Monday 12 January 2009

TIME came to BUG's attention in the first half of 2008 with his album Theatre Earth, an ambitious project that announced a unique new voice into the local Dubstep community. TIME had a musical background from childhood, having grown up around musicians all his life and going on to become an accomplished scratch DJ before he took to the sound of Dubstep.

There is a huge amount of sonic reference points squeezed into each of his productions, the hallmark of a man full of ideas and not afraid to utilise them. The progression he's shown as an artist over the last year has been incredible, and his dynamic production is incendiary on a big system. From the haunting mutated synth licks of Nothing But The Funk to the erratic techno sounds of The Line, TIME has a fresh and exciting sound that is going to see him rise up and be counted in 2009. BUG caught up with TIME recently for a insightful interview.

B: What are the origins of TIME?

T: I spent half my time growing up in St Pauls and the other half in Bedminster skate park, this is back when the river run was the hardest ramp to ride, and Specs and Die where doing 6 foot jumps out of 3rd bowl. My mum lived right round the corner from the park, so I was there most days and eves from a very early age - this is around '87 to '94. The most important thing to me then was my skateboard and hitting up rollermania to check the sticker book out for some new bling for the board, I must have been 10.

At the same time as this I was going over to my dads yard a lot, he was a respected musician and piano teacher in and around the St Pauls area so there were always people hanging out in his studio. The smell of weed was always in the air and music was always being played or made. I've still got some photos of a City Road house party that my dad put on with Jody and Die (who later went on to become Sublove) scratching it up, I remember Jody had just got the record with Jazzy Jeff scratching live at union square, and a group of excited people including me were round the decks bugging out to how fast the cuts sounded.

I was totally mesmerized by scratching from then but I had no decks and when ever I did get to have a go I was too nervous to try and bust out a scratch. So I originate from that era, it was all Run DMC, LL Cool J, Fat Boys, Tristen B on the radio and skateboarding. When a friend of mine passed me NWA's Straight out of Compton I couldn't believe what I was hearing and haven't stopped loving hip hop till this day.

B: Unlike other producers who've drifted here, you're Bristol born and bred. How do you think the city has informed your sound?

T: For sure it has influenced me a lot, a lot more than I realize. Because growing up with it all around me I just took it all for granted. I was to young to witness Wild Bunch, the Dug Out and all the guys that had given Bristol this dope reputation. I just grew up and lived in this bubble that everywhere must be cool like this, I was young. So I'm more influenced by the rave and jungle sound that followed, Sublove and the early hardcore rave music and then soon after that Flynn and Flora, Roni, Die and above all Krust.

My dad gave piano lessons to a number of these guys and he was also good friends with Jody's dad so I would go over there and hangout. I would sit in the studio and watch him scratch and make hip hop beats for his brother to rap on with their crew TFP, then after that him and Die working out how to use the Akai and synths for as long as possible. The studio had rap paraphernalia all over the place then it seemed to suddenly switch to faster beats and less lyrics, rave had dropped and Perception and Fantasia flyers replaced the Beastie Boys posters on my walls.

A new sound was born and I was just as fascinated by this as I was hip hop. As this was going on my old man started beefing up his studio, a computer was brought in, synths where arriving and a sampler took center stage of the room. I was plonked in front of Cubase, and heavily encouraged to make music on the promise that one day he would get one of my tracks cut and we would pass it to the DJs. I would just listen to early hardcore rave and try and work out how they were making the drums sound like that and try and then make my own breaks.

Soon after that I got my first set of belt drives, couldn't scratch with them, I was gutted about that but I had decks and that was the main thing. I must have been 13 had no money and lived 2 minutes from Replay Records, brilliant. My dad would take me in there once or twice a week and I would get to buy a record so it wasn't too bad. After a few months I had enough records to play a set so straight away I started recording mix tapes and going to raves, nervously making my way towards the decks in an attempt to get a tape to someone, ha! Not much has changed, just not so nervous now. After a while I got a few spots around Bristol but being so young I wasn't getting paid and soon realized I couldn't afford - or more to the point my dad couldn't afford - to keep buying me the latest tunes. So I had to stop and focus more on the production side of things and also stepped up my Piano playing skills. I still continued to mix for hours on end every day though.

