Ill Truth consists of Haden and Jay, two producers who, like many bass-loving students before and since, have turned a mutual passion for low frequency oscillation into a production outfit. Unlike most of those students, however, Jay and Haden have stuck with it and built a name for themselves, a name which in 2019 brings to mind a fiery combination of minimal ferocity, stuttering halftime and effortless liquid.
Located in Bristol for several years now, the pair have their finger in numerous pies, be it as affiliates of DLR and Break’s Collective night or in their respective solo ventures. Their work rate is clearly exceptional and it’s fuelled by their passion for all areas of the scene, a palpable sense of involvement that was clear throughout our conversation.
They recently released their Anchored EP on Flexout, featuring Charli Brix, a diverse piece of work which they told us aims to reflect their equally diverse musical palette. It’s definitely a statement of intent and one which preludes another imminent EP on Sofa Sound. Giving they’re ending 2019 with a bang, an interview with them was long overdue…
Let’s start at the start. How did you guys meet?
Jay: I came from the older crew who were all mixing D&B and stuff, and then me and Haden met through events and then college.
Haden: I think I was playing at an event, the first sort of gig I played when I was DJing and mixing dubstep, I bumped into Jay and then we just started hanging out and mixing records. From there, we were playing quite a lot of gigs and got fed up of playing other people’s music. We wanted to play our own stuff and feel proud about it.
Jay: We started producing under the alias of Despicable Youth and, over the years, really refined what we wanted to hear in the genre. Then we became Ill Truth and I guess just carried on refining. I think you’re constantly refining.
Haden: We’ve honed in a bit more on our style and just our tastes I guess.
I was going to ask you about your tastes. Obviously, you guys release quite a broad range from the liquid to the heavier bits and halftime. Tell me about the types of D&B you enjoy making, that breadth that you have.
Jay: It’s kind of an unspoken thing, that we never wanted to be tied down to a certain angle. Some people enjoy just making one style, but we make all sorts of music and lots of different styles inside D&B.
Haden: We didn’t want to pigeonhole ourselves into one genre or anything, we were just making tunes because we like those styles and those subgenres. It varies with your mood as well, some days you’re into making a heavy tune, sometimes you’re just in that mood where you want to listen to something more musical, or sometimes you want to try a different drum pattern.
Jay: I think it’s healthy as a producer to explore new things because you can teach yourself things that you might not otherwise do, within certain parameters. Everyone is trying to break the mould so to speak, so exploring as far as you can go is healthy.
It seems like this new EP on Flexout reflects that?
Jay: This is one angle on what we think we’re capable of, it’s slightly more minimal, with some more musical stuff as well. It’s not necessarily a type of output that we’ll put out all the time, but it’s an area that we like and we hope we’ve covered it here.
Haden: We think that with a label like Flexout, they’re quite varied in a sense, it’s obviously more focused on the darker side but they put out halftime, more beats orientated stuff, the techier stuff and the more musical bits as well. So, it’s a good home for us.
What was Anchored like to make?
Haden: [laughs]. Long.
Jay: A bastard.
Haden: It was a nearly two-year thing basically. To be honest it could’ve been done in about six months but we had loads of other projects on the go. I think it was actually better us waiting, because now it’s the right time for us to put it out. We’re still happy with the tracks and we still like the tunes.
What are your tricks as a duo for getting through a patch of writer’s block?
Haden: We just make a lot of samples. We’ve got a joint sample library that we work with, it’s like a google drive and we just make sounds, whether it’s drum loops, patches, bass sounds. I do a lot of sampling, so a lot of what I do is just go through a never-ending list of samples that I’ve written down, to basically steal off other people [laughs], and put them in our sample library.
Jay: Yeah definitely. Sound design uses up a different part of your creativity to actual song writing and often you’ll get a block in one and not the other, so it’s rare that you won’t be able to make anything at all. If either of us are in a creative block and we’re writing loads of samples and we can flick through some samples, it might spark an idea based of that. You can do that for yourself too, you forget about sounds that you’ve made and then when you rediscover them it re-triggers something in your brain.
Beyond the production side, you two are involved in a lot of things scene-wise. Bristol must be good for that right?
Jay: Yeah this is the thing about Bristol, it’s a bit of a weird Mecca for this sort of stuff. Especially being involved with the night Collective that DLR and Break and all the homies run, it’s a real meeting point and it helped us network in the early days.
Haden: As soon as they announced it we were like ‘we’ll flyer for you’, ‘if you ever need a hand we’ll help out’, just because we knew it was local to Bristol and they’re all the guys who we wanted to be a part of really, to be involved with. Through doing that we’ve subsequently got the link with Symmetry, with Break, and then Total Science said they really liked our Symmetry EP, so we ended up doing the EP for C.I.A. Then from playing at Collective, the birthday parties they do where it’s just a big B2B, DLR said he wanted a couple of the tunes we played, so let’s do a Sofa Sound EP. Collective has been a massive help for us.
So that Bristol community vibe has been important to the evolution of Ill Truth?
Jay: It’s cool because all the guys who are killing it and have been killing it for ages are open to all the new ideas that the new people are bringing in, so it opens up a creative pool for future collaborations and stuff. We’ve done bits with DLR and we’re going to be doing some more collaborations with big producers very soon, so that’s been cool for us, and then we’re working with the newer producers who are the next wave after us. It’s really fresh, it’s keeping the melting pot boiling.
Haden: It’s crucial and definitely healthy for the scene, especially when you work with guys who aren’t in the same area of the genre, because you end up creating things you’d never make individually. It’s really interesting.
Talking of DLR, what can you tell us about the new Sofa Sound EP?
Haden: Yeah, it’s done, it’s ready to go pretty much. There’s a collaboration with DLR on there, the title track, it features us, DLR and Gusto and it’s called New Era. DLR asked us to do a collab for the EP, to try and help with pushing us a bit further as well. It’s actually been a really quick process, much faster than the Flexout EP, it’s only three tracks but we thought we wanted to keep it a bit more refined and have three solid tunes on there. It should be out at the end of November. Two tunes from just us on there alongside the collab on DLR. We have done a second DLR collab but we’re in talks about which project that will go at the moment.
What else are you guys excited about for the future?
Haden: I’m excited for the next five years, I think there’s a lot of new guys who are really finding their feet now who I think will really help push the scene forward. There are also some really good labels coming through that have only been a couple of years in the making so far, so I think, for me personally, I’m looking forward to how the scene is going to develop over the next five years and the music in general.
Jay: To see where we go in this new scene as well, that could be interesting. To play lots of cool shows as well, of course.
Haden: We’ve been talking about planning an album for the past year, so that’s one thing I’m excited about, starting to construct that and making a cool, conceptual album that is a bit more of a body of work, not just a 12 track D&B album but something that’s varied and shows our versatility. Something that we can have fun with and feel proud of.
Jay: It will be nice to get the full spectrum of what we’re capable of on one record, you know?
Can we expect other genres?
Haden: Probably some dubstep, I love making garage as well.
Jay: Yeah, definitely some 140 business. Some hip-hop instrumental stuff as well.
Haden: We make all of this stuff anyway; we just don’t have a home for it. We’ve got dubstep and we’ve got garage that we make and we actually should have some hip-hop out next year. We’re doing a project with a Bristol hip-hop artist called Twitchy, we’ve done two of the tracks so far and it’s a strictly hip-hop EP produced by us. I’m excited for that actually, it should be good.
Anything else we should know?
Haden: We’ve got a couple of EPs lined up for next year that we want to get confirmed before we start talking about them properly.
Jay: Yeah, a couple of big EPs and a couple of big collabs. Stay tuned.