Kmag touches down with junglist badboy DJ Hybrid as he drops a monster guest mix that cuts across the jungle/d&b spectrum in an inspiring and exciting way. With heavy-duty releases lined up on Dread, Digital Roots, System Shock, and his own Audio Addict and Deep in the Jungle imprints, get ready for the DJ Hybrid takeover!
First off introduce yourself to our readers, where you’re hailing from in the world, and what you were working on in the studio when we interrupted you.
Hi, I’m Alex, 28-years-old and I’m a drum & bass / jungle producer, DJ and label owner currently based in Worthing, West Sussex, UK. At the moment I’m currently working on a remix for Dialect & Kosine (Jungle Alliance) of their track ‘Soundboy’ featuring Sweetie Irie.
You were originally based out of Coventry yeah? When did you move to Sussex and especially for those not from the UK what’s the difference between the two spots?
Yeah, Coventry is where I lived for most of my life but I moved down south to Sussex about two years ago. Coventry is right in the middle of the country but where I live now in Sussex is on the south coast right by the sea which makes a nice change from the city.
Take us back to when you were growing up – what kind of musical influences did your family have on you? Any specific music you remember hearing around the house or on the radio as a youth?
I was always a big fan of music from an early age and I suppose I had certain influences from my family like rock music from my dad and soul and funk from my mum. As a teenager I had very eclectic taste in music; I was a massive fan of hip hop as well as rock, metal, ska, reggae, garage, r&b, electronica… It wasn’t till I was about sixteen that I started listening to jungle/d&b.
What was it about jungle/d&b that caught your ear and essentially changed the direction of your life?
The first thing that caught my ear was the speed and the rhythm, there’s nothing else like it. I’m not sure if it was the first tune I ever heard but ‘King of the Beats’ by Aphrodite was a tune I remember listening to on repeat in my bedroom amongst others. I bought my first pair of decks when I was about seventeen but originally was planning to be a hip-hop turntablist/DJ; it wasn’t until I went to Creamfields at the age of eighteen and saw Andy C that I decided that I really wanted to be a d&b DJ.
Now even though it seems as if your heart and soul and musical discography thus far in your career is steeped in jungle, your output is actually much more diverse than people may assume. It’s not all rough and rugged chopped beats for you is it?
I think because I’ve always had diverse taste in music that it makes sense that my output would also be very diverse. Although people may know me best for my jungle tunes I’ve always been very interested in all styles of d&b and when it comes to signing music and making music I like to be very open minded. In fact that’s really where the name ‘Hybrid’ came from because I would always try and mix all different styles of d&b/jungle in my sets so it was like a hybrid of styles of the genre.
That’s also how my podcast started; it was called the ‘Hybrid Drum & Bass Podcast’ because I would showcase different styles in the same show. At the time when I started it around 2006 there wasn’t that many d&b podcasts around and it became quite popular; it was getting thousands of subscribers / downloads a week. I think that was the first thing that I got any kind of attention from to be honest.
So you’re a young producer getting his feet wet – at what point do you start sending out tunes and what kind of response were you getting?
When I first started producing I was working at a record shop in Coventry (Renegade Records). There were digital labels at the time but it was still very much a vinyl market and all the bigger labels released on vinyl so that was my goal at first. After working on my first batch of tunes and sending them out to the bigger labels I didn’t get any reply so I started looking at some of the smaller labels and digital labels that were about. I very nearly signed a couple of tunes with some digital labels but had second thoughts at the last minute and decided not to go ahead with it because I wasnt 100% happy with my tunes and I didnt really feel the labels were the right labels for me.
I then spent the next few years locked away in the studio and I would say that it’s probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. It gave me a chance to develop my sound and really think about what music I wanted to put out there to represent me and my labels. I think the way the scene is now it’s better to wait for the right labels that you think represent your sound or even start your own label if you want complete creative control over your output.
