THE TRACK: DLR

Future Music - - FILESILO - Sofa Sound Bris­tol 003 fea­tur­ing DLR, Hy­dro & War – Not Too Late and DLR & Hy­dro – Trick is avail­able now from so­fa­sound­bris­tol.band­camp.com

Trick – The drum & bass mae­stro shows us how he went about his lat­est col­lab­o­ra­tion with Hy­dro

DnB pro­ducer DLR (AKA James Row­botham) has a glit­ter­ing re­sumé that in­cludes remix­ing Q Project’s sem­i­nal Cham­pion Sound, re­leases on Me­tal­headz, Dis­patch and Warm Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and most re­cently cre­at­ing his own la­bel, Sofa Sound Bris­tol. We caught up with James in his Bo­hemian abode to dis­cuss the AA side of the la­bel’s third re­lease, a sub-trou­bling col­lab­o­ra­tion with fel­low bass­meis­ter Hy­dro, Trick.

Hav­ing com­pared it with some other tracks in a DAW, Trick is in­cred­i­bly loud. That was a lit­tle sur­pris­ing as you didn’t seem that fo­cused on loud­ness in the video?

“For me, it’s an ob­ses­sion. It can be frus­trat­ing and make mov­ing for­ward with ideas dif­fi­cult be­cause I want things to be son­i­cally right, but the main aim with Trick wasn’t, ‘Let’s make the loud­est tune ever!’. When I work on col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­jects, time is more lim­ited and the pres­sure is on a bit more, which means I can get re­sults faster. I can put that ob­ses­sion to the side a bit be­cause I have to. It’s be­come a slight em­bar­rass­ment re­ally, peo­ple just give up with me and say, ‘I don’t want to sit around watch­ing you make that snare sound good for the next hour’. But that hour is only the bit they’re see­ing, it’s more like a whole day!

“There are a lot of tricks and things I’ve learnt along the way, for ex­am­ple when I did the at­tack on the break’s snare. That’s not some­thing that al­ways works, but you nav­i­gate through var­i­ous tech­niques to make lay­ers sit to­gether. Gen­er­ally in DnB you prob­a­bly need more tran­sient lay­ers, you need to be quite solid in drum & bass, or it kind of sounds a bit wafty in com­par­i­son to ev­ery­thing else. With Trick in par­tic­u­lar, I think it’s worked out nicely. Like the sound se­lec­tion: it all seemed to push in the di­rec­tion of be­ing a par­tic­u­larly loud mix. So it was a loud one, and it was pretty easy to get it to that point.”

Pre­sum­ably this de­sire for loud­ness plays an im­por­tant part in de­ter­min­ing the mu­si­cal con­tent of your tunes?

“When you’re sci­en­tific about things, you go down that same road, it

can all sound very samey. You can an­a­lyse ev­ery­thing and work out which key each drum is in and ev­ery­thing sits in its place, but sound has over­tones. For ex­am­ple, a kick can have a lot of other in­for­ma­tion in there as well, they don’t nec­es­sar­ily have to sit on the root note. If you do sci­en­tif­i­cally put ev­ery­thing in its place, it can lead to things be­ing a lit­tle bit stag­nant.

“I try to ex­per­i­ment with a lot of dif­fer­ent meth­ods, I’ve tried dif­fer­ent ways of work­ing with the more sci­en­tific, neu­ro­funk way of work­ing, EDM stuff. There are all these fuck­ing tu­to­ri­als, peo­ple say­ing, ‘Look at my lay­ered EDM snare’, and it’s hor­ren­dous. I sup­pose you al­ways think you know best, but like… 40Hz is good, but it’s not good in all clubs. Some­times I can play a tune in a bit of a weird room, and F is dead. Then you drop a tune in E that you think would sound worse be­cause the sound sys­tem doesn’t go low enough, and it ac­tu­ally sounds amaz­ing be­cause the room res­onates or what­ever. You just want to write good mu­sic, that’s mixed down well and you en­joy writ­ing… and you feel, in­evitably, that as you’re so fuck­ing trained in what you do, it’s gonna end up be­ing good.”

Like many DnB pro­duc­ers you seem to have a strong bond with your spec­tral anal­yser...

“It can be a bit frus­trat­ing for me be­cause some­times I look at

“When I work on col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­jects, time is a bit more lim­ited and the pres­sure is on a bit more, which means I can get re­sults faster. I can put that ob­ses­sion to the side a lit­tle bit be­cause I have to.”

spikes and troughs in the sig­nal – and at times that shit can be the prob­lem with the sound as your snare has a re­ally weird hole, like 800Hz or what­ever, and if you work to fill that in, it will sound fuller – and that is my ob­ses­sion which can be frus­trat­ing. That’s my mix­down style now, and peo­ple are used to that.

“I master a lot of mu­sic, and some peo­ple would have re­ally high snares and they cut off a lot of bot­tom, just so they’re re­ally snappy and top-endy, and then they have this thuddy low kick… but my stuff is a more full-range drum kit sound in gen­eral.

“I guess you’re just look­ing at it for what­ever you want to achieve. I’ve be­come more used to see­ing it in a spe­cific way. If you want your tune loud it’s gen­er­ally quite full in fre­quency isn’t it? Some­times I just want to ban my­self from us­ing it, but I can’t help my­self, I’m an ad­dict!”

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