Being a label manager, radio host, artist manager, busy DJ probably doesn’t leave a man with much time for the studio, which explains why we have been eagerly waiting over 12 months for Uprise Audio visionary Seven to drop his latest solo release. The time has finally come as the forward thinking producer drops Shaker/Elevate this week. We caught up with the busy label boss to talk about the new sound on his latest release, his exclusive mix recorded with mic man Joe Raygun and the free track "Walter White (VIP Edit)" that you can download now, it is available for a limited time only so be quick!
Hi Eddy, how are things? So it has been over 10 months since we last caught up, back when you were preparing for the launch of the Feonix album, a record which held top spot on the in our Dubstep for a lengthy amount of time, were you expecting such success for the record?
Hi guys, I’m good thanks. Feonix is a phenomenal talent. I had a great feeling about that album. It really touched our souls when we heard it for the first time. It’s a true expression of his versatility as an artist. At Uprise we never release anything expecting it to hit the number one spot and it’s always so exciting when we do manage to top the charts. His album did great, especially lingering around for so long after release. It’s was a blessing and we are really grateful that it was received in the way it was. Big up Feonix!
Uprise has of course been busy bringing the fire releases in the time between now and then, how was the rest of 2015 for the label, your artists and yourself personally?
My plan for last year was to focus mainly on artist development and repertoire. I wanted my team to be able to express themselves in their works so I gave everyone on the label a solo EP release as well as an inclusion on the 7 days EP. I introduced Spec to the public with his Titan EP and got his career rolling. We signed Juss B and put out his first release on UA this year too, the Vain EP. Indiji blew us all away with his Surgeon EP and we took our first full venture into drum n bass with LSN’s Walkyman single, exploring new terrain and planting some seeds to bloom in that direction.
2015 saw us finally get www.upriseaudio.com active too. Our website has been a great way for us to promote ourselves and keep our fans updated with current happenings and also try out concept ideas for marketing and releases. We all took to the air on an international tour together too, spanning over 10 gigs. A first for Uprise Audio. It’s was an incredible journey and we showcased our sound far and wide. All in all, it was another good year for us all and I feel like we spread our wings a bit too. You can be rest assured we will be pushing ourselves even further this year though. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Although perhaps best known for your speaker shaking Dubstep releases, the label has of course never claimed to be a straight Dubstep label, with a broader focus on Bass music as a whole, with that in mind, what direction do you expect the label to be heading in musically over 2016?
We are going to be putting out a whole bunch of music with different tempos this year. Take LSN’s album for example, it’s so diverse and it’s hard to tie it to any specific genre. Their album breaths the UA identity throughout, but expresses itself in unique way. I also plan to put out more DNB on the label too. It’s something people have been requesting a lot from us, coz we have some unreleased killer D&B tracks which are floating about in peoples’ sets at the moment. I wanna open up the sound to new audiences and captivate them with our music though and we can’t do that if we only cater to one crowd. Dubstep is still at the core of our hearts though, so expect plenty of that too.
This week sees the release of your first solo production on the label since your self-entitled album dropped at the back end of 2014 (aside from a cameo appearance on the “Seven Days” record, another lingering number one success). What are the reasons behind the scarcity of your own productions on the label of late?
It feels like an even longer period of scarcity to me than just from my album release up until now. My album was more of a concept project, something more cinematic for listening to, rather than going out to hear raving and certainly not a typical collection of tracks for DJs. Whereas pretty much every single I’ve ever put out I aimed towards the dance floor and DJ sets. My last single on the label before that was actually UA003 in 2013 so it feels like a long time ago now since I had a single out too, especially one for the dance floor and DJs alike. It’s not been a main priority for me though to be honest. I have been far more focused on building the profiles and careers of my artists on Uprise.
It takes a lot of time and effort and doesn’t leave much room in my schedule for my own studio productions. I have missed being in the thick of things and having time to make music myself, but it’s been just as rewarding seeing my artist’s successes and watching them grow into the artists they have become. I’m really proud of them all. They inspire me and I learn just as much from them as they do from me. Having said all that, I do plan on making more music this year and putting out more releases too. I feel hungry again and have just had a new born baby girl with my partner Verity, so I wanna do her proud and push the limits of my own potentials and see what I can bring to bass music as a whole, as well as dubstep of course.
