The Kort blog www.thekort.com recently interviewed 2nd Drop Records' DjRum.
Read all about it below:
The musical compositions of London’s Felix Manuel first came to our attention by way of a remix for enigmatic dub-kwaito experimentalists, LV. Having enjoyed their wild card catalogue for quite some time, it was with delight we discovered DjRum’s remix of their recent minimalist beauty, “Explode”. Orchestral string arrangements, twinkling chimes, and a classicist sense of structure gave Zaki’s sublime vocals the perfect complement, creating a gorgeous piece that stood out from the rest.
The Kort chased down Mr. Manuel as we were eager to learn more about this mysterious artist; it’s not every day you come across a seasoned, old school composer in the world of bass music…
The Kort: So to begin, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How’d you get into music?
DjRum: Well I started out Djing, and production came later…actually I started out playing jazz piano. I was really serious about that, but then I got my first pair of decks when I was like 18 and that was it. I started producing at around the same time, really lo-fi sample based hip hop. I began getting technical with my production maybe like 5 years ago, but I still feel like my production is pretty lo-fi.
K: We first heard of your work through the recent remix you did of LV’s “Explode”, how did that come about?
D: Hmm…well Second Drop Records got in contact through a mutual friend, wanting to work with me and it just sort of fell into place! I’ve been a big LV fan since their first Hyperdub release so i was honored…plus Zaki’s vocal is unreal! There’s no way I could turn that down.
K: Your use of a thumping electronic beat with more organic samples and textures is what drew me in, do you really strive to bring some human element into your productions?
D: I don’t use synths at all…well maybe for bass sometimes. I’ve never been that keen on really electronic sounding instruments, brash synths, etc. All of the synth-like sounds you hear in my music are made by layering heavily treated samples. I wish i knew how to use synths well but I’ve never been interested enough to get to grips properly! I spend far too much time crate digging for that…
K: Definitely feel you on that one, it can be infintely more fun to sample cheap vinyl than tinkering with a software synth! Do you use a 404 or any sampler for your work, or sample directly to computer? Any particular programs you stick to?
D: ABLETON IS THE DADDY. It’s very quick and easy, which means ideas can flow out much more quickly. I find this really important, I made my first tune on a 4 track with a Dr. Sample and a belt drive turntable. I’ve used lots of different software though, I used Cubase for a while but I’d much rather use something that keeps it simple.
K: That’s a good way of looking at it, I have Ableton but haven’t cracked at it yet…much more a Record/Reason diehard, for better or worse.
D: Give it a go! I’ve never come across anything better for manipulating audio.
K: So what are your thoughts on DJing, are you a vinyl devotee or are you willing to DJ with mp3 programs, and/or Serato?
D: Having spent 10 years working on turntablism techniques, I’ll never turn my back on vinyl Djing. I’m much more accomplished behind the wheels than I am doing an Ableton live set, but for practical reasons I do find my self playing out on Ableton. I do most of my mixing on my radio show on Ableton as well. I think that certain genres of music suit different platforms… hip hop needs turntables, techno needs digital precision. If you wanna use turntables to delicately blend tunes, you should probably fuck off and get yourself on a laptop. Turntables like to be pushed around!
K: That’s a valuable distinction between genres and DJ styles, I like that a lot! Who are some of your favorite DJs?
D: Strictly Kev is probably the best Dj I’ve ever seen, absolutely amazing style, proper showmanship, acute taste and obviously a wicked crate digger. He just drops pure knowledge. Most of my favourite producers I wouldn’t really rate as Djs particularly…
K: True that…who are some of your favorite producers then?
D: Scuba, Murcof, Andy Stott, Svarte Greiner, Madlib…oof and Rockwell!!!
K: Yeah, that Andy Stott record is nuts, the recent one…
D: I’m not so keen on the recent one if i’m honest…
K: Oh really?
D: Yeah i hated it at first, then it kind of grew on me…but for me the Daphne records stuff, Hate, and his more solidly dub-techno stuff is where it’s at. BIG fan.
K: For sure, Modern Love knows what’s up…and so you live in London, whereabouts exactly?
D: SOUTH London, love it down here!
K: How long have you lived there?
D: Hmmm don’t really know, maybe 5 years or something like that…I first moved to London maybe 9 years ago, but south London for like 5 years. It’s nice, you should visit! I think Peckham might be the center of the world…
K: Haha, yes indeed…I’ve been to Brixton and Clapham, went to a DMZ night at Mass in 2009…speaking of, you got a favorite venue in the city?
D: To be honest, I generally prefer squat parties to clubs, but clubs do tend to book better lineups. I like unpretentious venues: a room with some speakers in it, that’s it. Corsica Studios is good. They’ve got an AMAZING sound system!
K: I’ve heard good things about Corsica…
D: Yeah, they got a nice Funktion One rig set up well by people who know what they’re doing and care, and it shows. And again, it’s just a room with some speakers in it…job done! I think that really struck me when I first went to DMZ actually…lights off, music up, no mucking about!
K: Yeah, they’re serious there. All about the tunes, the way it should be…
D: I’m all for having a party, but sometimes you do just want to find a space to skank out!
K: Eyes down, ears up…
D: That’s it!
DjRum’s remix of LV’s “Explode” is available on vinyl and digital now, and his two digital releases from 2010 can be found here. You can also tune in to his monthly show on Sub.fm, Yardcore, by clicking here. Cheers to Felix for the interview, we’ll be keeping an eye on this like-minded producer’s stellar work for a good, long while…and we strongly recommend you do too!