Since 2006 Devan Gray AKA Bladerunner has been at the forefront of jungle-leaning drum & bass, with releases on Dread, Critical, Ram and Philly Blunt alongside remixes for the likes of DJ SS, EZ Rollers and Omni Trio, it's understandable why Devan is held so highly within the scene. We caught up with the 'other' Bladerunner for a chat:
Last year saw you put out a string of releases. Looking back how do you feel they were perceived?
I think all the tracks last year went down really well, I've had some great feedback. Its always nice when people come up and say they're loving the music I'm making! It makes it all worthwhile when people appreciate what your doing.
How did working with Serum influence your development?
It's been great working with Serum over the last few years, we both have similar visions on how we want the music to sound and we've both grown up with sounds of early jungle to inspire us. We often come up with same ideas at once so we're always on the same page, which helps when your working on colabs. We always push each others boundaries with the solo tracks we do as well which helps the sound progress even further.
And Ray Keith has been involved too. How was it having the support of such a legend?
Its been great! Ray has been a key factor in my development as an artist and has constantly pushed me to try new things to develop my style, without him i wouldn't be making the music i am today so I'm eternally grateful for his support over the years.
Alongside your own tracks you have been remixing old Jungle tunes such as 'The Lighter' by DJ SS, Ray Keith's 'Chopper' and Gappa G's 'Information Centre'. What is your process in remixing a classic?
I do love to remix the old classics! It's been such an honour to do my own versions and have them released on the original labels. Most of the remixes I do before I'm going to play somewhere as an extra special to play that night, I try to stay as close to the original as possible when it's a classic because the key parts of them are most important to me and if you go to far from that people don't always recognise the tune.
I never make them with the intension of release. Most of the time I send them to the original artist and they are happy and agree to release them, which is great. I do get asked to do some official remixes like Marvellous Cains 'The Hitman' which has been really good fun to do as I got sent the original samples. With most of the remixes I have to find the original source for the samples or take them from the old records which I do enjoy but it takes a lot longer to find some of the parts.
What is a piece of studio hardware/software that you cant live without?
I think software wise it has to be Cubase for me, I've been using it since version 1 on the Atari ST so i would be lost without that.
My favourite hardware of choice has to be my Moog Slim Phatty for the heavy basslines, it's so solid! Also I built an SSL and Urie 1176 compressor that I use a lot on breaks to get them nice and crunchy.
Are their certain Jungle tracks that you wouldn’t want to see remixed?
No, I think any jungle tune can be remixed, as long as the finished track sounds good and you can find the parts!
Most old Jungle is heavily sample-based anyway so you can't really say "Oh that shouldn't be remixed" as some people do, because the main chunk of most jungle is a big reggae, soul or funk sample. A big part of why i remix older tunes is because they're too slow and the mixdowns just don't cut it anymore when playing alongside newer drum & bass, so we have to bridge the gap with the new technology that's been developed in the last 20 years to make it all sound sweet.
Your next release Late Night Caller/Fusion is out on progRAM, tell us a bit about it.
'Late Night Caller' is a typical Bladerunner off-step style with nice strings, piano and vocal intro leading to a nasty rising bassline that gives the speakers a good work out! The other side 'Fusion' is on a darker rolling vibe which kicks into some real dirty modulated bass and sharp, cutting beats. Both tracks have been going down really well over the last few months I've been testing them, which is really good to see!
What else do you have planned for the rest of the year?
I'm going to be working on more tracks for my second album on Dread Recordings, there's a lot more remixes and collabs to be released this year from myself and Serum, Mr Explicit and Savage Rehab. And hopefully another progRam release soon to come, as well as progRam tour nights up and down the country with all the guys on the label representing.
You also have done a guest mix for us, what does it include?
The mix features both of the new progRam tracks that are forthcoming and also a few special remixes thrown in. There are some new Dread Recordings dubs, as well as some of my favourite old Ram tracks too!