But now he's back in full effect for 2008, with a new album, 'Future Chaos' due to drop this summer, and his first live show in years as part of the City Showcase at London's Astoria on 5th June. We caught up with the producer to get the lowdown…
You've been away for a while – what have you been up to in the interim?
"A bit of production work for other bands, Depeche Mode, Gavin Friday. I actually started work on this album at the end of 1998, I spent some time out in San Francisco with this guy Jack Dangers, aka Meat Beat Manifesto, sketching out some basic ideas. And then I came back to London, and hooked up again with the rapper Justin Warfield. There were some good ideas, going back through the old demos, I just think I wasn't ready for a Bomb the Bass album basically. I was uninspired, feeling physically burnt out from working in the studio for 12 years solid. A rest was required, so I left London, moved to Amsterdam in 2007. I did set up a label called Electric Tones, which was releasing music which my friends were making. Slowly I started to find the passion and the love again, doing production work for other people. And then in the summer of last year, I started work on 'Future Chaos', the forthcoming album."
What can we expect?
"I guess the main thing is that it's all been done with one synthesizer, the mini Moog, everything is stripped back. It's just that and drums, bass and voice. I wanted to take all the overproduced values away, strip it back to its bare bones and essentials."
Has the drive towards minimalism in house and techno been an inspiration?
"Absolutely, I get inspired by music that I love, and the idea of minimal production is something I've enjoyed for many, many years, going back to production I did for 'Ultra' by Depeche Mode. That is something I really enjoy doing, stripping everything back to its foundations."
You mentioned the voice earlier – are you planning on having some guest vocalists on there?
"There's a guy called Mark Lanegan, who's worked with Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age; Jon Spencer of the Blues Explosion, Fujiya and Miyagi, and Paul Conboy. When we started working on 'Future Chaos', we thought, how are we actually going to do this live? And that was quite an integral part of the production, what we were actually aiming for. So getting Paul to guest on most of the album made complete sense, so that when we did take it live we wouldn't have to draft in ten different singers. He'd be able to do most of the album as well as reworking tunes from the old catalogue. On 'Megablast', and 'Bug Powder Dust', we've worked them into the 'Future Chaos' blender, so it feels cohesive."
Mark Lanegan and Jon Spencer are from the rock side of the spectrum. Is that something you've got into more as well?
"Good music is good music however you break it down. I came across Mark Lanegan because I heard a track that he did with PJ Harvey, and his voice completely blew me away. It's generally how I discover music, I run across tracks that I love. Round about the time I started work on 'Future Chaos', I emailed him and said that there's a track that would really work with your voice."
Listening back to some of your classic material, a lot of it sounds fresh and relevant to now. Did you always aim to stay outside of particular trends, to do your own thing?
"Absolutely, ultimately the music has to come from you, that's what sets people apart, that differentiation."
Having been instrumental in taking sampling to the next level with your early work, what do you think of sampling today – do you think it's still relevant, are people using it the right way?
"I think it's still relevant, it depends on how they work. You can cut up a vocal sample and turn it into a beat, or grab a one bar string line and spread it across a keyboard, and turn it into a completely different riff. Absolutely still valid. I'm still using it but in a completely different way. I've been manipulating samples right from the very beginning, and it's something I still incorporate in my production today."
Which gigs are you looking forward to most?
"The London show on 4th June should be quite special for Bomb the Bass, because it's gonna be 20 years since the last one at the Astoria. We've got The Big Chill lined up on the 2nd August, and then there is a festival called Lethargy '08 on 9th August in Zurich, Switzerland, and Copenhagen's Strom Festival on 15th August. Plus there's the Lowlands Festival here in Holland. It's slowly building up!"
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