“Shaker” is a seriously dark track that provides a new spin on not only your own productions but on the Dubstep sound as a whole, was this something that you intended when writing?
Thanks for the compliment. I’d love to say yes of course I did intend on writing it that way, but in all honesty I am usually like a blank canvas when I start a track. My only objective was to make something that was gonna sound big on the Gritsy wall of bass sound system. I had a forthcoming DJ booking with them and I wanted to test it out with something freshly made by myself. I’m going to make more tracks like it and I hope other people do too, it’s a fun tune to mix.
So last time we spoke, it was Feonix who had recorded an exclusive mix for us, this time it is you who has done us the honour, please tell us a little about the mix, the selection process, recording set up etc.
The mix is a showcase of music by us at Uprise Audio, as well as some other artists in the scene who I feel are making waves. I mixed in some classics with timeless appeal, those of which are must hear tracks for new fans of our genre. I also included some recently released music in the mix too, so people can purchase some of the playlist if they like them. My good friend Joe Raygun joins me on mic duties throwing down some fresh bars to accompany the music and keeps the vibe at optimum levels all throughout. Joe used his Neumann TLM mic to record the vocals and I processed them through an 1176 compressor. I used my 2x 1210s, 2 x NI D2s, a Pioneer DJM850 mixer (I love the FX unit and beat colour FX so much) and an apple Macbook Air running Traktor. The mix is recorded through a valve summing mixer into UAD Apollo converters.
You are once again, giving away a free track as part of the takeover please tell us a little about the track.
I’m giving away my own personal edit of Walter White. It’s a varied stripped back version of the VIP cut; a version people have been asking me about since I started playing it. It rolls out in the mix on a more progressive tip and pretty mixes well with everything. The vocal is held back a lot and the main focus is really on the beats, bass elements and percussion build up. I’ll probably regret giving it away in a few months when I look back. But I know people are going to love getting their hands on it.
Do you have any more Uprise Audio releases already in the pipeline?
I will have more releases out this year. On Uprise and maybe other label(s). We shall see. I only have a certain amount of time I can allocate to my own releases on UA. I need to be fair to the artists on my book eager for their own releases. So although reluctantly, it would only be viable if I sign my own tracks to other labels too.
Which upcoming artists do you think we should all keep our eyes and ears open for over 2016?
LSN, Feonix, Juss B, Indiji, Spec, No Rules, Guesswork, Darkage, Co:Lateral, Markee Ledge, in fact way too many to mention.
Any final thoughts and shout-outs?
Don’t be a sheep, be a shepherd.
Big love and shouts to Verity J, Joe Raygun, Youngsta, all of my UA family, Paul - Gareth and all at SRD, Beau & Susana Thomas, all my Sub FM family, TRUTH, Liam Guesswork, Nathan Trojan Audio, Wil and Olaf at FKOF, Ill Chill, Urban Vault, Nousless Underground, Peter (WeSC), Toast MC, Pieter DUPLOC, Roy Malloy and so many more, but I will be typing all day if I list them all.
Fresh from coughing up "Green Phlegm" all over the dance last summer, J Beatz returns with deep sea scudder. All synth horns and rifle snares, like its namesake, this is capable of going deep deep deep in the mix and it won't rust for decades to come. Remix-wise Project Allout have spoilt us with highlights coming from Spooky (twisted metal crunching sounds), Deadbeat UK (speed garage vibes) and Dubzta (uptempo rippage). Powerful.
It's been a while since Uprise chief Seven delivered some of his own special brews, having chiselled his platform's focus almost exclusively on the new talent such as Juss B, LSN and Indiji. While he appeared on the forward-thinking "7 Days" EP, this is his first full EP in a while. And it's working in all directions: "Shaker" is all about the loose funk, steel shaking sub drama and gangster clicks / claps. Further in we hit "Elevate", an Raygun-fronted piece where Seven lays down a crisp alien groove with more than enough space for Joe to deliver a savage sermon.
