Established in 2012, Artikal Music UK is a record label with a difference. The ethos of the label leans heavily on Dubstep’s roots, with an emphasis on vinyl presses for each release. Artikal still nods to the current scene with a fresh perspective by providing bonus digital tracks, embracing a new wave of online Dubstep lovers. They have released artists such as Perverse, Truth, Killawatt & Core, Genetix, Sleeper, Ipman, TMSV, Thelem and EshOne, more than proving their worth as a label to watch. Artikal is committed to representing the UK Bass music scene, and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.
Taking over the JunoDownload Dubstep page with their newest release 'The Compilation', Artikal faces towards the future rather than looking back with a stunning collection of 14 unreleased and previously unheard tracks, from the likes of TMSV, label-head J:Kenzo, Thelem and American dubstep shaman EshOne amongst others. Artikal Music is proud to deliver a compilation that serves not a nostalgic retrospective, but showcases what the label does best, which is delivering up-to-the-minute thundering dubstep tunes by a unique selection of artists from all corners of the globe.
We've got the lowdown on the release from J:Kenzo himself, a very special mix, and even an exclusive free downloadable track which is not to be missed trust us!
Artikal is one of the most popular dubstep labels in the scene but some fans may not be aware that you are one of the joint founders. Can you tell us a little bit about how the label came about?
The label was started in January 2012. There was a track called 'Alone in the Darkness' (ARTKL001) which myself and Mosaix produced together. The track was getting a lot of interest around that time and we decided to put it out on our own. At this time I was getting sent a lot of quality music, which I felt deserved to be released so we decided to make the label an outlet for quality deep underground sounds.
Your name is synonymous with the deeper sound of Dubstep, have you always made this style of music or is your current signature sound something that took a lot of experimentation and development?
It’s been natural. I just make music that I'm feeling and the deeper edge suits my taste.
Can you tell us a little bit about the Artikal Compilation release; how long did it take for the release to come fruition and the thinking behind compiling the release?
This is our first compilation project, and it’s out now. It has been 9-10 months of hard work from the team and I to make this happen. This is a big step for us as a label and we have some great artists involved in the project. The compilation consists of 14 tracks from 12 different artists covering a whole heap of styles. We have been releasing music for over 2 years now and I’ve been playing a lot of the tracks from the compilation in my sets. I just felt it was the right time to release a larger project.
The dubstep scene has gone through a massive transition over the past few years, where do you see the scene heading in the future?
We have headed into the unknown, dubstep has shown that it is still relevant even after the money and commercial side of things have been and gone. It’s always been an underground sound and the passion from those who are involved in the scene is still as strong as ever.
Artikal always seems to have prioritised vinyl and digital in equal measure. Was this your original intention? What is your preference when gigging?
We have always seen the two formats as equal. Vinyl has been a big part of my life since I was a kid. It’s a blessing that the scene still has a huge fanbase of Vinyl DJs and collectors. Gig-wise I mostly play digital now especially when travelling but I still buy Vinyl and cut Dubplates.
You are very kindly giving away a track from the label as part of the takeover. A track that quite frankly you could be selling, and also a track that represents a change in style (well certainly bpm). Can you give us a little background on the track and why you decided to give this away?
This is a remix I did of one of my favourite tracks from the back catalogue - Truth's 'Babylon London'. The original track reflected exactly what the label is about and I wanted to give my spin on it. The tempo is upped but the vibe is still the same, building the boundaries between dubstep and drum & bass. It has had support from dBridge & Calibre as well as Youngsta and Loxy. I decided to give it away as a thank you to all who have supported the label.
You have a huge label tour of North America on the horizon can you give us a little insight into what fans can expect?
That’s correct - we are heading out there for the first ever Artikal Music UK Tour. Thelem, EshOne, Sleeper and myself have 14 shows lined up all over North America. Every artist involved will be bringing their own unique style to the table.
Are you excited to be touring North America ? What are your thoughts on the scene there?
It is a great place to play, every show is different. The scene in North America has become a vital part of Dubstep. The fans and promoters know exactly where this music came from and embrace it to the fullest.
OK last question, a bit of a final thoughts request. What are your plans for yourself and the label in 2015 and which upcoming artists do you feel we should be keeping an ear out for?
