John Graham is a dance music lover, full stop. With production alias Quivver, and his arsenal of alter egos (Skanna, Space Manoeuvres, Stoneproof, and Tilt), he's kept dancefloors of all persuasions bouncing - being equally adept at progressive house, techno, drum 'n' bass and breaks – for the past 15 years. After upping sticks from his native Coventry to the more glamorous climes of Los Angeles, he's returned with a storming new longplayer, 'Dirty Nails and Vapour Trails' out now on his own Boz Boz Records.
Spanning genres with an effortless lightness of touch, 'Dirty Nails and Vapour Trails'' panoply of diverse productions takes in everything from the summery heat haze jungle of 'Chasin' a Feelin', to the dubstep influenced 'Ghosts', right through to the huge Beatport and Juno smashing prog houser 'Surin'. We linked with Graham to get the lowdown…
Why did you choose the title 'Dirty Nails and Vapour Trails' for the album?
"I've always tried to mix darkness and light in my music and I wanted the title to relate to that. 'Dirty Nails and Vapour Trails' was a line I'd scribbled in a notebook a year or so ago and when I was trying to think of a title for the album I saw it and thought it was pretty good."
Your eclecticism clearly knows no bounds – from breaks to house, d 'n' b to ambience, you're covering all the major food groups. Is this album a middle finger to the purists?
"If by purist you mean the guy sitting in his bedroom listening to the best tune he's heard in years then hearing three snare drums in a row and wondering whether that constitutes a drum roll and if it does then he doesn't like it any more then yes, a big middle finger up to him, straight up his arse, the sad c**t! But the main reason I went in different directions on the album is because I'd have got really bored and probably would never have finished it otherwise.
"It's been 10 years since I did a drum 'n' bass track and I'd been thinking about doing a new Skanna track for a while. It was a nice break from the norm making tracks like 'Chasin' a Feeling' and 'Ghosts' and they turned out to be my (and a lot of other people's) favourite tracks on the album, even people who don't play drum 'n' bass have been dropping it. Sasha was going nuts about it when I saw him at WMC, calling it the tune of the year and all sorts! Which was nice."
Do you feel that the addition of your vocals on the album give it a more personal feel – that you're responsible for all aspects of the sound?
"Initially I intended to work with other vocalists but when I was maybe seven tracks in I thought what's the point, I should do the whole thing myself, I'd still got a lot of ideas for tracks that I wanted to use and like you say it makes the album a more personal thing."
What's new with your Boz Boz label? Is it primarily an outlet for your own material or do you plan releases from other artists, too?
"Yes it is primarily an outlet for my stuff but I'm still releasing tracks by other artists when I come across them. The new Shifter and Carvell track is the next release and there's also gonna be an album by 'lank', (a really talented young producer and DJ from Budapest) which should be out at the end of the year."
What inspired your move from the UK to LA? Are you becoming more involved in the soundtrack/sound design world?
"There were a few things that prompted the move. My girlfriend is American and she'd just moved from DC to LA and I'd been thinking about moving out here for work anyway so it seemed like the right time. I'd spoken to a lot of Brits who'd moved to LA and said it was the best thing they ever did, and yes I've always wanted to do music for films and there's not much call for that in Coventry. I've just got my first bit of soundtrack work actually, helping Harry Gregson-Williams on the remake of 'The Taking of Pelham 123'. It stars John Travolta and Denzel Washington and it'll be out next year so I'm pretty excited about that.
"Also, I found out just this very morning one of the tracks I co-wrote on Hybrid's last album is being used on a massive new comic book adaptation film called 'The Spirit'. It's by the people that did Sin City and 300 and the track is also the theme music to the trailer which I just saw for the first time and did a double back flip (with a twist).
check it out here."
With your open-minded approach to music, are we going to hear dubstep from Quivver any time soon?
"Actually when I did 'Ghosts' I'd been listening a lot to the Burial album and you can hear some influence there. I love the sounds and the atmosphere in that album, although I don't think I'll be going any further in the dubstep direction, no."
Where does Quivver go next?
"I'm currently on a DJ tour of South America with my mate Marcos Paz (resident DJ at Pacha in Buenos Aires). We did 'Inferno' in Cordoba, Argentina last night, which was jammed and went right off. Next weekend is Pacha Bariloche and Pacha Buenos Aires which are always great gigs. Then I'm getting back to finishing the electronic/indie/dance/rock whatever album that I've been going round in circles with for the past couple of years and which is finally going in the right direction."