Longstanding low end representor Sleeper ignites the new year on a smouldering slow burn with three deliciously deep steppers on Crucial. "Spread Out" tells a tale of estranged kick drums, connected through trippy FX and a sticky sub. Deeper again, "Burn Finger" takes Sleeper's space explorations to new highs as the drums are even sparser, leaving bags of room for precision positioned bulbous warbles. Finally, we hit the "Prayer Room" for a cosmic adventure into eastern elements. A serious call to dub arms.
Polish Violin-snapping badman steps up to Moonshine with an album-level dispatch of authentic contemporary dub. Each cut is coated with a conscious vocal sheen and comes complete with a heavier, floor-primed version. Those looking for their souls to be soothed should jump straight on the beautiful "Hold Unto Jah" while those eager for something a little more carnal and blatantly weighty should get acquainted with the fittingly titled "Mammoth Dub". Bass bliss.
Straight outta Shanghai, Swimful splashes down with an album sized bounty of beats. With heat picking up on both sides of the hemisphere, his Chinese wave grime fusion couldn't be more refreshing if it shoved you under a waterfall with a mouthful of extra strong mints. As teased with his recent remake of Wiley's classic "Shanghai", the whole set is paradoxically loaded with dense melodic layers (much of which contain traditional phrases, instruments and chords) and black holes of space. The result is a narrative that ebbs and flows from sublime beatless pastoral bliss ("Fisherman's Horizon") to loopy flute-blasting purple funk ("Atop") via sexy cosmic R&B circa 3016 ("Go!"). Lap it up.
Noisia's Division operation deliver their very first multi-artist EP featuring far-out bass tests from the likes of Monuman (AKA northern D&B upstart Emperor), Signs, ARKTKT, Ponicz and JNTHN STEIN. Not a well-travelled road in sight; each act delivers something resoundingly fresh and exciting : Noisia & Ivy Lab get insanely lopsided, Monuman digs a filthy bass grave before lifting us to the heavens with evocative chords, Signs gets the motor running with an array of twisted engine samples while ARKTKT activates a spacey trap mode, all bouncy and gravity-free. Last but not least, Ponicz shreds up with a toxic instrumental hip-hop swag while JNTHN STEIN kidnaps a rainbow then pushes it down the stairs... In the same way Division push the envelope.
It's been a while since Big Tuna last leapt out of the bass ocean and gave us a vibe sandwich. Making up for lost time (and hopefully kicking off the year as they mean to go on), they present a new US bass artist J Wire with four far-ranging tracks that poke, prod and play with the loose concept of dubstep. "Amazoness" is suitably spacious with all elements carefully restrained. "Hollow" is a much darker, dungeon-bound bass track with full emphasis on the sticky treacle bass. "Sundancer" fuses classic dub elements with simple-but-effective synths and subtle arpeggios. Finally, "Autumn" sees Mr Wire experiment with a more robust 4/4 kick, broken elements and deep evocative washes. Immersive.
Tribe 12 continue to dig deep and deliver. Their fourth release of 2016 is one of their boldest manoeuvres to date: Prism shakes up the template with an unrelenting Afro funk roller, all keys and percussion and pure hypnosis, it's not dissimilar to the output Mo Kolours and his cronies are conjuring right now. Marcus meanwhile lays down the deep dub Tribe 12 have always been known for as "Adoni" takes us down a very twisted slo-mo path. All alien subs and plate-shifting snares, it's the perfect counter to Prism's frenzied funk. Spotless.
British Columbia's deepest export Abstrakt Sonance has enjoyed spins and support from the likes of Mala and Cotti, Seven and J:Kenzo over the years. And it's really not hard to hear why with stark designs like these. "Open Heart" plays with space as AS throws down an array of unique designs and laces them together with off-beat funk, "Soldier" lives up to its name as its percussion militantly charges a rhythm with no relent, "Sometimes" is a warped skanker with a woozy bass purring beneath scant bouncy elements while "Harder Than AMF" hurls us into the fires of bass Hades with its uncompromised saw tooth savagery. No dubstep stone left unturned, there's something for everyone right here.
Three releases deep into the new year and we can't even smell February yet, J Robinson's Tribe 12 aren't messing around this year. Close followers of the label will know this beautiful, touching melodic opus from K-Man and Von D already... It was a special vinyl release last year. Now available for us digital slumdogs, not a gram of soul has been lost in the digital conversion. "Woodrush Close" oozes primary colour keys while "Sensations" sounds like a classic Bukem record played at half speed. This is no bad thing.