B: Before Dubstep what was your path in life musically speaking? How did you come to get involved in Dubstep?

T: So time went on and in between hanging out at the skate park I was in the studio trying to get my production to a decent level. A bit more money was coming in, so I was off out again getting drum and bass sets all over Bristol using the name Timestretch and even putting on the odd night. This all stopped though. My dad had cancer and things weren't the same, I knew something was wrong but didn't know what, so I started changing a bit also and music was coming second to being a bit naughty.

When he passed away, I inherited all the music equipment but it was too painful to hold on to and decided to sell it to a close friend of mine at the time, Jimi Presha an emcee and fellow DJ. I just couldn't even bring myself to think about music let alone make any. Having said that though one of the things I did with the money was buy Technics, I was passed a video of Q-bert scratching and I couldn't believe how far scratching had come on. I was like 'damn I can do that' so went and got some decent tables for the first time and just started scratching. But as for production that was over for me. Around about 2005 I started making the odd hip hop beat, but apart from scratching I was totally closed off from what was going on in the outside dance music world.

That was until I heard Dubstep for the first time. I remember it like it was yesterday, I was walking through St Pauls carnival and found myself coming back to this one sound system that had this electric vibe surrounding it. I couldn't work out what the music was and just when I thought I had clocked the genre, it would switch up again into something else. I stood there for hours watching in amazement and getting more and more excited about what I was hearing. From that moment on I've been hooked, and went off telling people about what I had witnessed.

I just had to find out more about it and if it had a name, but it wasn't that easy. I had no Internet and no one I knew could help me. I thought f**k it ill just start producing again and make my version of what I had heard that day. At the same time Jimi Presha who I was still in contact with showed me this article in a magazine that was talking about this new sound called Dubstep. The article name checked various artists and that's all I needed, I got passed the VEX'D album De Generate, I had finally found the sound at last. So armed with this, a turntable and an old computer given to me, I set about making tunes again. I did the Theatre Earth album in a few months, and by that time I had more Dubstep to listen to, I was rinsing the first Benga album and Kode9's Breezeblock mix to death and had found out Rooted Records stocked a lot of Dubstep.

So I was sat there with this CD of tunes and decided to just send it to labels and see what happens. I also knew it would be a good move to get on the net again after not having it for so long and put the music up there for free download. Joe Muggs heard it and loved it, he got it album of the month in Mixmag, but that was it. Any other feedback I got about it was mostly negative, mainly Bristol heads saying that it sounded too in your face and not deep enough. Like the Bristol sound HAS to be deep or something. The Bristol sound to me is a lot more than just deep chilled smokey sub, check the stuff that came out on Dope Dragon for proof of this, a tune called Kitchen Sink by Mask is a good place to start. Anyway, since then I have bought back some of the equipment I sold and have started taking music seriously again.

Also another one of the main reasons if not the MAIN reason I've started making music again is with Dubstep I hear opportunity, opportunity to do stuff with computers, samplers and synths that I haven't heard before. The last time I was making tunes was in the late 90's and making dance music was really becoming boring, it all had to fit into a formula, a restrictive box. The arrangement was always the same sounds, it was boring and easy to make. That's why "turntablism" for me was the direction to go. Albums like Q-berts' Wavetwisters and D-styles' Phantasmagoria had a fresh sound and scratch groups like Gunkhole and Ned Hoddings where for me taking what could be done to another level, and on top of that performing dance music live using a turntable is just plain FRESH.

B: Did you set up Audio Banquet because you felt your beats weren't getting the attention they deserve? It seems increasingly common that new producers will create an imprint to give their sound a home rather than seek out releases through traditional routes.

T: I've set this up with my partner Bella so we can put out our music and have complete control over every aspect of the process. I'm still passing music to other labels and DJs all the time but at least this way I know if nothing gets picked up then I have a way of pushing it out there. Also the dream is to hopefully one day be able to pay the bills and feed the kids off the back of the music we make, so there's that aspect to it.

