Tuesday, 5 January 2010

INTERVIEW: Terror Danjah [Planet Mu]

Veteran grime producer Terror Danjah has been producing his own strain of grime since day dot as part of both the Aftershock camp and the Nasty Crew before breaking out and making beats for the biggest names in the scene. Last year the Planet Mu label released an instrumental retrospective of his productions, entitled ‘Gremlinz’ it brought his unique horror film funk style into focus for a whole new audience.

This year he’s set to continue that trend, doling a few more of his productions out to Kode 9's Hyperdub label, oft reffered to as seminal across the specturm of December 2009's end of year polls; and the freshly birthed Butterz imprint. With a truck load of history and a bright future we thought it was high time we pinned him down for a chat...

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

Terror Danjah: I am a producer from East London, one the original pioneers of Grime. I started of as a jungle/drum & bass DJ; I ran my own crew called Reckless Crew, members included where D Double E, Hyper, Bruza, Triple Threat (known as Lethal MC), Scratcha DVA, Mayhem, & DJ Interlude. In early 2003 I started my own label called Aftershock, which had big releases such as Crazy Titch 'I Can See U,' 'Cock Back' by myself which featured Hyper, Crazy Titch, D Double E & Riko, 'Get Me' by Bruza, 'So Sure' by myself featuring Sadie Ama & Kano, 'Frontline' by Big-E-D, 'So Contagious' by myself featuring Shola Ama & D Double, etc etc…

More recently, I have released two instrumental CD's 'Zip Files Vol. 1' and 'Gremlinz, The Instrumentals 2003 -2009' via Planet Mu. A vinyl EP entitled 'Industry Standard part 4' which includes Swindle's 'Zumpi Huntah' remix & 'Sidechain' is also on Planet Mu and theres the 'Hardrive Grime Compilation (Hardrive volumes 1 & 2).'

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

I don't do anything but music. I'm sad really…

How did you first get into making music? What was it that infected you to do produce?

Well when I was a Jungle DJ, I wanted specials with my name in it, and I started to put my name in tunes. A lot of the drum & bass producers where tight with giving out tunes, you had be apart of the elite to get tunes. It was hard most times but I got lucky, DJ SS, Pascal, Bad Company, Brockie, Shy Fx, DJ Kane all used to look after me. That's when I decided to make my own tunes, mainly because I was getting all the tunes to compete.

What’s your production set up like?

A Quad Core PC (yes a PC lol), EMU 1820m soundcard, Neuman U87 Mic, Liquid Mix pre channel, KVK 12" Monitors speakers, Cubase 5, M-Audio Radium Controller Keyboard, Sony DAT machine, and billions of sly VST's & VSTi's (now that really would be telling… mwahahaha)!

How would you describe your sound to someone zoning in for the first time?

I couldn't, I have too many different styles, its hard, some of my sound is minimal techy, some days more R&B and hip hop like, other days ther'es a drum & bass influence… I dunno where to start…

What inspires you musically?

Different things like watching films, new VSTi's plugins and sample packs/sample CDs… going to different types of raves where I wouldn't normally go… hearing new albums or new tunes from every genre. Even sometimes being pissed off inspires me!

Your sound is really unique and not just the cackle; you’ve got this heavy funk, wide screen horror sound track thing going on. What draws you to the sounds you use/make do they just come instinctively?

I guess its more instinctively, growing up in the 80's & 90's listening to Jackson 5, Earth Wind & Fire, Afrikka Bambatta through to Notorious BIG, Tupac, Wu Tang etc has left an impact on me.

You’ve collaborated with some quality grime producers recently with DOK, Rudekid and Swindle, what do you like about hooking up with those guys and have you got more in the works with them or any others?

I rate them guys highly, I like collaborating with other producers like how MCs/artist would. It brings a fresh sound to whats already there. A new mix and blend.

