Purchase their ‘Rituals’ EP exclusively from Beatport
New Zealand has given us some of the biggest names in Drum ‘n’ Bass and is responsible for producing such pioneers as State of Mind, Concord Dawn and The Upbeats. Well, having already brought you words from one of these we are very excited to bring you an exclusive insight into the world of The Upbeats!
Jeremy Glenn and Dylan Jones have been producing some of the most raw and exciting Drum ‘n’ Bass since 2001. They are highly respected and even idolised throughout the Drum ‘n’ Bass world. Their unique style and sounds are quickly elevating them to the same respect that NOISIA and Black Sun Empire enjoy and they are showing no signs of letting up. Luke McCarthy caught up with them in anticipation of their ‘Rituals’ EP on Black Sun Empire’s Blackout imprint.
Q: As mentioned, the guys’ forthcoming EP, ‘Rituals’, is to be released on Black Sun Empire’s ‘Blackout’. How exactly did this come about?
UB: We’ve been good friends with the BSE guys for quite a few years now, and had always intended on giving them a release. This seemed like the perfect timing for us, as the first release to follow up our album ‘Primitive Technique’. Also it made a lot of sense, as we’ve been performing at their Blackout parties in Europe a lot over the last year, so it’s good to support the project/family!
Q: What a successful project Blackout has been so far! After releasing their ‘Primitive Technique’ LP not long ago I wondered whether there were any goals or aims for this EP?
UB: Not really to be honest. There’s always a bit of a free zone after sending off an album to master, until the album is released, and the tour madness begins. So this is basically a representation of the music we wrote in that period. Except for ‘Def Crescent’, which was initially in the pool of music for our album, but we couldn’t quite squeeze it in.
Q: The rate in which producers of The Upbeats’ calibre can create tunes ready for release never ceases to amaze me – only the most talented of producers can do it. For me, The Upbeats signature sound can be found in their drums. They hit a really authentic and crisp sound that no others can rival. What software is involved in the making of them?
UB: We have traditionally used Recycle & EXS24 a lot for manipulating old school breaks, as we really like the aesthetic of organic sounding drums. Having said that we have been making quite a few of our own kits lately with NI Kontakts studio drums, which can create some pretty exciting results.
Q: Some inside information for all budding producers there – we do like to treat you! Now for the bass. The Upbeats have said they enjoy using the D16 plugs recently. What was used on the EP?
UB: We’ve been addicted to the Devastor for a while now, it’s such a sick distortion plugin, in fact it’s probably used in every track on the EP. Recently though we’ve also fallen in love with the Decimort, Toraverb & Fazortan.
Q: It takes years to master these sorts of programs and the boys recently posted a mix they did with 2SHY back in 2005. How do they feel they have progressed as artists since then?
UB: That mix really does feel like a lifetime ago! At that point, our studio was literally in a garden shed, and we were writing on a pair of Kenwood minisystem speakers. Seriously, so ghetto. But it was a really exciting time, we were just launching into producing our album ‘Nobody’s Out There’, which even though it’s very raw, has a very warm spot in our hearts. Since then (especially within the last 2 years), we’ve put a lot more thought into our production game. Even though we’re still all about trying to create a vibe, and/or elicit some emotion, there’s definitely a much higher standard to the technical side of our production now.
Q: I don’t think anyone could disagree that their production over the last three or four years has reached new levels of awesomeness! Talking of awesome – The Upbeats decided to give a single from their new EP, entitled ‘Corposant’, away for free download. Illegal downloading is a major problem in the industry – what were their views on this very hot topic?
UB: It’s a tough one, I mean of course we want and appreciate people supporting and purchasing our music. But at the same time, we came into the scene around the time that music sales were really dropping off, so our focus for making this viable to do full time, has always been on live performance. It just isn’t realistic to make a living off only producing music. Thankfully we really enjoy performing, seeing new places and meeting new people. But I know quite a few people that would much rather just be able to focus on producing, and it’s a tough compromise for some people to make.
We don’t condone music piracy, but we are willing to do whatever we can to get our music out to as wide an audience as possible. That’s where doing a release giveaway comes in handy, a lot of people will stop and check it out that might not pay attention to Beatport’s latest releases etc.
Q: Bottom line on piracy – if you’re feeling their music buy their music. Back to the EP and releasing on Blackout – how do they find working with Black Sun Empire?
UB: They’re excellent to work with. They’re definitely one of the most productive labels we’ve dealt with. And they’ve given us complete freedom to do what we want with this EP.
Q: Always love hearing a label respecting an artist’s ability and trusting them with complete creative freedom, although I don’t know how you could tell The Upbeats how to produce. The Upbeats are a busy pair, in terms of playing out at shows, how do they juggle the work load?
UB: That’s always tough. Very tough. Coming off the back of a full tour it’s always hard to be motivated to jump straight into the studio. But given our schedule over the last year, we have so little time available together in the studio, which we really have to make the most of it.
Q: Which leads me onto the next question. Do they manage to get in the same studio a lot?
UB: We’re in the studio together every day (when we’re both home). We’ve always worked together on everything, and thankfully after 16 years of making music together, we still have a really fun and productive relationship.
Q: All duos work differently and it sounds like The Upbeats have a tight partnership – something that is key to their major success for all these years! So what for the rest of 2014?
UB: This year is already looking mad. In May we’re splitting up to tour through the States and Europe. Then in July & August we’re playing some really exciting summer festivals in Europe together.
After that we head off to Rarotonga for 3 weeks in August, to start work on the Shapeshifter album.
On top of that we have a couple of remixes on the go, and collaborations with Bassnectar & Shapeshifter coming out this year.
Q: The Bassnectar collaboration is an extremely exciting prospect! The lower frequencies are sure to be tested to their limits on that one. Now for a more personal question – what do The Upbeats do in their spare time? Stamp collecting, knitting?
UB: We both love to bodyboard/surf, so we do that whenever we can (like yesterday). As for music, we’ve been working on a Hip Hop project with our good friend Armanni Reign over the last 2 years. So we’re about to launch that, which is pretty damn exciting for us.
Q: Another bit of very exciting news – many producers have told me they’d like to do Hip Hop production and I’d imagine these guys would absolutely nail it. To finish the talk – five tunes you need in your set right now:
Break & DLR – New Design
DC Breaks – Gambino
Frankee – Gully
Tyke – Jah Jah
Mercedes – Full Tilt (Ulterior Motive Remix)
So there you have it. They’ve treated you to tips on fine tuning your bass, tightening your drums and even chucked in a couple of exclusives for forthcoming tunes. A really insightful interview and it’s been a pleasure to bring you words from this awesome duo. Keep an eye out for the release of their EP and be sure to grab ‘Primitive Technique’ if you haven’t already.