On the roll with the guests and this weeks interview and mix comes from a guy who has been doing some very cool stuff lately: A:B:S. I’ve been really digging what he’s been doing, with his feet in both the breaks and techno worlds his tracks are as fun to mix as they have been wicked to play. I also have a soft spot for his sometimes liberal use of the 303 😉 His mix showcases stuff of his recent and upcoming productions and well as a cool cross section of tracks that he’s into right now.
His mix airs on the show on Thursday but he took some time out to answer the DBS interview questions below to shed some light on his influences, where he’s heading musically and how he’s a big Bjork fan…
Show: Disc Breaks with Llupa ft. A:B:S
Date: Thursday, 27th March 2014
Time: 0900 – 1100 UK (7-9pm here in Brisbane)
After years spent soaking up a soundtrack of hardcore, techno, D&B, house & breaks Andy decided it was time to step the other side of the decks and A:B:S was born. Although originally making his name as a breaks DJ, A:B:S’s sound has evolved into a mixture of techno, electro house & breaks, complete with a hefty dose of acid for good measure. The epitome of Tech-Funk.
Since his first gig in 2007 A:B:S has played in numerous venues around the East of England alongside the likes of Riva Starr, Tom Hades, Plump DJs, Elite Force, Specimen A, Frogs In Socks, Apply The Breaks, DK (Ninja Tune), DJ Cheeba & Drums Of Death amongst others. As well as venturing further afield to play his first festival gig at NASSfest 08 alongside Merka and Ben & Lex. In June 2010 he played his long overdue first London gig supporting the legendary Basement Jaxx. August 2011 saw him become a resident with the Tech-Funk Depot, starting off supporting Hybrid & Dave Spoon in Brixton, following on to playing at Lot 49’s Fracture Halloween party alongside Meat Katie & Vandal. In summer 2012 he also made a return to the festival circuit playing at Strawberry Fields in Leicester followed up with a triumphant set at Jelly Fest in Norfolk. A:B:S’ versatility takes him from playing pounding techno in a grimey basement party one week to supporting the Plump DJs the next.
Over the years Andy has also been a regular radio host spending 2 years hosting the >>Forward Thinking>> show on iBreaks radio, then in 2010 moving to Breakspoll award nominated Rough Tempo where he spent 2 years hosting a weekly show pushing a more techno orientated sound.
Andy launched his own Mind-Funk clubnight in December 2011. Based at Tribal in Colchester, Mind-Funk has seen the likes of Meat Katie, Elite Force, Dopamine, Rektchordz, Lee Coombs, Hedflux, Caninesounds, Vandal, Neurodriver, Ways & Means & The Omega Men all grace the decks.
Always striving to push forward A:B:S has now stepped into the world of production. His debut single ‘Seqtronic’ garnered attention from a number of labels and was quickly snapped up by established Bristol based Dead Famous Records, released in October 2012. Since then he’s gone on to remix Vandal’s epic ‘Vision In Leather’ single, Ways & Means’ glitch hop track Don’t Think Not and Dirt Revolver’s Soul Surfer single which hit No 32 in the Beatport Breaks chart. His next single ‘Frostbite’ carried on from this and hit number 27. Establishing himself as a talented producer and gaining widespread praise from fans and peers alike with plenty more releases forthcoming on AUX, Benefit & Australia’s Box Set Records the future is certainly looking bright for A:B:S
Soundcloud link : www.soundcloud.com/a-b-s
Beatport link : http://www.beatport.com/artist/a-b-s/289805
Facebook Fan page : https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-B-S/123853361006276
INTERVIEW – A:B:S
Why breaks and what got you into it?
Well first off for me it’s not just about breaks. I love to play techno, house, breaks, electro, all sorts. I’ve been into so many styles of music over the years that it could have been anything really. Some of the first dance music I got into was old skool hardcore and drum and bass. Drum and bass got a bit dark and nights were too moody and MC led so I got into breaks which had a similar kind of energy and swing to it, I also love the fact that it is a similar tempo to house and techno so you could mix it up with other genres. The first ‘breaks’ stuff that I bought was a Botchit and Scarper album which was great, really varied from blissed out melodies to dark rollers, and still quite experimental at the time. It was at the time when they were one of the big players, just before the Plumps released their first album and did their classic Mixmag covermount CD. I loved the variety on that again.
What are your musical influences and who is exciting you musically at the moment?
From a breakbeat perspective I love early-mid 2000’s stuff, labels like TCR, Mob, Botchit, Whole9Yards. That’s the kind of breaks I like, a cleaner sound, more techy, experimental and underground, no wompy gnarly dubstep basses. As I’m still a fairly new producer whenever I hear anything be it house, techno, breaks I dissect it from a sound design point of view and try to figure out how to make those sounds and incorporate them into my tracks. Meat Katie has always been a big influence on me musically just for his ‘don’t give a shit about genres’ attitude.
There’s a lot of people that I’ve looked up to in the scene for a long time that are giving me some great support & advice, Meaty, Dopamine & Vandal especially. Production wise Simon Shackleton (Elite Force) is consistently sticking out great tracks of all genres, loved his last Elite Force track Stay With Me, was just such a clean, deep sound. Mesmer is putting out some really good stuff on Scarcity, last few bits he’s done have been very ‘classic’ breaks sounding and he’s sent me a new track which is coming on Sound of Habib, it’s a killer. Ettica is doing great stuff, Chicago Loop are making some awesome techno, Charlie Kane’s done some cool bits on Dirt Revolver’s new label.
