Naphta Interview at drumandbass.lt
The ancient one did this nice little interview with promoter Simao in prior to his recent gig in Lithuania, and in advance of his upcoming torrent of releases I thought it'd be a good idea to post the translation here:
You’re dj’ing for about 13 years already. Lots of dnb/jungle dj’s of that generation are turned into nu school mainstream sound – jump up, clownstep. What keeps your loyalty to original breakbeat sounds over these years?
Well I guess one factor may be that I got into rave and dance music quite late by most people’s standards… I’m 36 now, so when I first got hooked on breakbeats (‘92/’93), I already had a few years of listening to other types of music behind me… essentially beginning in ‘indie’ rock and veering off into experimental/ambient, bits of jazz, ethnic, classical etc. I was no expert, but I guess it meant that, as far as music went, my loyalty was always going to be primarily to the sound of whatever I was listening to… rather than to the scene (plus there was essentially no breakbeat scene in Ireland at that time).
Don’t get me wrong – when scenes are really runnin’, they’re an inspirational place to be, but when they’re not, they can feel a bit like a creative prison… cos people sometimes get an idea of what the ‘correct’ sound is and become afraid to deviate from that. I’m pretty sure that at the end of the day, I’ve done my bit for drum n bass in Ireland, but I don’t feel an obligation to support the music if I’m not actually feeling what’s being produced… Furthermore I’ve never made any money to speak of from this music, so I’m not forced to play the biggest tunes in order to get gigs. Sure, I’ll play the biggest tunes if I happen to like ‘em, but otherwise, I just play what I wanna hear. Not a good business strategy I know… but I prefer to try and keep my musical adventures free from the poisoning influence of money. It really does always fuck things up!
2 forthcoming albums this summer on The Fear. What are the differences between them and what are the changes since your last release on Bassbin back in 2002?
The first is a free download album-sized collection of some of the tunes that I made between 2000 and 2005, entitled ‘Grande Illusions’, which should be available from The Fear within the next couple of weeks (check www.subvertcentral.com and http://www.myspace.com/djnaphta for details on that very soon).
I struggled for five years to try to find a way to make tunes that expressed my roots in Hardcore and Jungle in a contemporary drum n bass style. I don’t think I achieved great success in doing that… but some of what was produced along the way has some merit, I think, and thus maybe deserves to be heard… and that’s what makes up this album! I should mention that while none of these tunes ever saw a release, they did get vocal support in a few quarters – on the industry end principally from Pieter K and from John Doe of Counter Intelligence, so big up to them for that…
The second album is called ‘Long Time Burning’ and is composed of some of the newer more Junglistic material that I’ve been working on since 2005, plus some sample-based downtempo and atmospheric material as well… As a piece of work, this is much more representative of where I’m at these days. The album will see a CD & download release through The Fear in late summer. We’re also looking to try to get at least one 12” of similar material out too around the same time, but at the moment that’s proving prohibitively expensive for us unfortunately… however vinyl heads looking for a bit of Naphta-style Jungle right now can check my 12” on Fanu’s Lightless label, which features ‘Soundclash’ parts 1 & 2… big up to Fanu for the support on that.
With regard to changes since my last Bassbin release… I’d say that anybody who liked my track ‘Out Of Time’ will probably prefer ‘Grande Illusions’, while anybody who preferred the flipside ‘One Squeeze’ will probably go for ‘Long Time Burning’. My advice is to get both!
You’ve started Bassbin nights together with Rohan 10 years ago and were a long time resident. What is your relation to Bassbin these days?
While I DJ’d breakbeats before Bassbin started up in Ireland – and have since gone my own way (especially with my productions), Bassbin will still always represent my home in the drum n bass world, as when it kicked off, it was just me and Rohan providing the music and setting the musical agenda, and over time, as the cru evolved, we shared a lot of great nights and mad experiences together over the course of that 10 year period. Ultimately, we evolved in kinda different directions over time, and although we don’t quite see eye to eye musically these days, I have lot of respect for Rohan’s achievements in building a credible dnb label with a strong following internationally – no easy feat in these days when so many labels feel the need to push dumbed-down shit in order to survive. Rohan has some of the best people in dnb making tunes for him, and I’d still sooner the sounds pushed by Bassbin rather than anything else in dnb these days, but it’s just not where my heart is really at right now… I guess cos I worked my way right back to the heart of the Jungle… and once you get back in there, it’s pretty damn hard to leave!
