JDNB Interview - Insideman

JDNB Interview - Insideman
From breaking through in the pirate radio scene in the 1990's, Insideman has been around for a while now and became a fixture in the club and radio scene. In the intersection of liquid funk and atmospheric drum and bass, he has established shows on Bassdrive and Point Blank FM, which are now licenced and fully legal on DAB radio.
With releases on FX909 music, Deconstructed, Vibration Records, Soul Deep Recordings, Sub-Label, Think Deep and Liquid Brilliants, it's certain his vibrations and sound has hit your ears and speakers at some point over the last 20 years. His latest offering on FX909 takes us on a journey once again, and a perfect time to have a catch up and find out more....

So thank you for wanting to talk to us! How is 2022 treating you so far?
Yeah not so bad thanks - a busy year so far, and all the more so in the coming months.. as I talk to you now, I'm packing my bags for Sun & Bass 2022 - after 3 years away from the Island!

Tell us about your musical upbringing, how it all started for you.
It's all pretty cliche to be honest - my Dad was a Soul/Funk/Pop DJ back in the 70s/80s in South East London;  in particular Diana Ross, Dusty Springfield, Tina Turner - as I grew up,everywhere we went he'd be playing this stuff on the cassette player in his old Ford Granada... I loved the radio and used to record the Chart Show on my TDK90s every Sunday (like so many of our generation)... back then, I was recording stuff like 2Unlimited and Crystal Waters and and that was probably where the seed was planted, right up until the mid around 1994 when I was passed a Dreamscape (Halloween Ball) tape pack from one of my pals at school. That was the game changer for me - and I pretty much never looked back from Jungle/D&B since. I'd argue that the Bukem/Fabio/PFM/Photek/Source Direct sound was the driving factor...
The name, how did that all come about?
My pal JP (aka Rodneyrolls) and I used to DJ DnB together from about 1998 in the local clubs and and radio stations around West London/Berks, and we used to use our real names back then.  For a number of reasons, it was time for both of us to have a psydenoum - but the reason behind the name "Insideman" is shrouded in secrecy - for those that know!

So your latest album release, tell us about that, what inspired you to write it? 
The LP itself is a culmination of tracks that were written throughout lockdown, and to be honest, I never sat down and wrote it with the intention of it being an LP. Like many producers, we sit on our music and are reluctant to send it out, however I'd had releases on FX909 in the past and thought I'd ask Alex for his opinions on a bunch of stuff I had at the time - he pretty much suggested an LP there and then, so over the next 6 months or more I wrote a couple more tracks to compliment what was already there, and that was it!
You have been around a long time, seen a lot?
We've been in the background of the scene in on way or another for over 20 years now - some people stay fairly unnoticed; the promoters, the radio station owners, the local DJs... so yeah, we've done our time in the late 90's and early 00's  as young local DJs and Radio Managers (and we're still going strong now), and then in the last 13+ years we've had the pleasure of working with the team at Bassdrive... 

Tell us about some of the gigs you played and what the dnb scene is like in your hometown?
My hometown in this context  has always been Reading  - although I don't live there, it's just  down the road. Reading was always considered  one of the hubs/homes of DnB from the 90's and 00' - with Record Basement, Vinyl Distribution, Frequency, Subfactory, Simpsons (Bracknell), Dance 2 (Guildford) and of course The Matrix superclub back in 99-2003. Me and some close friends spent much of our early days as residents at many of  these events supporting LTJ Bukem, Fabio, Roni Size, Pendulum, Serial Killerz, DJ Hype, Craze ... the list went on. The scene went a little quiet after those venues were slowly closed down for various reasons... only Subfactory still remains (and you can catch me there on September 30th btw!). Although the new generation are still going strong in our area, it's naturally just a different crowd...

So if you could throw a party with any budget, who would you book and why?
OK - so dream line-up would have to be - Mark System, Bungle, Seba, Kid Drama, HLZ, Resound - and get Photek out of retirement for a old-skool B2B with Bukem/Fabio.  We'd need Conrad,  GQ and Moose on the mic.

