Having recently cracked opened the vaults and begun releasing music over a time span of 10 years that has never previously been heard outside his studio, we thought now would be a good time to catch up with Drum & Bass innovator Lynx. We get his take on crazes and fads in the Drum & Bass scene, the difficulties of creating a sample pack and why he is a selfish label manager.
Hi Steve, it has been almost a year since we last spoke, how have you been?
I’m great thanks! Very excited to be relaunching my label Detail Recordings.
We have been having some wonderful weather in the UK recently, has it made working in the studio difficult?
Hey we can’t complain about having nice weather here in the UK, seeing it is so rare! I find in the summer I go to my studio less and work from home a little more. I can take the opportunity when its nice to go out and enjoy the sunshine in between working on music at home.
This week sees the release of your Vault 1 album, please tell us a bit about the album and how it came about.
Vault 1 is a collection of unreleased music from the last ten years of writing Drum & Bass. As some will know I have been writing a lot longer than that, but I feel the last ten years truly have represented me as a full time musician more than before that time. So it’s kind of a celebration of me in the scene in that time.
The album came about when I started loading tunes on my old studio computer around the beginning of the year. I was finding tracks I couldn’t even remember writing and others that I wanted to get out for many years. The deeper I delved the more music I found and the need to release these tunes grew. So I started collating music and by spring I had over 50 tracks that still sounded cool to me. I knew at that time I had to get this music out there. It felt the right time.
The name Vault – 1 suggests that there may be a Vault series, is that the case? What can fans look forward to?
Yes Vault will be a series of releases. Vault 1 is an album with 15 tracks. Subsequent Vaults will probably be EPs. Right now I have about 7 Vaults, so expect a lot more music from myself and Detail this year!
When listening through the album, especially when aware that it is somewhat of a retrospective album, one couldn’t really argue that you stick to one signature sound, or that you have pandered to any trends or fads within the DnB sound (or any other genre for that matter). Is it important for your productions to remain varied in styles and sounds?
This is true and I guess something I am quite proud of. I really don’t understand artists especially in DnB that aren’t growing their repertoire of sound. Exploring new avenues and experimenting is such a crucial part of learning and enjoying writing music. Unfortunately this way of thinking is sometimes frowned upon, as people want to hear one definitive sound of a DJ, so they can say, ‘yeh this represents me and the style of DnB I love to listen to’. Its probably hard for people to feel that with my music, but hopefully people who have a wide appreciation of the genre will like it.
Vault 1 features some amazing collaborations with the likes of Calibre, DRS, Tali. Do you have any stories or favourite moments from your time working with these artists in the studio?
Thanks. It’s been a real honour to work with all of the collaborators, not just on this Vault album but throughout my career. I have had the opportunity to work with so many fantastic musicians from so many different musical backgrounds.
2nd Floor the opening track of Vault 1 brings back a lot of memories. It was written in 2008. It was round the time myself and Kemo were writing music for our album the Raw Truth on Soul:R. Getting DRS involved at the time was great, we were both big fans of his voice, back then he wasn’t as big an artist in his own right as he is now, we had mad respect for him nevertheless. The message of the lyrics fitted so well that DRS delivered. It matched how we felt at that time. That DnB was a bit samey and needed change. Although we are in a better position with more musical diversity now, the message is just as poignant today.
“Voyager” which you produced with legendary beat-smith Calibre is a real beauty. How did a track as good as that, produced by two major players in the DnB scene not make it out of the studio until now? One would imagine a track like that would be snapped up and fired out as soon as possible.
Haha this is true. I guess when myself and Calibre wrote Voyager about 5 years ago now, (and we also have another 2 to come) the tracks weren’t necessarily fitting in with what we were both doing individually as artists. So the track just sat on my computer half finished. Neither myself of Calibre sent it out to anyone. Until 6 months ago it was unfinished. What I took away from that time was the experience of working with Calibre in person. He truly is a wonderful musician. I would say it’s hard for me to think of anyone more dedicated to the cause of writing music than myself. It’s my passion and what I love doing, and I think I do a pretty good job. However Calibre is the master, he could fart on the keyboard and it would still sound beautiful!
Without doubt, one of the album highlights for us, is “Steptoe”. How old is the track? It sounds so fresh and yet has some retro elements, sounds perfect for a movie or TV soundtrack if you ask us.
YES! Thank you, that is one of my favourite too. It was kind of a risk putting this out. I wasn’t sure if people would understand it, but I felt that due to halftime being big in DnB at the moment, it was now or never. Funnily enough I have about 15 of these kind of tunes sat around doing very little. I did a lot of this halftime wonkey sound about 6 years ago and never really had an outlet for it. I had another alias called Loose Spring Steve with this music, I only ever put one thing out but I would love to get that music going again!
