Iris Jungle Drum & Bass Interview 2017
Introduced to electronic music at the age of 13, now working with some of the biggest artists in dnb, Iris is reppin' it for the ladies and is also flying the flag hard for our USA jungle dnb ambassadors. Let's find out a little more..............
Q1) Many thanks for your time out... you're over in Seattle, how is the weather right now, it's cold here in the UK. How is it for you?
Cold and rainy! Which is good news for snow in the mountains so I’m ok with it! I think our weather really tends to mirror the weather in the UK a lot so we often have the same weather as you all over there!
Q2) Have you always lived in Seattle? Tell us a bit about growing up and how you got into drum & bass.
I’ve pretty much always been in Seattle but had a brief period in Oregon at college when I thought I’d wanted to be a veterinarian. I got into DnB somewhat on the late end i think. I’ve been listening to electronic music for about 20 years now and DnB was almost always on the fringes of that but I didn’t really dive in until 2005? Pendulum sucked me in and it was just a downward spiral into bass land from there.
Q3) When did you start mixing and can you tell us about your first gig?
I started mixing right around the same time I started going to raves, around 2001, using 4 UK hard house records someone had gifted me and any decks friends would let me jump in on until I got my own a year later. From there I spent a LOT of time in the bedroom, I’d play house parties here and there but really didn’t make the jump into the clubs until 2009 when I decided to finally get over my fear of train wrecking in public. My first gig was at a local club, The Baltic Room for the famous DnB Tuesdays. It was a special holiday show featuring the moderators of the now defunct SeattleDnB.com website. If your google-fu is strong enough you might even find some video of it out there!
Q4) What is your preferred DJ set up?
Currently I prefer 2 CDJ 2000 nexus’ (XDJ 1000 also acceptable) and DJM 900 mixer, not that I get too fancy with the mixer usually. If I’m playing with Quadrant we prefer at least 3 - 4 decks so we can always be setting up and cuing in our next tracks.
Q5) How would you describe your mixing style and sound?
I play a little bit of almost everything, but most of the time it’s techy rollers and steppers (lots of Break tunes!). Depending on the gig and crowd though I might play anything from minimal/autonomic all the way up to the high energy tracks you’d see from Hospital or Ram. I love a broad range of stuff, but my favorites and what you hear me play most often are definitely the techy rollers. As for mixing style, I would probably say I’m generally a pretty quick mixer, I try to keep things moving pretty quickly so I don’t often let more than 16 bars go without bringing in another tune. If I’m not always mixing or searching for my next tune I feel like I’m just kind of hanging out up there twiddling my thumbs. I like to think I’m also pretty technical as a DJ, I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my sets so I’m always concentrating on making sure the tunes are locked and work well together. That being said, I like to change it up a lot, take some risks and I almost always dip into some classics for my sets.
Q6) What gigs have stood out for you over the years?
A few of my biggest ones that been 1). The Moat at Outlook, it was our first trip to the EU and to Outlook plus probably the biggest crowd we’ve ever played to! 2) for sure Sun and Bass because there’s really something special about that environment and getting to play there. 3) Le Bikini for Vandal Records in Toulouse, hands down the best system we’ve ever played on. The meal we got before the gig at their restaurant was amazing as well, a special bonus!
Q7) What one track is always in your bag?
This is a hard one, I keep around a playlist in my USB called “heavy hitters” of all my favorite tracks, and there’s a lot in there! The ones I play the most of are all Break tunes though, so you’ll probably hear something like “Dog Soldier”, “Authentic” or “Evil Twin” in almost every set. His stuff holds up really well over time, it’s got lots of energy and it goes well into just about any set.
Q8) How did you get into producing?
I dabbled a bit ages ago, with a much earlier version of Fruity Loops (trying to recreate trance versions of my favorite classical tunes - truly it was blasphemy) but never spent serious time with it until my husband suggested working on tunes together. He was the one that pushed me to get into it and took the time to teach me.
Q9) You're working now with Quadrant. Can you tell us about that and some of your releases?
Hmm…how long do we have? We’ve been working together for about 7 years now I think? Our first tune we ever worked on ended up on Metalheadz which we were both shocked and amazed about. Since that first go seemed like a success we figured we’d keep going. Since then we’ve done tunes for CIA, Dispatch, Hospital, Renegade Hardware, Commercial Suicide and more. At some point our good friend Kyle started coming over weekly to work with us as well. While Leigh and I still worked on tunes together, with Leigh sometimes on his own the three of us got pretty proficient at putting out tunes regularly.