The main thing though is to just set up a platform to work from. I've made a lot of music over the past year, most of it has been part of the learning process for me as things have moved on a fair bit from when I last seriously sat down to make music. There wasn't much going on in the EQing department back then so that's all new to me and all this soft synth s**t just grates at me as I'm convinced the hardware setup that I've got has a more powerful and warm sound than anything I've heard from these plug-ins.

I'm dealing with progression in my own way I suppose, I've never taken a class so every track I make something new presents itself as a challenge. I'm just having fun making music again, and it's only until recently that I've made some stuff that i'm happy with. Tracks like Echo Park and The Line are certainly more like what I want to be achieving more of in '09.

B: Given that Bristol is a very busy hub for Dubstep, do you feel its been harder to have your voice heard in amongst the huge amount of new talent here?

T: Yes, but at the same time that has made me push my level of production up harder and harder. When I first started making my interpretation of Dubstep I thought I was gunna kill it. I thought this is just what I heard at carnival and this is gunna destroy everything else out there, naive... my old beat up PC and turntable to sample from was just not going to cut it.

I was spending time at the net cafe listening to Bristol producers and the more I heard the more I realized I've got a lot further to go before I'm hitting that level of production. The Pinch stuff was too good, all the HENCH guys where amazing, Headhunter in particular. The reggae and old skool Bristol rave sound to RSD's stuff was amazing me too. All those guys are still killing it and I'm always checking for new stuff from them.

So it a good thing as I don't think I would be making the tracks that I am now and will be making in the future if it wasn't for the ton of amazing talent in this amazing city.

B: How would you describe your style? You have quite a unique sound...

T: Old Skool Rave, Hip Hop and Bass heavy Jungle at the core but also very heavily influenced by all the music that my dad was playing and making when I was growing up. There is so much slept on Jazz out there its unreal, Jazz has to be the most slept on music of all time. I listened to endless blues and jazz. Sun Ra, Frank Zappa, Miles, Hendrix, The Beatles. All that stuff was the sound track to my life for years and still is. I listen to far more Jazz than I do anything else, even Dubstep. Also I'm considered old skool in my approach. I don't use plug-ins, and I have an all-hardware setup. I use an old piece of software to arrange my samples on, no Logic or Reason just my own mad method. I think this certainly helps give me a sound.

B: What's your inspiration in life to make music?

T: I just enjoy it, it's fun again. Dubstep and it's open-minded approach to production has inspired me to make music. But above all it would be my pro-music upbringing, and because of that I just feel naturally able to do it. I don't ever run out of ideas for tunes. I've spent a large part of my life surrounded by people who make music, music has never been out of my mind. It's all I know how to do, what else is there, drugs, stealing, 9 to 5 job.. f**k that!.

B: Who's coming through now that you rate?

T: There's a lot of people bubbling away under the surface making some really good stuff. Bristol wise Phaeleh has impressed me a lot and I will be checking for new stuff from him this year. Bella is doing a lot of nice tunes, so is a guy called Apathesis who I've been listening to. Also I'm expecting a lot of good stuff from Sickman D but I think '09 belongs to Joker, Jakes, Gemmy, RSD...

B: As well as being a producer you are also a well-respected scratch DJ - how does that experience inform the style of your sets? Do you feel it sets you apart from other DJs?

T: Scratching has given me a confidence around the turntables. I would spend months and months working on a 6 minute DMC battle routine. The beat juggles and scratch routines where getting so complicated and hard to pull off that if the needle skipped one time, your chance was over and what you had been practicing for ages was over. Simple as that it was done. I mean you go up in front of hundreds of people and cameras knowing that one jump of the needle and your gunna be looking like a fool. So going up and blending in a club is for me a piece of cake. It can still be a challenge to pull off a sweet blend but knowing I've got those skills to fall back on does take a load off my mind. It just means I can relax and enjoy it a lot more than I know other DJs might.