How do you go about crafting a new tune or remix?
I always start from the drums up, get the main drum tracks programmed, hats and percussion then add the bass. Basically build the groove as a foundation, melodies and so on come later. Then I work on the arrangement, transitions and fine tuning later on. If someone sends me a track and asks if I’d like to remix it I usually have a couple of listens through, check out if there’s some decent sounds in there to work with and then don’t listen to it again so I can come up with my own take and not be overly influenced by the original. If there isn’t anything to use then I turn it down, theres no point calling something a remix if it has essentially none of the original in it.
What is your musical background and what instruments do you play, if any?
My musical background is just as a listener really, I’ve been into music since I was about 6 or 7, heavily influenced by what my older brother and sister were listening to, so I got into hip hop, electro and then dance music from my brother, and rock and heavy metal from my sister. I did try and learn the electric guitar but that was very short lived. I got into DJing by messing around at home but never with any intention to do anything with it, a few years later I sent someone a demo, got a gig which went really well and I got hooked. Now that I’ve started writing my own tracks I do regret not learning music because it could have given me quite a good head start. At the same time though I’ve spent so many years listening to music I know what sounds ‘right’ to me.
When you sit down to write a tune do you know how it will sound in the end or just go with whatever comes out at the time?
I usually sit down with a style in mind be it breaks, 4×4 electro/tech whatever and just see where it goes. It might be that the idea I start with in my head just doesn’t come together and it goes off at a complete tangent but it’s just whatever works at the time. I’ve just written a track for Sam Vandal’s Benefit label and I reckon I started 3 or 4 different tracks and they kept going off in different directions which weren’t suitable for that project. Finally I wrote what I think is a classic sounding TCR/Mob era breaks track and I have a couple of other tracks out of the process that I’ve finished as well.
What equipment do you use and what is your favourite bit of Kit?
I use Ableton Live which for me is a great programme, the in built effects are really useful. Got a few VST synths, Z3ta, Massive, Kontakt plus a Launchkey midi keyboard/controller. As for favourite’s I use NI Maschine to program and sequence all of my drums and percussion in every track I do and it’s wicked, great sound libraries or import samples into it. Very quick to get a groove coming together. My other fave is ABL2 which is a VST emulator of a Roland 303, a lot of people know I have a weakness for acid and this is a great plug in to recreate that classic sound.
Do you write any other genre’s of music? It depends what you know me for writing 😉 I’ve written some more breakbeat orientated tracks, then there’s been some 4/4 tech tracks and some acid stuff as well. I like to experiment ☺
In what direction are you heading musically and what new releases have you got in store for us?
There’s a fair few labels that I’d love to work with and they each have their style so I’m looking at doing a variety of stuff across the genres. The tracks I’ve released so far have been getting plays and props from breaks DJs and house/techno DJs although they are in the whole more rooted in the breaks/Tech-Funk side of things. I really want to write some proper techno tracks. If you hear my DJ sets I play a lot of techno but have got no ‘pure’ techno of my own to play. I’ve got a few house & techno labels asking me for remixes and tracks which is cool, hope it’ll widen my appeal beyond the breaks scene a bit more. I’ve got a new single called Flashpoint out on Phase Animator’s Box Set Records, a 4×4 stomper with bleeps and old skool influences. Plus the track I’ve done for Vandal’s Benefit Records called Microdots, which is a cheeky drug reference. Think that’s being released in May. I’ve also got a progressive breaks track that I’ve just finished, which people are likening to a cross between Orbital and early 90’s DnB, haven’t signed that yet but hoping to shortly. And I’m half way through a remix for Beat Tempest for his label Cclone Records.
What do you think of the current state of breaks worldwide and where do you see the future?
To be honest I went on a real downer for the breaks scene a few years back, I don’t know whether it was my age or what it was but it just went all booty bass, dubstep sounding commercial bootleg rubbish and unfortunately there’s still a lot of that around now. If you dig deep there is actually some good bits about, you just need to look really hard or know where to find them. I’m not totally up on all new labels as I just don’t have the time or willpower to sift through everything trying to find music. I don’t really know where the future lies, I would love to think there could be a credible underground scene away from the commercial stuff, it seems to be there in Eastern Europe and various other little pockets worldwide which I’m starting to discover so hopefully it’ll be nurtured and grow (just not too much)
What came first the producing or the dj’ing?
DJing came first by quite a long way, I’ve been messing about at home since the late 90s but didn’t play out until 2007. I then had quite a few DJs telling me that I need to start producing to up my game and get myself a bit more well known outside of my local area. Seems to be working alright so far.
What do you listen to when you’re not writing/dj’ing?
I’ve got very eclectic tastes, really love the new Nine Inch Nails album, big Bjork fan, Nick Cave, Emiliana Torrini, love my lo-fi Indie rock, Sleater Kinney, Le Tigre I could go on for ages!
What do you do when you’re not producing music?
Well I got married last April and we’ve just had a daughter 9 weeks ago so that’s keeping me pretty busy at the moment! To be honest with working full time, family and trying to get studio time in it doesn’t leave many hours in the day for much else, apart from sleeping and drinking tea. Both of which are very enjoyable.
Tell us something about yourself we wouldn’t know to ask….
We named our daughter Isobel after a song from Bjork’s Post album.
Show: Disc Breaks with Llupa ft. A:B:S
Date: Thursday, 27th March 2014
Time: 0900 – 1100 UK (7-9pm here in Brisbane)