|Phantom Beats drop in for a chat
Straight Outta Cardiff in the UK are Phantom Beats - a duo of beatmakers known for their antics on Plastic Raygun. Breakbeat fans will know of their mixing skills when they released The Raygun Administration late 2002, and also of their production skills with tunes like Growler, The Drop and Mercury making an impact on the breaks scene. November sees the duo making their first appearance in Australia as Phantom Beats and RA gets the lowdown with the boys, Matt and Neil.
First let's get the obvious out of the way. Introduce yourselves by name and what part you play in the group.
Neil - My name's Neil Phantom. I'm one half of Phantom Beats. We both do everything in the partnership, although we each tend to do more of one thing than the other. For example, I have to look after the passports in the airport while Matt stares at girls....
Matt - Hi I'm Matt Phantom - the more intelligent, cheekier and more ginger of this dynamic duo. And yes I like lovely ladies.
Whereabouts in the UK are you from? What is the breaks scene like in your area?
Neil - Cardiff. Pretty much non-existent. Well, until recently.
Matt - Well I'm from Bristol originally which has always been good for leftfield beats such as Massive Attack, drum & bass and loads of hiphop. Breaks now in Bristol is really taking off what with Blowpop and Kingpin. In Cardiff its pretty small but we've got some excellent locals djs by the names of Chico Fresco and West 1 - who keep us entertained when we're in the city.
If you've ever read the comic, you'd know that the Phantom is the king of the jungle. Did you ever dabble in drum'n'bass beats or are you strictly about the slower 130 bpm breakbeat sound?
Neil - Matt and I have always prided ourselves on our ability to be diverse. At the Heavenly Jukebox back in the 90s we used to play everything from northern soul through punk to big beat!
Matt - Its always good when we can play longer sets from nice leftfield beats, and some bouncey bass hiphop through
to house then breaks and a nice bit of drum and bass. Most sets we get booked for are the peaktime slots - plus you have to be a man mountain to carry such a range of genres on vinyl. If it oooozzzess Funk then we're interested in a tune.
It seems a few artists are moving into playing breaks live as opposed to just DJing. Do you, or will you, ever cross over to become a live PA?
Neil - It's been an idea we've toyed with for a while. It's just been a case of finding the time to develop it. It will happen sometime in the next 12 months though. There's already slow developments afoot!
Plastic Raygun is known for representing the techy breaks sound and you both showcased their sounds on The Raygun Administration volume 2 mix CD. I have a real soft spot for "The Drop" and "Nitzer" - out of the 11 tunes, which one is your favourite?
Neil - Techy? Really? We've always thought of ourselves as occupying a middle ground between the funky side and the dark side, but keeping all the good points about each. To be honest though, I love all the tracks equally. In the way a good parent loves each of their children equally. Even though some of them are naughtier than others!
Matt - Yeah think Raygun is a nice balance between the nice funky stuff with a nice hint of the darker bass...
What is it about Plastic Raygun that keeps you in their stable?
Neil - We own it! ;-)
Raygun Administration also featured audio snippets from your world tour, what is your favourite memoir from the tour?
Neil - One of my favourites was being absolutely trolleyed, sat in a jacuzzi at 7am in the morning in our master suite hotel room. Somewhere in Florida. We'd convinced ourselves earlier in the day that we'd have a group of naked strippers and dancers in there with us. Needless to say we ended up in there drinking beer on our own!
Matt - Got some great new video footage and photos from our recent gig in Atlanta, USA - all I can say at the moment is - check me ladies. And Atlanta is officially now known as 'Hotlanta'
One of your most recent releases is a remix 12" featuring remixes from Vandal and Future Funk Squad. Who would be your ultimate remixer if you could have ANYONE remixing one of your tunes?
Neil - I'd have Prince working the vocals and arrangement, Stevie Wonder sorting out the keys and horns, Ils behind the mixing desk and Eva Casssidy singing over the top. And my girlfriend on the tambourine...
Matt - Matthew Herbert, Moloko (with Roisin singing while on my lap) or Dj Gregory (tiptop french house producer)
Do you have any releases planned in the coming months?
Neil - We've just finished 'Rip It Up', which should be hitting the racks any day now.
Matt - Our new single 'Geek' is also very close to completion. Plus we're looking to complete our album early next year for release in late (our) summer 2004
What tools in the studio do you use to create your beats?
Neil - We're software junkies!
Matt - Logic and loads of nice plugins. Plus lots of cups of tea / cans of lager (depending on what time it is.) Neil likes tea until about 10pm - while I just tend to go for the beer from about 2pm.
Just so we know where your heads are at, lay down for us your current top 5 tunes.
Neil - For me it would have to be anything on Fat!, FingerLickin' or Plastic Raygun. I'm really in to:
1) Phantom Beats - Rip It Up (Plastic Raygun)
2) Friendly - 2Black2gay (Fat!)
3) Stabilizer - Low Slung (Plastic Raygun)
4) Random Source - Big Stupid Grin (S.O.D.)
5) Apollo Kids - Counting Off (Fat!)
Matt - Yep totally dig finger lickin', Fat & Supercharged
1) Vandal - Vanhalen (cdr)
2) Phantom Beats - Geek [Plastic Raygun]
3) Stereo 8 - Flipmode (Finger Lickin')
4) Phantom Left - Field of Life (cdr)
5) Chemical Bros - Hey Boy, Hey Girl (Breaks mix cdr)
Is this going to be your first time in Australia as Phantom Beats?
Neil - Yeah. And we're so excited. We're really looking forward to shooting off to Japan straight after and showing the kids over there how to do it breakbeat style...
Matt - Yes. Are the ladies nice? ;-)
The Australian summer manages to attract breakbeaters like yourself from around the world (mainly the UK) and spin a few tunes. Why us and what do you have in store for unsuspecting Aussie fans?
Neil - I think the weather and your big love of breaks is why us breakbeaters seem to spend so much time down in Australia. We spend a lot of time in Spain as well for the same reason. It's one of the few places in the world where you can play to 5000 people all going crazy to breaks until 6am...
Matt - We've got some great new tunes from some UK producers - originally and some superb rerubs. Essentially we're looking to create a full on party atmosphere, get everyone smiling, dancing, jumping around - plus plently of lovely ladies shakin' their thing.
10 Nov - Phantom Beats 'Rip It Up'
24 Nov - Baobinga 'Stepwise/Potroast'
8 Dec - Jean Jacques Smoothie 'Keep It Movin'
Phantom Beats Dates:
15/11 Nu Horizon - Atlanta, USA
29/11 Nutshell Breaks - Newcastle, AUS
30/11 Sounds On Sunday - Sydney, AUS
05/12 Fractured - Melbourne, AUS
06/12 Moon Bar - Brisbane, AUS
12/12 Ruby Room - Tokyo, JAPAN
13/12 Karma - Osaka, JAPAN
26/12 Blue Mountain - Bristol, UK
31/12 The Phoenix NYE - Exeter, UK
26/02 Breakspoll - London, UK
28/02 D-Tuned - Nottingham, UK
26/03 TBA - Munich, GERMANY
16/04 TBA - Hamburg, GERMANY
Published / Wednesday, 19 November 2003
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