dBridge (Exit Records | UK)
THE EVER-CHANGING CREATIVE HUB THAT IS DARREN WHITE, AKA DBRIDGE, IS AN ARTIST WHOSE MULTIPLE TRANSFORMATIONS AND EVOLUTIONS GLIDE THROUGH A STAGGERING LIST OF ACHIEVEMENTS. IN THE SCOPE OF WHITE’S JAM-PACKED, MANY-FACED 19 YEAR CAREER, NO ONE YEAR COULD BE COMPARABLE NOR SLOWED DOWN.
In 1992, White moved to London to make and produce music for his brother, Steve, who’s known around electronic music circles as the lead singer of the deep electronica outfit Spacek. Darren soon found himself working with UK hardcore group Armshouse Crew, the production posse responsible for Lennie De Ice’s proto-jungle anthem ‘We are IE,’ and began to master the synths and samplers that were the source of this new sound.
After linking with the Trouble on Vinyl (TOV) camp, White released his first solo production as dBridge, ‘Bring Da Flava b/w Keep it Real.’ Shortly after, he crossed paths with a likeminded musician named Jason Maldini, a relationship from which Future Forces spun out. With Future Forces’ early productions standing so far apart from everything around it, a new imprint, Renegade Hardware, spawned from TOV to cater for their innovative sound: tougher, grittier, with classics ‘Dead by Dawn’ and ‘Triton’ becoming the new blueprint for D&B.
Combining forces with two equally divisive producers, Fierce and Vega, the scene-defining Bad Company solidified dBridge’s next chapter. Creating a myriad of anthems that to this day will be heard played (and rewound) any number of times at any D&B night, in any city around the globe (‘Planet Dust,’ ‘Hornet,’ ‘The Nine’), in BC’s 5+ years of working together, they stormed the scene like nothing else. The notorious supergroup created tracks – and 3 full-length albums – that will remain drum & bass epitomes, tracks that will forever line the chapters of D&B history notes. Archetypes. Or, as Photek’s label (an imprint on which BC began releasing in 1999) aptly put it, Prototypes.
“Being involved in Bad Company, there were always 4 people trying to form one opinion. It’s easy to feel like you’re getting a bit lost in that, so in 2003 I set off on my own.”
DBRIDGE OPENED A NEW CHAPTER WITH THE FIRST RELEASE ON HIS OWN LABEL EXIT RECORDS, ‘LIBRA B/W THE BRIDE.’ AS HE BEGAN SETTING OFF WITH FURTHER SOLO OUTINGS, THE DBRIDGE NAME SPREAD RAPIDLY, AS SEEN ACROSS A STRING OF HIGH PROFILE LABELS INCLUDING SOUL:R, BINGO BEATS, CREATIVE SOURCE, LIQUID V, METALHEADZ, REINFORCED, HOTFLUSH AND MORE.
“Exit started in 2003, just after the BC split. From 2003 up until 2006, there wasn’t a great deal of releases coming out on the label. I was just getting my name out there again. I really took my time. It was, in some ways, my third incarnation. I’d been with Future Forces, I’d been with Bad Company, and it was now the next phase of my career.
“I’ve always worked with my brother [Steve Spacek] over the years; I worked on the Vintage Hi-Tek album, I worked on his solo album, ‘Sound in Color’. With our Black Pocket project, in some ways, some of the music came out almost too early. This was before he really blew up, and that whole sound was still in its infancy. But that, for me, was the first step of the label going down a different route.”
More than just a platform for his own music, Exit Records is the fruition of a lifetime goal, and has developed to encompass styles beyond strictly drum & bass. Exit Versus plays host to dBridge’s collaborations with other artists; the first three singles saw him cross swords with the likes of Commix, Concord Dawn, A.I. and Fierce. By contrast, Exit Aptitude focuses on individual artists (with the key focus being on their actual individuality), and includes specially commissioned artwork in a limited edition vinyl package. Previous volumes have included luminaries such as Calibre, Survival, Rufige Kru and Instra:mental, each providing music with integrity and longevity. In 2011, dBridge has returned his focus to the label’s output, with the stunning ‘Mosaic Vol. 1’ compilation taking lead, and an inspired list of artist albums lined up for release next.
