I finally had my first release 2 weeks ago, after producing for around 7 years or so. It's been a long time coming, and while I really buggered the mixdown and mastering process overall I'm really happy with it. As entries into the scene, I'm glad it ended up the way it is, and I thought I'd dedicate a few words as to why that is.
The two tracks that started this journey, "350" and "Thin Ice", were both concieved with the thought "Why has no one made any bangers about climate change?". Admittedly, this is definitely not true. I know of at least two tracks which had climate change as a theme, namely "Miracle" by Oceanlab and I once heard a Drum & Bass track which sampled Greta Thunberg (possibly by BCee?). I'm sure there are also a lot more. In any case, I didn't want to make tracks which were blatant or overly sentimental - I wanted to make tracks that slapped but had a bit more depth to them once you took away the aggressive exterior.
I have to admit "Thin Ice" is actually my least favourite track. It's basically all right Jump Up with some failed attempts at making "icy" basses (I also don't know exactly what I meant by that). That being said, I quite enjoy the foley ice cracking and groaning sounds, as did a friend who suggested I exploit them more. That's how Thinner Ice came about, but more on that later.
"350"'s original name was "Attempt Serious Tune", because I committed myself to try and make a normal, orthodox track. I have a habit of trying to put too many ideas into tracks (see my bootleg of Flesh and Bones for example) and I promised myself not to do that this time. Quite early on I put in that looped vocal of me saying "350" with the idea of trying to copy "Tentacles" by Noisia. I still think I had the right idea about how they did it, but it doesn't sound the same at all - which is probably for the best! 350 is a reference to the parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere which we (probably) need in order to sustain civilisation (not life!) on earth, and is also the inspiration behind the name of the 350.org foundation which aims to get institutions to divest from fossil fuels. I sampled it's founder, Bill McKibben, in the build up to the second drop.
"What We To Do" is actually the only track which I made without climate change and the energy transition in mind. The starting point was actually pretty boring - I just wanted to make a moody, atmospheric jungle tune without any of the classic breaks, which is actually quite difficult. There's a strong association with jungle and those breaks that means that they almost instantly give your tune "that" vibe. Either way, I think I did an OK job in the end, and the track fit rather nicely at this point in the EP. You start off with scene setting, the ice is getting thinner, 350 is when we (as in humanity) start to grow more aware of the problem, and then "What We To Do" is an expression of our desperation.
Which brings us to the potential answer to our problems, the energy transition, or "50Hz". 50Hz is the frequency at which the power system is operated in most of the world apart from the US where it's 60Hz - one of the many reasons they make terrible bass music. The entire song is actually tuned to 50 Hz (somewhere between a G and a G sharp) and while I had originally intended for it to really just be a constant tone, I learnt for the second time that that doesn't really work. My mate suggested that the track get progressively more and more insane and I'm glad that he did because I like to think of it as the power system becoming more and more unstable until eventually it breaks down and we're left with...
... "Thinner Ice"! As I mentioned before, I wrote this one because "Thin Ice" didn't do full justice to all the ice sounds. This is probably my favourite track of the EP because I think I managed to get a seamless progression from start to finish. There's actually so much more that I like about it, but that summarizes it best - it just feels like an effortless journey.
The final track, "Burnt Hope", is a pretty bad metaphor or pun that I thought up one night when I couldn't get to sleep. I wrote most of it that same night within a couple of hours, and a friend told me that it shows. Originally I took this as an insult or criticism, as in "This sounds like the kind of track which you thought was a good idea and then you wake up to it but it's shit." If only to save my ego, I don't think that's what he meant, and in fact I think listening to it in that light is the best way to listen to it. Alone with your thoughts, wondering what on earth will become of us in the decades to come...
The reason this release means a lot to me is because as I see it combines two of my principal identities: my studies in chemical engineering and now power systems, and music. As entries into the Drum & Bass scene go, it could have been a lot more boring, and for that I'm quite grateful to James Marvel from Space Pirate Recordings for being pretty hands off about the whole thing. With that out of the way, I can now concentrate on making (puts on Greek accent) "bangers".
Here's (hopefully) to the first of many releases!