Kmag touches down with the don of the darkside as he delivers a heavyweight single on the ever-impressive Ram off-shoot Program. As he looks ahead to his next LP project for Ram, Basher reflects on the journey that almost never was and drops some essential advice for up-and-coming producers when refining their sound.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 years since “Leachcraft” hit on Frequency! Even though it might make you feel like an old-timer, rattle off a few of your proudest moments from these past 7 years that have led you to where you are today.
The last seven years have gone by so fast! There are many standout moments I could draw on, but the one that definitely stands out above the rest was the release of my debut album on Ram “Transmission.” In my eyes an artist album on Ram is the pinnacle of D&B production not to mention my lifelong dream so it would it not be possible to pick another moment over that – other standout moments include playing the Ram nights @The End and being asked by DJ Hype to remix his timeless classic, “Peace Love & Unity.” FYI: I feel younger than ever!
Of course, you’ve got two decades in the trenches as a DJ and producer and all-round lover of drum & bass – when you started playing around with those turntables as a 12-year-old did you ever think it would lead to the lifestyle you’re leading now? Was there a moment where things could have gone either way and your drum & bass dreams would have been just that?
Like every bedroom Producer/DJ I always hoped I would “make it” but to be honest I never thought it would happen for me. Truth be told the day I got my first demo signed I was actually gonna hang up my hat and say goodbye to the dream as I had been trying to get somewhere for so long with no real success or achievements and by that time I had a baby to support so I was ready to call it a day and focus on my day job as a builder. Lucky for me I got a last minute burst of inspiration (and a cheeky sample from MC Fats) and made “Leachcraft,” maybe it was fate!
From your earliest releases the precision of your production has been one of your defining features. How much time were you putting in the studio before you feel like you really started to get the sound you wanted and how many tunes or ideas do you think you’ve abandoned or trashed over the years because they just weren’t up to your standards?
It took me years to get comfortable with making music, whether it be full projects, unfinished demos or just early ideas, hundreds of tracks will never see the light of day and many many hours go to waste in the studio but this is just part of the process of making music for me, only the best stuff will make it through for full release.
For all the new-school producers out there, how important is it to develop a personal quality control system before sending tunes out? Were you bouncing tunes off other people for advice/feedback or were their certain qualities or criteria that you set for yourself?
It’s extremely important to have quality control when trying to get noticed by labels! Since running my own label this fact has never been more evident, if someone sends demos not of a certain standard it is not often there future demos will get listened to again, I was lucky enough to have a network of producers who was willing to give me honest feedback on my tracks which gave me the confidence that my music was demo worthy.
In the past few months we’ve seen big things from Tephra & Arkoze, Kyrist, and Memro on your own label Proximity Recordings – any other new artists we should be expecting big things from? Is it true that Memro is only 18!?
At Proximity we have an amazing and diverse roster of artists that just keeps flourishing and pushing boundaries. I’m extremely glad they are getting the recognition they deserve and you can expect big things from all. The coming months will see some big changes at the label including the birth of a sister label and label nights round the world. Yes, Memro is only 18 which coincidentally is the exact number of times he texts me a week to ask me to join something called “SnapChat” – apparently there is heaps of fun to be had!
Aside from cultivating new talent, who or where else are you drawing inspiration from these days?
Outside the Ram crew my main influence at the moment is Guinness.
Am loving the dirty vibe on ‘Trojan’ – people often forget about the darker, deeper side of Ram and so am feeling this release in particular. Were you asked to deliver some tunes for Program or did the tunes come first and Andy gave a listen and said, “Program” and that was that?
Thank you! I’m very glad you like it. I have always released on all labels under the Ram umbrella so it was only a matter of time before my tracks would have an outing on Program. I think it was actually Ray Rampage that was the driving force for ‘Trojan’ and ‘Weep’ to come on Program. He loved ‘Trojan’ from the demos I gave early this year and after hearing ‘Weep’ at a meeting with me and Frankee the release was well and truly programmed in!
It’s great to see you linking up with Frankee as he’s been really coming into his own this year. Talk a bit about your relationship with him – when did you guys first link up? I know he was an artist on Proximity, originally doing dubstep right?
Frankee had a stint in the dubstep game, yes, but I assure you he is D&B through and through. I have known Dave for about 15 years, we went to the same school and have many friends in common not to mention living 2 minutes from each other. We have written dozens of tracks together including “Nevada” on my Transmission album but most are still to see the light of day, we both hope they do!
Well, it’s a great release overall and it would be great to see more collaborations in the future. Speaking of which, what else do you have coming up that we should be looking out for?
I’m honoured to have a track on the forthcoming MC Fats LP with is shaping up to be huge as well as a remix of a very well-known classic due out next year, can’t say what it is yet sorry! You can also catch me in the Program room Dec 13th at the Ram Records Party @Fabric.