You’ve worked with some of the biggest MCs in grime; do you have a favourite vocal of one of your beats?

Its quite hard to say, it depends what mood I'm in, but if I had to pick a favourite, it would be 'So Sure.'

Are you working with more vocalists at the moment?

Not really, I'm more concentrating on myself as a Producer/DJ. I'm getting back to my roots of making instrumentals, but saying that, I have submitted tracks for D Double E, Smurfie Syco, Griminal & Mz Bratt's albums.

Tell us a bit about the latest Hardrive compilation; what’s the thinking behind those?

My motive for 'Hardrive' was really to showcase my diversity as a producer and to highlight a few artists that weren't getting heard like One 4 One & Dream Mclean, Yazmin etc. Also there aren't hardly any grime compilations out there. I wanted to stray away from the name mixtape, because I didn't feel like it was an album as such.

Your retrospective Gremlinz on Planet Mu really got you attention from people all over the place that maybe weren’t following grime very intently before; tell us about how that comp came about?

I had featured on Mary Anne Hobb's 'Warrior Dubs' compilation, which was released on Planet Mu. I had tune on there called 'Give It To Em' which featured Mz Bratt & Bruza. Mike from Planet Mu contacted me and suggested the idea, and I was on it. The 'Gremlinz' album actually gave me a new lease of life, I didn't realise alot of people never knew I existed (I guess I was caught up in the whole grime bubble...).

Having the album out on Planet Mu really opened doors for me, so I have to thank Mike and all the Planet Mu staff!

What was your favourite instrumental from it and what did it mean to be put out there by that kind of label?

'Zumpi Huntah' is still one of my favourites; I didn't think about making the tune, it just made it self. Because I mostly had my own label Aftershock, I didn't feel the need to release my tunes any where else but I'm actually glad I've released my tunes with other labels; they each have different reaches, outlets and their own cult following!

You’ve got releases coming on Hyperdub and Butterz, tell us a bit about those tracks and how the hook ups came about?

I've known Kode 9 for while, he's the main reason why the interest is all on me, I've kinda known but never really realised that throughout the years Kode has been playing all my old material. Over the last 12 months people have been asking me like, "I've heard Kode 9 playing a new version this and that etc etc..." I always get confused by people asking for tunes that had been released in 2003 so obviously I had to return the favour and do something on Kode's label, Hyperdub!

I made two tracks on the Hyperdub release, 'Acid' & 'Pro Plus.' 'Acid' is like a ravey type of track thats got the elements of acid rave era synth stabs; Kode said it reminds him of 'Charley Says' by The Prodigy. Also there's an 8 bar drum & bass build up going through the track a few times to help split it up, plus theres a minimal tech sort of bridge. 'Pro Plus' is a more typical grime track; its myself and D.O.K collaborating on the production.

I know Elijah [from Butterz] through Loudmouth. Over the last year he and myself have been talking a lot about grime music and he told me that he wanted to start a label. The jokes thing about 'Bipolar' and 'Air Bubble' - which both feature on 'The Bipolar EP' - is that he was on the phone while I was making them! The EP also features D.O.K remix of 'Sidechain.'

What do you want to see happen in grime this year?

More proper and stable releases… more raves and more singing vocals on grime tunes but not the cheesy ones, lol!

Will you be DJing more in 2010?

Yeah defo, I'm full time DJ now, a mans got to eat! My bookings are already stacking up, I got Dublin, Glasgow, Nottingham and a few London dates coming.

What else have you got on the horizon with your music in 2010?

Along with the Hyperdub and Butterz 12s, I've got releases on True Tiger and No Hats No Hoods. I don't wanna say too much, I gotta keep the element of surprise, so just keep your eyes peeled at myspace.com/terrordanjah and twitter.com/terrordanjah.

Finally, have you got any words of wisdom for our readers?

Don't listen to no one, follow your heart and gut feeling. Take this music game with a pinch of salt whether its good or bad.


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