We know from the last time that we spoke, that you have long made the transition from a predominantly hardware studio, to a software based one. As some of the tracks on Vault 1 are a decade old, are there any bits of hardware that you now miss using in the studio?
Oh yes don’t get me started! I really miss the moog voyager and Alesis Andromeda. I didn’t personally own them but the studio I go to did. Unfortunately they sold them both which was a huge shame. Both incredible but the Andromeda was a beast. I remember it being almost impossible to get the same sound out of it twice. I use to give up on using it with midi. I would just set it to record into my computer, and jam over the top of a groove. I felt like Vangelis when jamming on that synth.
When sifting through old hard drives to collate Vault 1 – were there any tracks that you had completely forgotten about making?
Yes plenty. One that springs to mind is Knuckle Head. It was originally written around 4 years ago. I totally forgot about writing it at all.
How did it feel to listen to music you had made with the naivety of completely fresh ears?
On loading it up it sounded like a banger. It didn’t need much work to finish the track. A few hours arranging it and taming the distortion which was well out of hand (and probably still is) and it was finished. I heard Doc Scott drop it recently and it sounded incredible. Made me realise I have to start playing it in my sets too!
When we spoke last year, you didn’t have any concrete plans for your label Detail Recordings (or at least wanted to keep them under wraps). Now that the label is back in the swing of things after a four year hiatus, are you on the scout for new talented producers?
I get a lot of producers asking if they can send music for Detail. It’s a difficult one! I would like to one day release music by other producers but I can’t say I’m actively looking right now. I don’t really want to be that label guy who has to constantly keep my ear to the ground for the next tunes I would like to release. It’s a lot of work and in some respects I’m quite selfish, I mean when would I have time to write music too! I think the right artist will come to me when the time is right.
Do you have any further plans for Detail Recordings over the year? Are there any forthcoming releases you can exclusively announce in this interview?
There is LOTS of music to come this year. I’m talking 50 tunes +. I can tell you exclusively that the next release on Detail by me is a brand new fresh tune called ‘WHAT!’ It will be released towards the end of July. I think it’s an absolute banger. I have played it to a select few people and it gets quite a reaction!
Another thing mentioned when we last spoke was your sample pack series. You have since released your second sample pack with industry leaders Loopmasters, can we claim any influence on the decision to create a second? :)
Yes you can! This is actually my 3rd sample pack with Loopmasters. I have to say they are a pleasure to work with and totally gave me creative freedom. This new sample pack called Kinetic drum and bass is definitely my best yet!
The sample pack has been greatly received by Juno customers, does it fill you with satisfaction knowing that your good work is going on to spawn countless new beats and sounds and is there ever a part of you that doesn’t want to let your precious babies (sounds) out into the world for all to use?
I can say that when working on sample packs it’s extremely hard not to get precious and not want to let any of it out. There’s been so many occasions with this latest sample pack I just wanted to pull the plug on it entirely. However when it’s done it feels like a great accomplishment. One that hopefully helps and inspires new producers. To be honest I probably use these sample packs more than anyone else. I can often be pretty disorganised and this brings a lot of my sounds conveniently together.
Any final thoughts and shout outs?
Thank you Juno! A big thanks to all the collaborators: DRS, Kemo, Calibre, Spoonface, Zero One, Tali, Hellrazor Seed & Singer J. To John for the website. Kevin and Dave for artwork. Timo for his amazing VJ skills. Cygnus Music and James at Example media and anyone else I forgotten!
Double decade business: Total Science celebrate their label's big two-oh with an on-point collection of ageless constructs from friends old and new. Naturally, everyone arrives to the party in their sharpest finery; Break's cheeky rave references on the juiced up "Unified", the ugly undertones and system-melting weight of Total Science, Digital & Spirit's incredible "Apply The Pressure", Calibre's cosmic ping-pong jam "The Trot", Nymfo's dreamy harmonic heaven "Game Of Love", The Invaderz swashbuckled drum session "Be Around"... Not one player has tailored a shabby garm, ensuring well-suited jams for decade to come.
The dark art of gunfingering according to Upgrade: tuck ring and pinky fingers deep into your palm, point middle and index finger, use thumb as trigger, aim skyward then listen to "Gunfingers" and pull the most screwed up face possible as the metal-striking bass riff scuffs your very soul with concentrated adrenalin. Maintain your gunfingered stance throughout the rest of the EP: "History Of War" is as murky and paranoid as the title suggests, "Transmitting" layers octaves with a riff that will shoot through your mind for months to come while "Tell Me" combines classic rave elements with Upgrade signature riff science.