Danjah dusts off the previously dormant Hardrive machine for the first release in several years. Two instrumentals deep, this is how it goes: "Mars" begins with creepy, shoulder-hunching eeriness before getting darker and darker with demonic, processed vocal elements. "Mile Gully", meanwhile, is all about the bassline that rises and stretches and slaps itself raw over a beat that shuffles rather than slices. Heavy.
Feast on, chow down, tuck in, grub's up: Lenkemz has dropped the release of his life right here. A proper mixtape packed exclusively with his own productions. It ranges from trap made on Jupiter with nothing but a case of Buckfast for sustenance ("Play") to bone-fearing demonic Detroit poetics from XDeathx ("Skeletons") to slo-mo sweet carnie dreams ("Ginty"). That's the tip of the mainly instrumental iceberg, this is Lenkemz at his broadest, wildest and most accomplished. Also available in pink cassette... In case the sounds aren't unique enough.
Longstanding UK rhythm weaver Taiko writes the next chapter for exciting Venice/Leicester-based bass community Albion Collective. "Splinted" fires with a great Indian jig, all sprightly and carnivalian. "Fractal" is more of a trippy, cosmic beat piece with eerie arpeggios and haunted pitched vocal textures while lets rip with percussion so pummelling it's taken up 40 ciggies a day. Just so it can't possibly quit. Dedication.
Following their debut with Drew's Theory, new label Versed return with an equally exciting, forward-thinking dubstep EP from Baltimore up-and-comer Nixsin. "What Year Is It" rolls with a classic Benga style saw-tooth, all edgy and angular. "Tic Toc" is a deeper, sludgier affair while "Kelly Dub" utilises a syrupy texture over some a loose drum arrangement to trippy effect. Finally "Ill Advised" takes us back to the dungeon on a halftime roller coaster powered by dramatic cinematic strings. Keep Versed on lock, both releases so far have been impeccable.
One of the hazier, evocative cuts on Flux's long-awaited debut album Tesla, "Emotional" gets the treatment from 10 on-point artists. Circus have covered every base: House-wise, Kyle Watson teases us with a twisted bass vibe, KNOXA dusts off the pianos while retaining an element of low-end mischief and Charlie Darker pays homage to the Hooj era where trance and house were exceedingly close bedfellows. D&B, meanwhile, is covered by Crissy Criss (breezy liquid), Bensley (punctuated steps and dreamy textures), Draper (widescreen rainbow Liquicity style) while SUBShockers play a mean halftime game. Finally G Buck lays down a future trap sound with a brand new vocal from OnCue, MUST DIE! gets snarly and gnarly and Ship Wrek and Unknown get all swoony and Flumey. 10 remixes deep, not one filler. It's been emotional.
Silent Motion slide into 2016 all stealth-like and shadowy to the creeped out sounds of Belgian duo Polygone. "Drone" is a chilling night stroll through the local cemetery, the ricochet percussion causing paranoid shadows and trick-playing light. "Wardrum" says it all, too; big tub-thumping bongos and kicks entwining with rhythmic one-shot elements, heightening suspension through to the bitter end.
Buffalo blunderbuss Notixx isn't messing around. After two meticulous EPs on Dub Police he boots into the new year with a debut on Colorado imprint Kairos with two more forward-thinking, melodically deft beat pieces. "Something To Talk About" rolls on the halftime D&B axis du jour, oozing spacy delight before switching into a skippier two-step. "Cerebral" takes us down the tempo train for a slower, funkier odyssey with smooth bass glitches and a slight eastern phrasing on the melody. Unique and alluring.
Two stone cold Coki/DMZ classics from the golden 2007s. The rapid flow of Vybz Kartel's "Emergency" is given full focus as Coki lays down subtle rolling snares and an icy leads with enough space for the Kartel's strong characters. Coki's famous shake-up of Mavado, meanwhile, is known to all; far-away bass groans, ricochet snares and elements so cosmic they still sound futuristic almost 10 years later. Never officially released digitally before now, grab a two walloping slices of history today.