Brooklyn based imprint Liondub International have gone from strength to strength in 2014 with countless titles spanning Drum & Bass, Dubstep and Reggae that could make it into a biggest releases of the year countdown. This month sees the release of the debut album from Italian collective Numa Crew and the label debut for heavy hitting DnB star Upgrade. International by name International by nature.
We caught up with label founder and Chief Erik aka DJ Liondub for a quick chat about what must have been a crazy past 12 months. He also brought along two exclusively recorded mixes and a free track for you to download; the Truespirit remix of “Your Smile” by jungle don Marcus Visionary. Check it out!
Liondub, start us off by telling us more about the label and how it started.
While on tour in Toronto back in 2007, I met Marcus Visionary in Toronto and formed the label with a vision and passion that revolved around our mutual love and respect for Worldwide sound system culture. Releasing top notch Reggae remixes and original Jungle tracks was our focus from the jump and over the years we have evolved, released many styles of music while always retaining the One Drop and dancehall flavour that both of us grew up listening to on the main label and forward thinking bass music via the Street Series. Marcus's musical contribution to the label is unparalleled and we are excited about pushing out multiple singles and another full length from him in the near future.
What are some of the flavours, and some of the formats, which the label deals in?
Dubwise, Ragga Jungle, Drum & Bass, Dubstep, Jump Up, 130 bpm Bass music, Roots Reggae, Dancehall, Trap, and Dub are the flavours. We are open minded to say the least and as we move forward, we strive to embrace more genres and producers who work in them. As for formats, we have always strived to manufacture and distribute our music on vinyl, it has that vintage, real feel to it, and the sound is unparalleled. We've released a string of Jungle Drum and Bass “12's as well as limited edition pressings of Reggae and Dub tracks. Our entire catalogue is available in digital formats and we fully embrace those formats as well but you will soon see multiple releases from our most recent catalogue singles on 12" vinyl in the coming months. Expect 12' vinyl with tracks from Code Red, Ranking Joe, Marcus Visionary, Jah Cure, Johnny Osbourne, Navigator, Adam Prescott and more.
Tell us about the artists past, present and future that have worked with the label?
From Highly revered Jamaican artists Johnny Osbourne, the late, great Sugar Minott, Ranking Joe and Jah Cure, to Jungle legends Potential Badboy, Benny Page, Marcus Visionary, Serial Killaz, Mungo's Hi Fi, Top Cat, Daddy Freddy and US luminaries like Noah D and JahDan Blakkamoore, we have worked with many great musicians, singers and producers. Recent projects include work with artists from Norway, India, London, Kingston, Brooklyn, Trinidad, Mexico, Spain and Guyana. We have always been pleased to consider a large network of Artists and producers to be family for years past and years to come.
Break down the new releases for me.
We have recently released 'Jungle General' a remix of the classic Reggae anthem "General" featuring Ranking Joe with production by Marcus Visionary and myself as well as two singles from the Numa crew off of their upcoming full length release. This LP embraces all genres of music in one coherent project and features multiple upcoming artists from around the globe as well as Dancehall legend Mr. Lexx. Also of note is Navigator's "Kingston 11" single which featured two outstanding remixes from Toronto's Code Red. In addition we recently joined forces with one of Jamaica's more powerful production talents, Stephen 'Di Genius' McGregor' to release a Reggae Riddim compilation remixed by Marcus Visionary. As is traditional in Jamaican versioning we released multiple artists on one Rhythm ('Moving Riddim') and it included a powerhouse of established and rising Jamaica singers like Freddie Mcgregor, Marcia Griffiths, Chino Mcgregor, Christopher Martin, J Boog and more. 10 tracks in all, this release is the first of its kind in terms of it being a full Jungle remix LP created by labels in Jamaica and New York and we have an incredible follow up project with Chimney records and Spanish based Ricky Tuff who has produced jungle remixes with Cecile, I Octane, Mavado, Tarrus Riley and Voicemail, to name a few, on Chimneys hit Chill Spot riddim.
Moving forward we have single releases from Jah Cure, Daddy Freddy, Blackout JA, Michigan and many upcoming and established Jungle Drum & bass producers like Upgrade, Saxxon, Kenji, Sub Killaz, Potential Badboy, Interface, Remarc and more. We have full LP's in the works from Jungle legend Navigator, Truespirit, Mexico's Isaac Maya as well as a full album from myself. It’s an exciting time for our label, with support from DJ's and tastemakers worldwide, our New Vinyl Distributors Unearthed and Buy Reggae, our new digital distributor Railbird Digital, and a relentless release schedule on both the main label and the Street Series imprint, the future looks bright to say the least.
Do you think that your location in Brooklyn influences you? How does this manifest?
