Eclectic Minds: A chance for non-D&B artists to big up our scene. It’s been a while since we ran one of these features, then we heard The Herbaliser’s new album and thought we’d give them a call. Back to their organic dark funk vibes There Were Seven is delivered with true hip-hop attitude, loaded with rusty breaks and moody atmospheric soul. They might not play drum & bass, but we bet our bottom dollar there’s a love for it amidst all those samples…
“I must have about 20,000 records – one and a half rooms full of it – but I’ve only got about 20 drum & bass records!” laughs Ollie Teeba, one half of the duo. Hmmm… Our bottom dollar is intact. Just about.
“I’ve left drum & bass to the dudes who really know their shit. But every now and again I hear a track and think ‘wow! I’ve got to have that one!’ When drum & bass blew up, all of a sudden 100s of tracks came out every week. There was no way I be that dedicated because I was already dedicated to hip-hop.”
What Ollie lacks in D&B records, he makes up in his knowledge of the break. Trace both hip-hop and drum & bass back to the source and it all boils down to hours of crate digging and those magical moments finding drum breaks, samples and snippets.
“I still love it,” he grins. “Even after all these years. My favourite thing is digging and finding those golden little moments to chuck into my sampler. The passion never wears off; once you’ve got that bug for digging it never goes away. A lot of guys started off sampling, spent years and years digging for breaks then suddenly got told by their record labels ‘no sorry, we’re not sampling any more, we can make a lot more money if we don’t clear them. Get on your keyboard!’ A lot of these dudes are good samplers but they’re no good composers. And that’s one of my biggest props for drum & bass artists… As well knowing their way around the samples, they can produce really well as well. That wobbly bass and all the production values are outstanding. They always have been.”
Seems our bottom dollar is well and truly intact. A 10,000th of his record collection might only be drum & bass but Ollie knows the score. A quick blast on their new album will back this up, too.
“We had a 70s funk and soul vibe for the last album,” he explains. “But after a while we got tired of it. We’ve moved back to the moody. Each time we make an album we try to strike a balance between what we want to do and new ideas. For example we’ve done a dub track. Trying to keep people guessing with a few surprises. If you’ve an established fan it will satisfy you and if you’re new I hope it will impress and excite you.”
Whichever category you fall in, There Were Seven is well worth checking out. And it’s available via their own label Department H.
The Ganja Kru – Super Sharp Shooter
“That slow break. That Blow Your Head sample. It’s so hip-hop! Even with my limited knowledge of drum & bass, this is the king. Guaranteed kick off; there’s something wrong with your audience if they don’t kick off when this drops. Unless you’re playing at a very tame wedding or an old folks’ home jamoree maybe. Serious kick ass tune!”
Studio Pressure – Planet Photek
“Very spacey drum & bass. I love the fact he’s used a drum I’m familiar with and fond of myself. There’s always a trap of just using the same old breaks; mainly Amen Brother, Funky Drummer or Lyn Collins Think. This drum is Eddie Bo and Inez Cheatham’s Lover & A Friend and it’s one of the most extreme heavy breakbeats. Right up there with Amen Brother. It’s the drums that catch my ear. I love hearing a drum & bass record that shows the producer really knows his drums and hasn’t lumped for something from a compilation. Photek’s very creative, this is just one of many tracks of his I love.”
Aphex Twin – Laughable Butane Bob
“Does this qualify as drum & bass or not? You could program it into a drum & bass set but I’m sure purists would argue it’s not. I don’t care, I love this. It’s got the spirit and essence of drum & bass and that fits my critera!”
East Flatbush Project – Tried By 12 [Squarepusher Remix]
“Ninja Tune put out a whole bunch of remixes of this. We did one too, but when I listen to it I just think ‘meh’. This one, however, blew everyone away. I’ve dropped it over the years and people always go fricking mental. Again, Squarepusher isn’t probably drum & bass. He divides opinion but you have to have people who push the boundaries. If no one ever pushes for something different the genre will stagnate and become very dull and uninspiring. I think Squarepusher has influenced a lot of people that way.”