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We Need To Talk About Tyrone

With two substantial slabs of EP gold on both Metalheadz and Guidance in the last few months, Tyrone has been a hard, if not impossible, force to ignore this year. Cuts like Severance will singe every hair on your body right down to the follicle before you can say ‘scorched earth policy’ while cuts like Heaton Dramaz are pure techno tension at 172. Then you have cuts like Beg Of U that just purr with timeless star-bound soul…

These are just a handful of examples of the Newcastle born-and-bred artist’s craft. Yet he reckons the best is yet to come. After spending the first half of the 2010s writing in a trio as a member of Chroma, the last few years have seen him relearn, refine and reboost his skills. It’s paid off. Jubei told us earlier this year that Tyrone is going “come crashing in with so many bad tunes.” The wreckage starts right here…

Last time you were mentioned on here it was Jubei bigging you up. He said you were sitting on some bangers then weeks later you dropped a massive Metalheadz EP and now this beast on Guidance…

Well some of those tunes I’d been sat on for a while to be honest. I didn’t know what to do with my music. At the time I was writing as part of Chroma and it was hard to get all three of us together so I was writing things on my own quite a bit. I wanted to get myself into a situation where I could finish my own tunes. So Lunar City and Warriors were done in 2015. They were just a case of me getting stuff to Paul (Jubei) and him sending them to Headz. The Severance EP is the most up to date version of me, though, and the way my music is progressing. I’m on another project for another label right now which I’m also really excited about. Everything else you’ve heard is me learning how to properly know myself in the studio and finish tunes for the last four years. Even the Severance EP started two years ago.

How did that come about?

Sun And Bass last year. We had a chat, they asked for some bits and it grew from there. Greg and James are top guys, very talented and very supportive. I love working with them, working with your mates is fun and inspiring.

Guidance is on fire, too

Totally man. It’s different working with them. I’ve worked with a lot of great labels but Greg and James gave me so much control on what I wanted to with the release. How do I want the artwork to look, the type and style of vinyl, how do I want to roll out the release. With some labels you don’t know what’s happening until weeks before it’s out when you’re told the release date. I’ve been able to get good mates involved, like my good friend Dan who made the video.

Sick video man

Thanks. Dan and I have been mates for years. He doesn’t usually do music videos, but he had this idea and Greg and James were up for doing it and it’s come out really well. Everyone involved was just outstanding.

Going back to your tunes – especially the previous releases before this Guidance EP – you could never tell they were old in any way…

Nice one. I mean I’ve been writing for years. And With Chroma I was so lucky to have Kev and James Phobia to help guide me. They were so good. Especially Phobia, he could turn anything into something great sounding. I’d be coming with ideas and he and Kev would bring them to life and I got it into my head that I couldn’t finish tunes. So that time between then and now – the last four or five years – is me learning to finish tunes and getting where to I wanted to be.

I went back to your first ever tunes. Pre-Chroma. Stuff like Behemoth. They sound relevant to this day…

I honestly look back to that and think how the fuck did I write that? I couldn’t do a tune like Behemoth now! Clive Ingredients got hold of it and asked to sign it and I couldn’t believe he wanted it. You’re right, it was pre-Chroma. I was friends with James Phobia, though. He got me over, taught me the basics then told me to fuck off and practice. I was always sending him ideas and he’d come back with feedback and when the tunes started taking shape he said ‘okay come over for a collaboration’. That was really important; you have to understand the process, what does what and why it happens. You can’t just sit there and be co-pilot. That’s what the whole Tyrone project is about: me proving to myself that I can do and write tunes from start to finish on my own.

I have to ask, and it’s the laziest question an interviewer can ever ask sorry, but you don’t seem to have been interviewed before. You’re called Ben… Where the hell did Tyrone come from?

I knew this would come. But I’ve never done an interview so let’s put it out there now. I had this nickname Tyrone from going out. Basically I never really drank much. But when I did, I’d become a bit of a handful. So the joke would be that my twin brother Tyrone was out with them. So that stuck then mysteriously it ended up on a flyer for my first DJ gig in Newcastle university. It was actually down as Your Codename Is Tyrone, because of a local band who were popular at the time called Your Codename Is Milo. Eventually that got shortened down to Codename Tyrone and now I’m just stuck with Tyrone. Maybe I’ll shorten it down to T one day. So that’s the story but please if you ever see me out call me Ben, that’s my proper name.

Will do. Let’s big up Newcastle for a second. Guys like Skantia and Nectax, Scudd, Kastro all bubbling…

I’m not heavily involved in the city’s scene any more but I used to be. I was resident at a night called Turbulence which ran for 15 years, it was the biggest night in the city. It was Phobia’s night, Jubei was resident for a while, I was resident for six years. It’s how I met a lot of mates of mine in drum & bass now. We’re all old men these days but those young’uns now Skantia, Nectax, that Dilate night, the Motion Sickness guys. All super super talented guys. I’m really proud of what this city contributes to electronic music and club culture.

Yeah man! Newcastle’s massive for house and techno too, right?

Massively. Patrick Topping, Richy Ahmed, Anna Wall, who I went to university with. You also had the Shindig guys and the north east has always been big on hardcore and happy hardcore, too. Makina is a big thing here. Spanish dance records played at 45 but the speed at minus eight or so I’m told. The scene is huge here.

Wow, I’ve never heard of this!

Mate you haven’t lived. Patrick Topping played a special Makina set at Creamfields.

Can we ever expect a special Tyrone Makina set?

Nah Makina isn’t my thing but I’d do you an old happy hardcore mix. I’ve still got the records in my loft.

Nice. I was gonna ask about your techno influences actually. Heaton Dramaz has that rising techno sound which made me think of techno a lot…

Oh yeah I’ve done the techno thing. I went through the house, tech house era in the late 90s and early 2000s. Even more up to date the more progressive stuff like Bodzin and George Fitzgerald. So yeah there’s that influence in my music. But the early hardcore influences are just as strong in the mix, too.

Everything came from house anyway really…

Yeah totally. It’s incredible what it’s come from to what it is now – you go back over the lineage and you can hear those pivotal tracks that led to certain things but it’s only with hindsight you can hear those influences.

Exactly. But what’s coming up in your future? You mentioned another project earlier…

Yeah it’s a bit too early to say but it’s the release I’m happiest with to date. It’s on a different label so that’s exciting. And I know for a fact I’ll be working with the Guidance guys again too, without doubt. Looking forward to getting it all out there…

Tyrone – Severance EP is out now on Guidance

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