Starting their journey as a Bristol based sound system comprising of a 7 piece collective, Dr Meaker are now one of the UK’s best live dance acts. Many have been won over by their mind blowing live performances, tight production, quality writing and their ability to effortlessly splice Dirt with Soul to Fire up the Sound System. From seeing the name on flyers to regularly appearing on Beatport, Jungledrumandbass.co.uk get a moment to talk about everything current right now.
Q1) Thanks for doing this interview, I know you are really busy right now! How's 2018 been for you so far and how is Bristol treating you?
A) Hey good to speak with you. I started off the year with a solo trip to Vietnam to escape the British Winter and to get inspired for a busy year. It was a lovely country and a great start to the year. Then since then its been writing new music for a variety of projects and doing load of promo and preparation for the new album and tour to accompany it. 2018 has gone so fast so far and its great to be making big moves this year.
Q2) So you started off as 7 people, are you still 7 people and how is that made up?
A) Dr Meaker is me the producer and DJ. It is also a live band in which I play synths and act as band leader. We are a large group of collaborators and can decide on which performers will be involved for which shows but the core line up for this year is myself, Tenisha Edwards (Vocals), Celestine (Vocals), Tom Wheeler (Drums), Dan Plimmer (Bass), Ben Wood (Sax) Sam Shotaka (Sax), Simon Alexander (Trumpet). We bring in other guest vocalist and sometimes additional instruments of percussion. For the DJ Set I either play alone or am accompanied by Carasel MC or other Mc’s and sometimes with vocals from Celestine & Tenisha. So in short we are between 1 and 10 (ish).
Q3) So Dirt & Soul going went to number 3 on the iTunes electronic chart which made it the biggest selling dnb album in the World on its release...... proudest moment ever or have you had anything to top that yet?
A) Definitely one of my proudest. It was an amazing feeling to see it climbing and climbing and one of my main goals in life is to write and release a great album and I think I’ve done that there. I will still continue to strive for even bigger things though. It was also pretty amazing moment when we first played Glastonbury Festival as that had been a life ambition. We have been back nearly every year since 2007 after winning the Glastonbury unsigned competition and that was a majorly proud moment for the whole band to achieve that. Also being playlisted on 1xtra and doing a wicked Live lounge were big and proud moments too. Theres been a lot more too but you kinda forget them until you are reminded.
Q4) So 30th March had the Dirt and Soul Collaborated out on Circus Records, featuring 11 storming tracks. Did it take long to put together?
A) It took about a year to put together.
Q5) It really is a great album, with a lot of soul and the Macky Gee link up is wicked "Dr Meaker - Freaks Ft. Sharlene Hector & Cappo D (Macky Gee & Dr Meaker Remix). Do you tend to bounce stems or do you link up?
A) Thanks very much. The Macky Gee collab took place over two sessions. The first time I drove from Bristol to his place in Essex and he played that out that same night in Reading and it didn’t quite pop off, so he came over to my place with his lap top a few weeks later and we continued and re-wrote the bass line and it worked much better. We were Doing in Blue Mountain that night so tried it out and it went off. It was pretty simple to make that remix as we were using Mackys existing sound set, so it was really just composition for that one.
Some other tracks were done like that one.. For instance With the Serum, Voltage and Terrrahawk remixes we did some at their place and some at my place. Using Stems to go back and forth. Other tracks were done differently. Some were done completely at my place (Digital & Ted Jasper) and for others I went to their studios and we did them all at theirs (Break, Umpire, Octo-Pi & Aries. The only one that was done where both producers were not in the same room was the DJ Marky Collab, which was done remotely via Stems and the internet.. From Brazil to Bristol and back again.
Q6) The Macky Gee track surprised me in a good way. You guys have really kept the funk and it's totally dance floor orientated. Can you tell us a bit about Sharlene Hector and Cappo D?
A) Yes its a great dance floor track for sure. Cappo D and wrote the original Freaks track and Lorna King and I wrote the vocals. We decided we wanted to try a different sound than Lorna for the record so we contacted Sharlene Hector from Basement Jaxx and she was up for a paid session to record the track. She learned the song before hand and was pretty much in and out. We recorded that in Bristol at Andy Henderson’s Retrosonic Studio using a vintage microphone and SSL G series desk. Sounded great.