For those that haven't been yet, explain what Sun & Bass Festival is like.
The place is heaven - no egos, the whole village is taken over by decent DnB heads  - I've been 6-7 times, never seen a fight or bad behaviour - just pure good vibes. It has a proper 
"family" feel that can't be beaten, and the surroundings  need no explanation.

So you have quite an accolade supporting everyone from LTJ Bukem, Fabio, Pendulum to Roni Size. Who have you met over the years who has been super dope?
The nicest guy I've ever met in the scene is easily PFM - the guy was a legend when I grew up to the deeper "Bukem" sound, and we had the pleasure of spending the week with him at SnB 2018, alongside Big Bud. And of course, I have to shout Ed C4C - he sold us our vinyl  from circa 2001 to 2005, and was genuinely the nicest guy you could meet (RIP Ed).

Pirate radio. It's always been a thing with you right but now it's all legal?
Point Blank FM were broadcasting a few years before I really got into DJing, but into the late 90's they were a "go-to" House Music station based in Langley outside West London, broadcasting weekends only to a small area around Slough. In Reading, there was Code Red FM, Too Hot FM (shouts Tablet) Creative FM and Intense FM - but all of these stations wound down operationally in the mid 00's for various reasons. Some of the old owners of those stations then revived Point Blank FM, and moved it from West London/Berkshire, into Central London. After nearly 20 years of this being their new home, and winning accolades as "London's best pirate" on thee underground forums, the the time came to look towards being licensed - and  this is something I helped with. You now catch my show on Saturday nights from 22:00 UK Time at www.pointblankradio.com - broadcasting acrosss London and the South of England 24/7, covering all styles of underground.

I love Bassdrive, that's been going as long as I remember DOA!
Despite all the info above, Bassdrive has been the home for DnB on the Internet/radio for as long as I can remember. Again, they're like one big family, and I'm nearly into my 14th year on there! Shouts to the management team over there, but an extra shout  to Overfiend - for those that know, that guy is one one of the most knowledgeable engineers in the game. 

So as a former resident in Reading's various clubs back in the day, did you ever venture out to Readings famous free partys?
Ah yes - the free parties. I can't say I remember much about how  they ended, but the police were normally involved

Which clubs held your heart?
From the age of 15,  it was all about fake IDs and the short train into Central London - and most of this time was spent at Bagleys, The End, and The Collosseum. And of course, a soft spot for Simpsons and The Matrix as those were our local venues...

Tell me something about yourself that no one would know.
I have a Brown Belt in Kickboxing - but don't ask me to prove it as I've not been sparring for 2 years.

That is cool though! For all the years in the music scene, you have seen a lot right? What's changed that you love and hate?
Hate social media, and the fact that as a producer, you have to write, produce, mix, master, promote, all in one package. Im my  opinion (which may be wrong!)  you need a label to support you  in the beginning to help break through (shouts to Tobes @ Vibration on that one)

Let's talk about this next release on FX909. 11 tracks. Stuck On Mute out on the 13th September!
Why stuck on Mute, are your presets stuck? 
Ah so this is a proper boring answer. The industry I work in involves a lot of conference calls - especially once CV19 struck. And every day, I'd hear someone on these calls trying to speak and saying "Sorry, I was stuck on mute"... and that was it...!

That's funny! So, which track is your favourite? - Western Bloc, Sitting Duck, Stuck On Mute, Inflicted, Varkon, Slower Daze, Substation, Ohmstraße, Evergiven, Haiku or Afterthought?
For me, it's Western Bloc. That one was written when I'd just moved house,  and  gone back to basics; no studio setup, written in the spare room - it was tune that just came together, and to be honest epitomises what I love about D&B.

I don't know about you but once i've done a mix or a track I'm never fully happy with it, I always want to go back and fiddle. Can you just finish it and be completely happy?
No. I very VERY rarely play my own stuff and often feel my tracks don't meet the standards of our peers. I rely heavily on people's feedback, and to hear your tracks  in context (someone else playing them) helps me overcome this. And I'm always indebted to my friends in the scene to keep me to the straight and narrow.

