Drum ‘n’ Bass Veteran, Optiv, has been in the scene for 15 years now and is still a go-to producer for the freshest and biggest beats around. He formed the dominant collective that is Cause4Concern (C4C) back in 1999 and has not stopped progressing as an artist ever since. He owns one label of his own, Red Light, and another with C4C, Cause 4 Concern Recordings.
More or less every release he has either put out himself or for others on his labels have enjoyed monumental success within the Drum ‘n’ Bass scene. His most recent releases are no different – including Mob Tactics’ release on C4C, Signs on Red Light and a collaborative single with BTK (featured on an LP including many other major artists through BTK’s Dutty Audio) hitting Beatport’s number 1.
So it is with real excitement we bring you an exclusive interview with the man himself in anticipation of his forthcoming LP with BTK, entitled ‘Blackjack’, which is released 16th June. He’s offered up inside-info on upcoming releases, his partnership with BTK, plans for his labels and much more. Ladies and gentlemen, Optiv is in the house:
Q: Your own label ‘Red Light Records’ has recently released a tune by Signs entitled ‘Bash Around’. It has a real Bad Company feel to it, are you looking for specific styles and sounds on your imprint?
O: I am looking for tracks from both established artists and newcomers that are the sort of tunes that I would play. I like mostly music that has a strong hook, great sound design and an element of funk. I try to find music that has the appeal that got me into Drum ‘n’ Bass in the first place, no homogenised rubbish, I want it to rock dance-floors!
Q: Red Light is now 11 years old. How have you progressed as a label since then?
O: Although my main focus has been with the C4C Recordings label I am still proud of the output over the years of Red Light. Being 11 years old the label has a great following and I still strive to make sure the output is of a high quality for those that like it hard, dirty and funky. Until now I have just been releasing singles but I am planning Red Light’s first LP from the artist Zero Method, it is currently in the works but from what I have heard so far it’s going to be great.
Q: What are your plans for Red Light both in the near and distant future?
O: Well I have a few singles lined up as well as a few remixes, the latest offering from NickBee and I also have Zero Method’s LP in the pipeline.
Q: You have a release of your own coming out June 16th with your good friend BTK. How long has this been in the making? What were your goals for the release?
O: We have our LP called Blackjack released on Virus on that date. We are both big fans of the label and consider Ed Rush & Optical to be legends in the Drum & Bass scene. It is a real privilege and honour to be releasing our second album on Virus. The aim is to showcase 13 tracks of dance-fuelled funky mayhem that currently sits with the style of music we like to party too.
Q: How do you like to work with BTK? It’s a partnership that has worked so well for many years now – do you manage to get into the same studio a lot?
O: Working with Vini (BTK) is always great fun, we have a good friendship and working relationship. With Vini living quite close to me we always find time every week to get in the studio together and jam out tunes. Long may it continue!
Q: Why has your relationship with BTK been so successful over the years? How did you first meet?
O: We met at a few parties in Switzerland, we soon realised that we both live in and around Bern. We arranged to meet up and get in the studio. Since that moment we haven’t stopped meeting up and writing tunes. We both complement each other’s style of working, I am very used to working with VSTi’s and hardware whilst Vini is a dab hand at audio manipulation, by combining our skill sets we manage to write very quickly and efficiently together. I think this is the key to our success.
Q: Also, a congratulation is in order for the Dutty Audio ‘Blend’ LP hitting number 1. How did this come about? It’s another tune with BTK from you – will this be featured on the album?
O: Being BTK’s label really he must have the credit for organising this project. We both did a tune called Let It Loose that featured on the LP and it’s another track we are both really proud of.
Q: Your other project that really made a name for you is of course C4C – every C4C mix is my go-to for what’s hot at the moment. How do you feel the scene has changed since the C4C collective was first created?
O: When we formed C4C all tunes were written on hardware samplers, synths and mixing desks. The biggest shift we have seen is the move from hardware to software. This has had a profound effect on the music being made and we have loved the transition, although we still use a lot of hardware in our tunes.
Q: C4C Recording’s most recent release by Mob Tactics has also enjoyed the Top Ten on Beatport’s D&B chart. This is a seriously high energy release – is there a different philosophy on this project at all? What are your plans for C4C Recordings for the next 12 months or so. (Love the podcasts by the way!)
O: We always have a lot planned for C4C Recordings, so far we have new releases from C4C, Signs, Maztek to name a few. The Mob Tactics release has done very well and they did a really good job of that EP, they are definitely producers to watch out for!
Q: How do C4C work as a production collective? Do you all have input on every release?
O: We all try to have an input on every release but the majority of the work is by myself and CZA. These days we collaborate online in real-time using Steinbergs VST Connect and Team Viewer but from time to time CZA will come out here to Switzerland to work face to face.
Q: Back to your individual projects. You have a packed out US tour coming up. How do you find the scene over there? What are the differences?
O: There is definitely a difference in the scene in the States, although the scene was bigger about 10 years ago it is definitely finding a bit of a resurgence these days. The scene is so varied, you can play big Insomniac events through to small intimate weekly events that have been running for years. I love coming over to the States as the people are always friendly and hungry for the music.
Q: Do you cater your set differently to suit the US crowds? If so how?
O: Nope, I don’t cater differently at all. What I play is what I love and I try my best to work the crowd into a frenzy!
Q: What are your plans for the rest of 2014? Any shows you are particularly looking forward to?
O: I am really looking forward to the festival season in Europe especially Outlook festival and Glastonbury, it will be my first time at both.
Q: Plans for the more distant future as a solo artist? Any more plans for further expansion?
O: I only plan to keep writing more tunes, whether it is with BTK, C4C or solo. I feel lucky to have made a career doing what I love most and I consider myself very fortunate.
Q: 5 tunes every D&B DJ needs in their set right now:
Mob Tactics – Wasted
Emperor – Precursor (Mefjus Remix)
Optiv & BTK – Let It Loose
Signs – Bash Around
Dementia & Rregula – Timeline (Optiv & BTK Remix)
It is now our aim to bring you more artists that have been in the scene for the length of time Optiv has –although they are few and far between! His knowledge and experience is evident in every answer and the fact this will be his first year at Outlook seems almost criminal! It’s also amazing to find someone of his calibre to be so humble after all these years in the limelight. Be sure to keep an eye out for the new LP with BTK – we’ll be featuring purchase links as soon as they appear!