Tuesday, 6 April 2010
INTERVIEW: Clubroot [Lo Dubs]
Anonymity is a highly publicised thing within dubstep thanks to the Burial/Mercury Music Prize/Sun newspaper debacle that led to William Bevan giving the world his real name and a bleary picture to boot. Clubroot was similarly mysterious around the release of his debut self titled album on the Lo Dubs label, choosing to remain unmasked and similarly enigmatic; and much like Burial - a comparison that’s so patently obvious considering the shadowy nature of the producer and the music even Gordon Smart himself would’ve bumbled across it - Dan Richmond’s music chews static, soaked in litres of sampling and a vibrant old school drum aesthetic.
Springing out from his Electronic Explorations mix in July of last year, Richmond’s reported decade plus of production tinkering came to fruition; fusing the weight of industrial music concrete with speaker busting 2step and a keen ear for found sound sampling. Now standing on the verge of his second self titled album - hence forth referred to as S/T (II - MMX) - we caught up with him to get the skinny on the new album…
Sonic Router: Can you provide those who may not know you with a bit of background info?
Clubroot: Yeah, my names Dan Richmond, I’m 25 years old and I’m based in St Albans Hertfordshire. I’ve been making music for about 5 or 6 years now.
Outside of music who are you? What do you do on the daily?
During the day I work for the family business which is a Design & Build Company. I do all sorts of stuff, depending on what’s going on at the time. Its mainly just general labouring but it keeps me busy and it’s nicely varied.
How did you first get into making music? What was it that infected you to do produce?
I’m not quite sure what brought me to making music. I never really enjoyed school that much and some of my old teachers would probably have called me a bit of a disruptive day-dreamer. When I left school I enrolled on an Art & Design course at a local College, which was a bit of stop gap and mainly consisted of me and my friends doing very little work while listening to tape packs and chatting about recent vinyl purchases. It was a friend on the same course who mentioned a music tech course he was going to do after completing this course, and it sounding like it could be fun. At the time I was really getting into drum & bass and bits of UK garage & house, I was buying quite a lot of vinyl and hitting up the occasional rave at the weekends, so the thought of possibly being able to make the music I was enjoying so much seemed like a logical progression as there was little else in terms of dreams or aspirations.
What’s your production set up like?
It’s really nothing fancy. I’m running Logic 5.5 on my PC, I’ve got a pair of pretty basic monitors, a MIDI keyboard and a Microphone. I’ve recently purchased a Zoom H4n Handy Recorder, which is by far my favourite (and only!) bit of kit. It’s really opened up a whole new world of creativity being able to just get out and record some crazy musique concrete styled sounds. So yeah, that and a healthy sample library and some select VST’s.
Where do you take inspiration from when making music? I hear a bit of rave, jungle or hardcore in your music but filtered through the spaced out dubstep and garage sounds, have you been inspired by those early sounds?
Life… It may sound like a bit of a cliché answer but it’s true. I find that making music is the most intimate and calming way of expressing myself, often with content and emotions that I would never ever tell anyone else about. It’s purely a medium to get things off my chest and make something thought provoking and hopefully something moving. I love music that tugs at your heart strings and makes your hair stand on ends, and at the other end of the spectrum I love moody, dank and dusky sounds that bring out the petulant and sometimes irritable side of me. Its very much like a release of how I’m feeling at the time.
I always wished I had been born 10 years earlier so I could of experienced some of those magical raving years; the metamorphosis of UK rave culture from hardcore through to jungle, and then on to d&b. I feel there is a certain tinge of those uplifting old skool and hardcore vibes in my music, its kind of a nod to those sounds that came before me; the sounds which I missed. We use to got raving at places like Bagley’s in Kings Cross and the Sanctuary in Milton Keynes, and although there were hardcore and oldskool rooms and DJ’s, we were very much there for the d&b which was a much more approrariate and fitting sound to our rebellious and often angry teenage years of that time.