We’ve been fortunate enough to work with some really great and supportive labels. All of them have allowed us to push our sound while offering great feedback on how to improve. Special shouts to Paul Spinback from CIA for being the pickiest of the bunch, always offering honest, but helpful feedback (Sorry Ant, you are close second).
Q10) You must be stoked with a release on Metalheadz! Have you got any more lined up for the label?
Being part of the Metalheadz family is definitely super special, there’s so much history there and the label is exceptionally well curated. We definitely want to do more for the label and there *may* be an Anthropocene VIP out there, but we’ll need the right tunes for sure.
Q11) Who would you say are your top 3 DJs?
Another tough one! Only three? I think Marky definitely needs to be in there, his sets are so diverse, so well mixed and curated and I’m frequently in awe of his mixing abilities, I love watching him play. Probably also Ant TC1 as well, he’s an amazing DJ, and his sets are incredibly well curated, he always has his head to the ground on the best of what’s coming out as well as a huge library of classics. His Dispatch vs Quarantine set with Fierce is still one of my all time favorites. Last one for me is super tough, can I tie between Klute, Total Science, Doc Scott, Philth and Homemade Weapons? I guess that’s cheating but they all play sets I love to watch for different reasons and are such good DJs!
Q12) Are you a fan of MC's? Who do you rate?
I’m pretty picky about MCs, they can add so much energy to a set, but you have to be careful there’s a good partnership and you’re not overwhelming each other. We don’t get the opportunity to work with a lot of MCs because there really aren’t that many of them in the states. The ones we have played with recently have been super on point though, I’ve had a couple of great sets recently with MC Dre and Josiah Scribes. Ridda in San Diego is also a solid MC!
Q13) What DAW are you on and what kit / VST's do you use in the studio?
We use Ableton as our DAW and have more VSTs and plug ins than we can reasonably handle. The ones that seem to get the most use are just about anything by U-HE, I’m a big fan of Diva. Addictive drums gets a lot of play for our drum hits. The valhalla reverb plug-ins are amazing (I know I plug this one a lot), the guy that develops them is a Seattle local. I’d say I’m biased because of this, but it’s a really really great reverb plug in. I don’t know if it’s been used in any recent tunes, but Sausage fattener was a go to for quite awhile as well. Native Instruments should also get a shout, hardly a tune gets made without breaking out their sounds. I am also confident in saying our bass wouldn’t be quite what it is without our SubPac, something I was hesitant about when we first got, but surprised me. You can really feel the difference between a tune with weak bass and one that really hits.
Q14) You have played in Europe. Was it your first time over the pond and what did you think of the culture differences?
Our first trip to play gigs in the EU was actually my third time visiting (though i’m not sure when I was 12 with my parents really counts?). Every time we visit I know we start thinking about maaaaaaybe could we live here? the UK is full of good friends, great clubs and some inspiring musicians. France and Italy have amazing food (and sorry Seattle, the coffee is better) and Czech Republic is simply gorgeous with some really lovely people.
Q15) You did a remix for Neil Davidge. For those who don't know who he is, can you tell us a bit about him and your remix?
Sure, for those that aren’t familiar Neil Davidge worked with Massive Attack in their Mezzanine album era, producing that album and the following two as well. He’s not currently working with the group but is doing a lot of work on his own tracking out movies (including the soundtrack to the video game, Halo 4!) and putting his own solo work out. Not too long ago, he put out an album and chose a handful of artists to remix some of the tracks on an album for an exclusive vinyl release. We fell in love with his tune, “Sensor” with Jhelisa Anderson. It was really one of the stand out tracks on the album. We didn’t want to change the track too much from the original, but translate it over to a minimal dnb track inspired heavily by the Mezzanine album itself, particularly the track “Teardrop”. Not sure if we quite pulled it off, but it was an honor to get to remix the track!
Q16) You did a remix for Kelis too, which is huge. How did that come about?
Our good friend and co-collaborator Kid Hops (aside from production work) has been involved in music licensing and is a well known local radio DJ and tastemaker in the Seattle area for quite some time. He was contacted by Ninja Tune with an opportunity for us to remix a track off Kelis’ most recent album, “Food”. Kyle let us know she’s a bit of a DnB fan and requested we make her some “bangin’ DnB”. Similar to the Davidge album “Change” stood out to us as one of the best tunes on the album and it was an easy choice to want to have a go at a remix. Hospital Records ended up loving the remix so much they teamed up with Ninja Tune on promo and ended up licensing it for one of their mixes!