Also on top of that I make 100% scratched music. Drums, bass, melodies all coming live off the deck so looking at the turntable as an instrument makes me treat it a lot more like its an instrument rather than just a record player. I would definitely like to bring this aspect of things more into my DJ sets in '09, but not to much that it takes over from the Dubstep I'm playing.

B: Whats next up in 2009?

T: Music music music and more music, I'm gunna make sure its a busy year for myself and others. I'm hearing more and more producers stick to one style of the Dubstep sound in there production, that would bore me, I won't be doing that so expect lots of experimental tracks. I'll be taking sound and arrangement into territory it's never been before, but of course still keeping heads nodding and people moving. I don't believe in sticking to any one style.

Hopefully Audio Banquet will take off, and Bella will get more of her music out there. The first release is scheduled for the 1st of March and will be a track called Shredder. A website is being worked on and B clothes are in the works. We are also looking to put out other people who's tunes I'm feeling, Sickman D being one, The Widdler.

My series of Audio Banquet mixes will continue, I did 5 last year expect the same this year. These act as promotion and feature mostly mine and Bella's music, but the main reason for doing them is to push the Dubstep sound out to people who might not have heard it yet. Dubstep is vampire like, it can bite people, and when it does their hooked and crave the bass. I've seen it happen to friends, it happened to me and I'll be making it my mission to get more people hooked this year.

I'm also working on a 100% all scratched dubstep album, its not been done before, I want it to sound right so I'm taking my time with this, however I would say its half way to being finished and will be ready at some point this year. You can do some great thing with the turntable, stuff that you just can't do with any other instrument. Fresh time signatures and seriously flipped sounds being just two of many examples.

I'll be working with a lot of local MC's and Singers, Sirplus, Koast and the Central Spillz crew, B'tol, Jimi Presha - the list goes on. Expect lots of sung stuff from Bella in '09 as well, as she has an amazing deep soulfull voice; this is the stuff I could be most excited about. A live show to go with this has already been worked on, live dubstep off the turntable with her vocals - watch out for that!
I've got plans for all sorts of things to happen this year, and look forward to making it all come together. In fact there's already a dubstep/hiphop album Esoteric Tabloid already finished that I've produced with Jimi Presha on the mic, so we will be pushing that hard this year. It's our second album together, and I feel this one is the one that will make heads pick up on his vocal talents.
Pushing for more and more DJ sets is something else, I press a lot of my dubs to vinyl and play a set thats mostly my own music, so promoters if you like my music get in touch.

Of course I will keep pushing my music to lots of labels as well, and hopefully get some music put on to vinyl, thats always been a dream of mine. I ain't gunna relax till I can walk into Rooted and see a tune I've made up on the racks. Noodles over at DPR loves my stuff and he will be putting out a lot of the tracks I made last year that me and him feel didn't get the attention that they could have. That's all going to be a digital thing but some of the tracks should be hitting vinyl as well. There are also tunes already out and coming out on labels such as TzR carbon, Dubfrequency, Imperative Recordings and Dirty Circuit. So big up to everybody that's been checking my sound out, and fingers crossed for big things to happen this year.

B: Give us a top 5 (of anything)

T: My top 5 deities that Jesus impersonated..


TIME has very kindly offered up Nothing But The Funk and The Line for download, as well as a new version of his Audio Banquet 5 mix with vocals from MC Jimi Presha:

TIME - Nothing But The Funk

TIME - The Line

TIME - Audio Banquet 5 feat. Jimi Presha

Bella and Time - Matsue Castle RMX
Bella - Lower Sub Side
TIME - Swingtime
TIME - Mince Pie
TIME - Votan
TIME - We Are in Control Now
Bella - Enochian
TIME - Echo Park
TIME - Jeri Curl Boogie
TIME - Fury
TIME & Bella - Saturnalia
TIME - The Line
TIME - Gambi
TIME - Ear This
TIME - Soundboy Science
TIME - Assassin

DOWNLOAD - TIME : Audio Banquet 5 feat. Jimi Presha


Anonymous said...

Interesting read.