Try to categorise Dismantle at your peril. Like his name alludes, the Brighton-based producer has been taking apart the genre boundaries at the seams and engineering his own unique blends of bass-heavy influences — which range from jump-up drum & bass and bleeping Dutch house to Bugz In The Attic-esque breakbeat and classic reggae.
Once half-jokingly christened as “the new Skream” by dubstep heavyweight Benga, Dismantle certainly shares the Croydon legend’s entirely uncynical approach and widespread embrace of just about every dance genre around. And much like Skream’s formative years, his rise has been nothing if prodigious too.
First coming to our attention with the clattering, mechanical dubstep of 2010’s 'Volume Pumping' on J Da Flex and El B’s Nu Levels compilation, Dismantle’s name truly exploded with the clattering Dutch house influenced 'Computation' on N Type’s Wheel & Deal Records, before following with the killer four-track 'Warp EP' on Shy FX’s bass stronghold Digital Soundboy — the label family he now calls home. With a unique house-edged but bass-bolstered approach, his tracks have been hammered by names like Diplo, Skrillex, Annie Mac, Skream and Sub Focus, whilst his touring career has taken him to the biggest bass stages in Australia, the United States and Europe. In short, it’s all going off for him. With a summer full of festivals, including a back-to-back session with fellow wonky urban house hero Roska at SW4, we caught up with Will to talk formative influences and future projects...
How did you first get into electronic music? Am I right in thinking drum & bass was your entry point?
“Yeah, when I was younger, probably about 11 or 12 there was this advert on TV for this Drum & Bass Arena album with Fabio & Grooverider. I remember hearing some of the tracks and didn’t know what it was at all but was just thinking ‘This is sick’, so I went to buy that in HMV or somewhere like that.I also remember driving about with my parents, coming back from my nan’s around 2002 and 2003 with Radio 1 on and hearing stuff on the specialist dance music shows on Friday evenings. I just went into it from there, and started researching all the tunes.”
When did you first get decks?
“I think I got my first turntables when I was about 13 or 14. My dad bought them for me.”
Was your dad musical?
“He was always into good music — we listened to good tunes. He played the guitar too. I had a drum-kit when I was younger, but I just used to thrash about on it really. Then when I was 14, I got introduced to Reason. I got a cracked copy of that and started producing from there — mainly drum & bass.”
How would you describe your current style?
“A real mix. I got into garage and dubstep about 2006 or 2007 after a mate showed my N Type’s 'Dubstep Allstars' CD, so started making dubstep on the side as well as the drum & bass stuff. Then I started making dubstep properly. Over time I got into grime, then started listening to a lot of house stuff, and I think it all just merged in really. It’s very 4/4 and kick-driven, my sound, but with a melting pot of all the genres I have been into and listen to.”
Is there any scene that you feel most associated with?
“I think some people probably do put me more into the dubstep category, my Sub Focus remix was in the dubstep category on all the download stores, but I like to try to keep away from pigeonholing. I could never say a bad word about dubstep and people in that scene brought me through, but sounds are constantly moving. If you’re too closely associated with something and it starts dying down, then it’s not very helpful either. I would probably just call myself UK Bass, a bit like people like Roska and Marcus Nasty. When I DJ, I play a bit of everything — a bit of reggae, drum & bass, house, bit of old school and some hip-hop. I really don’t like to be pigeonholed but I guess everyone finds it easiest to put stuff in categories.”
Which producers are you most into right now?
“Drum & bass-wise I am really into this producer called Bladerunner. He’s new school jungle, I guess. I have always been into my jungle and he puts a fresh twist on it. On the house side, a guy called Demarkus Lewis is amazing, a bit garage-y I guess. For listening, I am really into Atjazz, you could call it house but it’s a bit more experimental. The Layabouts as well, they use some really great vocalists.”
Is there anyone who has been a particular inspiration?
“Roska. We’re going back to back at SW4, which I can’t wait for. Joy O is another one. But so many people are making absolutely wicked music right now.”
What have you got coming up in terms of productions?
“An EP on Digital Soundboy in June. Am really excited to get that out, as I haven’t released anything for quite a while. I think last July was my last proper release, which is crazy. I’ve done remixes and stuff, so I’ve kept myself busy and in the public eye, but it’s great to come back properly. There’s four tracks, all a bit different. Two 128bpm bits in there and two 140bpm bits in there. Also recently released a free download called 'Spots', which is a VIP of a track called 'Dots'.”
Do you think playing a bit of everything makes it harder for people to understand what you’re about?
“Not at all. I think people get what I’m trying to do and that it’s a bit more eclectic. They know what to expect. It means I can play Dutch house and dubstep in the same set.”
How did you first get into the whole Dutch house sound?
“I guess it was Rinse FM, with N Type playing some of it back around 2009 and then people like Marco Del Horno and Roska. They were dropping some wicked tune, some 130 Dutch house stuff. Then I got into some of Afrojack’s early stuff and just thought they were sick.” Funny to think how Afrojack helped change things, given what he represents now… “I still drop early Afrojack tracks now. 'Moonbar' remix, Chuckie, and his ‘Satisfaction’ remix is always a favourite. 'Bang Dat' is cool. All his early tunes are sick, to be honest. Not so into what he’s doing now, but his tracks definitely have their place. Redlight was another big influence as well, in terms of that weird house vibe.”
Anyone that you are planning to collaborate with?
“Always in the studio making stuff with Breakage but whenever we go into the studio together we just end up making really deep techno. We got this new track, I think we’re going to give it away for free. It’s really different, actually. It’s 137bpm but is pretty much techno, really. Just really fast techno, but really deep at the same time. It’s got this vocal from some meditation track that we found on iTunes.
Me and Shy have put some ideas down, but as I said he’s a busy man. Been in the studio with Mele who is signed to Digital Soundboy and is a really good friend. Roska as well, we’ve always said that we should get into the studio together. And then there’s a track ‘Techno Terry’ that I did with Caspa that was on his album, which got played by Zane Lowe.”