Gradient Records have shown the D&B music scene they have some serious clout when it comes to quality releases. Now we are approaching the 2nd anniversary of the label's conception, and to celebrate this occasion we caught up with the guys to discuss the label and all things D&B.

Interview

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us today. Firstly, for those who might not be familiar with your work, please can you let us know a little more about yourself?

No problem at all it’s a pleasure, Gradient Records is not only a record label but a current jump up movement curated by us both Metal Work & Amplify. The whole concept behind the label was to bring together the old and the new generation within the world of jump up. I’m (Metal Work) from such a small town in the northwest called Barrow I was fairly restricted with my reach when it came who I knew without networking and whilst doing so I met Amplify quite some years ago and you know when you just hit it off with someone and are on the same level? Well, that is me and him and since then we have been extremely close and working together religiously on projects and music. Under the Metal Work name, I have had a number of releases on various labels from Subway Soundz all the way across into the Neuro side with Eat Brain, as well as releasing my first and only album on our own label Gradient Records entitled Power.

Amplify hailing from Devon originally was heavily involved in the local scene with events and showing enthusiasm and interest into absolutely anything drum and bass related before starting to get into production. Now after arguably 2 of the most progressive and successful years which included winning two awards at the drum and bass awards 2022 (Beat Breakthrough Producer & Best Breakthrough DJ) he is living in the midlands putting out release after release and performing at events and festivals all across the UK and throughout Europe.

When did you first start your journey into music?

For me (Metal Work) it was 2008, I started producing little bits of house music with a friend in my town who I still make music with to this date he goes by the name of Just Mack and we are putting out a fair bit of Liquid DNB together over the next few months which I am excited about. I was making drum and bass as I was heavily into GDub and the older style of jump up DJing at house parties and local events but with rise of dubstep i progressed with the hype started a duo with a friend known as Sponge Bandits and was really just making dubstep for fun until I was picked up by labels and gained a lot of traction through people uploading my music to YouTube. I ended up travelling throughout Europe playing dubstep events until 2014 when I decided to switch my focus back to Drum and Bass and decided to really push myself to make my own sound and be recognised for the music I was making. I have seen it through right up until today and I wouldn't change anything now I found my place making DnB and as much as I do dabble with the other genres when I am bored, I am here until the end with drum and bass.

Yeah, for me (Amplify) it’s not quite as long as Metal Work, I was never really into drum and bass much in the beginning until I started going out as I got older, I was at a night called Rinse Out when I first heard drum and bass and I just fell in love with the music the energy and the overall vibe. In 2016 I started learning to DJ and I found that I was turning on the decks at every given moment I had spare at home at parties and soon after I started taking some opener and free bookings to get myself onto the DJing circuit. In 2019 I started taking some production lessons and started to learn how to navigate a DAW and got into producing. I could have never imagined that 3 years later I have had the success I have had, recently winning two drum and bass awards, working with people I would have considered my idols who are now just my friends and co-owner of what we feel is a pretty successful label with Metal Work.

What was the catalyst that first gave you the idea of starting your record label Gradient?

Owning a label had always been a goal in the future for me (Metal Work) I planned on doing it a few years ago but decided to launch Faceless Audio which became one of the biggest free download platforms for drum and bass tracks that platform has since shut down and it is now a premiere page a part of the Gradient collective called AGrade and we use it as a promotional channel for our labels releases and our friends releases to offer them a premiere to 30 thousand followers.

It wasn't until 2019 when speaking with Amplify and to be honest it was off the back of some negative conversations about situations, we had both been in when it comes to labels, and we just wanted to change it and the best way to change it was to do it ourselves. Then the ideas started flowing, we had ideas and thoughts about what we might want to do and going back to what I said in one of my previous answers we just clicked when it came to what we both wanted. Everything happened fast and efficiently and by September 2019 we had launched Gradient Records.

Your label has come from strength to strength in a fairly short period of time, what the secret behind the label’s success?

It’s nice to know that people feel the label is being successful and it gives us more encouragement to keep pushing ourselves to new levels, we are working hard to make sure we do everything right at all times and provide the best possible experience for artists who work with us making sure they get what they need from start to finish and ALWAYS get paid.