At what point does Audio Addict and Deep in the Jungle enter the picture? Why the decision to start your own labels? What’s the difference between the two?
I started Audio Addict in 2009 with my friend Chris (Dub Kid) and with the help of my girlfriend Katie (Kitty). It’s something we wanted to do for a long time but it took a while for us to get everything together as we used to be promoters before that running nights in our hometown. The original reason we started the label was so we had a platform to get our own music out there. Over the years that reason has changed and now we have a good few different artists on the label.
My other label Deep in the Jungle started up last year and the reason behind it was that I was working on a lot more jungly stuff at the time and was getting sent quite a few mashed-up breaks and amen tunes so I thought why not start a new label just to showcase that specific sound. So whereas Deep in the Jungle specifically focuses on the ragga jungle sound Audio Addict is a much more diverse label which showcases all styles of d&b/jungle and even experiments with different bpms.
Talk about the first tune you released and how things started to progress from there.
The first tune I released was a track called ‘Step Up‘ on my label Audio Addict. That was in 2010 and things didn’t really progress for me until a couple more years down the line. I was still learning and putting the odd vinyl out on Audio Addict but I wasn’t really in contact with any of the ‘big boys’ of the scene or anything. I think the best response I had from a release in my early days was the Rollz remix of ‘Sugar Rush’ which sold out at the distributors and did quite well in the vinyl and digital charts.
“I Get Mash Up” is a big turning point for you. Tell us how this one came together and how you and Vapour linked up.
It was originally an idea for a tune I had from when I first started producing, I just re-sampled it, put a jungle spin on it and it just worked together nicely. I sent it to Mike (Vapour) because I was always a big fan of 36 Hertz and had been working on a demo to send him for a while. He got back to me straight away saying that he really liked it and just gave me a few tips and suggestions on the overall mixdown.
I went back in the studio touched up the mixdown sent the new version over to him and he rang me up the next day asking if he could sign it. It felt like a good opportunity for me to get my name out there and I got some good feedback when it was released which gave me the confidence to get some new material out on my own label.
“Badboy” is your next big hit – give us the story behind that one and what it felt like to hit number one on the charts!
“Badboy” was the one that suprised me and has ended up being my biggest tune to date. It sat on my hard drive for a while and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I think I was one tune short on a various artist EP so I decided to touch up the mixdown and release it.
I think it’s always the ones you don’t expect that sometimes do well as I definitely didn’t expect it to go to number one! That really gave me the drive and confidence to get more music out there and push the labels, I think I’ve been in a good rhythm of getting releases out there since.
Talk a bit about the ‘Exit Wound EP’, how this one came together and how you see it encapsulating what you’re all about as an artist.
I had planned to get an EP out towards the end of the year. I wanted it to be a very diverse release and take the opportunity to show people that I don’t just make a certain type of jungle/d&b. The EP gradually came together over the last few months; I had three tracks that I had already finished and I thought would be a good start for the EP so I started working on the final two tracks and I got a message from Carasel saying that he had been supporting my music and did I need any vox for any forthcoming projects. I told him about the EP and sent him the track I had been working on, he came up with the concept and sent me the vox a few days later and I think within two weeks we had the tune ‘Protege’ finished and mixed down which turned out to be one my favourites on the EP.
Another one of my favourites is ‘Lose Your Head’: I had wanted to try and make a tune like this for a while as I’ve always been a big fan of tunes like “Papercuts” by DJ Vapour and I think that influenced me a lot while working on this track. Overall I think the EP incorporates everything I like about this music: energy, deep, distorted basslines, rolling breaks, hard drums and euphoric vocals. I think there’s something in there for everyone.
Of course we can’t forget Callide’s ill remix of “Toxic Jungle” – talk about linking up with Callide and how the idea of remixing this one came through. Did you give him any sort of direction or did you just turn it over and hope for the best?
