The Garage music scene in the north of England is burgeoning again and the unique warping sounds of the industrial north are now in high demand across the globe. One label that has largely contributed to this Bassline resurgence is In:Flux Audio, formed little over a year ago by Yorkshire DJ's Tik&Borrow & Smuggla, their mantra of seeking out and launching new talent has seen them go from newcomers to taste-makers in a remarkably short amount of time.
This week sees the launch of their tenth release "Get Fluxed Vol 1" a 15 tracker that is sure to fly up the charts. To celebrate the landmark release we managed to blag you a brand new, previously unheard free track "Alien Riddem" which is a certified dancefloor shell, not only that downloading it also automatically enters you into two competitions; the first is to win a limited edition In:Flux T shirt and the second is to win guestlist spots for you and a friend at the forthcoming In:Flux event in Sheffield. We also caught up with Aaron, head honcho of the label and one half of Producer duo Tik&Borrow, to talk about the meteoric rise of In:Flux and their passion for breaking new artists.
Click "Download free track" to be automatically entered into 2 separate competitions, the first to get guest list entry FOR you and a friend to the next In:flux event, the second to win a limited edition In:flux T shirt.
Hi, and thanks for taking the time to talk to us. How has your summer been so far?
Very busy, but really productive. A major chunk of my time has been dedicated to working on both my production projects (Tik&Borrow / Tik & Smuggla) to get new tunes finished for our forthcoming releases, and so we can smash them out at our festival sets at Y-Not and Boomtown.
As for the label, there's been a big focus on the admin side of things, making sure all the releases are on schedule for September and October, as well as making sure the 'Get Fluxed' compilation is getting the right exposure and everything is in place for the release. To top the summer off with a bang, we've just announced our second Birthday event for October at The Harley in Sheffield. We have got Deadbeat, Hadean and Gash from In The Face coming to play as our special guests, so needless to say I'm massively excited for this one!
Often described as a “Bass Collective” can you tell us a little bit about the In:flux ethos, founding members and how In:flux Audio came to fruition?
In:flux was founded by myself (Tik) and Borrow coming up on two years ago as an events company. We decided that it was about time we gave something back to the scene - we wanted to put shows on where we gave the up and coming artists from the scene the opportunity to take part, as it had all become about the large room, multi big-artist events that cost you £15 and you are packed in like sardines to a warehouse.
The first year for events was tougher than we first anticipated, and although we had decent turnouts for the events, we really struggled to break even. When we got to the summer of our first year, I decided that we needed to expand and start releasing records, something I'd always wanted to do. I expanded the team, bringing on Smuggla and Modec to help me with A&R, and we dropped our first set of free releases last June before our first official release on Juno Download from Tik&Borrow last July. Things have changed a lot since with Smuggla becoming co-manager for the label and Modec moving on to run our sister label, but things have just kept growing since that first release last July.
You have now reached the milestone tenth release after dropping “Get Fluxed Vol 1” tell us a little about the release and how happy you are with the finished product?
I'm really chuffed with the release. Smuggla and I have been getting this compilation together since about May, so it's great to finally see it altogether and getting a lot of good attention across the various social media platforms. All the artists have absolutely smashed it on this release - it was originally meant to be only ten tunes, but we had so much great material in that the release kept growing until we ended up with fifteen tracks.
Some people might be shocked to hear that In:flux is little over a year old, it seems that you have come out of nowhere to establish yourself as a highly regarded label that is now pivotal to the scene. Without giving away your trade secrets, can you give any tips to prospective label managers, on how to propel a label to the top in such a short space of time?
We were already beginning to get noticed due to the run of events we'd put on, so when we started up the label, we already had a respectable following online. Our growth increase spiked once the label began last June because we had made some great contacts through the events and this enabled to hit the ground running - we already had some great producers already lined up for the first few releases and we've been able to keep on finding great producers since. We think it's important to make sure that we don't let the quality of our releases dip, and try to make sure that every release is as good as the last. Consistency is key, as is persistence in this industry - if we had just given up when the events hadn't gone well we wouldn't be where we are today.