I think Brooklyn definitely influences me and the direction of the label. The connection between Kingston, London and Toronto is strong here as is the music that emanates from all of the cultures that reside here. The energy is super-fast paced, ever moving forward and hectic. It inspires me always to be driven, to push harder in every aspect of work and music, from the label to the club, New York has left an indelible mark on my work ethic and my understanding, and connection to the music and the people it moves. It’s manifested also in my love for playing shows consistently worldwide and my love for doing Kool London radio twice a week from my studio in Bed Stuy. NYC has inspired me to keep moving forward on every level and grind harder each day.
Tell us about the scene there and the work you do in New York.
There are so many scenes here in NYC ranging from Reggae, Dancehall, Jungle, DnB, House, Electro, Dubstep, Jazz. Music is ever-present in New York City, but hip-hop, Top 40 club music and Reggae Dancehall dominates in most circles. As for my work, I run the label(s), DJ at various mainstream and underground clubs and events here like The Box, Everyday People and Jungle DnB Nights. In addition a large portion of my time is spent voicing records and dubplate specials by Jamaican artists living in New York passing through from JA. It's a vibrant scene here with incredible potential for growth and success. I’m honored to be a part of the many circles that exist here.
You cover a wide range of music both yourself and as a label – talk to us about how your work varies stylistically and in terms of the people you have played with.
I'm a New Yorker, raised on hardcore, hip-hop, reggae dancehall and Club music. I love to rock parties in all these genres and create tracks, releases with influence from all of them. Stylistically, I have almost no boundaries. In any given night I will drop 90's hip-hop, drum and bass, dancehall, disco and electro or deep house. We don’t rock like anywhere else in the world and it’s been challenging and rewarding to be a part of the music and nightlife scene in these 5 boroughs. In terms of the people I have played with it has influenced my selection and the label because I have had so many opportunities to work with legends and luminaries alike.
Talk to us about your vision and your philosophy regarding music. What do you want music to be able to do?
My vision is to do exactly what I'm doing. Producing and recording music, performing on a regular basis as well as touring and releasing music that inspires me and people in the world. If it moves people, inspires them, or even pushes them to open doors in their life that would never have even been revealed to them because of a lyric, a feeling or a melody within the music, then I have achieved one of the highest goals in my life. To create something positive and powerful in people’s lives. Ultimately, I know music is a force to be reckoned with, a tool, a weapon, a teacher. I've come to embrace it all, and I’ve also strived to make life a little bit better for the people in my life and the world because of my work in it.
You’ve provided two mixes for this Juno Download page takeover as well. What have you included here?
We've included two mega-mixes by our friend DJ Darren Hoy that feature all of the tracks from the first 6 Street Series releases. They are solid mixed compilations of the newest material from the newest artists signed to our label. They include tracks from Hoogs, Mindstate, Truespirit, Certified Sickness, and Fineprint. The Street series is a really powerful new imprint for us and these mixes really capture the essence of it. We hope you will enjoy these mixes, and also hope that people will dig deeper into the Liondub catalogue, past present and future, and find the gems that we have worked tirelessly to release to the world.
Special thanks to Nathan and the staff at Juno Download, Johnny Osbourne, Remarc, Marcus Visionary, Navigator, The Kool London Staff and family, and all the people who have supported our label through the years.
Liondub Brooklyn, September 2014
LIONDUB STREET SERIES VOL 1-2-3 (MIXED BY DJ DARREN HOY)
LIONDUB STREET SERIES VOL 4-5-6 (MIXED BY DJ DARREN HOY)
So Tyke has been doing his thing for Playaz for some time now and it's still blowing minds everywhere. What is it he's got that keeps his tunes sounding so fresh? For starters, his blend of high energy D&B might have that jump-up sound but it's by no means stuck on the genre ring road. Taking influences from darker, minimal and even techy drum and bass, he's found a niche that fits him, rather than wedged into a comfortable but overstuffed sub-genre. The result is another outstanding release from this unstoppable producer. No wonder he's top property right now.
2014 is a special year for Dom Angas. Not only is he turning 40, but it also marks 20 years since the release of his first single under the Dom & Roland alias. As part of the celebrations, he's handed over the parts to a string of classic productions to a veritable who's who of D&B talent. They provide a series of dark, pulverising, rolling and occasionally intense reworks, all designed to cement his reputation as one of the greatest exponents of the artform. Highlights are naturally plentiful, from the classic jungle breaks and rave-era rush of BTK and Optiv's rework of "Jungle Beast", to the exotic melodies, foreboding stabs and tech-tinged textures of Mindscape's mighty rub of "Mindfeeders".