Q7) You won an Urban Bursary award from the BBC to fund your first album, just wow. What did the majority of the money go towards, advertising or studio or mastering?
A) I worked hard to get together my application for that project with my first manager Simon Rugg. We had to plan meticulously how we would spend the money and so I pretty much worked out to a T how it would be spent. I won £7500 and it basically went on: A few session musicians, Mixing at Miloco on a brilliant Neve desk with my old buddy from School Ferg Peterkin and also with Howie B and some additional mixing at Portishead’s studio in Bristol. The rest I mixed at home. Then I spent money on Mastering the record (John Dent - Island Records, Bob Marley’s mastering engineer), Radio plugging - Chris Young, Press & online plugging and also other smaller but essential things. It was a god send to have that money from the BBC and really helped to kick me off as I was finding it difficult to get record labels interested at the time so decided to DIY it, and it worked!
Q8) The "Fear Ft. Celestine (Terrahawk & Dr Meaker Remix)" is another great dance floor track with a lovely distorted bass line and catchy vocals. I love the vocal saying "My Fears Don't Catch Me" and especially the end part.... almost had "No Fear" tattooed on me, may still do.... Do you have any influence on what the vocals say or are they already written?
A) For that particular track Lorna King wrote the whole song originally in terms of the chords and the vocals and then I arranged her raw track and then produced it. Lorna was expressing herself on the track and I imagine the lyrics would have come from that part of her. I’ve never quite known what the lyrics mean exactly but I take them literally to mean “I hope my fears don’t catch me”.. really just saying that I have things i’m frightened of and I hope they don’t come to fruition. Lorna sang the original Live version of this track we did for a Redbull Live Session and Celestine and delivered a more powerful rendition for the album version.
Q9) So let's talk about the track you did with Break featuring Sian Evans. Slight Break fan girl here after interviewing him, he's really really cool and talented... he's also not a social media fan, so how do you stand on social media at the moment?
A) Yes Break is a nice guy and very intelligent and talented. I love and hate social media. It’s great to be able to reach people all over the world where you once couldn’t BUT it does my head in as its so see through and annoying at times. And i’m pissed off the way that facebook and Instagram are going recently. They come across as money grabbing vultures. We are the users so why are we being paid to promote to our own friends and followers who could once see out and connect with us openly and for free? I think they could have been less greedy and just made advertisers only to pay, like YouTube. I feel that facebook got everyone hooked and now they are reducing accessibility to your own crew and rinsing everyone for money. It's getting really shit. So I think its time for a new platform for artists and creatives.. Remember how Myspace was EVERYTHING and now its NOTHING…I think its only a matter of time for Facebook and I will welcome it with both arms with a big finger to for being so greedy.
Q10) Laurent John's vocals on "Is It You" is really haunting. Can you tell us about Ted Jasper, being a dnb girl I'm not familiar with that name nor may some of our readers, and how the link up for the remix happened?
A) Ted Jasper was 18 when I met him. I met him after his manager sent me an email asking if I would like to work with him and I thought, yeh why not. I was astounded by how talented he is and being so young. He makes a different type of music to me but I could relate to it and so we both had a lot of input in our collaboration and the results are awesome. We plan to work more together and have sessions booked in.
Q11) How did winning the Glastonbury Unsigned competition affect your career, did you see a noticeable difference in bookings immediately? More importantly, how was Glastonbury at the Dance Festival and what parts of Europe did you visit?
A) I believe it had a massive impact as it was really a stamp of approval. We won the dance music category and the following year loads of festival booking came in and we have kept the momentum year on year from that initial spring board. Glastonbury was amazing. We have visited Czech Republic, France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany & Croatia so far.
Q12) The track "Remedy featuring Romaine Smith" that you have done with Serum stands out. The sound you're achieving is awesome keeping that vibe alive. It really has that 4am Lakota late set sound to me. Just wanna sway and head nod. Did the track take long to write?