I love Slower Daze. It's just got a lovely vibe. Tell us how you learnt to make music.
Thanks - this track was a blatant inspiration from a track on Soulvent in 2020, by Out of Fuel called "Wide Area" - a persistent, almost relentless techno inspired simple track; that reminded me of the Techno/Dub techno tracks that I listen to often. Regarding "learning" - I'm not sure I ever have! I've never been trained and must be honest, I make the use  of many tools today to keep me sane when writing. Although I always avoid copy/paste sampling and sample packs (except for a kick/snare), I'll always make the most of a good sample and then use my ear to match;  and if in doubt, there are countless tools to help keep you on track, such as VariAudio, Melodyne and so on.

And what DAW are you on, any favourite VST's or plug ins?
Cubase since the days of JP's Atari ST - NI Komplete, Omnisphere, and too many plug-ins to mention!

Do you mix and master your own stuff?
I always mix it, yes - and will always "master" it for  sending, but of course when releasing, it's at the label's discretion - Alex was kind enough to let me work with NU:Tone on the album's masters which I'm grateful for...

So I've been having a bit of a debate as usual online recently about sampling, do you sample or is everything completely original?
Tough one. There are different categories in my opinion - blatant samples of completed tracks (they're bootlegs) - I've done a few of those myself - then there's imaginative samples where 8 bars are taken and used appropriately (yes, sometimes I do that), and then there is the Splice/template approach, which isn't for me. I'd hate anyone to say "oh look he used the drum loop from Loopmasters pack XXX" so would always look to manipulate any sound to ensure it's as unique as possible. It's the old adage;  use a sample, but do something new with it. Our scene has sampling at its core.

I love to ask this. What do you honestly think about the JDNB website?
Website is great - I hadn't  realised that these ventures were still going strong, and it's great to see. 

Thank you. So,Top 5 producers?
Impossible to answer but I'll try - OK - top 5 in the current scene right at this minute, in terms of my very specific taste: 
Mark System
Fight between LSB & Calibre
Fan of any MCs?
Of course! Conrad has always been no1 for me, but GQ, Moose, DRS for sure

If you could collab with anyone, who would that be and why?
Seba. He has a signature sound, musicality and a perfection to his delivery that I don't believe anyone can match.

Do you like the limelight or are you happy just making music doing your thing?
I'm happy as I am!

I always find some of the best artists just lay low. Calibre. High Contrast etc. Your thoughts?
Agree, and Bungle / Seba / Resound are case and point. Been doing their thing for 20 years but shuffling away in the background and minding their own business. Legends. The main man here, of course, was Marcus Intalex. Understated, but pound for pound one of the top top electronic artists of all time.

Any favourite sayings or quotes?
Never stand up in a canoe.

What's the long term goals now musically for the next 5 years?
Happy to just roll with it to be honest - be good to get back out and about in the clubs...!

Any short term?
I have a new signing coming later in the year which I'm very excited about, more  info coming soon!

Any weird hobbies or things you do in your spare time?
Not  really - my family take up most  of my time and my  job is pretty intense - so in the eyes of most  people, D&B production is the weird  hobby.

Do you like reading? Do you have any favourite books?
Nope, I can't concentrate for  longer than 5 mins on books!

Musically, if I gave you £10k to go to events abroad or buy some studio equipment, what would you do?
I quite like the look of Locust in Tulum, Mexico that happened this year - that's where I would go! Regarding studio gear, I've sold almost everything as I found the choice of different synths and controllers too overwhelming; they gathered dust - so I'm happy with what I've got, thanks!

Thinking back onto your Bassdrive shows, and radio, have you had any big guests over the years?
The show itself (which was shared between a few of us) has had a few, most notably was MC Conrad....

I love your sound, I hope it long continues. Lastly, any further words or shouts and thanks?
Thanks, that means a lot. Shouts to Alex FX909 for the belief  in putting the LP together,  shouts to RR as I wouldn't be doing it without him, The PBDAB & DNB family, Louis and the BD Team, Aaron & Jay @IR, Red, Tobes @VR for kicking things off, all the labels in between - and our radio crew over the years - you know who you are - and of course my family for their patience when I'm locked in the studio.

Many thanks and all the best for 2022 and beyond!
Many thanks, and big up the JDNB crew !

Interview by Missrepresent September 2022

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