Friday, 6 March 2009

INTERVIEW: Untold [Hemlock]

Jack Dunning has had only a handful of releases, on Hessle Audio and Hemlock Recordings (which he co-runs), but his production style has made serious waves already. An Untold tune is highly distinguishable, all compact bass lines that punish and clean percussion that clicks and drives instinctively. On the eve of his debut 12" on Hotflush Two and his label's 3rd 12" release (from Fantastic Mr Fox & Rich Reason) we threw a few questions his way and waited with baited breath for his reponses and a glimpse of his promised "bare exclusive" packed mix tracklist.

Sonic Router: Can you provide those who may not know you with a bit of background info?

Untold: I’m from London, make dubstep music, and co-run a label called Hemlock. Most of my tunes have animal noises or bleeps in them. My first release was on Hessle Audio last year.

Outside of music who are you? What do you do on the daily?

I’m a graphic designer by trade, but recently gave that up to look after my one year old daughter and concentrate on music. It’s fucking wicked.

How did you get into recording music?

I got hold of an Akai 900 sampler when I was about 15 and spent a few years trying to make jungle. I also played in bands and helped run a sound system. A bit later I did an Electronic Music degree which ruined my enjoyment of writing for ages. I got back on it around 2005 after going to DMZ.

Whats your production set up like? Simple or hella complex? What kind of equipment are you rocking?

It’s a pretty simple home setup. I run Sonar on a PC with an SSL Duende box. I’ve got some synths that make the odd appearance (Juno 6, MS10, DS evolver, Casio CZ101) but I’m drawing for them less these days. Everything on 'Test Signal' apart from the drums was done on the Casio – it’s got the best pitch wheel ever made.

What are some of your influences on your sound? Can you name check 3 who influence your production?

Anything with lots of detail and layers, anything that does happy & sad at the same time, anything containing a sound that’s only used once, dissonance, blatant unashamed pop songs, wet sounds b2b dry sounds, Scientist (channel one) filter sweeps, relentless pounding drug music, very swung hi hats.

Artist wise this week its: The Orb, Oskar Sala and the early output of Formation records.

You dropped a 12” on the fantastic Hessle Audio, how did you hook up with Ramadanman and co.?

They were the first people I sent tunes to when I got finally got a sound I was comfortable with. They gave good feedback and started dropping them on their Subfm show. I built 'Kingdom' around the time of TRG’s Hessle 001 release and they were feeling it, so it seemed like an ideal label to debut on.

Your forth-coming tracks on Hot Flush sound sick what made you hook up with Scuba for a release?

I wish it was more interesting and glamorous, but the truth is he sent me an email saying "Sweat – nice tune” and we sorted it out from there. The Toasty - Knowledge remix wasn’t a planned release, Scuba just sent the parts over so I could build a dub for us to play out, but people picked up on it. My apologies to anyone who’s sick of 'Knowledge' remixes.

Hemlock Recordings? Can you give us a bit of info on how you started it and why? Was it just a vessel to release your own music?

I formed Hemlock last year with a mate who I used to work with. We thought there was space for a new label that was both dancefloor oriented and musically inquisitive. We also wanted to release music as a product i.e. vinyl with artwork, as we fear this format won’t be financially viable soon.

I built the first couple of releases to get us going, and we’re gradually signing new artists to push the sound forward. Someone recently described our sound as “mischievous” which I liked.

Can you tell us a bit about Fantastic Mr Fox & Rich Reason, how did you find them and what made you want to drop their stuff?

FMF contacted us through myspace offering to remix 'Yukon'. We didn’t really think anything would come of it but were blown away by his take on the original. FMF and Rich Reason are stupidly productive and send over new beats every week. As soon as we heard 'Plimsoul' and 'Bleep Show' (next up on Hemlock 003) we instantly knew they would fit.

What else is coming up on the label?

We’ve just signed an unknown artist for their debut release which we’re buzzing about, there’s a double pack coming from me later on in the year, remixes from Pangaea and collaborations with D.Franklin (one of the guys from LV)

What’s next for you? Will you be releasing, ‘Anaconda’ anytime soon? Have you got any plans to record a full length album?

