Slovakian producer Jakub Šenšel, aka Minor Rain, has been producing a multitude of electronic styles since 2009. He’s since refined his sound primarily focusing on drum & bass and has released tracks on labels like Renegade Hardware, Dispatch and Med School. With his new single Flux / Thunderbird single just out on Addictive Behaviour, we took the chance to find out more about his diverse approach to music.
As a drum & bass artist you have managed to manipulate and create a multitude of styles, ranging from intelligent, gritty and tech, to ambient / atmospheric. Do you believe this diverse and unique range of production styles has been integral to your success?
I have no idea. I make a lot of styles because I feel music as a whole. I also like to learn and discover something new from other genres. My fan base is mainly people who love drum & bass, but I guess a real artist should open his mind to any genre. A lot of artists choose to stick with one genre, which they may produce well. However, they could get an opportunity for a project which would require production skills from other genres and then find out their skill set is no longer satisfactory.
Since you have such a diverse sound I imagine your influences are equally as broad, could you list some of your inspirations?
You’re right. I spend a lot of time around nature, which is my main source of inspiration. I also check actual trends in music, such as the way other artists produce, so I can customise my ideas according to current trends. My mood is also an important factor. Sometimes when I’m out and about with friends, something random triggers my imagination, which then has a radical impact on my next production.
You are clearly talented at synthesising and producing a multitude of electronic musical styles but what was it about drum & bass that motivates and inspires you more so than anything else?
Drum & bass was my ticket to the world of electronic music so it naturally has a special place in my heart. As a genre it is more complex when compared to others. It requires a lot of skills in the area of arranging and engineering and there is also a unique energy for drum & bass gigs. I really can’t say what the main reason is, I simply love drum & bass because it’s drum & bass.
Where did the names Flux and Thunderbird come from?
To be honest I can’t remember why I named the tune Flux. Perhaps because the main synth is fluxing along with the majority of the tune, but I don’t know! However I am clear about Thunderbird – the bassline is huge like thunder and the beat is tiny like a bird.
Do you have separate influences/styles for producing and DJing?
My influences are usually the same. I mix what I like and also produce the styles I like to play, so there’s really not much difference. Of course I make all kinds of music but it’s obvious I can’t play future garage at a drum & bass party. To be honest sometimes at parties I’ve had to spin tunes which I don’t personally like, but the crowd are into. But back to your question, I basically only play drum & bass but I produce any style I like.
Your debut LP In the Depth of My Soul was a wonderful showcase of uniquely different ambient technical drum & bass. How do you feel your sound has developed since this release?
Yeah, it’s really diverse and took dedication to write. As this was my first LP my technical skills, including mastering, had just started developing and I think this project really kick started Minor Rain. I learned new processes in the world of autonomic sound, which was important because I started the Minor Rain project as a non drum & bass project.
My DJ skills have also evolved. I started building sets according to keys and also used more complex fades, made some bootlegs and special edits of tunes and much more.
You mentioned in a previous interview with Renegade Hardware that you listen to a lot of atmospheric music… have you ever thought of incorporating the early atmospheric 1993-1995 jungle sound with your own ambient / technical style?
No I haven’t, generally I would rather discover new techniques. Innovative sounds and new technical processes are what I try to bring to each tune. It also depends on the nature of a tune, but I can imagine using these sounds mentioned in future projects. Anything is possible!
Do you feel that many drum & bass producers only engage in one specific style? Would you accredit this as simply a matter of artists playing to one’s strengths & appealing to their audience?
I think it’s great to have your own style, so people can identify you each time. If you can keep a specific style in all the genres you make, that’s the next level. Of course you can concentrate on building an audience in one genre, but this has its own advantages and disadvantages. Problems can occur when you start wanting to write something different. You have a new perspective but your fans don’t feel same.
I guess where possible it’s best to build a wide fan base, as people then start to understand that you’re multitalented and you can make anything you want. So, as I said, if you put your signature style to every bit of work, you’re on top. Obviously having core fans based around the main genre you make is great. But everyone has a different approach to this, if someone only does one style I don’t criticise it. But the thing is it can be quite boring when you release almost the same tunes every time.
This doesn’t sound innovative and unique, I’ve known producers who have worked this way and their careers lasted no more than a year. This decision is for the labels. Do they want to bring new innovative music to the scene or keep repackaging old rinsed out sounds?
My personal favourite Minor Rain song has to be Nebula, what can you tell me about the background / inspiration behind this beautiful song?
Around this time I was spending a lot of time outdoors, in natural surroundings, especially forests. The main inspiration for the whole Rainy Times EP (including Nebula) came from one local forest. I discovered a waterfall deep in this forest. Nebula’s bassline characterised the deep forest, the textures reflected a foggy mist that covered the waterfall. The differences between textures on any part of the tune represent my feelings when I experienced this.
This year you have had releases like Splitter / Dunwall on Mindtech and the Villain EP on its sister/sub label Future Funk. The former was a spectacle of techy and punchy drum & bass, with the latter showcasing a more experimental glitchy sound. Is this typical of Future Funk Music, and was the difference in style a result of the labels demands or did the label pick up the record after production?
I think it’s not unusual to have diverse releases out there. Some of these tunes were in the pipeline for a long time. Maybe that was partly responsible for the diversity of these releases. Of course the label chose tunes to suit their own taste. Why this tune? You will have to speak with the label owners. Anyway they did it very well as you can see with quality of the release. Coloured vinyl with an awesome graphic and, of course, innovative tunes.
What’s next for Minor Rain?
You can certainly get ready to enjoy some stuff I have already prepared. I have some vinyl releases loaded for this year and after the New Year I am planning to step up a level. For this reason my PC is overloaded with works in progress and I am going to do whatever is necessary to get more and more high quality music to your ears. Thanks for the interview, hopefully we’ll speak again soon.