With decades of experience behind them and a fresh approach to crafting drum & bass, A-Audio are here with mighty ambitions. The duo want to take their project to room one, to the mainstage, to reach the apex of success for any DJ. While the name alone might get them to the top of alphabetically organised lineups, A-Audio are looking to reach their goal purely through the quality of the music they put out.
The pair comprises liquid pioneer Jay Foreman (DJ Addiction), and bass technician Dave Thomson (42Floor / 91db) – both of which have plenty of experience navigating this industry and working as producers. In particular, heads will remember Jay Addiction, who’s catalogue extends back to the 90s, with releases on well renowned labels both as a solo artist and with the Carlito & Addiction duo.
But although their backgrounds are deeply rooted in the development of drum & bass and electronic music in general, they refuse to rest on their laurels to achieve success with the A-Audio project.
Working semi-anonymously, especially in the early days of the alias, they’ve built up a nice selection of releases. From tough, rave-ready bangers coming out on Co-Lab and Emcee Recordings, through to uplifting liquid rollers like on their recent Influence Records release. The common thread in their production seems to be the energy and bounciness – which could only come from those decades of perfecting their craft.
In-line with their fresh release on Liquid V – Stop Right There / Save Us, UKF had a chat with the two about their new project, their motivations for getting together, and where they want to take it.
Hey guys, how’s things?
Hello! Yeah we’ve been really good thanks.
So I want to kick off by asking – how did you two first meet?
Jay: The first time we were in the same room together was in a studio, when Dave was doing his 91db thing. And then, as far as knowing each other and being involved in music together, it was that release on Four40, the Soundboy EP – which came out around 2012.
Dave: I was in a live drum & bass band doing keys and guitar– doing that whole Roni Size thing. And Jay, you were doing 2SuckaDJs right?
Jay: Yeah, I’d taken a break from the drum & bass for a bit. Which a lot of people tend to do – they come in and do the big push, and then relax off it a little bit, and look for that inspiration to come back in to try and push a different level. I’d taken my first mini-break from drum & bass and linked up with my mate Rich. We did the 2SuckaDJs project – which was just basically dance music. We were DJing garage, bass, drum & bass, all of that stuff.
But prior to that stint, drum & bass is all I’ve done as my main form of musical outlet. From being resident at Speed with Fabio in the early early Days, to Movement with Bryan Gee, and then DJing globally as DJ Addiction. I’ve always been involved in D&B from the get-go really.
You’re a pioneer who was pretty much there from the start.
Jay: Some people like to refer to me as one of the founders of the liquid style – which is a lovely bracket to be in. But sometimes you need to break from that bracket, to get out a little bit and do some other stuff. That’s literally what A-Audio is all about. It’s about coming back to drum & bass with a different outlook. A tougher outlook.
And how did you two start making music together – leading to starting A-Audio?
Dave: The original plan was that we were going to try and break into the UK bass scene – this was back around 2012. We were always trying stuff with breaks, and doing bits and bobs that were drum & bass influenced, but we never really got going.
Then, fast-forward to last year – I think when Jay released on Liquid V – that we started chatting again. I was like, “Man your stuff is amazing”. And he was like, “Well I’m up for changing lanes a little bit, wanting to get a bit dirty and bass-heavy”. And he knew me as the guy who can do that big-bass modulation, so we started chatting about an idea.
We both wanted to do drum & bass properly, you know, like room one. So for the past year we’ve been just focussing on building and working hard.
Jay, could you tell me more about your hiatus and recent return?
Jay: In the early days I was part of the Carlito & Addiction project, which was massively successful, on the birth of the liquid style – or it was ‘intelligent drum & bass’ back then – where we had releases on Good Lookin’, Creative Source, and so on. We were pushed into that top tier, which allowed us to shape that musical style at that time. But back then, drum & bass just didn’t have the structure that it has now.
So now, I’m looking to develop it a lot more, and go in different directions. I think that drum & bass just wasn’t structured to handle that back then. The big careers and big pushes. I kind of got a bit disillusioned with it, and needed to take some time out to see where D&B was going to go, who was going to take the lead, and how I felt about what I was doing. That was about a 9-10 year break. I was still DJing the odd gig. But with production, I just took a step back and left that for a while.
And I think it all has to do with where we’re at now – I needed to push a different element, and Addiction as a brand or DJ wouldn’t have been able to do that. Because when you’re known for that style, it’s very difficult to have labels and key people take you seriously when you change that style. Having the hiatus and then coming back with a different guise was ultimately a bonus.
People still often don’t get that it’s me involved in A-Audio, which is nice because the whole idea of the project was for it to be taken on face-value of what the music is – not about me being involved and where I can take it. It’s a new act, I wouldn’t say a new sound, but definitely a different take on it.
Yeah, it does sound similar to your older stuff – it’s positive and energetic – but there is that freshness to it which gives it a point of difference.
Jay: Yeah, I mean all credit to Dave. Dave’s got this very clever and unique way of working with bass that I really like, and obviously we’re in a genre of music where bass is a big thing. You need your bass technicians there.
The challenge was for us to pull it together. For Dave to put the best of what he can do on the table, with the musical elements that I can bring. It’s always a tough combination to be musical and dirty at the same time, but we’ve got this underlying strapline that we’re focusing on room one – the bigger sound. And you never know where that room one is going to go, and what people are going to want to listen to. So it’s about adapting as well, and sort of playing the game.
So it’s a nice dynamic, where you’ve both got your roles?
Jay: Yeah definitely, we’re not fighting to make it work, it’s working naturally. We’re always bouncing off each other for ideas, and things come together quite quickly for us which is nice. And obviously as you can see, they’re being received well by the labels. It’s good!