Hot on the kicks of his inaugural "Circuits" collection, scene soldier T>I continues to flex his floor-centric range with five more surefire slappers: "Changes" has a squiggly bleepy texture that balances just the right amount of weird funk with humour. "Hammerhead" lives up to its title with added drills and saws (and heads) while "Judgement" does a really trippy stretchy bass thing that's guaranteed to turn heads. "Let It Roll" will be the highlight for many with the juicy oozing out of the subs at toxic levels while "My Size" takes everything you know about T>I, jungle and life itself and burns it with fire. Deliciously twisted.
Hungarian hurters, if you know any of the Puppetz previous material you'll already understand the levels of darkness we're dealing with. If not, you're in for a treat. Demonic, distorted and full of leftside dirt, each cut is an adventure into jump-up's darkest pastures... "Mambo Jambo" is all slo-mo voodoo sludge, "Hench" twists tones in a way that defines science while the dagger riffed "Start Of Something" will also be the end of something... Your amicable relationship with your neighbour. "War" and "Bounce" close the show: the former is a deep drone work out wrapped in politics, the latter is all bass lasers and a very well-known spoken sample from the rave annals.
Heist's Calypso Muzak continues to unearth fresh talent and give them the spotlight they deserve. Envenom's time to shine... Building on the sturdy foundations dug on Multi Function and Train, each of the five cuts shows how he subverts and twists jump-up and tear-out conventions: "Blizzard" layers bass in thick impenetrable sheets, "Killer Bass" is a space voyage over asteroid terrain while "Deaths Door" has a bass riff and breakdown so harrowing you'll need counselling for three years. Dig deeper for some skillish switches and trippy fills on "Warning", aluminium aggro on "Stimulation" and broken glass, handclapped funk with the playful riff on "Bad Juju". Devilish.
You can do this the easy way or the hard way... Whether you untie your shoelaces or not, your shoes are going through the window the second "Unchained" drops. Signs has officially levelled up. Bringing up the rear are Friction and Karma with a walloping roller where the bassline takes a much more active role in the story than it would in a more typical liquid cut. "Turn To Nothing" is Ed.It at his finest; restrained, barbed and tooled up with a sharp sample. Finally North Base close the show with their most delicate track to date as "Unexplained" shimmers with Technimatic-level pianos. Don't even think about fetching your defenestrated footwear.
Black Sun Empire's Blackout development has been astronomical: A go-to hub of forward-thinking tech-edged drum & bass, it's played a leading role in the dominance of the neuro sound this decade. And here are 13 reasons why it's developed such a buy-on-sight status: from BSE's hair-raising, joyriding shake-up of Audio to Current Value's Kubrickian sci-fi drama to the long-awaited arrival of "Ego" VIP, not only will this shatter any floor in a ten mile radius but also documents the versatility, talent and innovation in the darker side of D&B right now. And Blackout are partly responsible for this.
It's about time... Fresh off the heat of his Trevino album, Marcus returns to the D&B source with a full-fat foursome on his label's spotless Four:Fit series. Each cut a 24 carat diamond, shining in its own special way: "Mixed Bag" is a DRS-polished soulful addition to the ever-growing halftime annals, both "Step Forward" and "Stingray" are brittle two-step heads-down headbutts while "Jupiter" is an amen-rattled jungle shake-up. Timeless, deep and spacious; Marcus never fails.
Rumour has it Phil Tangent's release rate is so criminally low the police have a warrant out for his arrest. Then, just as they prepare a dawn raid... Boom: along comes another muscular collection of absolute gold and the long arm of the law starts reaching for the lasers again. Four tracks of undiluted lushness, one instrumental, Phil's soulful space-bound signature is in full effect right here. From Hannah Eve's vocal hurricane on "As Much As I Can Take" to the planet-leaping synths and whirlwind pads of "Illuminate", this is Tangent at his sonic sharpest... Now if only we could squeeze him for more than one release a year.
One of Vienna's many talented D&B troopers, Dorian makes his Cre8 debut with two understated rollers that wouldn't have gone amiss back in the era... Ten gallon subs, rolling drums and a groove so heavy it could make Randall blush, "Bluds" is all about the jungle swing while "Call It What You Want" takes more of a melodic bassline approach with a hook that's reminiscent of Moving Fusion's late 90s work. Authentic.
Only two years have passed since Survival & Script unleashed their Scar project but already it feels like they've been part of the D&B landscape forever. Their grand scope of heritage and shared futurist vision has ensured each document is as weightier than the last... And their debut album The Orkyd Project is set to be so heavy we may need a new server store it. Tuck into these three sampler tracks for proof: Naomi Pryor's vocals get two stunning deep night contexts while "Yours" and "Punch Drunk" both slap with industrial glee. Bring on the full album!
