoming a priority in other sectors…
Not really in venues. One show I was transferred to a regular sitting chair and carried up onto a stage platform. Then the last show I did, it wasn’t accessible at all except for the fact I brought an emergency ramp I have in my van. The stage was low enough for me to make it work.
So no, there’s been no improvement from my perspective. What makes it frustrating is that I will often jump on a call with the promoters and ask what dimensions I need things to be and they say, ‘Yeah mate, no problem.’ But then I turn up and it’s not like that at all. But before even that happens even more shows fall through before I even get to the venue.
Wow. So yeah it is very good that streaming pays and you don’t have to rely on live shows like a lot of producers, right?
Oh it’s been essential. I’d have given up and moved on if I couldn’t make a living off the music so yeah I’m grateful I’ve got some form of steady income without the shows.
But it would be nice to play shows too, right? Especially if you’ve come from a band background
Totally. I love live performing. Before 2020, when I hadn’t played any shows, I was lying to myself and saying, ‘Ah I don’t really like performing – I don’t even want to play shows.’ I was just trying to make myself feel better, though.
What was your first show?
Brownies & Lemonade with Dimension, Montel 2099 and What So Not. I was so nervous. I’d never played on CDJs before so I panic bought them a week before and practiced. I’m glad I did. The show was a lot of fun and I’d love to play more.
What can venues do to make sure they can book you?
Elevation has been the biggest challenge. It’s just making sure I can get up on the stage on my chair and having a platform or a lower table so I can reach the controls. The lower I can stay to the ground the more comfortable it will be. So the main concern will be getting me onto the stage.
I hope things change and you’re able to play more! Back to your music – I’m not surprised you mentioned guitar, it’s on every track of yours and you can really feel that anthemic rock influence
100% I’ve been a rock guy. When I took my break I was listening to a whole tonne of post-rock and shoegaze and other genres in that type of field. Always since the beginning it’s been rock and metal. My dad is a classic rock guy and played it growing up. So I play guitar and bass and have picked up enough piano for me to have an understanding of it.
You can tell from your music that there are other influences
Yeah I don’t actually listen to a lot of electronic music. I tend to listen to a lot of chill music, coffee shop type of stuff. Maybe that’s why I make so much liquid. Although the stuff coming out isn’t liquid at all.
Yeah after I played some shows I felt I needed to make some real bangers!
Haha. I hear you on not listening to electronic music. A lot of producers are the same – you need to refresh those ears!
Absolutely. Growing up I was a cringey metal head who hated any other stuff. But when I found D&B, and realised it could be beautiful and have so many different flavours and elements, I’ve found time and love for any genre. Maybe not all of it, but I’ve been able to find something I like in any genre.
With drum & bass, or electronic music full stop, I’m usually listening to it because it’s made by my friends. I need a personal connection with the music.
Also, a lot of D&B sounds like it’s just inspired by other D&B. I don’t want that to happen to me. I want to pull from my own unique set of influences. I think that’s the most exciting thing about D&B popping off here in America, too. Most of us didn’t grow up listening to D&B, we came into it in our teens or whenever. So we’re all pulling from a lot of other influences.
Oh wow that’s a really interesting perspective actually. You’re totally right.
We are all coming from very different musical places. And the more people who dig it and get into it, the more varied things will become. It will take some time but I think you’ll hear a lot of really cool things come from America over the coming years.
That’s really exciting. This circles back on the Reaper album. The fact so many of the remixes come from US artists is a real statement.
Yeah totally and actually most of my releases at the moment are now coming on big American EDM labels, which never would have happened before. It’s a great opportunity to spread myself over here and not just hit up UK labels.
Nice to have Wilkinson releasing your music, though?
Yeah it’s been great. I’ve been meeting a lot of the UK guys when they come over here to tour and I’m always surprised they know who I am and know my music, it’s really cool.
So what’s up next?
I’ve got a Fred V collab coming right up on Hospital Records. Then I got music coming on Insomniac, which is dancefloor tune. There’s something coming on Nightmode and some other things I can’t quite mention yet…
Lots of stuff happening!
Yeah. I was pretty bitter in the first half of this year because I did so much last year. I’d done released eight songs in one year – as opposed to zero in six years – but this year I put out one tune then I found myself in label hell, I was struggling to find the right vocalists and everything felt like it slowed down too much. So I’m very happy I’ve got more music to release and there are a few shows I’ve yet to announce too so it’s exciting… And then I can release this new music I’m working on!