A few years previous, in 2008, Exit had released dBridge’s first solo LP, ‘The Gemini Principle’ . The album stood as cohesive proof of his fearlessness as a musician, boldly stamping his own personality within, with several tracks showcasing his talents as a vocalist. Now a voice that has been heard on dancefloors and radio waves the globe over, haunting and melancholic, vulnerable yet powerful, at first on ‘Gemini Principle’ his vocals only stood in the shadows. It wasn’t until his dynamic vocal inflections took shape on Martyn’s ‘These Words’ that the next evolution really took hold.
“Singing was something I’d always done and dabbled in, but self confidence wasn’t there. My album was the first place that I released some vocals, but they were a little bit back in the mix. Listening, and talking, to Calibre gave me the confidence to do it – he’s got such an amazing voice, and he sings about things that are personal to him. The thing about my lyrics is that they do generally start off quite bleak, but I try to resolve them in some ways. As much as I do write about how much of a prick I am, I do want things to be better; there is hope. Someone recently called my music ‘aggressively beautiful.’ There’s a yin and yang.
“I’ve now got this other platform of my voice and my vocals to express more of myself through my songs, not just the instrumentation. I’m still learning the craft. It’s keeping me motivated and pushing me in a forward direction; it will keep me making music for a long time.”
Around the same time, dBridge crossed paths with two equally open-minded kindred spirits, Instra:mental, which led to the next unexpected shift. After a year in which the trio collaborated on ‘Blush Response’, they decided to form a creative alliance as Autonomic. Within the space of a year, a club night, a podcast, an umbrella for their labels, and, most crucially, a sound was born. Together the trio presented the cult followed 12-episode (or “layer”) monthly Autonomic podcast series, gaining worldwide acclaim with over 60,000 downloads and a dedicated league of non-D&B listeners. Exploring their influences across all styles and time periods – in addition to teasing unreleased productions that sat somewhere in-between several genres – the podcasts set a precedence that caused the entire electronic music scene to take notice. Effortlessly blurring lines, the Autonomic sound has since been showcased on their award-winning ‘FABRICLIVE 50’ mix CD, a radio show on Rinse FM, a globe-spanning tour, as well as an Autonomic club residency at Fabric.
The trio is currently working on a number of further studio projects and innovations to develop their ever-expanding Autonomic label, crossing a range of tempos and collaborating with producers from all different backgrounds (including the likes of Burial, Joy Orbison and Skream).
“Lately, I’ve heard people saying things like, ‘It’s real Autonomic’: it’s almost become a genre. People always ask, ‘What is it? How do you define it?’ For us, it’s just electronica. That’s what we’ll keep pushing.
A lot of the times with D&B, it’s only being made for one reason: the dancefloor. And the other aspects got forgotten along the way. It had really become that paint-by-numbers approach to making D&B, and that wasn’t what interested myself nor Instra:mental. With DJing, we’ve been trying to get a balance right between musicality and dancefloor. I enjoy that I now get booked outside of my immediate genre; we’ve done festivals all over the world, playing after these really interesting, diverse artists. It’s nice for people not to have those preconceptions of what D&B is. The response has been really receptive.”
As for DJing (as Autonomic and as a solo performer), dBridge has been representing for A Bunch of Cuts at their new London residency, as well as breaking new ground by playing at Berlin’s home for techno, the legendary Berghain club…not forgetting his tours of clubs and festivals the world over, including Japan, Australia & New Zealand. Constantly exploring the potential of drum & bass and staying several steps ahead of the rest, dBridge is showing no signs of letting up just yet. If history is anything to go by, he will eternally remain one of the more promising leading lights in independent underground music.
“YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO FIND YOUR OWN VOICE. THERE’S NOTHING NECESSARILY NEW WITHIN DANCE MUSIC AS SUCH, IT’S EACH PERSON’S INTERPRETATION OF IT. AT THE END OF THE DAY, WITHIN D&B WE’RE ALL PRETTY MUCH AROUND THE SAME TEMPO, BUT THERE ARE LITTLE NUANCES AND SLIGHT DIFFERENCES THAT WILL MAKE YOU STAND OUT FROM EVERYONE ELSE.”
With local support from:
DJ Dust (The Operatives / SubFM | Australia)
Humble beginnings over 10 years ago playing hip hop and drum and bass and her flawless and highly technical approach to mixing led to DJ Dust growing in to one of the busiest DJs around Melbourne - supporting some of the biggest names to grace the sandy shores including Scuba, Flying Lotus, Hudson Mohawke, Martyn, Joker, Skream, Benga, Marky, Goldie & Grooverider.
Her consistency was rewarded with worldwide recognition by the organisations Junglist Sistaz and Hardstep Sistaz and inclusion into the mighty Operatives Crew, one of the biggest music collectives in Melbourne.
Dust has promoted shows with Joe Seven for Klute, Storm, Calibre & Mark Pritchard, Doc Scott & Marcus Intalex and also ran local drum and bass night Polaroid with Joe Seven, Consequence and MC Lowqui. Dust also had a long running radio show on Kiss FM with DJ Fiend, with whom she also writes the music blog weareallsorts.com.
In April last year DJ Dust decided she needed a change of scenery and moved to NYC, where she has been playing regular hip hop sets alongside the likes of J Period, Boogie Blind and Suga Ray as well as house & drum and bass sets and secured a slot at the celebrated Sun and Bass Music Festival in Sardinia. In the last month, DJ Dust started up a new radio show on SubFM called Allsorts Radio.
Adred (Natural Selection | NY)
Born Adam Baker, son of a musically talented father and artist mother he was destined to be a great musician. Growing up listening to David Bowie, Eric Clapton and Thomas Dolby shaped his love for music at a young age. At the age of 16 Adam first heard Drum and Bass at a rave and wanted to replicate the energy and excitement he witnessed first hand. It wasn’t until years later when he had the opportunity to express it first by DJing. At the age of 20, he bought his first set of turntables and a mixer. Quickly learning and understanding the techniques of mixing music, a year later he was given the opportunity to play out. He knew all along that he wanted to create his own music and that being a DJ wouldn’t be enough to set himself apart from rest of the world. Little did he know, that a chance meeting in a neighborhood record store would launch his career as a producer. He didn’t stop at Drum and Bass but ventured into Hip Hop, R&B, Techno, House and everything in between. He doesn’t believe in pigeonholing himself in one genre and always produces music by feeling and bpm. Currently he is working on multiple releases with Robert Manos in many different genres. Keep an eye out for him and these songs.
Cory James (Point Break | NYC)
It was only a matter of time for Cory James. Studying Jazz trumpet for 6 years as child, influenced at a young age by the sounds of Hip Hop, Jazz and Punk, he later went on to immerse himself in the worlds of Techno and House. After hearing his first Jungle mix tape at 15, he wanted to experience this side room rave phenomenon immediately. While managing Eclectic Records on Long Island, Cory nurtured his musical tastes and developed an appreciation for cutting-edge sounds from those risk-taking producers who pushed musical boundaries.
This appreciation shows through in Cory James's dynamic DJ sets and productions. While he is an avid fan of the German techno sound, he is a true lover of all styles of music . This musical versatility has proven him capable of selecting the appropriate tunes for either the main dance floor or the side room with ease. In any situation, Cory's musical selection does the talking.
March 2011 saw the birth of Point Break, a promising collaboration project between Cory James and Arthur Kimskii. The past year has been a busy one for the duo as they have been hard at work organizing their successful Tar and Feathered parties, which has seen them showcasing and playing alongside artists from some of their favorite labels and playing at other events such as BLK Market Membership,Sama and Brooklyn Bass. Point Break have been very busy in the studio this year creating a myriad of material for the winter season launch of the Ladies and Gentlemen label.