Twenty years of history. Two years in the making. 60 tunes in the blend. Three CDs…
Drum&BassArena Anthology 2 is a comprehensive audio history lesson. A seamless sonic snapshot stretching from drum & bass’s earliest jungle roots to the upfront bangers of tomorrow, this is our biggest release of the year. And we’re seriously proud of it.
Over the coming weeks we’ll be chatting to selected artists on the release, discussing both their contributions to the mix and their stance on D&B in general. And we’re kicking off the series with a total legend. A man who’s influenced the scene so much, he appears no less than three times on the release…
Big up DJ SS. The badman once known as Scratchenstein, he’s a bona fide founding father. As a DJ he’s never stuck to one particular sound; smashing massive jungle raves and cool underground clubs in equal measure. As head honcho at seminal imprint Formation Records he set a blue print for modern labels and gave the likes of John B, Nero, Twisted Individual, Distorted Minds, Drumsound & Bassline Smith and DJ Hazard early releases. And you can file the production aspect of his career under ‘prolific’ with a capital Pro.
“I’ve got about three projects going on at the moment right now,” he says from his London studio. “So many tunes man! I’ve been working in this vocal project for about three years. It’s been so long. It’s songs, you know? Downtempo, D&B, dubstep, all sorts of flavours. Plus I’ve also got about 18 of my own tunes too. So we’re getting the catalogue together and will let them out at the end of the year, early next…”
Roll on 2013, then. But what’s SS’s take on modern day D&B? And does it still have the raw energy and wild excitement it did for him way back 20 years ago when hardcore gave birth to the bass-bitten beast that is jungle?
“Everyone’s getting anal with mixdowns!” he sighs. “We didn’t have that back in the day. It was just bass heavy. That was it! I worry a lot of production techniques are in danger of taking the soul out of the tunes. I’d say to anyone who’s getting into drum & bass to go back and check their history. Before you can go forward you need to go back. It’s like soul, hip-hop or anything – know your history. People always ask for the older stuff. That’s why this Anthology release is important. I loved the first one. I paid good money to download that and I’m looking forward to hearing this one.”
What an endorsement! Stay tuned for the full tracklisting and release details. In the meantime, let’s have a look at where SS was at when he wrote his three contributions to the mix…
DJ SS – Black
“I got fond memories of the Colours series. We were just making so many tunes at the time we needed a way to theme them. This concept, and the Countries series, just ran away with itself. It was mental! I’m trying to think which colour that didn’t get the praise I think it should’ve done. Gold was a big one for me. Black has stood the test of time the best I reckon. I tell you what man, I made so many tunes around this time that people have played me one of them and I’ve been like ‘wow, this is alright! Who made this?’ And they’ll be like ‘you mate!’ That’s how many tunes we were making back then!”
DJ SS – The Lighter [Bladerunner Remix]
“I had this for about two and a half years. It’s wicked. And I think that’s down to the fact that he’s kept it on the old school vibe. To be honest mate, I thought The Lighter was dead and buried. There’d been so many remixes and re-releases, I just wanted to put it behind me and pay it respect. Bladerunner sent this to me and I was like ‘right, keep this to yourself. Don’t give it to anyone.’ I kept it for two and a half years and play it as a VIP for my DJ sets. I always get asked to play it – especially at my European gigs – so it was nice to drop this. Then Friction asked me for it. Something special for his first Radio1 show. So I sent it to him. He played it. It got tune of the week and everyone went mad for it! I couldn’t stop this, it had to be released. But this is the last remix. Bladerunner’s nailed it. He’s brought the old school vibe to the younger audience.”
MA2 – Hearing Is Believing [Remix]
“I made this during the big jump up era. I never wanted to be pigeonholed, you see. So that’s why I made the The New Jazz Phenomenon and loads of other aliases. I did loads of different vibes so people didn’t know what to expect. And to keep it fun for myself too. So this was just a big old roller. Simple; a big 808, nothing too heavy. That was the vibe. It simplified a lot of things for me. Everyone was making all these big busy tunes so it was an interesting exercise. I actually started off trying to making something more Bukem-ish but ended up stripping it right back. I’m well happy with how it’s stood the test of time. Play this now and it still stands up.”
Drum&BassArena Anthology 2 is out November 4 (download) and November 5 (3xCD). Stay tuned for more details.