Back in March we have been blessed with an opportunity to meet one of our all-time favorite producers – none other than Darren White, known by masses as dBridge. He was invited to Lviv by Funkmasters crew, where he played what we can easily call one of the best sets we have heard in our lives. We are genuinely grateful to Funkmasters for organizing all of this, as having a chat with a man himself was truly a pleasure. Darren is as humble and inspiring as many of us could imagine and seeing that he was actually interested in answering the questions made it very special. We hope you will enjoy reading through this as much as we did.
You can read the russian version of the interview here.
You haven’t had solo releases for a while until Summer 2016, when you suddenly dropped three Exit VS. releases, an EP on Pleasure District and Too Late EP on Exit all at once. Why did it take so long for all of these to come out and why did you decide to unleash them all at once?
I’m really unsure of my own music, I think that’s an honest answer. It always takes other people to say to me, people who I know, my peers, to actually tell: “Yeah, that’s ok”.
After so many years that’s still the case?
Yeah, I’m still really unsure. When I did “Inner Disbelief”, which is, you know, a pretty big tune for me, I didn’t really get it, when I did it. It was Damon from Instra:mental, who was playing it all the time and I wasn’t playing it until he started.
So it was Damon who made you sure the track is actually any good?
Yeah! I’ve always been like that with my own stuff. So it came to the moment, when I was like “I need to release something” and then I realized that, actually I have a lot of music to put out.
That’s just my state of mind. I’m better with other people’s music, I feel like I have a good ear. I’ve realized that I have a lot of music I’ve done with great people and I don’t wanna say it absolutely must have come out, but there was no reason for it not to.
There’ve been rumors that you are working on a Heart Drive album with Kid Drama. Is that true?
Uhh… It’s partly true. I’m not gonna lie, there’s an album there, that’s been written, but like with all my releases it’s probably gonna take time. Every now and then I look at it and I see that it needs work, mixing down, the arrangements need some changing slightly, but if I was to be like, f*ck it, there’s an album there. So yeah, when the time is right.
You are known for creating so-called supergroups – Module Eight, The Binary Collective and you were the one to get Richie Brains together, though you didn’t participate in it yourself. We’ve seen an album from The Binary Collective not that long ago, but we still haven’t seen anything from Module Eight since the debut album. Should we expect to hear anything Module Eight related in 2017?
I just got an e-mail the other day about someone wanting to release this Module Eight tune that never came out and it might be coming out, but I haven’t said yes yet.
Actually, Skeptical played an unreleased Module Eight tune called “Shard” in his Exit Records DNB60 mix on Friction’s show.
Oh, yeah-yeah-yeah, I feel that’s the track I’ve been contacted about, but we’ll see.
I love that people call it supergroups. I’ve always been a fan of collaborations, it always was a huge part of my upbringing in music, whenever it was Sewage Monsters (me, my brother Steve Spacek, 2-3 other guys) when I was part of Renegade Hardware, Bad Company… So yeah, I always worked with people, it’s always been a part of my DNA, so to speak. I like seeing people come together and make music. There is one project I’m working on at the moment, but I’m not gonna say anything about it, but yeah, it’s coming.
You always enjoyed doing mixes and podcasts and all of them had its special flavor, be it Autonomic Podcast or Heart Drive podcasts. The last offering from you was a mixtape – Slick Tapes vol.1. What was your thinking behind it? What made you do it?
I always felt like the entire Autonomic thing was never fully realized. When I tried to put Slick Tapes together, I thought to myself “well, for me it feels like they’ve been influenced by what we were doing as Autonomic, musically and I think they took it to another level, obviously, with the vocals. So I wanted to put together a mix which will showcase the influence that I feel we had as a podcast. I don’t wanna call it a genre, though it became one, but it was never an intention, but as a style, it definitely seeped into other music. I know FKA Twigs listened to the Autonomic podcast. And hearing people like Drake, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Purity Ring, I don’t say that we directly influenced them, but I wanted to say there’s the connection there which I wanted to highlight, that what we were doing and they are doing is not so far disconnected. It’s interesting to hear it in the Alia Fresco EP that Damon produced and the then the name Autonomic Pop emerged. I really like that and what I tried to do with Slick Tapes was to bring everything that had that kind of sensibility in the same place.
We did the same with Autonomic podcast in the first place. I’m trying to work on a second one and it’s hard, because it took me a long time to put the first one together, as I collected music over a long period. So what I did with volume one is I wanted to let people know “Here is vol. 1. What’s everyone doing? Send me some music, so I can do vol.2”.
When we heard Drake’s voice somewhere in the middle of that mixtape I felt like it was just an autonomic tune with his vocals on top, I didn’t realize it was in fact his track, so there’s that strong connection indeed.
Yeah, there was a Drake tune, there was also Beyonce. I also love to warp or rewarp records. Have you heard of The Fear Ratio? That’s James Ruskin and Mark Broom, big names in techno and they’ve produced an album under the name The Fear Ratio. It was 140 bpm and the cool thing with 140 is that it’s easy to adapt to 85/170.