Dan (Callide) had been helping me with promotions since I switched to Cygnus Music about two years ago (They run a great service by the way — I highly recommend label owners check them out). He offered to do a remix for me and I’ve also remixed one of his tracks for System Shock. I’ve always been a big fan of Callide’s tunes so I knew he would smash it.
I imagine this EP functions as a preview of the diverse vibes we can expect on your debut album. Give us a sense of what the project is looking like and if you have any special guests, vocalists, etc. that we should be looking out for.
It’s the biggest solo project I have put out there so far and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about doing an album, so yeah i think this EP would be like a preview of whats to come it would definitely have to be something that I feel represents me 100%. I read an interview in Computer Music Mag recently with Technimatic and they were talking about their album they have just finished and said that they originally went into the studio with a plan and it just didn’t work. I’ve taken note of that and I think its important not to force an album and let it come naturally so I’ll see how it goes.
I really want it to be a proper album though that someone would listen to from start to finish not just a collection of singles if you get me? So far no confirmed vocalists or collaborators but it is something that I would like to do very much for the album. I’d like to make some more tunes with Carasel; I love his hip hop stuff so I would like to try and make a couple of tracks like that for the album and experiment with a few different bpms. The project is due at the start of 2016 but as I said before the last thing I want to do is force it and I haven’t even started it yet so maybe it might end up coming out a little bit after that, we’ll have to see.
Before we jump into your guest mix let us know what else you’ve got cooking that we should be looking out for.
We have a big jungle compilation album dropping on Deep in the Jungle at the start of next year; it’s a huge project with tunes and remixes from Gold Dubs, K-Jah, Jungle Citizens, Kartoon, DJ Monk, Kumarachi, DJ L.A.B, Habitat, Crisis & Ikon-B and loads more. We also have new music on Audio Addict Records from producers such as Kumarachi, Motif, Agro, Barbican, Section, Content Confusion & Soulculture. I have a project in the works at the moment with David Boomah which will be coming out on Digital Roots next year which I’m very excited about and I’ve also got a tune forthcoming on a compilation album for Dread Recordings which I am very happy about because Dread was always one of my favourite labels since the early days.
Upcoming gigs you can catch me in Manchester 29th Nov for Sub-Woofah, Brighton 13th December for Policy and you can also usually catch me every odd month at Jungle Alliance in Brighton which is the regular monthly jungle night. You can also expect some more releases and remixes from me next year on labels such as 36 Hertz, K.L.P Records, Digital Roots, Jungle Alliance and of course Audio Addict and Deep in the Jungle!
Let’s jump into the mix! Give us a sense of what kind of journey you’re taking us on here.
I just tried to showcase and focus what I’ve got going on at the moment with the EP and there’s a good few tracks from the forthcoming compilation on Deep in the Jungle, some forthcoming bits on Audio Addict and I’ve also tried to include other bits I’m feeling from other producers so hopefully this should be a nice varied mix of tunes.
DJ Hybrid – Toxic Jungle (Callide Remix)
Fena & Barbarix – Devoted
DJ Hybrid – Protege ft. Carasel
Foriegn Concept – Make Meals
Dub Phizix – Bounce
DJ Hybrid – Underground
Kumarachi – Way I Feel
DJ Hybrid – Lose Your Head
Rumble Jumble Life Feat King Kong & Mr Williamz (Stivs & Kelvin 373 Remix)
Jeopardize – Liberation Dub (Agro & DJ Hybrid Remix)
Crisis & Ikon-B – Who Runz Tingz
Gold Dubs – Nocturnal Confusion (DJ Hybrid Remix)
DJ Hybrid – Puffin Erbz VIP
Kumarachi – Sun Bomber
Kartoon – Wake & Bake (Gold Dubs Remix)
DJ Hybrid – Its Serious
Sound Shifter – Stronger Than Me
Kartoon – Soundboy Surrender
DJ Hybrid – Brighter Days
Habitat – In The Moment
DJ Hybrid – Coming Up
DJ Hybrid – Exit Wound