DJ Law is the man behind drum & bass nostalgia fest drumtrip.co.uk — a website that acts as a self-appointed museum or archive of the genre's early, arguably most innovative years.
The descriptor “where it's '94 everyday” should tell you everything you need to know about this brilliant resource, stuffed to the gills with mixes of classic jungle, hardcore and drum & bass, interviews with lesser-known DJ/producers and articles about unappreciated classics that Law or some of the other writers who have contributed to the site have dredged up from the dusty basements of d&b lore. We decided to talk to the man himself to learn a little bit more about it...
Why did you start Drumtrip?
“Drumtrip started out in February 2010, as a place for me to write about my favourite tunes and producers from the '90s, as well as a home for my (many) mixes online. Over three years later the website is still going with a few guest writers and a regular following.”
What is it that you love so much about that early jungle/drum & bass sound?
“Two primary things, the drums and the bass. It may seem obvious, but these two key components have been overlooked on occasions in drum & bass over the last 10 years. The drums especially. Flat, two-step drums have dominated the drum & bass scene for a long time, yet it was always the aspect of the music I found that set it apart from its dance contemporaries. I much prefer the organic, human sound of a live breakbeat, rather than a really compressed and quantized two-step beat.
“Being a huge '90s hip-hop fan I also miss the use of samples in drum & bass today. I think sampling is an art which is overlooked and perhaps looked down on now, with even big hip-hop producers preferring to use VSTs or session musicians. Drum & bass doesn't feel quite as 'alive' as it once used to, but I think that goes for a lot of music these days.”
Do you feel there's an increased interest in that period of d&b/culture, as we get further away from it?
“It's odd as it's often felt like 1995 jungle is about to come roaring back in as the new fad, but it never quite does. In drum & bass circles today it seems to be standard procedure to include one throwback jungle tune on your album. Outside of drum & bass I've noticed producers like Tessela and Special Request (Paul Woolford) chopping up old breaks to great effect at 130bpm. I find that really interesting and I hope it catches on. Breakbeats sound better below 174bpm, fact!”
Why do you think we're so obsessed with the past in music? What Simon Reynolds calls retromania?
“Humanity is obsessed with nostalgia full stop, so I don't think it's just necessarily a music thing. Dance music progresses so quickly though, and every genre had those few years in the beginning when creativity was at its peak. UK garage had it in 1997-1999, dubstep had it in 2003-2005. But I can't think of a genre that changed so quickly like jungle/drum & bass from 1992-1996. There is incredible variation in production styles, technology and even BPM in those years. It was a fascinating evolution and I think people will always look back fondly on it.”
Are there any particular producers from '94 and around that time that you feel have never got the props they deserve?
“Perhaps they did back in the day, but in 2013....
“Ant Miles: Moulded a very young Andy C back in 1992 and (together) launched RAM Records. He was engineer to pretty much everyone on RAM Records throughout the '90s and beyond. He ran his own label called Liftin' Spirits and also produced under the name Higher Sense (of 'Cold Fresh Air' fame).
“The Invisible Man: Another producer/engineer who created deep darkcore in the early '90s, was Legend Records' in-house engineer for a time, and also released a series of excellent 12"s for Good Looking.
“Rob Playford: Launched, in my opinion, the greatest drum & bass record label of them all in Moving Shadow. He was engineer for some of Moving Shadow's biggest tracks and artists.”
What do you think of drum & bass now? Is there any merit in it?
“Definitely! There are still a few producers and labels I look out for. Metalheadz being the strongest label out there with some great artists like Jubei, Fracture and Lenzman.
“One of the most exciting developments in d&b for a while was dBridge hooking up with Instra:mental to create the Autonomic sound, although sadly Instra:mental have little to do with d&b now with Boddika and Convex/Drama doing so well outside of the scene. Seba and Calibre are still always worth a listen, the most consistent producers in the game.”
Has Drumtrip been attracting more attention in the time it's been around? Do you have plans to expand it?
“Traffic has grown nicely over the three years, even more so in 2013. In the future I would love to put a Drumtrip night on around London with some of my favourite DJs from back in the day, and maybe look to create a digital label for producers still pushing that sound I love. And first and foremost, keep writing about jungle and hunting for those elusive 12”s.”
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