In the wake of his latest release on Deep in the Jungle Records, we decided to catch up with Epicentre for an exclusive interview. Read below as we discuss everything from musical influences to hardware and everything inbetween.
Q1) We sit here after yet another release on Deep in the Jungle Records. It's fair to say that this has been a busy year so far. Can we expect more of the same going forward?
A1) I hope so! This year has been great music wise and I'm finding myself enjoying djing again which is something I almost completely fell out with last year. You can definitely hear the DJ element in my tracks again and they've been going down really well in the sets I've played recently. I hope this is just the beginning of things to come.
Q2) Who would you say influenced you growing up?
A2) My earliest influences were hip hop in the 90s. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a time when underground music, in all forms, was thriving and maturing into what we hear today.
I always enjoyed dance music in the 90s, moving into garage in the early 2000s alongside drum and bass.
I was bitten by the rave bug at an early stage. I think it was 95/96 I was buying hardcore tape packs. That soon led to me only being interested in the jungle tapes that would be put in to bulk up the hardcore sets. As soon as Phenomenon One dropped I stopped listening to anything else but jungle. It was all that drove me and I wanted to know everything about it, including how it was made.
Q3) What was the first vinyl you owned?
A3)The first vinyl I owned was probably something really crap and cheesy but the first drum and bass record I owned was Andy C & Shimon - Quest/Night flight.
Q4) How did you get into music production?
I actually started when a few of my mates, who were unemployed at the time, signed up to a new deal at the job centre. They would contribute to training programmes in any chosen industry. These two decided to do djing and production at Manchester's SSR school. They introduced me to the early versions of reason and I just took to it. I wasn't really making any music at first, I was just fascinated by all the tech to make records being contained in a laptop and wanted to know what all the different modules did. From there I started writing really rubbish tracks. Since then I've just tried to carry on progressing and learning. It's taken a long time but I'm really happy with where I'm at right now.
Q5) What is your current studio setup?
A5) I run a hybrid studio set up at the moment, using outboard synths, samplers, mixers and fx to construct my sounds. I then put all that into Cubase 9 to give me the power, flexibility and speed of the modern technology to sequence and arrange my sounds. A couple of years ago I was getting so bogged down in the mass of plugins and sample packs that I would open an empty sequencer and just stare at it. This killed my inspiration before I'd even laid down a single note and that's where the move to outboard came in. I can have 75% of a tracks elements ready before I even turn the pc on. The other reason is, I'm a big kid at heart and I just wanna play with my toys!
Q6) What is your favourite piece of gear?
A6) That's a tough one.
I spend a lot of time making sure my gear purchases are right for what I want. I have a favourite piece for different applications so I'll try and break it down.
Drums and breaks go through an Akai s5000 sampler because it sounds like old jungle records and we all love old jungle records, don't we?
For synth, pads, fx and other electronic sounds I have a Nord Lead A1 which is a great analogue emulation with huge polyphony.
For bass, I have a trusty Novation Bass Station 2 which does exactly what it says on the tin.
Those are my main three. Aside from those I have a Yamaha sampler, an old Korg reverb from the 80s, a few cheap compressors, various fx boxes, guitar pedals and an analogue filter module which all get used for various duties.
Q7) Is there anyone we should look out for this year/next year?
A7) DJ Hybrid is making big waves in the re-popularisation of Jungle and also the dance floor rollers side. I think he's going to be one of the big names to fully breakthrough in 2018. His labels showcase some of the finest rising talents in drum n bass and his business and work ethic are admirable.
Q8) As somebody who has been in the business for more than a while, what's the best venue you have played at?
A8) I've played a lot of good venues. Probably 90% of the venues in Manchester have seen me on their decks in the last 8-10 years. Two of the most memorable (and still open) are Hidden and Antwerp Mansion.
Hidden is a great venue with two rooms and two serious sound systems. I love playing hidden purely because the sound is so crisp and they usually attract a pretty open minded crowd which always fares well with the variety I try to get into my DJ sets.
Antwerp mansion is like a squat rave in a licensed venue. It truly is a surreal experience and if you've never been I urge you to see it for yourself, that's all I'm saying!
Q9) If you were putting on a show what would be your perfect line-up?
A9) Dillinja (classics set)
Hosted by Levels crew.
Q10) If you could sit down and chat with one person(dead or alive) who would it be and why?
A10) Ty Unwin (music for picture composer)
The guy is just a musical genius, not to mention super synth hoarder. I'd like to ask him how he stays constantly inspired and how his workload doesn't kill him.
A massive thank you to Epicentre! You can purchase his latest release here.
Interview August 2017- Joshua Penney
Listen to Epicentre's latest release below;