One of drum & bass' most unconventional producers, Icicle has repeatedly re-written his own rules when it comes to forging his own sound and this time around he's chosen to ditch the dubstep for cut-throat political verses in "Problem" from Salford's own master of the vocal dark arts, Skittles. Twisting back into contorted bass and synths for "The Edge", a dirty, electrified stomp and step through the Icicle mainframe. It's good to be challenged every once in a while.
Serious dubby goodness emanates from starter track "1.4 Days", giving this release from the Bad Company UK fellas an instant place in this month's good books. Rumbling away at breakneck speed, the switching rhythms take things further and further down into the abyss. "Refuge" stops momentum in its tracks with a severe, old school homage to the techy glory days of D&B where cinematics and junglist breaks were king. "The Fear" washes out the top end for a sky high sound and finally "Jellyfish" continues that addictive vintage sound. It's like the sound of every great night distilled into one bassline.
Featuring album lead-off track "Impossible" and the dark hip-hop & dancehall hybrid "Control" with Robert Dallas on the mic, "Impossible" starts off with sweet vocals and skanking keyboards. "Control" features Kwality on the microphone in a half-time hip hop style, laden with dub effects and circling synthesizers. Contrast comes from Kwality's dancehall-style vocals flowing around the sparse drums while getting wrapped into the delay effects that run through the center of the production. Showcasing two contrasting sides of the Numa Crew on this deadly drop, Liondub is bringing International pressure on the bass scene for 2014.
Playaz get back on the grind for this sexy little number from new fella Dialogue. First up, the title track "For The Love" blends sweetheart vocals with the filthiest bassline in living memory. "Made up Words" quickly follows with a kung-fu flava given by sweet Eastern melodies. "Stink Bomb" is truly a scorcher, taking tension from cinematic references and lining it up with heavy bass and heavier breaks. Finally, dubiously-titled "War Thongs" adds a militant stance, stomping hard and coming on strong with seriously warped bass. Versatile jump-up is hard to come by - grab this with both hands
Beautiful sounds rain down from the start in Soul Connection's latest on Liquid Flavours. Vintage amens dust off a deliciously deep bassline in the self-titled opener as Soul Connection sets us up for a soulful journey through his sample collection. "Basically Corrupt" follows on fresher and brighter, opening up a lighter world of upbeat melodies and "Dirty Deep" follows suit, taking things down into the old skool with ravey loops and splashy percussion. Finally, "Day & Night" channels that evergreen sunshine sound of dancefloor-perfect liquid rolling out into the sunset.
Upgrade comes from the streets of Norwich - perhaps not the first place you'd think of when you think hard-hitting drum and bass pedigree, but this man does it with style. Rising up over the past three years, he's already been seen on wax with fellow dancefloor slayers Serial Killaz. His gritty sound gets things rolling in "Calling", with a militant edge and serious bassline duttiness. "Sounds of the Jungle" picks up on mad wildlife samplings with blistering snares and a filthy dubbed out bassline. "The Haunted" creeps its way though a halftime stomp revival and "The Congo" lifts the mood slightly with more jungle atmosphere and tweaked bass. Finally it's a junglist meltdown with Ticklah and Courteny John as you've never heard them before. Boom!
As soothing as it is dancefloor-perfect, "Don't Take it Away" is the first tune to grace this beauty of an EP, given up by Portuguese producer HumaNature. Rolling out an uplifting vibe, he sets the stage for his duet with Silence Groove "Just A Thought" which snips out hip-hop samples and jazz piano for a patchwork of inspiring influences. Partnering with Kalum for this track "Soul Revival" there's a retro liquid sound at work here, bringing back memories of d&b summers past. Finally a crisp stepper pushes on with help from Leeds-based maestro Colossus, "Nothing" swirls and spins with fizzing atmospherics and gorgeous vocal sampling adding some welcome wide-open atmosphere to proceedings. Excellent pairings from an exciting upcoming talent.
Want some late night grooves to chill to? "Just One Night" saunters into the cut with smooth-rolling liquid vibes, taken to the next level by Jeremy Carr's sweet vocals. On the other side, "Nothing Lasts Forever" is a totally different beast thanks to Pennygiles' input, taking things to the next level with a deep bass groove and spacey sound effects that bring in some futuristic sounds. A fantastic duo of straight-up liquid; if you like your tunes smart and sophisticated, pour yourself a scotch, because you just found yourself a treat.
Launched as part of their highly prized Black Box series and featuring some of the best-regarded producers in the game, Black Box Three is a masterpiece. Populated by heavy, intelligent tracks from the likes of Royalston, Teddy Killerz & Nfonix, Loki, Bad Company UK, Optiv, Prolix, Blokhe4d and tons more, it's definitely an LP that'll see you through to the other side of Christmas. Get the survival cupboard packed and hunker down - you're gonna be in this for a while.
