LessThan3: Your recent release Alpha Centauri was a huge hit with our readers. Tell us a little bit about it and that robot image.
The robot image was made by a friend of ours—Super Silo. He used to make drum’n’bass tunes as well and now he’s a graphic designer. He makes all these funny characters. The robot speaks to his style—it’s cute, spacey, weird stuff.
The music is about space travel, like many other tracks of ours. It has a lot of different elements. There’s even a little bit of a Michael Jackson inspiration in there. It’s space, it’s dirty, it’s funky, it’s dreamy, it’s powerful. I think it was built around a bass sound. I remember when we didn’t have a studio for a while and we had all the gear set up at my parents’ house. I made this bass sound and the riff of it was kind of crappy and meant for drum’n’bass, but it didn’t really work. Later when we moved to a new studio I cut up that sound and was like “well, this is pretty cool for an electro sort of track.” Then we decided to put some space sh*t around it and some intro Bladerunner stuff and that’s how it came about. Technically, Earth is a spaceship. We’re just moving at tens of thousands of miles per hour through space in a corkscrew.
LessThan3: So when you guys are up there live, are you using Ableton?
Noisia: No, just CDs. We’re real DJs [laughter]. It used to be a big discussion on the Internet mainly about vinyl vs CDs and now it’s about CDs vs Ableton. When the vinyl player was made, it was a technological advancement that allowed people to do something they had never done before. The CD player is the same thing. A lot of people are trying to stop Ableton, too.
LessThan3: Do you think classic DJ techniques like vinyl and CD beatmatching are important skills to newcomers?
Noisia: Beatmatching is just a technological thing that came from DJing with vinyl. It’s an obstacle. It’s not necessarily a very musical technique and it doesn’t mean musicality in itself but it might lead you to do things with the music that you may have never done before. On the other hand, if you don’t have to beatmatch, you can concentrate on all the crazy stuff you can do with the records. What’s necessary is sound coming out of the speakers—making sure it sounds good is key. We’ve been mixing house tunes into drum’n’bass tunes and they were beatmatched perfectly but didn’t sound very good, y’know?
LessThan3: I think there is a lot of success coming to artists who can blend genres nowadays.
It’s quite hard when we play a show like Beyond Wonderland
in terms of what kind of balance we want to showcase. This time we’ve tried to plan it as much as we can. This is an important gig for us because this is a big festival; it’s like leaving a business card. We were just going to make the most of it—think of all the records we wanted to put in, and plan it as much as we can, and then try to make it work, but it’s probably not going to go the way we planned it. This is our first show in five months. We’ve sort of reset our routine. Us three coming here is new for us, but from now on that’s what we want to be doing; we want to do every gig with the all of us. Back in the day we didn’t have the name to be able to do that. We’d have to get ourselves a bunch of extra flights and all that. So now we’ve reached a certain point where we can get that through, so to speak, which will hopefully also mean better shows.
LessThan3: Who is out there right now that you guys have your eye on as inspiration in the scene?
Noisia: There are really cool kids in Eastern Europe and Russia. Crazy kids. There always have been and there will always be. And there is a dude who we just signed one track to one of our labels called Nick B—he’s a drum’n’bass producer. He’s not really sitting on the crest of a wave of a certain sound, but he’s just doing something that is really cool. It sounds weird and really subtle. A lot of the drum’n’bass right now—the big dancefloor stuff—is suffering from a lack of subtlety, so there’s a countermovement of minimalist drum’n’bass and that sort of spawned all this retro stuff. What is most interesting, though, is what that falls in between those things. We’ve been trying really hard not to go into the cliché sounds. We don’t want to get known for a certain sound and then get bored of it ourselves. Speaking of which, there’s also an American dude that we signed to our label Invisible that is kind of the same sound but different. His name is Hybris. He lives in Prague and his stuff is really amazing.
LessThan3: Is it exciting for you to be able to lift people off from the ground?
Noisia: We started a label called Invisible for the less dancefloor-oriented stuff. We want weirder, subtler stuff on there so we’re signing dudes up, but it’s not like we’re starting a massive promo campaign. We’re going to put the tracks out just on vinyl and digital. We’re not keeping it underground just to be underground or pushing a product; we just find four tunes, put them on an EP, and release them.
LessThan3: Do you think that nowadays if tastemakers talk about a certain artist it means as much or more than the artist being signed to a particular label?
That’s sort of always been the point of producing. It’s been about getting played by that
DJ, getting played by Radio1, getting played by the DJ you like. That’s why a lot of people make tunes—to reach that quality. Once they reach it, then they’re in and a lot of people know their name. That’s kind of changed a bit, because back when we were making footsteps in the scene, if someone like Andy C
played your record, it pretty much guaranteed at least 1000 vinyl sales. There are a lot of other ways now. When we started releasing, I don’t think a lot of people listened to drum’n’bass tunes—they listened to mixes. But now that everything is on YouTube and blogs, people say “hey, check out this tune” and they can listen to it. There’s more power to the people and less of a select group of DJs who say what is hot.
LessThan3: Today we’re seeing big labels disappear and we have all these smaller labels climbing up in the scene. It seems almost every artist runs their own label. How do you see that change affecting the sound or the scene?
Noisia: When we got into drum’n’bass, that was when it had just gone bust because it was hyped really big. Majors picked it up, sold a couple of albums, and then it just kinda faded out. Then a darker sound came around and a couple of years later we got into the whole thing. We were never in a position where it was even a possibility that one of our tunes would get signed by a major. It was underground. Big drum’n’bass labels are still considered underground—they are still run by DJs and not big companies. Now labels like Ram and Metalheads might sell fewer records because of the whole Internet/YouTube thing, and more and more high-end/mid-tier artists start labels.
LessThan3: Now that we’ve seen electronic music starting to take over the mainstream, we’re seeing a lot of small labels that are bringing the sounds people want to hear instead of the big guys.
Noisia: I don’t know how it works because I don’t come to the states very often, but if you compare that situation to what the UK and Holland were like 10 years ago, we already had tons of commercial dance music being released on the radio, on TV, everywhere. Commercial dance music had major labels releasing it with videos that had some hot chick in it. The first time we came to the states we didn’t realize it wasn’t really being played on the radio, so it’s nice to see a new wave of interest with the rise of dubstep and a bunch of other sounds on the side. You can hear it in the pop records now—there’s a lot more electronica in there.