For all discerning connoisseurs of loud 175 bpm dance music in the Bristol area Rise should be a name that rings a bell, or rattles a bass bin for that matter…
In the streets of Soundcloud it’s a tough battle to gain acknowledgement for the music you make but talent will always find a way to rise to the top (pun intended). Free downloads are a way for newly established artists to reach a wider audience, and this is the case with rise and many other young contemporaries duking it out in the rough and tough algorithm streets. Rise, however, makes it look easy with his releases becoming instant hits and going from 6,000 followers to over 14,000 in a year. He’s also been a busy beaver racking up a portfolio of releases with a roster of labels including: Invicta Audio, Ransaked Records, Liondub and DnB Allstars.
Recently signed to the Jungle Cakes roster you can expect a lot more of his dutty minimal signature, a style that’s perfectly encapsulated by his most recent release – a remix of Gonda’s Hold Up. This track was a mainstay of dances this summer and Rise perfectly puts his own spin on it, complete with screwface mid basses and bowel-movingly deep sub bass wobbles.
We linked up with Rise on November 5. An auspicious day for everyone in the UK, with it being bonfire night of course. But for Rise (real name James Oram), it holds even more weight as it’s his birthday and the night of a triple back to back with Addicted and his brother Oram. Hoping to find out more about what is in store for Rise in the future UKF sat down with him for a birthday pint.
A very special day for you today! Is this your first back to back with Addicted?
I’ve never played with Jude before, He’s smashing it. It’s so good to be around a whole group of people who are all smashing it as well. Because everywhere you look people are going ham and everyone’s so sound. It’s nice to see everyone doing well and that there’s room for everyone to be smashing it too.
There’s a proper little collective going on isn’t it, especially with you, Toby and your brother as well
Yeah they’re all wicked. It’s so good to see all those boys doing so well.
You’re back after a long covid related hiatus! How does it feel playing your music back to crowds again?
Honestly through lockdown it was slightly demoralising for everyone. It was having that drive to even be making tracks. For what really? Now that we’re back you just want to get your tunes finished for your set in the evening, you wanna be playing them out. The crowd reaction is great.
Nothing like the crowd reaction is there?
Even though we were still playing through lockdown doing sit down events there was that lack of connection with the crowd. You stood up there everyone would be sat down and if anyone stood up they’d be chucked out!
What I found was people would be up for it by the first hour and come four hours in when the headliner played everyone would be bored!
And come this time last year it was freezing as well!
However on the upside I see you’re playing in Prague soon as well.
Yeah I’ll be going out there in April for Dazed, that’ll be sick. I think I’m going back to back with Toby (Ross) and Lewis (Oram). That’ll be brilliant. That’ll be my first international as well.
A long time coming!
I’m so excited to go! It’ll be so nice to go and play! Because I do have fans out in Prague as well. I’ve got people speaking to me saying “I can’t wait for you to come over!” It’s great man. Hopefully that’ll be the start of a lot more. The dream would be going to New Zealand.
It was looking like the promised land during lockdown.
But now it’s funny because it’s kinda flipped because they are a bit bad now over there. The thing is when they get a few cases they’re straight into lockdown.
Yeah they’re very militant about their covid policies, which is fair play really.
That’s why we ballsed it up. We spent so long waiting like, “Oh it’ll be alright”.
Typical British way isn’t it!
Obviously you’re playing out a hell of a lot, you’ve been crushing it for the last few months playing out every week. How do you find a balance between gigging and normal life? Because obviously there are a lot of pitfalls you can fall in with the whole rave scene. How do you work with it?
Don’t get me wrong it’s a dodgy one because I’m not actually living in Bristol right now. But I feel it’s getting that balance. Obviously tonight I’ll be drinking and that.
Obviously, it’s your birthday!
But a lot of the time, especially weekdays I’ve been driving in and just driving back out. Treating it as work and at the end of the day it is work. Don’t get me wrong, you have just as much fun when you’re not smashed. If you’re going and not enjoying it, you’re probably in the wrong industry! I think what keeps me going is the people there. Gratification of meeting your fans and that. It’s so good. Bristol’s obviously a good place for that. I’ve played in Newcastle and the feeling of meeting people up there is fantastic.