As Nucleus and Paradox, Dave Simms and Dev Pandya racked up a bounty of drumfunk classics for the likes of Reinforced, Metalheadz and more between 1997 and 2009. Coaxed back into the studio together earlier this year for a killer drop on Metalheadz Platinum, it was clear the old studio chemistry between Pandya and Simms had not dissipated one iota so the sight of further Nucleus and Paradox material is no surprise. Adding Samurai to their collective collar, lead track Prism is a prime time roller filled with hefty break beats, classic jungle vibes and trademark Nucleus and Paradox sub bass. The flip "Electropaque" finds the pair in a more contemplative mood without any concession to rhythmic punch.
You can always rely on Krakota to come up with the goods, and true to form "Xylo" is a perfect mashup of his own fresh and forthright style and the old days we all love. Subby and surly, it's moody enough to bring some serious stepping to the floor but packing enough punch to hit headline slots. "Irregular" takes over the flip side with the tang of brutal synths in tow as rolling bass rumbles under skitterish snares. Nasty in all the best ways, there's a good chance you've already had your head down to this over the summer fest period. Now's your chance to put a name to the beat and introduce your neighbours to it too. Thanks, Krakota!
For their latest release, veteran duo SR & Digbee have decided to look back for inspiration, back to the early '90s D&B sound to be more specific. They've tried to cover as much of the sound of this era as possible over four tracks, largely dropping the BPM from their usual 170 to around 140. The results are impressive with "Contagious" revisiting the good old days of pop-jungle, "Body Swerve" is all acidic dub, "Special Dedication" gets into deep D&B territory and "Zoom Zoom" steals a bit of Public Enemy to end on a hardcore high.
A 21-year old nu-soul belter from Nottingham, Harleighblu made a big splash with her debut album Forgot Me Not. This is the latest track to be lifted from the acclaimed album and it's a jaw-dropping, almost unrecognisable, cover of The Eurythmics's 1983 electro-pop hit "Who's That Girl?". Coming across like Amy Winehouse tackling Lennox in a 60s downtown soul joint, and does a classic song justice. There's a bunch of album track remixes too including a bonkers DNB/jazz hybrid mix by Peeshay and a totally enchanting haunted tropical rework of "Love Like This" by Corsair.
Beautiful, breezy bass from the Chromatic guys, kicking off immediately with a summery roll through jazzy piano and twinkling melodies played high up into the stratosphere. Continuing the heavenly feel, "Marrakech" features the bass talents of Soul Intent, placing crowded surroundings with otherworldy atmospherics and string-like synths that drive the whole track forward. Finally, "Lounge Lizard" kicks back for a lazy stepper full of big, comfy soul sounds and a kick drum you can really lean into. Perfect for a long evening drive, or a long evening of lush rollers. Get relaxed.
Hungarian producer Klay breaks out his darkest nightmares from his hometown of budapest and this time he's been picked up by Jaydan's Smokin' Riddims label to inflict pain and confusion. "Get used To It" does exactly that, with a homewrecker of a bassline tearing straight through tight snares and minimal interruptions from b movie samples and nightmare-style sound effects. "String Theory" follows things up with sick and twisted synths and hard hitting beats, showing off this guy's talent for creating the most corrupt steppers out there right now. Proper darkness, none of your mockery stuff.
Three stunning artists take centre stage on this compilation EP from Celsius, one of the scene's most notorious labels for getting d&b just right. First up, LM1 packs a punch with frosty stepper "Shadows". Contrasting crystalline atmospherics with deep, squashed-in bass, he's created his own unique niche. "Rhodes licks" is the aptly named offering from Joakium, setting out all sexy and sultry wit fantastic old school vibes. Finally, Cell brings "Midnight Glow" forward and it's a mysterious little number packed with atmosphere and sharply cracking drum claps. A slick release from some names we'll be hearing a lot more of.
Spiced-up and funky dancehall sounds come crashing down on this classic Bob Marley cover from Shaggy and Res courtesy of jungle fanatic Bonnot. Warm and upbeat with a big driving riddim, it's a skanking crew insta-favorite for sure. shot through with sunkissed guitar thanks to Fabrizio Sotti's jazz stylings it takes the Brazilian jazz liquid style to another level - prepare to be mind-bended ever so slightly. One for the lovers. This release also features a Bonnot remix, adding a little more build-and-bite for the dancefloor.
Following the rocking "Mad Combination Riddim" EP that set dancefloors alight all summer featuring original vocals from Suku of Ward 21 and Doubla J, Dirty Skank Beats hits the streets with his latest release on Kulture Klash Records. This time around he's featuring the vocal talents of Supa Squad, one of the most respected new dancehall acts in the game, all the way from Portugal. "System Ovaload" is backed by a brand new instrumental produced by Dirty Skank Beats, perfect for reloading again and again.