Dark DiscoHyperdub Archives

Identify: D1


D1’s first impression on the dubstep scene was a massive one – the explosive “Crack Bong,” featured on Tempa All Stars v.2 and the core of a Loefah remix that helped define dubstep in 2005.  Since then he’s moved to the centre of the scene, getting the Youngsta seal of approval and scoring an exclusive record deal with  Tempa.  At just 18 years old, he’s already a music veteran – classically trained and surrounded by his dad’s studio gear since he was little.  Riddim.ca caught up with D1 just after the release of his most recent single.
You’re 18 now, making a big name for yourself in the dubstep world, and you’ve already been at it for a few years.  How did you first get into it and then end up in the middle of the scene?

D1: I started buying records in BlackMarket Records. Downstairs is the home of new breaks. As the guy working there was DJ Youngsta , one of the pioneer Dubstep dj’s,I got all these fresh dubstep tracks. He encouraged me to make tracks which I took him and he would play on Rinse FM. Now, I just work hard. 24/7 beats in my house mate!!

Paul: I hear that your dad has been a big influence, buying you your first set of decks, and introducing you to underground music in London at an early age.  He did some production too – some jungle, techno and even working with Stevie Hyper D.  Did he release anything?

D1: Yeah – back in the day he released 2 albums and 7 singles of Drum And Bass under the name SonarTribe. Before that he was Loop82 in Techno days. Now he’s into Electro House. He made Junglist Soldier with Stevie on a cheap 4 track. They knew each other from school days and the old  reggae sound systems that Stevie used to spit on.

Paul: What was your musical environment like then as a kid?  Are those rave and jungle influences filtering through into your tracks now?

D1: Music all day. Dad always had a studio in the house – 48 track, analog synths, outboard gear, wires everywhere.

Paul: What’s your dad’s take on dubstep? Have you taken him down out to Forward or DMZ?

D1: He loved it from day one! We went to Forward and DMZ when it was fresh. He calls it the future.

Paul: I was just listening to a new track that you played on Kode9’s show last month that had serious string/synth pad interplay and a really musical, filtered bassline.  In general, you seem to pay a lot of attention to melodic structures and chord changes in your tracks. And I know you’ve actually got a strong background in music theory.  Could you tell us a bit about your training and how it might make your approach to production a bit different from other producers?

D1: I did piano and theory as a kid from 5 – 13. That never leaves you. So I think chords, harmony and counterpoint intuitively. I build tracks with a chord sequence or a melody in mind but make sure the rhythm is as hard as I can get it!  I’d say the biggest difference from me and the rest is I’m more melody and harmony based.

Paul: What’s your production setup like these days (software/gear/etc.)? Has it changed much since you started?

D1: I started on desks and outboard synths Midi’d up to Cubase . Then got into Fruity Loops. That made me a software head! Now I’m Reason 3.0 and Logic 7 on a mixture of PC’s and G5 Macs.

Paul: Your first release was “Crack Bong” on Tempa All Stars vol. 2. It’s a mindfuck of a tune. The bassline sounds like speaker cones popping in and out.  But you also built up tension by playing on the exhale in the 2001 and filling the track with these gasping atmospheric sounds.  It reminds me of that anxiety you feel in a space like FWD when the bass takes over your senses and you seem to lose control of your breathing.  Were you going for an effect like that – playing on the psychology of the dancefloor?

D1: Definately. The music rides on the bass – it’s about the bass. That’s why the quality of the sound system is so important. The crowd expect the bass to carry them away. It’s cool to watch.
Paul: How would you describe your sound right now? And would you compare it to the other sounds dominating the scene right now (artists like Skream, the DMZ gang, etc.)

D1: We’ve all got or own little niche in the scene. No one really sounds like or copies anyone else because there’s no rules in this music yet. It’s about artistic freedom and being as creative as you can. That’s hard you know!

Paul: You’ve recently put out a 3-tracker on Tempa featuring the tracks “Molecules,” “Degrees,” and “Identify.”  It was funny when I Googled it because I just came up with a bunch of science journals.  There’s a definite clinical tone to those titles.  So what can we expect from this release?  What sort of moods and ideas are you working with in these tracks?

D1: Degrees is dark and eerie, Identify felt like trying to make trance! Molecules is an up tempo sound for me. It’s a bassline roller.

Paul: Where do you see your sound developing from here? What sort projects do you want to take on in the next few years?

D1: I’m experimenting with a bit of vocal and MC’ing. I’d love to do film music. Can you imagine dubstep BladeRunner? Oh wow!

Interviewed by Paul Jasen. Big thank you to Appleblim for making this one happen.

Category: Interviews

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Riddim.ca was founded by DJ/writer paul autonomic (aka Mr. Bump) in February 2005 as a hub for North America's nascent grime and dubstep scenes. Since then we've helped promote events across the continent and made friends around the world. Mostly dormant now, we're host to one of the web's largest collections of writing on the late-Garage dis/continuum as well as a growing collection of rare audio and scans (coming eventually).