But yeah, jungle/d&b was my first and foremost love & inspiration, and it still is today to a certain extent. Although I don’t follow that scene much anymore I still draw a huge amount of inspirations from the tracks I use to love and listen too so much. Tunes like Ed Rush & Optical’s remix of ‘The Shining,’ or ‘Imagination’ by Dom & Roland for example, those were tracks that just had everything I wanted my productions to be. It’s that fine line between darkness and euphoria that just seems to work, and I try to incorporate that into my music as best I can.
How would you describe your sound?
Dreamy bass heavy space music around the 140 [bpm] mark.
There seems to be a sense of place and wide-open space in your music, is that something that inspires you?
Absolutely. I love to escape when I get the chance, and travelling is something I want to to do a lot more of. I like to find those sounds that fit an environment perfectly, you may not be where you want to be physically or visually but the music takes you there. I would like to think that my album takes people on a journey and transports them to somewhere completely different. Its all about escapism and fantasy. If you can listen to a piece of music and it removes you to another place then I think it’s done its job.
Your s/t debut album was a real slow burning gem, what was the idea behind it?
There was no special idea or concept behind it. I had a handful of tracks that I sent off to Jon AD at LoDubs and he suggested releasing an album. He was kind of the person who brought the track list and arrangement together, it just made sense and the tracks worked together.
And in turn does the S/T (II - MMX) follow on from the debut album thematically?
In a way yes. It’s very much developed since the debut in that it’s much more direct and there in front of you. There is some real contrast in this 2nd album and it’s quite up and down… hopefully there is a little something in there for everyone.
Who else in the scene are you feeling right now?
Yeah, I’m not brilliant at keeping my finger on the pulse in terms of what’s hot and what’s not. There are a few producers that I’m really feeling, mainly most of the guys featured in the mix.
Tell us a little about the mix you’ve put together for us…
It’s packed full of fresh dubs from a lot of the producers I’m grooving off. I’ve included a few new bits from myself which are a little different from some of the other stuff I’ve worked on up until now. You could say it’s quite a dark collection of tracks, at least at points anyway. It’s not hugely experimental but it’s what I think the scene needs more of. It’s also quite a nice example of the sort of set I would be likely to play out.
What else is coming up for you in 2010?
There’s not much else planned apart from this 2nd album and the EP to follow. I’ve got far too much ‘work in progress’ material that’s needs finishing, and then we’ll see what happens. I’m quite keen to work on a few more collaborations, and I’ve just finished working with Phaeleh on a new track called ‘Unharmed’ that’s knocking about.
I’m also finally taking the plunge on the gig side of things, with a signing to This Way Agency. I’m hoping to get that side of things rolling soon and get playing out.
Have you got any words of wisdom for our readers?
Stick to your guns, don’t be lead by the crowd & support the music you’re passionate about.
DOWNLOAD: Clubroot – Sonic Router Mix
01. Kryptic Minds - 'Hybrid' (Forthcoming Osiris Music UK)
02. Clubroot - 'Stained Glass' (Dub)
03. Kryptic Minds & Youngsta - 'Cold Blooded' (Forthcoming Osiris Music UK)
04. Gat Decord - 'Passion' (DFRNT Remix) (Dub)
05. Clubroot - 'Whistles & Horns' (Dub)
06. Clubroot - 'Comedown' (Dub)
07. Phaeleh - 'Broken' (Dub)
08. Synkro - Distant Feeling' (Dub)
09. Clubroot - 'Solar Flares' (Dub)
10. Clubroot - 'Embryo' (Master 1 Mix) (Dub)
11. Actraiser - 'Tell Me' (Dub)
12. Clubroot - 'Eastern Promise' (Dub)
13. Vandera - 'Carbon 11' (Forthcoming Forecast 004)
14. Breakage Feat. Burial - 'Vial' (Digital Soundboy)
15. Clubroot - 'Recollections' (Dub)