What do you get when you put a new school Drumsound and an old skool Bassline together? Good quality tear-out drum & bass for the dancefloor of course. Knowledge caught up with Simon ‘Bassline’ Smith on the eve of the biggest Technique Recordings release to date…
A couple of years ago, Derby’s drum & bass massive rocked to the sounds of a night called Technique. Organised by a local crew known as Drumsound – comprised of Andy ‘Drumsound’ Wright, Tim Pugh, Andy Rothery and Benn G and the anonymous Future Tech – Technique rinsed it out regularly for its punters, bringing in the likes of Optical, Bryan Gee, DJ Rap, Fabio, Andy C and SS and local hero Simon ‘Bassline’ Smith to help move the crowds.
“It was really by pure chance that I hooked up with the Drumsound crew,” says Simon. “For all of the main years, there wasn’t really anyone in Derby or surrounding areas that were into d&b until Drumsound. They invited me to play at Technique and I ended up spinning there on a regular basis…”
Simon’s musical history is deep and fairly well documented. Starting out in hip hop and soul, he moved to Tenerife in the late 80s where he started dabbling in the nascent sounds of acid house. He returned three years later to play Birmingham’s TIME, initially warming up for the likes of Fabio and Grooverider before securing his own residency there.
At the same time, he began his own record label, Absolute 2, which served as an outlet for early productions from the likes of Nookie and Doc Scott as well as some of Simon’s own material. In the mid-90s though, when many artists began signing up for major deals and Simon found his DJing workload increasing to the point where he couldn’t find time to run the label any more, Absolute 2 was demoted to the back burner.
Since all the DJs involved in Technique Recordings were also getting their studio skills together, it wasn’t long before ideas, samples and DATs were changing hands. “One of the DJs had his own studio so we connected about making tunes as well as DJing together,” he reveals. “We started getting together a bit, I used to go around to his studio and give him a few ideas and all that, but there was no real plan, it just sort of happened.”
Talk of starting a label was inevitable. Having debated the pros and cons of restarting Absolute 2 to put their material out, the two parties opted instead for a ‘new label, a fresh approach and some new names’. After getting permission from the club owner to use the name of the night (which had since run its natural course), Technique Recordings was born. “Because I had run a label before, I had quite a clear vision of what to do,” states Simon. “It just didn’t seem fair to use my label when this was a venture that included all of us.”
The first release came in 1999, an eponymous cut from Future Tech. Stepping up with a futuristic flavour, it combined tech-edged beats with a devastating, distorted b-line and set the label’s stall out: quality tear-outs for the dancefloor was the way forward. This route seems a departure for Simon, whose earlier releases like the ‘Music For Life’ EP and ‘Palomino’ took a more musical approach, gaining support by the likes of Fabio and Bukem.
“All the Technique Recordings releases so far have been done by either myself, Drumsound or all of us together,” explains Simon. “When we work together I like to think that there’s 50% of each of us involved in the sound. With these producers being younger and part of the new breed, their d&b experience goes back as far as ’96, ’95 at the most, so there has to be a common ground for us to come up with something that we’re both happy with. Hence a lot of tracks are geared towards the dancefloor but also within those tracks you might find a slight musical or old school feel which I like to think has come from my input.”
Outside of Technique, the crew have also been busy getting their name around and passing tunes on to other labels, such as ‘The Conspiracy’ EP that went to Mickey Finn’s Urban Takeover and some material that will soon be released on SS’ Formation imprint. The next Technique Recordings release – a booming four-tracker called ‘The Distortion In Sound’ EP – is going to be the label’s most important to date, it’s uncompromising dancefloor vibe threatening to take the profile of the label to the next level. So will they be looking to sign any new blood soon?
“Well, since there are quite a few of us, it’s not like we start wondering where the next release is coming from,” imparts Simon. “But we get demos all the time, so I suppose it’s just waiting for the right one to drop. You can’t put a time scale on it. I like to think that when I hear something, if that triggers something in me, then I can work with it, although I can’t say any of the demos we’ve had so far have made me think ‘right, let’s go with this. To release someone else’s tune it’s gonna have to really grab me.”
Simon Bassline Smith takes us through the Technique cover CD mix…
Drumsound & Simon Bassline Smith – Beeswax
A spaced-out, off-key lick utilising some old skool flavours. Features on the ‘Sound in Distortion’ EP
Drumsound & Simon Bassline Smith – Jungle Fever
The ‘Fever’ is on with this one, a delicate female vox with a heavy rolling ‘Bassline’!
Future Tech – Electro Tech
Under their altered ego! Influenced by techno, this little number rolls and rolls.
Drumsound & Simon Bassline Smith – Plutonium
A futuristic roller with eerie FX and funky beats. The third release on Technique
Drumsound & Simon Bassline Smith – Aneurysm
Atmosphere is the order of the day with this simple yet effective dancefloor smasher! Features on the ‘Sound in Distortion’ EP
Drumsound & Simon Bassline Smith – Distortion
Intense rapidly moving head-nodder
Drumsound & Simon Bassline Smith – Tunnel Vision
Released late last year as their second release.
Future Tech – Future Tech (remix)
The original was the label’s debut release. Sinister sounding futuristic mayhem.
Drumsound & Simon Bassline Smith – Breakdown
This is set for an autumn release and is already causing a stir on dubplate and Grooverider has given it his seal of approval on Radio 1.
Future Tech – Explosive
Smashed by the likes of Mickey Finn and Andy C this raw number always does damage.
Drumsound & Simon Bassline Smith – Get You together
Amen track with old skool stabs and female vox.
Drumsound & Simon Bassline Smith – Zeus (remix)
Another sinister sounding futuristic roller.
Drumsound & Simon Bassline Smith – Tsunami
Taken from the ‘Sound in Distortion’ EP, this has a pad intro before a growling bassline takes over…