Jungle culture raised in England, then Canada and US was the source of new sounds. Do you think, Ireland with you, Ricky Force and other local jungle artists could be the next scene that could make an influence and innovate jungle sound? And how’s the situation right now in Ireland?
Hard to say. For me, influencing the Jungle sound would mean opening people’s minds up to the fact that ‘Jungle’ means more than just ‘Original Nuttah’ (ruff though that track was) and endless Amens (essential though that break undoubtedly was to the sound of Jungle). Some of the deepest and ruffest Jungle back in the day was produced by the likes of DJ Monk, L Double, Kemet Cru, Bay B Kane… names that most dnb heads don’t really know any more, so it’s a tough task to get people’s attention long enough to get them to dig that little bit deeper… Certainly young RickyForce has loads of talent, and a real appreciation of just what separates the Jungle aesthetic from the drum n bass one, but I’m not sure that just 2 producers constitutes a movement hahaha! I admit it would be fantastic to hear other new producers getting on board the Jungle-train, and just going for it, and if my album helped inspire anyone to do that, I’d consider it an unqualified success.
As for the ‘drum n bass’ sound, obviously Ireland has spawned a bunch of skilled producers in that field, some of whom are doing very well for themselves these days – from Calibre and Beta 2 to Zero Tolerance and Polska… but while I appreciate and respect what they all do in their own areas, I wouldn’t really think of any of it as ‘Jungle’ (although I know some people would disagree with me there).
Tell us about The Fear. It is not very drum ‘n’ bass/jungle related label, right? What are the plans, which way will label go these days?
The Fear previously released stuff that would broadly get classed as ‘downtempo / electronica’, but essentially it was all just sample-based music, much like my own. The guys who run the label (Droid, Slug and DC) have a wonderful appreciation of music across many genres, and they aren’t concerned with what the dnb scene might think of music like mine, or with where it will fit in, or with what DJ might play it etc. etc. After years of feeling constrained by dnb’s production demands, and of feeling imaginatively retrained by the scene’s increasingly limited palette, it’s very refreshing for me to have people getting behind my stuff to release it simply because they like it! So big up The Fear cru…
Ireland is probably most “Lithuanised” country in Europe after UK. Are there Lithuanian Junglists coming to parties in Dublin? And what is the typical opinion about the scene in Lithuania or let’s say in Eastern Europe in Ireland? Did you hear something about it?
Personally Lithuania is a bit of an unknown quantity to me! Prior to the end of the Cold War, all we knew about most of Eastern Europe was that it was part of the Soviet bloc… and that didn’t really begin to change at all until Ireland began to receive lots of Eastern Europeans coming here to look for work in the last 5 years or so. As always, there can be tensions when immigrants arrive in large numbers (the Irish should know all about that as we spent the last few hundred years emigrating to places like the US, UK and Australia!), but on the whole, I think relations between the Irish and people from the Baltic States is pretty good. I don’t know anything about the Lithuanian music scene though I must confess, either in Ireland or back in Lithuania, but you must forgive me cos I’ve spent the last 6 or 7 years locked in my cave trying to make music, and I am ignorant of most things other the contents of my sampler! I should say though, that Martsman warned me that you guys were nutters (in a good way haha) so hopefully my first visit to Lithuania should be fun! I think I’ll be drawing some classic old skool beats from 94-96, so hopefully headz will be down for checking that…
You describe your occupation as buccaneer in your blog. What’s the community between junglist and buccaneer? And which one is more profitable?
A Buccaneer is a Pirate, but not a Privateer! He operates independently – free from the laws of any King, roaming the seas at will, seizing booty wherever he can! Similarly, a Junglist roams the high seas of Sound, raping and pillaging Samples and press-ganging them into service on his galleons, building tough crews and hardy ships and sailing them to exotic locations in search of buried treasure! At present, though, real piracy is far more profitable than Junglism, I can assure you!
Your message for those heads, who are thinking, that jungle is dead
Jungle is only dead if you believe the words of a few corporate ghouls who lost their way in the dnb industry/machine some years ago! The music was made, the sound is still up for grabs, it’s still vital, it’s as relevant as ever… check it, learn its language, be inspired by it… cos it ain’t ‘drum n bass’…
For anyone new to the sounds, check out a couple of mixes I did here, you might find something you like…
You’ll also find lots of other quality mixes here, across many genres of music, so do take time to check them out too…