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.
We've been waiting for this one for a minute: Kahn & Neek's Gorgon Sound outfit finally unleash this mighty re-fix of Kahn's 2012 Deep Medi outing "Dread". Warm skanks, gravelly toasting and a rolling muscular momentum, it's a whole new tune. "Late Night Blues" gets a similarly massive facelift as the deep space is replaced by crisp live drums and added textures. Quintessential version material.
Alpha by name, alpha by nature, Proxima has set a brand new benchmark in modern dubstep albums. Rich in dynamics, fresh ideas, weight, depth and character, a muscular narrative is peppered with twists and turns - P Money's rapid-flow breakneck grime on "Pressurized", the juxtaposition of classical strings and angular leads on "Prologue", the cosmic psy-like acidity of "In Vacuo", the graveyard echoes and bumps of "Hokusai", the Machine head chugs of "Smog", the firing D&B collaboration with his cousin Icicle - as Proxima presents his broadest production palette with boldness, dexterity and toxic levels of badness. This is what a really well-crafted debut album sounds like.
The great art of waiting, as perfected by British people and Taiko fans - it's been over a year since his last extended player. But boy the wait's been worth it. Just within the first two tracks he shows bare breadth and versatility; there's a psychedelic Boards Of Canada feeling to the title track while "Bloomerang" takes us back to the bassline, all jittery and tearing. Dig a little deeper for some funky drummer damage where "XIII"'s spangly guitars and sopping wah wahs amp up the insanity and "Nooka" showcases Taiko's penchant for percussion with a loopy, tech-like groove that rumbles with reverb so hard you'll check you wig hasn't been blown off. Perfect.
Tempa turns back time while staring defiantly into the future: Youngsta takes Truth's summer 2013 thunder-jam "Devil's Hands" and turbo-charges it with such a steppy dynamic you can see the speed lines firing from your speaker. Next up, take J Kenzo's 2012 minimal blunderbuss and introduce an added synth texture and a slinkier groove to the bass. Both fine examples of how to smash a remix while paying respect to the strong originals.
As featured on his recent MyStyle mix album, The Others brings forth four brand new jams, each one adding more width and weight to his repertoire. Palpitating heartbeat drama, the thundering "Empire" is just as much prog as it is dubstep. "All The Way Down" takes us to even steppier, techno pastures, all loopy and industrial. J:Kenzo and Mydas join for the second half of the EP and things take a serious turn for the darkside as "The Prophecy" slinks and slaps with polished metallic bass with the "Lost World" a prime lesson in spacious percussive fracturism. Four distinct chapters; one epic story, get lost in The Others' empire today.
Version science: Prescott explores some of reggae's most discerning classics and subverts them over an unfailing digidub riddim. A classic one-track album mission, the bubbling bass beats are a consistent spine while an all-star cast appear over the groove to great effect. Highlights include Ranking Joe's Eek-A-Mouse chats on "Ganja Pipe", Jahdan Blakkamoore's nasal dancehall chants on "No Bad Vibes" and Pad Anthony's softer soul melodic style on "Murder". One track, eight vibes - this one's special in all directions.
Croydon's next generation bass ambassadors are flying the flag hard with their latest compilation. 13 exclusives from some of their most exciting creative contributors from around the world, Deep Dub Inside 2014 is a great representation of the scene's currently healthy - and mercifully underground - state. From the rolling, funky and melodic twists of YYA's "Rosanegra" to the punctuated bass sermon of Hkay's "Retribution" to the fathomless star-gazing depths of Nereeda's "Before" to the space sax slinkiness of Neurosplit's "Amsterdam", there's a great sense of forward-thinking creativity coded deep into every cut. Essential for all low end lurkers.
Fokuz FM faces SHD tear-up with a long-awaited EP on their own label. Power surges from the off as the title track hammers an angular, mechanical message that owes as much to techno as it does dubstep. "Dutty" plunges us headfirst into the sub swamp. Tripped out groans wheeze over swinging halfsteps as more uplifting elements drive into the blend. "The People" flexes back to the source with a big juicy flavour. All space and shimmering guitars, its soothing yin prepares us for the dark smouldering gravel of "Babylon Rage". Gritty.
Gritty business: Capcha and A:Grade collide for their first collaborative EP and it's a broad playing field of uncompromised badness. "Psyclone" is the deepest of the set; all churchy and shadows, a waspy lead emerges through the fog, cutting with dark funk. "Mammoth" lives up to its name with sheet metal rips and sears. Finally we hit "Alien Contact", where outer planetary paranoia seeps from the warm drones and mournful middy moans, and "Swampy Hogger", a percussive rattlesnake of a riddim that slinks and slides with drum-drilled drama.
Kevin "The Bug" Martin and Dylan "Earth" Carlson have finally teamed up for a collaborative release on the UK's mighty Ninja Tune. To be honest, both the artists and the label have all achieved institutional status by now, so you know its highly recommended from the onset. Each artist has been involved in many scenes and genres over the years, ranging from ambient metal to minimal drones and experimental two-step and "Boa" is exactly that, a weird and wonderful mixture of styles and influences. "Boa" and "Cold" share a slow tempo and a set of heavy, metallic guitars weaving over desolate soundscapes and rattling percussion. This is cinematic music to say the least.
Swedish sub lovers Redvolume recruit new face OOT. Making a strong impression from the get-go, "Street Slug" slinks with more pace and funky manoeuvrability than its name suggests. "Get What I Can Give" exudes authenticity. Classic dub bones wearing futuristic clothes, its measured meditative dynamic is given edge with purring alien bass and mesmerising traces of unique design. Powerfully deep.