Another extraordinary thing about the label is that you have gained this success without immediately jumping into signing already established artists, far from it in fact, with many of your artists having their first ever release on In:flux. Do you pride yourself on your ability to scour around for talented producers?
This goes hand in hand with the ethos we had when starting the events side of In:flux - we want to give the up and coming artists the chance to get into the scene. There is so much talent out there that just need that platform to start in the music industry and we try our hardest to give as many of these producers as possible the opportunity to do so. This is the sort of opportunity I never came across ten years ago when I started producing, and it's something I feel is massively important to keep the scene fresh and on the up.
Can you shed any light on the process of identifying these up and coming artists and finding tracks that you know will be popular?
One of the biggest assets I have in finding new talent is Smuggla - he was responsible for the tracks we signed for the 'Dutty Up North EP' when he was in his A&R role, and continues to do this for our latest releases. That EP was huge for us and gave us the foundations to grow as a label and attract new talent. Between us we still search out a lot of new artists via SoundCloud which is a great resource for new music, but nowadays we get a lot of really great artists dropping demos to us - which is a sign of how far we've come along.
Previous releases on the label have covered a broad range of sounds, all with a Garage music influence, but I think it is fair to say that the 4x4 Garage sound seems to be your most prevalent, was this always the plan?
Not really - when we started out, Modec's role was to focus on the more Housey side of things for us. Our original plan was to alternate between the Garage sound and the House sound each release, but when we tried our hand at a few house releases, they were not as well received as the 4x4 Garage releases due to where we'd naturally ended up within the scene after the 'Dutty Up North' release and our Free Compilation last Christmas. This lead to us deciding to split the two styles up, and now Modec is running our sister label Auxiliary Records, which drops its first free compilation in October.
Can you tell us a little about the free track you have kindly offered our customers as part of the takeover?
Alien Riddem was a tune that myself and Borrow produced towards the end of 2014. This was about the time Borrow had been toying with a new sound for us that he's coined 'Neuro-house' due the crossover of the Drum and Bass sounds and the 4x4 House beat, and this is the style that project has followed since. The tune went up as an In:flux exclusive in early 2015 and has had a great response on SoundCloud, with many fans asking how to get their hands on a copy of the tune. This made it a no-brainer to release the tune for free and it'll be an awesome reward for the fans.
You have also recorded a very special mix, can you tell us a little bit about what set up it was recorded on, the selection process etc?
I've just recently got a great new set-up at home to help us improve our radio shows on Nasty.fm and our forthcoming new slot on Rood.fm. I have an Allen & Heath Xone 42, which is a lovely analogue mixer, and two CDJ-900 Nexus, which are an absolute breeze to use. The mix is all In:flux tunes, but not just tunes from the compilation, as I wanted to give people a feel for the entirety of our back catalogue - as there are some massive tunes from our back catalogue that I feel still stand up to what we're putting out now and I still love to mix them when playing out.
What are your thoughts on the Garage scene at present and how do you see it developing in the near future?
The Garage scene is booming, and I can see it only getting bigger from here. We're lucky enough to know a lot of the guys who are at the top of the scene at the minute - Offmenut, Tumble, Chip Butty, PAR, In The Face - and the collaborations that happen between all of us is the key to the scene growing. We're all willing to help each other out, whether it be back to back sessions at festivals, writing tunes for each other, hosting each other for gigs or simply just giving lifts to festivals. That's what this scene has going for it - nobody is really out for themselves - the strength of the scene relies on us all working together.
What do you think needs to happen in order for the Garage scene to expand and reach its potential? And what is the potential of the scene, can you envisage the sound breaking into the US and beyond in a similar way to how the Dubstep scene did a few years back?