A) Yes I totally agree.. that 4am waves vibe.. EXACTLY!!
It happened over about 4 sessions. Firstly I sent the stems to serum and he sent back a beat and a bass idea and piano.. I want feeling the piano so I agreed to re-do piano and electric piano parts. I also wasn’t feeling the baseline as I thought it was too similar to another one of his track so asked if he could try something else. Then he took a few more weeks and send back the baseline notes that are on the record and I just started laughing.. I’m not sure why it made me laugh but I think it was just the simplicity and genius of it and I was like “yes bro this is it!”. So then Mark came over to my place with his stems and we went to work on it. We remade the bass sound using my old minimoog triangle wave and also a layer of Yamaha CS15 analogue bass. then we made the sub bass from the test oscillator in my Amek mixing desk. We did this by recording and sampling a 40 hz sine wave test tone from the desk and then pitching it across the sampler and programming the notes in logic. It was a really old school approach to making some sounds. I then played a load of discordant electric piano and piano chords and added some more percussion at my place. Then Mark took the stems fro that session away and did the final mix at his place. I didn’t go to his place but we do have a session planned soon to make some more music. Mark is really sound and a very talented producer and engineer, although you don’t need me to tell you that!.
Q13) You had a track on the Number 1 selling Album from the 'MaidaVale Live Lounge' Recording for Radio 1 - that must of been a life changing moment right there?
A) It felt absolutely awesome because we had fucked up a Live Lounge session for 1xtra a few years before hand. The feeling to nail it was awesome and to be selected for a UK number 1 selling album… Thats ambitions fulfilled right there!
Q14) Interesting! Kinda good to know you're not robots! So, festivals or clubs?
A) Both plus anywhere else too.. Love it all. We played on top of the Alps once.. Outdoors. Was cold and our fingers didn’t work very well to play our instruments, but what an experience!
Q14) What are your goals, dreams and aspirations now?
A) Main goal now it to make an epic album and to travel the world with my music. I would like to find new avenues and ideas to work with, being inspired as I go around the world. And just to keep going and finding the energy to still be in love with making music.
Q15) If you could take one track on a desert island if you were stranded, and could only listen to that one piece of music forever, what would it be and why?
A) Air - All I need. The track has everything I love. Melody, Soul, Minimoog, Strings, Chords, Female vocals, passion, Mystery & magic.
Q16) Top 3 jungle / drum and bass tunes right now?
A) Dr Meaker & Serum ft Romaine Smith - Remedy
Riddim Punks - Sekkle Down (Promo)
Dr Meaker & Voltage - Baddest DJ (Promo)
Q18) Ok so last couple of questions.... more on a personal level. Music being so time consuming, do you ever get writers block or are you just full of music yet to be written?
A) Yes I do get writers block. I can sit there for hours trying to create something and everything sounds shit. Sometimes you get a hook and everything flows. I’m hit or miss to be honest.
Q19) The overall level and sound of the album is brilliant. Everything is consistent. Was there a 12th tune or 11 a lucky number?
A) There was a 12th Tune .. We did not put ‘Glastonbury’ from the original album on this album. I can’t remember why i didn’t include it. In retrospect I might approach someone to do that one with me and then give it away in a year or something as an anniversary.
Q20) What's up next now for you?
A) Loads of stuff. I’m writing new music at the moment for Dr Meaker and other projects. I have some great tunes cooking. I’m currently touring this new album as a DJ tour and Im also all over the place with my Live band this year. I'm working on new collars with producers. Remixes. Mastering. I've planned a trip to Ghana in the Summer to explore and to meet musicians. I have a few singles coming out with different dnb labels later this year.. All to be revealed soon.
My main goal is to finish my next Dr Meaker album. I reckon it will take me a year or two. And to keep touring! Love it..
Q21) Thanks for your time again... always lastly, any shouts and thanks?
A) Thanks for you time and big up.
Big up Circus Records, V Recordings, The Dr Meaker Live band and all DJs, producers, promoters and crews supporting my music. It’s much appreciated.
Interview By Missrepresent April 2018
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