For a journey that began back in 2011, quite some distance has been traveled by Phase. A string of releases on Demand Records, Fokuz, Radar Records, and 31 Records have done well to raise the profile of Belgian drum & bass artist, and he’s now set to release an EP that further demonstrates his prowess as a producer.
Following his guest mix for our podcast, we seized the opportunity to talk with Phase about music production, DJ’ing, and his forthcoming single on Fokuz, the ‘Do Not Look Back EP’.
When did you become consumed by drum & bass, and which particular artists have influenced the way you make music?
I think that was around 2009! Like a lot of people around my age, my first contact with the Drum & Bass world was the ‘Hold Your Colour’ album by Pendulum. I explored the genre and got into a lot of different types of Drum & Bass pretty quickly. The Way of The Warrior LP on Shogun Audio is an album that still influences my sound a great deal. The artists on that compilation album are actually amongst my all time favourite producers: Break, Alix Perez, Spectrasoul, and Commix. Although my biggest influence is still grandmaster Calibre.
You won this year’s SUNANDBASS DJ competition – giving you a slot at the festival in the blazing Sardinian sun. How did you find the experience?
It was a mixture of a lot of emotions. I wasn’t selected for the finals at first, but got a spot about a week before I was actually going to leave for Sun and Bass, which was an awesome surprise! It was followed by a lot of amazement. It was my second year at Sun and Bass already, but the beauty of the island and the “one big family” vibe still takes your breath away. I have played at quite a few very big stages in 2014, but I have never felt so much stress before a set as the moment I was waiting for my turn in Sardinia. The fact that Bailey and A-Sides are watching literally every step you’re taking is terrifying to say the least! The relief I felt when I heard I took the first spot was awesome. I also want to congratulate my good friends Bredren for taking the second place. Belgium on 1 and 2 is a nice little extra!
Over the past couple of years, you’ve been releasing on some well-known record labels in the drum & bass scene – namely Demand Records, 31 Recordings, and Fokuz. When was the turning point that led to you getting offered these sorts of opportunities?
Carlos from Demand Records picked up my first single immediately after I sent them the tunes (Ways Of Thought / No Doubt) and it was released about 2 months later. Those were the first two tunes I produced I was actually very happy about. The fact that Carlos wanted to sign them gave me some kind of confirmation. From that moment I constantly tried to push my boundaries further in terms of quality, and my work is slowly starting to pay off!
Are there any tracks in particular – by you or others – that you always draw for in your sets?
You can’t ignore the impact a classic can have in a set! I’m thinking of ‘Commix – Be True’ and ‘dBridge & Vegas – True Romance’ in particular for my sets these days. ‘Break – Love So True’ and his remix of ‘Nitri – Searching’ are in nearly every set as well since I have more than 20 different combos with those tunes. A fairly recent tune by myself which has a great effect on dancefloors is ‘Won’t Stop’. People seem to love the oldschool jungle vibe of that track!
The ‘Do Not Look Back EP’ is out soon on Fokuz Recordings, and includes a vocal feature from LaMeduza. How would you describe both tracks on the release?
Emotional and easy listening. Both tunes were made during a fairly difficult period in my life and you can hear a hint of melancholy in them. The production of both tracks isn’t extremely complex, but I always try to give a lot of attention to detail, especially in my bass sounds. LaMeduza is a vocalist I love to work with as she is very versatile and has a lovely voice. It gave a new dimension to the tune, which sticks in your head. It’s also getting great responses from the crowd.
You’ve been involved in a fair few collaborations over the past month. Are there any more due to surface soon?
There aren’t any final release plans for the collaborations yet, but expect new music with Keeno, Eastcolors, RoyGreen & Protone, ArpXP, James Marvel and MC Mota in the hopefully near future!
In addition to this person throwing some mad shapes to one of your tracks, what are the best reactions you have witnessed to your music?
It always flatters me when I end a set with a new track and people instantly come up to me asking the ID of that tune! Bassfaces are always pulled when I drop ‘Won’t Stop’ or ‘Darkest Of Minds’ and that makes me very happy as well. The best reaction I have ever gotten live was when I ended my set at Rampage 2014 with Keeno & Whiney’s remix of ‘By Your Side’. The view of thousands of lighters in the air at only 9 p.m. was absolutely staggering.
I was impressed by your entry to the Jungle War last month. Are you likely to finish that track or produce any more jungle?
You’re not the first one to ask that! I will definitely have a go at making a full arrangement of that little track in the near future. It’s pretty funny, when you’re making music just for laughs you get extremely inspired and finish that little idea in an insanely short period of time. Making tunes with a different purpose can take days, even weeks in my case. I absolutely love to make jungle (and more recently juke and footwork) as nothing needs to be very precise. You could just loosely edit some old breaks and it will sound great and authentic in the end!
What is happening over the course of the next few months, in regards to your music, that we should keep an eye out for?
The Fokuz EP is probably my last output for 2014, except for maybe a free track in December. I have a lot of tracks 90% finished and I am talking with quite a few different labels which I can’t reveal just yet. Gig-wise I’m having a truly great fall and I am thankful towards every promoter who gave me the chance to show my capabilities behind the decks in the last couple of months! I’m currently working on sorting out a few shows in the UK, Austria and Czech Republic for 2015 as well.