Let It Roll: Prague's drum & bass festival mecca reaches new heights every year as they involve and work with more of the scene's key labels. Part of a series of EPs from influential labels, Hospital joins the fray with four unreleased power punches: Logistics' gets his crunch on harder than usual with "Destination", Krakota busies up the soul VIP-style "In The Area", Whiney proffers a Bcee-level vocal massage on "They Will Come" while Anile closes the show on a dark rolling note. Think 98-era Total Science and you're not far off.
Less than two years have passed since Recognise and Hospital's young duo Fred V & Grafix return with another musical mission. Deeper, more song-based and organic than before, the duo have really found a signature. From the introductive balladry of opener "Ignite" to the darker bass and guitar glitches of "Stay Here" by way of the rainbow sing-along stepper "Ultraviolet", the Flumist piano-tickling title track and sunset dynamics of the Kele-fronted "Our Story", this the sound of a drum & bass act relishing in songcraft with class.
In art we have Dutch masters and in TMSV we have one in dance music too. A one-genre man, he recently had a creative epiphany where (presumably atop some distant mountain) he came to the realisation that what was needed was to throw everything in the pot - dubstep, bass, grime, jungle, whatever - and to hell with 'the rules'. This approach has really seen him take flight: "Over Out" is wobbly staccato DnB, "Torpedo Riddim" is stoned laser-dub, "King David Riddim" is deep and haunting synth pad exploration and "Rolla" wraps things up by bringing the speedy jungle vibes. Heavy!
Besides cameos on Shogun's 100 series with Proxima and Sotto Voce with Spor, this is Icicle's first full body of work since his critically celebrated sophomore Entropy. Four tracks (and one instrumental) deep, it's loaded with all the meany mannerisms and characteristics we know and love the Dutch scientist for... Tasha's Bjorky delivery on "The Nothing", stark techno loopery and FX on "Differentia", the electrified robot romp of "Ego" and the unforgiving halftime badlands of "Push Back". No one does it like Icicle.
Soulvent musketeers Pola & Bryson glide from level to level with their starlit cinematic charms. Making their debut on Bcee's Spearhead, this is their most comprehensive document to date. "Things I do" is a lush, Utah Jazz style piano-tickler "So Free" adds a touch more drama and strings that wouldn't have gone amiss on Tough Guys Don't Dance while "My Detention" switches the instrumentation for technicolour synth muscle. Ownglow adds a darker, steppier dimension to "Things I Do" for added measure.
48 tracks, six exclusives, two mixes: Viper have already developed a strong-armed reputation for compilations over the years but this is taking things to a whole new ridiculous level. Investigating bass music's widest corners, the heady concoction of tracks ranges from premier league bangers (Wilko's remix of The Prodigy, Noisia & The Upbeats "Dead Limit", Andy C's "New Era VIP") to fresh-baked underground rollers (Dossa, Locuzzed and NC-17's drone-jump buzz-cut "Ninja", Dub Elements' deep space neuro-edged shredder "Metaverse") to lower tempo tear-ups from the likes of Pex L, Au5, Flux Pavilion and Doctor P and Specimen A. With heaps more in between, this accurately reflects just how exciting and closely linked all bass-laced genres are right now. Venomously immense.
Hey 90s gamers! Stop blowing into your cartridges and level up with "Level Up", a stupendously fun homage to original arcade adventures. Without getting too deep into nostalgia or novelty, Samy's having ball here... And so should you. Next up: "Forged Steel", another expertly executed party piece with a tubular bassline wider than the channel tunnel. Both cuts representing Nicks at a whole new level, this one's buy-on-sight.
Climbing up the camo netting with stealth, Spanish duo follow up their assassin IM:LTD EP with their broadest bounty to date. Full focus on the drumwork, "Badman" does that rolling halftime thing that Om Unit does so well, "All Kind Of People" and "Just A Herb" take us even darker into the dance with raw tribal spaciousness where the heart-stopping kicks command the situation. "Rainy Riddim" continues the visceral drum patterns but with a subtle and floaty jungle icing while "Selassie I" is straight up jungle naughtiness, all rattling amens and twisted mentasms. Finally "Kill It Properly" bids us adieu with a wonked percussive agenda similar to Digital. This isn't called the "Badman" EP for nothing.
New Zealand hype professor Trei returns with his first full single of the year: "Tonto". Packing collaborative heat from fellow countrymen The Upbeats, "Tonto" is halftime turned on its head. While most halftime tracks focus on the space, this focuses on filling the space but minimising the kicks. The end result is a truly unique concoction that's tailored for crowd slaying. "Shangri-La", meanwhile, is a straight up traditional banger like mamma use to make. If your mamma is a whizz in the studio and knows her way round a gully sound palette that is.