Recently caught up with the great Dom & Roland and had a lucid chat about his world on the eve of his appearance at the Rhythm Factory. He is also at Technology next week. He sent us some great pics too, the total soldier. Credit for main pic: DigitalJunglist
Damian Bennett: Hello sir: as someone who’s been in the game such a time here’s one: does something sound necessarily better just because it’s got great/current production? And yet you can also go back now and certain things from the past may sound incredible. Why is this? Limitations? Mystery?
D&R: I think the limitations of equipment then pushed people to come up with more original ideas and focus more on the music: original riffs, sounds and clever arrangements, rather than bamboozling the listener with a hundred different little noises and fx within the space of a minute. I think good music has and always will be about the vibe and the feeling it gives you when you listen to it, I listen to the music that I – and my peers – created fifteen years ago and I still would much prefer to listen to that in a club than a lot of the D&B that is available today.
DB: Regarding that sound of that time I had to put into words what I thought a good description of it was, and all I can come up with is: tearing, heads-down tough, slamming FUNK. As soon as I think about it I want to be in a club. OK, so you were at the Rhythm Factory recently, but what sort of clubs in general will we find you at in the UK?
D&R: I play wherever I’m booked in the uk, but it generally tends to clubs where the promoters are really into the music rather than just trying to squeeze as many people through the door. In London I’m normally on every bill at Renegade Hardware and Technology for instance and I seem to play in Bristol a lot too. Most of my gigs are abroad though, where they like it more underground.
DB: The Bristol shout for me is the one, how fierce is that place. What sort of stuff comprises the set?
D&R: For the Rhythm Factory I’ve been asked to play an Amen set, which is a somewhat unusual request…
D&R: So I’ll be playing a lot of my old Amen tracks along with select others from the likes of Dillinja, Trace – although he’ll probably play them before me – Photek, Tech Itch, Source Direct among others. Probably a few unreleased things in there too.
DB: Can I request the Biostacis? For me and that era it’s also about that compressed dirty acid vibe thing too, totally murky. Back to shows abroad, where do you love hitting, live?
D&R: Budapest is always amazing, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Russia, Iceland… all I like anywhere is that the venue is full & vibing, with hot girls that can shake it. I don’t like places where a bunch of blokes just stand in front of the DJ booth and stare at you or your records.
DB: Ah, grim, that last one.
D&R: I just love music generally, I’ve always been drawn to the more original stuff though, although after 15 years it gets harder to play me something in D&B that I haven’t already heard before. But I like to push myself & if I’ve done an idea before I want to try and do it better and build on it the next time around.
DB: On that question of the music and the originality factor then, what sort of stuff is evolving now in the music that inspires? Could be new sounds, a return to old sounds, new technology, new attitudes…
D&R: New technology has always been the driving force of D&B for me, I especially like to hear older sounds being reinvented and mangled with the latest equipment, & I think they have the edge over a lot of the new more commercial stuff that is derived from a preset from the latest softsynth to have just come out.
DB: Lots of talk about that softsynth one… hmmm.
D&R: I suppose the older sounds and specifically the way they are processed with analog equipment and ’90s FX units have a kind of grainyness I like, and they remind me of when D&B was really fresh and innovative. I don’t get that same feeling from a lot of the ultra-clean stuff that is around today, it lacks soul for me. Although if you look hard enough there are always going to be people pushing boundaries.
DB: Yeah of course, plus some vibes just come straight from the sample, same as ever. OK, re grainyness and production and how it all comes together, you recently dropped an album, ‘The Big Bang’: what sort of attitude were you bringing with it, what did you want to put out there of YOU?
D&R: With the ‘Big Bang’ I tried to get back to my roots. A lot of the tracks have a raw flavour to them: I used a lot of studio hardware and not just the computer. I was just making music that I liked. In fact I hadn’t even planned to do the tracks as an album, some of them were just unfinished tracks lying around that I finished and polished when I realised I needed to do another album. It has sold surprisingly well and people seem to like it. I suppose because of the way it came about, it’s a bit like a compilation of, erm… just my tracks.
DB: So I have to ask, when do you produce? Is it a late night one or maybe it’s first thing in morning?
D&R: I used to spend all night making music, but since my son was born two years ago I have to get in the studio when I can, normally from about 2pm to midnight on the days I can. I need as much sleep as I can get these days.
DB: Get you totally.
D&R: When I started making music in the ’90s I used to be mad crazy high the whole time, but as with anything when you grow up, you learn that it isn’t essential to the creative process and actually in hindsight probably hinders it in someways. I think that this was the biggest culprit for thinking that something sounded good when it didn’t. I lost count of the number of times I used to go to sleep thinking I’d made the next massive thing and then woken up to find that all I had was a loop that was shit.
DB: Damn! So if you had to leave the house quickly due to an emergency what essential possession would you take?
D&R: Well apart from my son, probably my laptop, ilok key and headphones. I don’t really have any other possessions I’m particularly fond of.
DB: To finish, could you nominate three big tunes over time you love, any.
D&R: Beethoven ‘Opus 13′, ‘Ready To Die’ by Biggie, and ‘Demons Theme’ by Bukem.