That's a tough question, because the Garage scene thrives on having an underground vibe. The fact that Dubstep almost imploded on itself when it became big in the US is one reason a part of me would love UK Garage to just stay bubbling underneath the surface, but another part of me would love to see the scene I love get the recognition it deserves. It's a bit of a double edged sword.
What are you plans for In:flux Audio moving through the rest of 2015 and into 2016?
We have two more official releases this year after 'Get Fluxed Volume 1', with Krissi B stepping up in September and a split EP from Karl Vincent and Chute in October. Then if we can get ourselves up to 2000 followers on SoundCloud by Christmas, we plan on doing another free compilation to celebrate.
We've been planning the schedule for 2016 over the last month as well, and we have planned releases so far from 1point5, Swedger, Tik&Borrow, Tik & Smuggla and we will have a few more tricks up our sleeve as well.
OK finally… a standard question that we ask in any interview here at JD HQ, please give us the top 3 up and coming producers that you think we should all be listening out for in the coming months?
The scene is absolutely on fire at the minute, but some of the artists we're going to be working with over the next year are amazingly talented, so we've got to mention them.
- Swedger has to be the top of my list. He's by far the most unique producer on the scene at the minute in my opinion - his productions are a crazy combination of synth work and basslines.
- Karl Vincent is another one to watch. If I had to describe Karl's productions in one word it would be 'banging' - it's Techno meets Bass and it's definitely one for the dance floors.
- Wölfe are another set of producers on the rise. They seem to be going from strength to strength since their debut release with us in April, and we're really proud of what they're doing. They have such a unique style - I think I once described it as 80's synth work meeting somewhere in between Grime and Bassline.
Any final thoughts or shout outs?
There's so many people we could give shout outs to, but I'll keep this short. Big shout out to any of the artists who've released on In:flux since we began, you've absolutely smashed it this last year and we look forward to more of the same in the future, and also big up to everyone who has been supporting us over the past year, we definitely wouldn't be where we are without you!
In:Flux Audio open their first Get Fluxed compilation with the ludicrous bounce of Swedger's "Shellsuit Temptress", and it gets even sillier with the tinges of electro-swing in 1Point5's "Villian". There are more streamlined, deeper passages though, like Pavv's remix of "Hold Up" (neat vocal samples to boot) to Prude Lerude's "I Need Your Love". For beats more stripped and torn check Ramage's "Happy Days" and the Samphet's "Badman", but the best old school UKG flavours come through on Gammy and Mr LA productions. UK garage never sounded so 2015.
For those in the know on the bassline scene, Welsh DJ Jay Robinson has been a hot name to watch for a while now. Always fine-tuning his brand of doomy bass heavy house, his latest single, 1987 has already picked up support from the likes of My Nu Leng, Shadow Child, Toddla T and Herve. "Carnage" and "Guttural" kick things off with vintage samples and bouncy bass, "Throwback" is all about the epic breakdowns, the deep and nasty "Shutdown" is an EP highlight and "The End" fuses dubstep and hip-hop to devastating effect
Powerful sonic slappage from Brighton badman Jook. Sitting somewhere between grime, dubstep and tech funk, all three cuts live to up the Certified Banger status. "Lean Back" is all about the tightly cut stabs that wrap themselves around the stop/start kicks and snares, "Alarmed" is all about the wobbles and is just waiting for a fiery flow of MC damage while "Lucy" shows us Jook's softer, star-gazing side thanks to velvet arpeggios and some really interesting sample textures buried deep among the beats.
Scottish soundboys Bryan and Batosz follow in the footsteps of My Nu Leng, Hostage, Distro and Transcode with their 877 label debut. Three tracks of premium bass that lend themselves perfectly to tech, deep, breaks, house and dubstep sets, it's an all-out dancefloor demolition; "Kosa" rumbles with understated warped low end messages and an unrelenting kicks, "Conduct" is all about the dagger-sharp steps while "Fallout" hammers home with a 4/4 so crunchy, toxic and industrial environmentalists are rumoured to be setting up a petition to ban it. Good luck to them.
