The majority of Drum ‘n’ Bass fans will be well up on the work of Zula Warner and Glenn Herweijer, but for those who aren’t, here follows a brief introduction to The London-based duo. Announcing their arrival with a string of singles in 2003, they hit upon a sound that defied easy categorisation. A steely take on liquid, with the rhythmic sense of jungle and the ethereal qualities of artcore – it grabbed the attention of listeners, DJs and labels such as V recordings, Soul:r, Commercial Suicide and Dispatch. In 2005, they made a major breakthrough with their cuts Uprising and Desperado – tunes named as BBC Radio 1’s ‘public vote DnB track of the year’ and ‘Number 1 Drum & Bass Tune of the Year’ respectively. They established their Integral imprint in 2007, beginning to work with up and coming producers and realise ideas of their own, before releasing their Metalheadz release in 2012. The duo have never rested on the laurels and their sound has always been transitioning. The contrast between their 2005 smashes and 2015 collaborative cuts with Dawn Wall make that clear. In short, they’re among the scene’s most respected DJ/producers and we’re looking forward to them headlining the forthcoming Metalheadz Manchester night with Ant TC1, Diverge and MC Visionobi alongside. Ahead of the night, we spoke to Glenn about the art of the remix, the challenges of running the imprint and his relationship with music technology.
We were treated to the wicked Timeline Remixed EP last month, featuring remixes by Zero T and Phil:osophy among others. Is it inspiring to hear another artist’s interpretation of your work and is there a remix of yours, or by another artist, that you feel encapsulates the art of the remix?
‘Tricky question! A couple of examples from our side would be the remix we recently made for Lenzman’s ‘String City’. We loved the original and used it as inspiration to create a completely new track on a similar vibe, in fitting with our sound today. Another is Goldie’s ‘The River Mirrored’ which is dropping this Spring. Watch this space!’
You’ve been running your Integral imprint for a decade now. What has been the most challenging aspect of the operation, has it informed how you make music as Artificial Intelligence and has it given you even greater respect for longstanding organisations such as Metalheadz?
‘The most challenging aspect has been keeping the quality control as high as possible with every track (artist?) we sign. It’s a pretty rigorous process to get passed Zula, label manager ‘Emma’ and myself ;). We tend to work very closely with an artist throughout the whole process: finalising the music to a full EP release campaign. We feel the added personal touch goes a long way with the artist and end result of a project.’
Music fans love a good mystery and the one surrounding the Mohican Sun project has got plenty of people talking! Without showing your hand, might some Mohican Sun music have found its way into your record bag for the night at Band on the Wall?
‘Forthcoming Mohican Sun, Dawn Wall and Integral dubs have been a big feature in our DJ shows over the last couple of years. Expect a lot more over our forthcoming dates. The visual/artwork aspect is a key part of the project and the elusiveness is something we all enjoyed with our hero’s/inspirations, before social media came along.’
Music technology is vital to the production of Drum ‘n’ Bass. What have been the key tech developments for you in recent years and have any had a significant impact on the way you create music?
‘Staying in touch with the latest technology is especially important within DnB production. At the same time, we do believe the right balance of organic/analogue elements make all the difference to the vibe.
We originally made all of our music using only outboard synths, samplers, FX units, compressors etc. – the process was a lot more time consuming, sometimes over a month ‘til we were completely happy with a track – we still miss the warm full sounding end result.
These days, it’s a lot quicker to come up with an idea using the latest software, which isn’t always a good thing! We spend a lot less time on an initial idea, but it means we have more ideas to pick from. The whole process, through to a final mix, is way, way quicker.’
You were among the many artists who convened at Band on the Wall last year to celebrate the life and music of Marcus Intalex. Having previously DJ’ed at numerous Soul:ution nights, what did it mean to you to celebrate Marcus’ life with your fellow artists?
‘It meant a lot to have contributed to the night. I originally met Marcus as a teenager and we were close throughout the earlier years, prior to him setting up Soul:r. He was one of the main influences and reasons that we started producing together and also signed our very first track ‘Ever On’.’
What are your plans looking ahead to the Summer? Presumably plenty of touring, but any potential releases or projects in the offing?
‘We have jam packed schedule, both with Artificial Intelligence and Integral Records in general. It is looking like the busiest year yet since the imprint started. On top of that we have just finished a third album. Plans TBC… watch this space ;)’