THE NEXTMEN VS GEN­TLE­MAN’S DUB CLUB

Un­pick­ing the pro­duc­tion be­hind reg­gae-styled sin­gle Rude­boy

Computer Music - - Contents -

Fus­ing the hip-hop-based pro­duc­tion sen­si­bil­i­ties of veteran DJ/pro­ducer duo The Nextmen with the reg­gae stylings of the more overtly ‘live’ Gen­tle­man’s Dub Club, the in­fec­tious, rap-in­fused, horn-drenched Rude­boy was one of this sum­mer’s stand­out tracks, and the per­fect taster for the im­promptu col­lec­tive’s equally bril­liant col­lab­o­ra­tion al­bum, Pound For Pound.

We caught up with The Nextmen’s Dom Search and Brad Baloo, and GDC’s Toby Davies, at one of their Lon­don stu­dios, to talk about the project and how it came to­gether – and, of course, get a be­hind-the-scenes in­sight into the mak­ing of the track Rude­boy it­self.

: How did the clearly very suc­cess­ful part­ner­ship be­tween The Nextmen and GDC first come to­gether?

Dom Search: “The Nextmen was a group me and Brad formed a long, long time ago. Back then, we were heav­ily in­flu­enced by New York hip-hop, mainly: Pete Rock, Premier, stuff like that, so our beats were very much in that vein. And over the years, the sound has changed; we’ve brought in all sorts of dif­fer­ent gen­res,

“It’s a per­fect fit: kind of tra­di­tional reg­gae with a slightly mod­ern sound and a real Lon­don twist”

re­ally. The hip-hop thing is very dis­tinct in our pro­duc­tion, and the reg­gae thing is very dis­tinct, which, go­ing to the end of the arc, is why we ended up work­ing with GDC. It’s a per­fect fit: kind of tra­di­tional reg­gae with a slightly mod­ern sound and a real Lon­don twist.”

: With so many peo­ple in­volved, get­ting an en­tire al­bum writ­ten and pro­duced must have been a com­pli­cated process?

DS: “Brad and Toby did a lot of the pro­duc­tion and get­ting the be­gin­nings of the tracks to­gether; then me and Kiko [Bun, one of the vo­cal­ists on Rude­boy] do­ing a lot of the writ­ing, BVs, verses and stuff; then me do­ing ad­di­tional pro­duc­tion on about half the tracks. With

Rude­boy, for ex­am­ple, Brad sent me the be­gin­nings of it, and it sounded very sim­i­lar but it didn’t have the hot­ter high fre­quen­cies that are in it now. He sent me the early ver­sion, which had fin­gered bass – lovely! – but I swapped it out for 808s. Im­me­di­ately, I thought, we want this to be a re­ally clear, trans­par­ent bass in the club, and it worked. So I lit­er­ally switched out and re­played the bass with a ‘newer’ sound.”

Toby Davies: “We did loads of it over email, Drop­box and WeTrans­fer. Get­ting the stuff from Joe Dukie [of Fat Freddy’s Drop, also singing on the al­bum] was, like… he’s in New Zealand! He had a hard drive prob­lem for a bit, and that was kind of scary. There was a point where we thought it wouldn’t hap­pen, but he got it fixed.”

DS: “There was a piv­otal mo­ment in the pro­duc­tion and writ­ing cy­cle of this record where we all went down the pub – the Fal­ter­ing Full­back in Fins­bury Park. We went back to our man­ager Harry’s place in Wood Green, and got all the beats we had on our phones out. Some­one would play a beat that no one had heard be­fore, and Johnny and Kiko would just start freestyling over it. We recorded ev­ery­thing that was done in the kitchen onto our phones while we were hav­ing a few beers. So many of the ideas came from that – so many of the hooks, a cou­ple of lyri­cal ideas…”

TD: “We recorded ev­ery­thing, and then the next day – when we weren’t drunk! – we lis­tened to it, and there were some cool bits in there.”

DS: “Peo­ple should do that more. I’m tempted to have a week­end ses­sion where you just get six or seven peo­ple in here, a cou­ple of pro­duc­ers, and do a week­end of stay­ing up all night and see­ing what hap­pens. I reckon if you do that with any group of ta­lented peo­ple, you end up with an aw­ful lot of am­mu­ni­tion.”

: Did the al­bum end up sound­ing more like The Nextmen, GDC or a cross ?

DS: “The sound of the record is re­ally sin­gu­lar. And for an act like The Nextmen, that was quite lib­er­at­ing, as we’re all over the place with our mixes and quite a lot of our pro­duc­tion. The tem­pos are dif­fer­ent, some things have got more of an acous­tic el­e­ment… it be­ing a reg­gae record was re­ally lib­er­at­ing.”

TD:“We’re all do­ing so many dif­fer­ent projects that we had to do it like this, but that also helped us to keep the sound in a sort of ‘box’ of its own. The lim­i­ta­tions of the cir­cum­stances we were in were a re­ally pos­i­tive thing. That’s of­ten the same when it comes to any pro­duc­tion: lim­i­ta­tions can make you much more re­source­ful with your ideas. It was just re­ally fun do­ing the whole thing!”

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