Q17) You have played at The Moat at Outlook, how was it?
One of the craziest sets ever I think. The sound they set up in that Moat is ridiculous. I would have loved to run out during our set and get a better listen. To this day probably the biggest crowd we’ve gotten to play to. It was really an amazing experience.
Q18) You have also graced Sun & Bass. For those that haven't been, can you give us a run down?
For sure, basically Sun & Bass is a week long festival of almost entirely Drum and Bass. It’s held in the small town of San Teodoro in Sardinia, Italy. It’s a beautiful location to be in. The community for the week seems so close knit, everyone brings their A game to their sets and really goes all out. Its truly something special to be a part of and experience as well.
Q19) You completed the album "206" for Commercial Suicide... that must of been a huge tick off the bucket list?
Such a huge tick I’m not confident it will ever be repeated! We work a little slower than others since we all have day jobs,so getting all the tunes together was almost a 2 year process. It was definitely worth it and I was stoked we were able to get it done and turn out an amazing product we could be proud of.
Q20) You have done collabs with Total Science, Ant TC1, Nympho, Hybris and Klute which is a huge stack of talented artists. What do you like about collabs and do you pick up tips?
One of the best things about collabing is getting a different perspective, seeing a different direction someone might go in and in general having a bigger pool of ideas to work from. It’s always interesting seeing another producer’s approach to building a tune or sound. We’ve found in working with different people we can almost get a playable tune quicker than just being alone in the studio, we’re less likely to get stuck on something.
Q21) Anyone left you would love to collab with?
Plenty of people! We’ve even got a few collabs that have been sitting unfinished for awhile, tunes with Philth, DLR, Dabs, and Amoss I wouldn’t mind finishing up at some point. Other than that, the bucket list includes amazing artists such as Break, S.P.Y, Hydro, René Lavice, Eastcolors, Ed:it, Ulterior Motive, Etherwood, Om Unit, I could probably keep going! So many great artists out there!
Q22) Can you tell our readers about DnB girls and your work with them?
So DnB Girls (check dnbgirls.net for details!) is a collective of women involved with DnB around Canada and the United States. They are DJs, promoters, producers, vocalists, etc. Currently there are 19 ladies on the roster. Our basic goal is to promote and support all the talented women in the scene in whatever way we can. I’ve been involved in the group for a few years now, and it’s a great group of ladies!
Q23) What do you think about the www.jungledrumandbass.co.uk website?
Looks like you guys have a great variety of genres represented on the site! I see podcasts and interviews from all variety of DJs and producers, from big names to up and comers, including outside of the US! Loving the variety from all sides here!
Q24) If you could take one track on a desert island, and it was the only track you could ever listen to again and again on repeat, what would it be and why?
Oh gosh that’s really tough. What’s not going to drive me crazy after awhile. Maybe “Meditation” from Thais by Massenet. I spent so much time perfecting that on the violin when I was younger and practicing each little part I’ve heard it enough that if it was going to drive me nuts it would have done so a long time ago. It’s a really beautiful piece to boot.
Q25) What's coming up next for you?
Very good question! Finding studio time amongst a busy work schedule and energetic toddler has been difficult so we haven’t been as active as we would like to be in there! We have a few things in the works, one currently that’s making the rounds is a tune with Collette Warren for Marky’s label, Innerground. Really excited by this one, it sounds like it was a big hit at Sun and Bass this year and we love working with Collette! There should also be another EP in there for Dispatch at some point, the tunes are finished and just waiting for a release date! Also hoping to get back over for another Sun and Bass this year if we can manage it!
Q26) Thanks for your time.... wishing you all the best for 2018 and beyond. Lastly, any shouts and thanks?
I’m always forgetting people with the shouts but first shout to my husband, Leigh aka Quadrant, I wouldn’t be where I am without his support. Also shouts to all the amazing ladies out there in drum and bass, working hard, promoting, djing, producing, mcing and more! You all kick ass and I’m proud to be one of you! And thank you Aliina for the interview, some great questions asked!
Bless, thank you! All the best for 2018 and beyond.
Interview by Missrepresent December 2017