You’ll be doing the Nicky Blackmarket thing with just a cup of tea on your rider soon!
It’s a funny story actually. I did a headline at Lakota on a Tuesday and I got there and I was planning on driving home and Lewis was like, ‘You do know this will be mental’. I messaged Anton who was sorting it all out and he goes, “There’s been about 3.5k ticket claims so it’s going to be a bit busy”. Got there and it was queued around the corner. That’s when I sacked off driving home! It’s easy to get sucked in and go a bit mad but you can’t go out and do that every weekend because it’ll catch up to you in the future. But I think I’m pretty good with balancing that.
How did you initially get into music, drum and bass especially?
I’ve been listening to D&B for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been listening to electronic music anyway, dubstep and that.
Let the bass cannon kick it!
Yeah exactly mate! I think one of my first gigs, at least a live electronic music show, was watching Flux Pavilion at Glastonbury. I was there having it right at the barrier! I was like, ‘This is sick!’ Then Netsky played right after. He was a very early influence. For me as well when I was about 14/ 15 I listened to a lot of Pendulum. I was like, ‘I love this high energy shit!’ Started mixing at the same age, I had a little controller in my room, and didn’t think anything of it. First time I did anything live was when I met this guy at a rave when I was invited to do a mix for his Soundcloud series. I did this mix and he goes, “I’m gonna put it out at 6 tonight, what’s your DJ name? I told him I didn’t have one and he told me, ‘You have 30 mins then!’ That’s where the Rise comes from. There’s no meaning behind it at all. It was just a quick one and I was like, “I don’t think I know anyone else called this!”.
Did you ever play any musical instruments or did you just jump straight into wobbles?
I played a bit when I was growing up. I played a little bit of keyboard. I’ve got an awful attention span. I dunno mate, my mum and my dad bless me, they put me through guitar and drums. I feel like it has helped me in the long run. The first time I got into producing was at uni. I downloaded FL Studio and thought, ‘Screw it I’ll give it ago. I was into hip hop and then decided to make drum and bass.’ The first tune was horrendous! Then I caught the bug. I look at some of these free downloads I’ve put out in the past and think Jesus Christ!. The advice I’d give to anyone is to get your tracks out there. The shit I was putting out at the start was awful!
How do you feel free download culture is affecting drum and bass and the way we consume music?
I think it benefits both parties. It benefits the producer and the listener. I wouldn’t have the following I do if it wasn’t for that. There’d be no way I would’ve got my name out there if it wasn’t for these free downloads. A lot of people use download gates so it’s like you follow and repost the tune and you get to download it. But at the same time it makes it difficult to sell tracks from paid releases. It’s difficult to transition. There’s a lot of established artists who’ve been having their music bought for years. I think you just have to consistently put that out. It’s hard because labels are a lot more picky with paid releases, as much as you want it to do well they’re putting money into it as well.
Do you think it’s good overall?
Yeah since I’ve started the D&B scene has grown so much. I think it gives an avenue for new DJs. Get yourself a dirt cheap controller and get yourself some free downloads! There are some quality free downloads.
I feel like there’s a great scene of collaborative back scratching as well!
I think I did a lot with my brother. I helped him a lot but now he’s helping me. It’s nice that there is no animosity. There is competition don’t get me wrong but there’s no animosity there.
Any sort of secret collabs in the pipeline?
I don’t really collaborate all that much. it’s a funny one I always find because it’s a bit of a difficult one with stems. I’ve got a lot of music coming out on Run Tings, hopefully getting a few tracks voiced by a few big vocalists. Nothing set in stone yet though. I’ve got a Jungle Cakes EP coming out soon as well, there are four tracks going into that. I can’t go into too much detail. I’ve held off on a lot of releases for a long time but I’ve got plenty of music in the pipeline. I’ve got plenty of tracks but i don’t know where to put them. I don’t wanna put all my eggs in one basket.