The secret honestly is relationship and communication that the both of us have, we are always on the ball with planning and marketing and both aspects of our dnb careers work hand in hand. Amplify is the front man the face that's out playing shows week in week out and I (Metal Work) am always on hand for the label at home in the office doing all the distribution and assets, contracts, and emails I will make sure that each artist has everything they need to follow our promotional plans which are given when releasing with us. We like to keep it professional and get the most and the best out of ourselves and the artists we work with, and we are pretty tight with it, if you aren't willing to do what we know works and will propel you to a successful release then you might not be a fit for the label going forward.

Amplify is responsible for the music if it is our own music or music we are looking to sign he is able to gauge reactions and get a good understanding of what music works well and what we feel will sell. He is constantly sent music to play and is always inundated with options. It allows him to have access to a lot of material from each artist giving him music. He is exceptional at building projects with musical flavours that always work together and up to now always succeed. The fact that he has risen to these heights with his personal career are allowing the label to perform at a higher level too, we have a better pull for people wanting to release with us and we are more confident approaching people who may have seemed way out of reach a couple of years ago.

I believe this month is the labels 2nd birthday, did you make any special plans to celebrate the occasion?

Yes 2 years already!! We can't actually believe it has been that long it has flown by. I think the fact we do a release every month and sometimes more it constantly keeps us on our toes and keeps us busy. Last year to celebrate 1 Year we released Amplify's EP Greeze which absolutely blew up and to celebrate this year I (Metal Work) have an EP out 2 days before the birthday! We had thought about possibly doing an event to celebrate but for now we are happy celebrating within the camp with our producer friends and all the artists we have released with. This year doing this interview and feature with you is our big special thing. There is a fair bit of content for people to consume and we hope they like the free download from Master Error which is a track we have been begged for by people for months on end.

There is also a special little mix from Amplify which you can get a good understanding of what you are going to get from him if you were to book him for your event. High octane heavy jump up with the most energy possible featuring some music from us, our label, our friends, and some special VIP's nobody has heard.

To round off the birthday celebrations on Saturday 10th September there is a Gradient Showcase on the Breakin Science event at Concorde 2 in Brighton. I (Amplify) am playing a set on the night and we have a special Gradient showcase for everyone with myself, Stillz, Pengo & Breakout some of the usual names from the Gradient camp.

Please can you tell us a little more about your release? How long have you been working on putting It together?

The Nightmare EP is a project that has actually been in the works since my album back in December last year, with me (Metal Work) unable to play events and take bookings because of my metal hip and health issues, I am constantly just focussed on putting together the best possible projects I can with the huge help from Amplify who takes and tests absolutely everything. By doing that we are able to get a good understanding of what music I am making that hits the spot in the rave. Sometimes we have an idea for an EP and as the music keeps coming the overall project changes but it’s usually for the better. I believe in everything Amplify says when it comes to the projects and trust his understanding and feeling of the music 100% so when he said to me these 6 tracks are the ones we HAVE to go with I stand by him and we go from there.

Finally, do you have any shows or gigs booked in the near future where we can catch you playing live?

Yeah, in fact the rest of the year is looking pretty exciting for me (Amplify) I don't think there is a weekend up until 2023 where I haven't got a booking. I had quite an incredible summer playing some outrageous shows including Boomtown which is most definitely a highlight. I am playing at the Breakin Science event on 10th September, I am in Manchester on 14th September and Leicester on 17th September as well as Chelmsford on the 18th. There is also a chance for people to catch me out in New Zealand at the end of September into the start of October as part of the Onyx Recordings Takeover we are in Logan Park, Otepoti (Dunedin).

Read more...

Top 10 Gradient Tracks

We chose this as a our top ten as we believe these tracks bring together what we class as the 'Gradient Sound' a combination of everything we have to offer from our most prolific artists.

Amplify - Bank

Stillz & Nick The Lot - Find A Lighter

Master Error - Balance Of Terror

Nick The Lot - Gliding Through

Fanatics - Turn That Heat

Amplify - Mad Ting

Metal Work - Respawn

Banzai - Javelin

Warhead - Grounded

Amplify - Greeze

Gradient Showcase

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