Where does the name A-Audio come from?
Dave: The name is one of those things where we had so many different versions. We talked about doing ‘Addiction & something’, but it just wasn’t right.
We were throwing around different names, and I was experimenting with this idea of ‘audio’ and spelling it in different ways. Because audio just means music right? And I wanted something that was easy to understand.
I’ve had troubles in the past with all the names I’ve chosen. When I used to use 91db people asked if it was numbers or letters, and the same for 42Floor – people were calling me 42nd floor. We just want it to be simple – so we said “what’s the easiest thing? A-Audio”. When we said it we looked at each other and it was like, yes.
Jay: Some names can get very complex, and like Dave says, just not conducive to what you’re trying to do. So keeping it simple means that hopefully the focus is not too much on the name, but on the music. So people think: it’s A-Audio, and they’re all about music, nothing else glitzy or complex.
Dave: We also wanted to choose a name where if someone puts it into Spotify or iTunes or YouTube, that nothing else was coming up. That was an important part.
DJ name optimisation…
Dave: You’ve got it!
Good shout. You’ve mentioned taking things ‘room one’ a few times, could you go into this a little more, and tell us about the goals of the project?
Dave: I think what’s really different about our project is that, all the things that I dreamt about doing, wanted to do, and aspired for – are all the things that Jay was already doing. Jay was already working with V, he’d already released with Innerground, he’d done these amazing things. So our goal was to go grassroots, back to the start where no one knew who we were, and then get back to where Jay was.
Jay: A goal for us is to be at that level where we’re DJing alongside people like Wilkinson, Hybrid Minds, even the Andy C’s and Chase & Status’ – it sounds like a big ask, but why would you not ask that? Whatever industry you put yourself in, you don’t join to be mediocre, you put yourself there so you can be at the top and be the best. So for us, we wouldn’t do anything less.
Dave: The thing a lot of people probably don’t know about our project is it took us a year to get back to where Jay was. It wasn’t like we just came in and just walked through the door. Yeah, it was maybe a little easier in some ways, but for the most part we had to work our arses off – put out the right stuff, learn everything again. We weren’t doing this on a handout, we were doing this by creating good quality music.
Jay: Yeah I’d really want to emphasise that, in no way was me being part of the project an easy door-opener, because some of the early stuff we produced, and stuff we sent to Bryan and others – it wasn’t like the phone rung off the hook, if anything, it wasn’t ringing at all!
So basically, you started off anonymously in the eyes of the labels?
Jay: Yeah definitely. Me and Dave agreed it was the only way to do it. Dave was the main point of contact for at least the first 3 months. I didn’t make it known whether I was connected to the project or not. It was Dave’s email connected to A-Audio. And I was just like “I’m not saying anything”. I didn’t want to influence the project at all, in a good way or a bad way.
Because for me it was a different sound, so I really didn’t want anybody saying, “Oh here we go, Addiction’s jumped the fence and he’s now doing the hard stuff, and it’s not as good as what’s already out there”. You know, the classic way that magazine’s look at it “oh he’s come through with a different sound… is it good enough?”. I’d rather it be anonymous.
Was there any desire to keep it fully anonymous? Do the mask thing?
Dave: Haha yeah we had plenty of jokes about this.
Jay: I used to wind Dave up and say, “Oh I’ve got this alter ego that’s gonna come out, I don’t know what he’s gonna look like”, and I think Dave was a bit concerned I was going to run on the stage dressed up.
Dave: Even when we got the promo shots done, Jay’s wearing glasses and a hat with his hand covering his face.
Jay: Yeah, with the anonymous thing, coming out with a new style or a new look, it was there. But essentially the new style and look was blatantly just going to be about the music. There’s no chance of me turning up in a costume that’s for sure.
Dave: No matter how much you threatened it in the beginning!
What’s coming up for you show-wise?
Dave: There’s a couple of nights that haven’t been set yet. Co-Lab have their ‘In The Lab’ nights, which I know Benny wants us to get down on. Ben from Rebel wants us involved as well – we’re potentially doing a radio show with them soon too. There’s a few different bits going for sure.
There’s also a lot coming this year in terms of releases. I think that around half-way through the year, with the projects already slated, we’re going to be in such a different place. Some big stuff is coming.
Jay: It’s the classic, “Watch this space!”
Exciting stuff ahead. What could we expect from a set? A dose of history mixed with the newer flavours?
Jay: Yeah you can’t ignore the history, and the past that I personally have in it – as well as the new stuff. Because there’s two people in the act, we’ve got a broader spectrum of stuff that we want to represent. So yeah, we’ll be delving into the past and bringing that in with the future, and of course our own new material as well.
Nowadays, I think D&B has such a history, that you can bring that to a new audience who have never heard it before. There’s so much good music out there from past and present.
And now you two are adding more chapters to that history. So, final question of the day – is there anyone who you want to big up?
Dave: We want to big up the people who’ve been supporting us from the beginning, whether they knew who we were or not. Massive shout outs to Chef and the team at Emcee Recordings, Benny and Heist from Co-Lab, Villem from MURKT, Aaron and Jay at Influence Records, Ben at Rebel Music and everyone who was involved in Dubwars, DJ Marky and of course Bryan (Gee), Frosty (JJ Frost) at V – these guys have been a part of our journey, and without them, who knows where we would be now.
Also a special mention to DJ Chap from Alibi. Chap spent some wicked time with us, talking about production tips that he picked up from his trade. We’ve been overwhelmed by the community of people that have helped us, who just want to see us succeed in the same way we’ve wanted them to.
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