You don't usually associate fishing with drum & bass. It’s a little too rural and rustic for what historically has been one of the most cutting-edge genres in dance music, one that’s deeply rooted in urban culture. The rising star of Hospital Records, Unglued, would disagree with you however, as it was on childhood fishing trips with his uncle Stoppy (technically his second cousin), that he was introduced to the diverse world of early jungle. He credits these waterside listening sessions with helping him to develop “a timeline of the genre” in his head, and he’s a firm believer that, “if you know where it’s come from, then it helps you know where it’s got to go in the future”.
Unglued sees his sound as attempting to capture this past-future dichotomy, and it’s a mission audible on his most recent single, a 12” carved down the middle through time. A vibrant jungle A-side features old school legend MC Conrad, and is apparently representative of how Unglued finishes his sets, “on a jungle tip, going backwards in time”. He describes the B-side, featuring Phace, as his “futuristic, cutting-edge, brand new dancefloor style”, and when you hear its jagged lines of grating funk, it’s hard to disagree. This talent for diversity, and Unglued’s clear ability to place a finger on the pulse of drum & bass is what kickstarted his story.
Already a multi-genre producer operating under his own name of Josh Brown, Nu:tone happened to hear some demos he’d sent off for mastering, and quickly passed the word along to the Hospital Records camp. He tells us the story of how, following this, “I just worked really hard in the studio for six months, went into Hospital for a meeting, and they told me they were really interested, so we came up with the name and everything went from there.” The first step was breakout hit ‘Bootstrap Bill’ on long-running compilation series ‘Sick Music’, a track featuring such sublime, tumbling drums that he says people thought Unglued was an alias for Break.
Hospital cottoned on and played along, stressing his anonymity in order “to stir it up a bit more and get people talking, to add that bit of mystery”. The connection with Hospital hasn’t just been crucial to his rise from a marketing sense either, because Unglued’s first true moment in the spotlight came after he bootlegged High Contrast’s seminal 2007 record ‘If We Ever’, which won Best Remix at 2018’s Drum & Bass Arena Awards, and kickstarted a whole new wave of d&b bootleg culture.
He says that, “since then, it’s been an upwards trajectory, I’m just trying to ride the wave. I’ve got the momentum, so it’s just about keeping people interested.” Considering he was still a secondary school physics teacher when he played the Arcadia Spider for the first time, it’s unsurprising that Unglued describes his career thus far as “pretty surreal”. He mentions that it’s still “a little bit scary putting music out there, because it’s a little part of you”, and he admits that until he realised online hate was inevitable, it “messed with my head a bit”. But, with another EP looking likely before 2020, he tells us that “I’m really excited, I just want to get more tunes out that people will like. I just feel blessed.”