We are going to continue what we are doing and release quality music into 2015. There are some great projects lined up for the future which I am looking forward to. Keep your ears out for more music from Thelem, TMSV and EshOne.
Dubstep Aussie style, Sekkleman steps forth with two crisp originals. "Lightman" is a graveyard marauder as Baptiste's well applied vocal guides us through the tombs and vaults with clarity, while "18 Dromilly Ave Dub" leans back on a classic digidub flex with warm keys, captivating vocal licks from Serocee and deep space reverb and drums that evolve faster than technology. Remix-wise Dread flips "Lightman" into an incredible Om Unit-style dub & bass workout. Step towards the light.
Sometimes a well-considered track title is all you need: "Hypnodub" genuinely lives up to its name in every way. Its ricochet dynamics provide the hypnosis while the slinky, slippery low-end provides the dub. Devilishly simple. Also included is "Ganesha". A collaboration with long-time compatriot Dillard, it's yet another lesson in depth and it comes complete with subtle jazzy chords. Stunning.
Sweaty, sludgy business: Bordeaux badman High Dude returns with three dynamics slices of deepness that all cellar dwellers should take note of. "Abduct" is all about the mourning bassline; soaking wet and amorphous, it's as dark as you can get without needing counselling. Dig deeper for the title track "Alchemy". Coded with trippy drum patterns and even trippier atmospheres, it's the type of track you'd drop if you wanted to completely spin your floor on its axis. Finally we hit "Wraith". A total vibe-flipper, here HD shows us he's just as capable at 170BPM as he is 140. Skippy beats, soulful subs and warm pads. This is what liquid sounds like in the apocalyptic future.
After a string of searing bass bubblers on Platform, Bulgarian beat collective Basscatz barge their way onto Abyssal Audio's sturdy stage with three iced out gems. We kick off with a demonic collaboration with Cooh under his Balkansky alias. With pads wheezing with the Devil's breath and death toll hammering beats, it's a vicious mission statement that takes no prisoners. Further on we're pinged back and forth with metronomic mischief as the tribal rhythm and tech hook of "Uprising" twist and turn with intricate detail. Finally we hit "On A Mission", a heady cut that smelts down the funk of two-step with the industrial strength heaviness of halfstep to create a unique hybrid that's strong enough to melt any dancefloor.
Pivotal MindStep outing from 2013 "Taking Over" affirmed both the label and Vaun's unique role in dubstep. Emotional, perfectly measured and genuine; it fused electronic music's most leftfield, heartfelt attributes with dub dynamics like very few other tracks. Now for the remixes: Simbad adds a relentless jacking thump, Wayfarer throws down a murk bomb with fractured beats and gurgling bass and Sam KDC gets busy on an off-beat 170 flavour by way of a titanium snare. There's also an extended instrumental for good measure. The MindStep takeover bid continues...
Bass commando Matrix jumps from Imperial to Cue Line with a quad of dense dub joints. "Head Off" is a firing mission statement; tight techy beats thunder with sweaty fury before dropping into a stark contemporary drop that could ice out a desert in a flash. "Depth Gauge" is starker again with angular, industrial strength percussive dynamics. Plough further into the groove fog to find "Bongo Warfare", a frenetic, sub-soaked homage to rave composed exclusively in the Amazonian forest. We climax with "Project Molcos". More spacious than the previous, this time the focus is place plainly on the thick mystical atmospheres that segue in to cinematic strings mid-way. One of the head offs...
Legend4ry reveals his innermost inspirations and characteristics with a debut album that's commendable on various levels - not only is it a great exercise in musical, dynamic modern dub, but all profits go to homeless charity Shelter. High fives. Musically, this is an insightful snapshot into his creative mind; from the dainty piano strokes of the trip hop opener "Easy" to the weeping synths and mild sexual vocal samples of The Widdler co-lab "Do It" via the coiled spring bass and infectious rimshot licks of "Curly Wurly" and the breathtaking, 100-tog atmospheres and early jungle synths of "Full Effect", Legend4ry has gone in deep on this, and it's paid off. A genuinely worthwhile debut in every direction.