I was also doing this night in Berlin with Kabuki called New Forms. That’s a place where I can really experiment as well. I also love listening to Techno and Electro that’s really close to Drum & Bass, but it’s just slightly out of tempo, so I rewarp stuff like Stingray, Heinrich Mueller and others.
Astrophonica released a new compilation called “Gradients” and you’ve got a tune there called “dB vs 45 King”. What’s the story behind that one? It has that strong old school flavor.
I think I wanted to go back to my roots of sampling, which I haven’t done in a while now and there was this break that I always loved, but I could never do something with it and there were lots of other samples, especially in the second drop.. lots of Simon Harris. He used to do break sample LPs. He was one of the sample kings back then, in late 80s to early 90s. At the end of his records he had lots of those little voice samples, which I really wanted to utilize. So this tune was like my homage to this era.
Recently you’ve also released a single on Youngsta’s Sentry Records and it’s actually the first release of the label. Did you write “Digital Dread” and “Fashion Dread” specifically for the label or were those tunes laying around waiting to see the light of the day?
No, it was written for someone else originally just for that person to have it as a dub and I never really thought anything of it. Then I gave it to Dan and forgot about it and then I’ve written another couple things and also gave it to him and few other people, like Vivek. Dan originally wanted it for Tempa, but then he decided to start his own label and wanted to sign it and I was all down to that, because, you know, I’ve got this weird history of 01 releases and I always loved that, there’s quite a lot of them. Nonplus, Autonomic, Metalheadz Platinum…
Youngsta is an amazing DJ, he’s got a really good ear for music. I knew that this label is going to be great, so to have the 01 release on it was a no-brainer for me, so I told him “Yeah, safe, wicked!”. I’ve never played Digital Dread out, never heard it in club, but he kept telling me it’s a big tune and then he sent me an Instagram video of him dropping it and I really liked it. Me and my mate Will, who runs my label, were trying to encourage him to start a label for 3-4 years and now he’s finally done it and I’m really happy I could help him in that way. And he wants me to do another one!
I’ve always had a weird relationship with dubstep, I won’t lie, when I first heard it I didn’t really get it. Not like I didn’t really get, but as a Drum & Bass producer I wasn’t happy with the production, it wasn’t at the same level. So I had almost like a snobbish attitude towards it. Then I felt like there is a vibe you can’t fuck with, but I never really wanted to be one of those who bandwagon something. Dubstep came at the moment when Drum & Bass was struggling, so I was like “no, I’m team Drum & Bass, we are struggling, but I’m not going anywhere”. But I’ve always liked it, it just felt right to do it and I didn’t have any expectations, so it was nice for someone who I consider to be one of the top people in that scene to say that they like it, it meant a lot to me.
Three years ago on your Tumblr page you had a post titled “Bad Company Reunion” with a text “Will I be involved? NO!”. Why did you change your mind?
Really, when did I say that? Maybe… I have to look back, it’s probably still there. So… why did I change my mind? Good question.
If I’m honest I was intrigued more than anything. I wanted to see what it’d be like to work again with Fresh and Jason, because he’s been an important part of my history with Future Forces, Hardware Renegade, Trouble In Vinyl. So far it’s been really fun, I can’t say it was easy, because we’re all in very different places in the scene right now, but I’m in a lucky position where I can do whatever I want and no one will say anything. I’ll only ever put my name on something I’m totally happy with. I wanna see what we come up with, if it doesn’t work out – so be it, it’s not the end of the world, but I’m always to the opportunity, as I always say I love to collaborate with other people.
Have you ever heard one of your productions in some absolutely random hilarious scenario?
There was actually a Bad Company tune in a really shit movie with Orlando Bloom and it wasn’t a great tune either. Damn, it was a really strange time, it was just when Fresh has left Bad Company and it was me, Jason and Michael and a tune was called “One Less Monkey”… Ah! The movie was “Calcium Kid”! Awful! Really bad movie. How did it end up there? Who knows! It was one of those cases with publishing and management where it was like “We’ll give you this amount of money so we can use this track in this movie” and we were like “Really? Alright, fair enough, hahaha”.
I guess it was the weirdest one… oh, hang on. Actually, “The Nine” was on a really strange advertisement for the crisps called “Scampi Fries” which were proper smelly.. So the concept of the video was – there is a school party going in the house, “The Nine” is playing on the background. There’s this guy who is trying to get a girl and then they go upstairs, but she’s like “no, f*ck off”. So he goes to eat those crisps really quick and then goes down to his pals and makes them smell his fingers, because his fingers smelled so stinky, implying that he actually fingered her. Really odd and random! It also had a slogan “Sweet smell of success!” or something *laughing*. And it was never on TV, only at cinemas and then it got banned, but I think it’s still up somewhere on Youtube.