Just when we thought we'd have nothing but The Duke album to listen to all summer, fierce Manchester bass buster Krissi B returns with the messianic "The Christ EP" to keep things fresh. There's less of a footwork vibe here though, instead he's gone back to a ferocious, if a bit old skool, wobble-heavy 4x4 sound on "The Power Of Christ". Things don't let up on the digital flipside either, with "Yeahhh" merging nasty, stabby bass and skittering garagey beats. Dancefloor mayhem!
UK producer Aotoa specialises in fusing bass and downtempo electronica. Here on "Great Ideas" he really nails his sound with the title track being an intoxicating blend of 2-step beats and gentle electronics. Elsewhere "Alone Now" sees mellow garage evolve into swelling layers of emotion, which is taken to the next level on the scattershot melancholia of closer "Altogether".
Soulserious mainstay Dub Solution cooks up five more of his unique garage/house hybrids: "Flava" looks back to the classics thanks to its detuned synths, bubbling 808 bassline and wailing vocal, "Full Moon" sounds like a Dirtybird cut thanks to its lean make-up, weirded out tech rhythm and sinewy sub wriggles while "Distractions" continues the snub-nosed tech theme but does so with an array of alien space noises and textures. Dig deeper for a funkier jam on the shuffling groove and scuffing throaty bass on "Buss" and an all-out physical floor assault on the future acid house adventure that is "Energie". Welcome to flavour country.
Laidback Luke? No, Jason Laidback, to be exact. Purveyor of nu-skool breaks for close to two decades and formerly part of Finger Lickin' duo Slyde, it seems he's back! "Smoker Toker" is yet another tribute to everyone's favourite herb in the form of a dirty late night garage tip. "Oz Voodoo" is a return to form for Laidback, showing us his electrofied, in your face breaks he's known for. Finally "Smoker Toker" gets an instrumental version for those hot fond on the green monologue of the original.
Label boss Sunship has decided its collaboration time, presenting a meeting of minds with Lost Souljah for the eponymous label's latest release. There are four tracks here with a couple of remixes, all of which bring out the devil in the duo's inspirations. "Lighter" kicks things off as a lairy tropical ghetto anthem, "Skinny Bitch" is a well-proper warning to impressionable girls influenced by a warped fashion industry, "Psycho" is skippy-wobble and "Bust It" is a barrage of vicious street beats. Q Block turns the latter into slow dubstep, whilst the former also gets a booming dub revision.
Tinkering with genres like a crazy gene scientist, Blaq bossman Mokujin returns to L2S with three chop-slapping strutters. "Dare" oozes subtlety as jazzy chords and an insistent vocal snippet work together to create a groove and hook that nags relentlessly. "A Lickle Sumtin'" takes us deeper into jacking territory with a bigger vocal cut and a slap-happy drive that wouldn't go amiss in a Derrick Carter set. Need even more of a punch? Jump on his 'techno garage' version of "Dare". With its buried-but-beefy kicks and dense atmosphere there's a strong whiff of Underground Resistance to this, exploiting every shard of ice from those minor keys.
We've all intimidated the 'wub wub' sound of UK bass music, and that style of low end snarl is all up in your face in James Mannion's opener "Pronto" - try to not get sucked in. This Creeper EP follows the artist's killer Hit You Up EP for Bear Fresh from earlier in the year and the title-track, with touches of fidget, is as melodious as it is ghetto and percussive. There's more of a progressive and stripped bassline vibe on "Time To Loose" with a pitched vocal to boot, while "Diamonds" throws it all back to the 'wub wub'. Big tunes.
Run by veterans Ramsey and Fen, Bug Records is all about keeping the funky end of things alive. Here they present one strictly for the DJs, with DJ Fen offering up three essential dancefloor tools: the perky vintage 2-step of "Bug (dub)", the soulful UKG of "The Fields" and the edgier, organ-garage of "Keep On Moving".