'Anaconda' is coming out on Hessle. It’s just been mastered so should be out in a few months.

I’d love to do an album, but I’m going to hold out for a while and concentrate on 12’s and remixes. My favourite albums have strong narratives and moods, and I’d want to create something that was more than just a collection of beats. At the moment I’m into switching styles for each tune, binging on one artist/ label /scene and pulling that back into the next one. While that keeps things fun and is good production practice it isn’t necessarily the one for telling a story across 12 songs.

Those forthcoming remixes listed on your myspace look flames. Do you enjoy remixing peoples work? For you, how is remixing different to the way you produce normally?

I’ve enjoyed all of them. The Naphta one was tough as I wanted to keep the pace of the original but make it work at 140. It took loads of tries before I got the right feel in the drums. I’ll often listen to the original samples then re-create them from scratch as it helps carve my sound on the final mix.

I try to view remixes as I would my own stuff as far as experimentation and development goes, I’m looking to capture the spirit of the original and take it somewhere else.

Who are you really feeling right now inside and outside of the scene?

DMZ, Hessle Audio and Hyperdub artists, Peverelist, Martyn, The Dress 2 Sweat label, a band called Colouring In, Instra:mental...

Your productions have a noticabel garage influence and you can even hear a slight raw grime energy at times too, is this the music you always wanted to hear but couldn’t find else where?

I found garage via dubstep, I’ve always been into jungle and Drum and Bass so I guess that comes though in the percussion and choice of sounds. 140 is such a deep tempo, you can write techno on it, dub it out with loads of space so it feels like it’s almost stationary, Make it hectic and breaky… I just see it as the skeleton to hang my recent influences from.

Sometimes your percussion and drum programming remind me of some kind of tribal beat, have you ever thought about running off to the rain forest, starting a tribe and if so what customs would you adopt?

I could see it working – A typical day would go something like this:

•Rise at dawn to play bongos
•Bare hunting, fishing, rituals, etc.
•Wild boar hog roast for lunch
•Canoe race
•More drums, nose flutes, dancing, fire.

One of those Mosquito Coast style ice cube makers would be touch too.

Who are your favourite DJ’s?

Youngsta, Kode9, Ben Ufo, Ratty

What’s your biggest dubplate right now?

Pangaea – 'Why'

Is there anything else you want to tell us? Offer up a slice of wisdom perhaps?

Don’t worry about bass music. For every boring parasitic tune there is something in another rapidly mutating sub-genre that brings new ideas. I’m looking forward to more dj’s playing sets of varying tempos, and lots more cross-pollination of influences both old & new.

Catch Untold in Bristol at Season 5 on 14th March and at [dissident] on 2nd May.
London heads can kop him at Colony on 18th April or with the entire Hessle Audio fam at fabric on 15th May.

His next single 'Dante' b/w 'Sweat' is out 30th March on Hotflush Two.

DOWNLOAD: Untold - Sonic Router Mix


1. STL - 2 Deep (Something)
2.Scuba - Hard Boiled [Scb Edit] (Hotflush)
3.Rhythm & Sound - Distance (Rhythm & Sound)
4.Untold - Dead (unreleased)
5.D.Franklin & Untold - Beacon (unreleased)
6.F - Phase two (unreleased)
7.Touch - Separation (unreleased)
8.Pangaea - Memories (unreleased)
9.Ramadanman - Revenue (forthcoming 2nd Drop)
10.Kode 9 vs. Badawi - Den Of Drumz (ROIR)
11.Untold - Luna (unreleased)
12.TRG - Time is now [Untold's Jeep Riot mix] (unreleased)
13.2562 - Kontrol (forthcoming Tectonic)



  1. good read, looking forward to checking this mix!

  2. Good stuff! Punching up the mix now.

    > anything containing a sound that’s only used once


  3. good stuff! lookin forward to the mix!!