• Vex'd - Degenerate

    Reviewed by grimemusic (grimemusic.com)

    <b> Vex'd </b> - Degenerate

    VEX'D

    Hi Jamie and Roly, How's it going? What have you been up to recently?


    It's just me, Jamie right now. Roly is on holiday with his girl. We've been getting back into making tracks. Took a break for a while after the album, getting properly back into it now tho.


    How did you guys meet up? And when did you first start producing/DJing together?


    We've been mates for years, way back. We started producing together when we were sharing a flat, bout 4 years ago. We used to listen to all the same music, deejay together, borrow each others records, but i was
    still writting jungle whereas roly was making loose dark dub stuff.When i stopped writing jungle we were ready to work together i think.

    What would you say has your most memorable DJing experience to date?
    Playing at the last planet mu rave was wicked, cos we were alongside such mad artists. Venetian Snares, Mu-Ziq, Virus Syndicate, Exile and that. Just very cool to share a platform with them, and to play in front of such a receptive, positive, young crowd. I thought electronica raves would be old blokes with beards but the crowd was live.

    What styles of music did you first try your hand at? And how have you
    arrived to your present sound?


    Jungle. But i was never happy with it. i was actually trying to make quite soulful, minimal full cycle type stuff, but it always felt quite
    stagnant to me, it was a weak aproximation of what i wanted to create.
    Eventually i started messing about with hip hop rhythms, trying to bring the bass and mid range elements from dnb into that, which helped
    me to move away from the dnb thing. But still, i wanted to do similar things with bass, atmospheres and beats. Dark garage, as it was then called, was the only other music where that was possible, without all the restrictions of form that dnb had become lumbered with. It was the
    only scene open enough to accept our beats. It's an amazing time when a scene is still taking form. Eventually i found dubplate.net, and saw tunes like, Kode 9 "babylon", Plasticman "pump up the jam" and Oris Jay "said the spider" were coming out of the same scene at the same time.That totally blew my mind.


    Who were your musical inspirations growing up, and did they have a big effect on you production wise?


    My earliest memories of music is my dad playing me "rockit" by herbie hancock, over and over. That probably put me on some kind of
    direction. Hip hop was the biggest influence as a kid, especially early Ice Cube and PE. I loved the production, I loved the tough,looped beats. But I didnt identify with it personally, it wasnt
    happening around me. When drumnbass came along, it took over. I could relate to it directly. Photek, Krust and Die round 96, the whole
    Metalheadz thing, that was my whole world. I was really disapointed with it when it went tits up a few years back. It was had turned into
    disco, clownstep and formulas. But it was good, i realised there was a whole world of music out there that I'd left unexplored. I got into
    sound design, film sound stuff as well round that time, which completely opened my ears. Just to sound in general, the sounds of our environment, of the city. Music is just a part of that.

    Me and Roly got into jungle together, he was massive on that, and he liked the darker stuff. He was fucking nuts about Wu Tang. We went to
    few dub nights together back in the day. That was big, realising that the whole bass culture existed outside of jungle. Reggae was massive
    to Roly later on, especially Sizzla, and 80s dancehall. He moved off jungle before me, so that was his replacement. Fela Kuti as well. He
    doesn't listen so much any more, probably cos he gave up smoking.We're both into the more leftfield side of rock and metal too. He
    listens to a lot of classical nowdays.

    What sort of set up have you got in your studio at the moment – Hardware, Software & VST's etc?


    Mate, it's a bit shabby right now. I'm borrowing some guy's speakers, and i've knackered them out. No other outboard, except small mixer.
    Wth the new generation of plug ins, outboard is really not a neccissity. The goal is to have outboard, it gives a sound character.
    It's also good, creatively, to be able to physically interact with equipment, as a substitute for instruments. You're more likely to come
    up with unexpected results when you twiddle knobs, hit keys and bang drums whatever, rather than use a mouse to drawing in rhythms, notes and automation. I'd like to start getting in some more percussion bits to play on, random instruments, use actual recordings more. There's
    this bad ass gong that I've got my eye on. Actually Roly's got some nice synths.

    Your amazing album "Degenerate" is out now on the Planet Mu label,how's the response been so far? And is there any hidden messages behind the Murnau styled artwork?

    Yeh it's been cool. Thing is, clearly it's not a straight grime record anymore than it is a straight dubstep record. But still these are the
    terms used to describe the record. For that reason, the more purist dubstep and grime people,they might have some difficulty in accepting it fully. I think increasingly, some people feel dubstep has a dictionary definition. There's a growing concensus that dubstep is, or
    should be, a noise-free, minimal, contemplative zone. Which is cool, I love that sound. But this record has moments of straight cacophony, of
    noise and aggression, yet people keep calling it dubstep. I know some feel those type of sounds are a bad influence. I suppose that relates
    to the title. With the look, we also wanted a record that looked totally unslick. The artist wanted to do some futuristic, polished,slick shit, we wanted the total opposite. It's a bit of a piss take really.


    What i would hope, and what is happening, is that people from outside the scene who come across the record are interested in exploring where it came from, and so they are lead by into checking the artists that inspired us. I think we're helping draw people in, and from there they
    can step in further and discover Loefah, Wiley, Plasticman etc. Some magazines compared us to The Bug and Scorn, maybe that will encourage
    people to check those artists too. That would be cool. To be totally honest tho, I'm dissapointed there's no vocals on the album. I wanted
    more grime in the mix. We tried with mcs, but i didnt think it worked on the rhythms we came with, and I didnt want to be just a token gesture. I hope it happens in the future.

    Also visited your blog (http://www.vexd.blogspot.com) what are your
    views on blogs such as Gutterbreakz & drumz of the south? Do you think they play a big role within the scene?

    Increasingly, yeah they play role. Within journalistic circles they are important. Music journalists are taking their cues from certain
    blogs. Bloggers who hold sway with such an audience have the ability to act as tastemakers. Some utilise this. What was weird was that
    until recently the bloggers that covered grime were all a certain type. Male, 30+, highly educated, white, music journalists themselves
    mostly. They write beautifully, but often in a densley verbose manner that excludes others from joining the discussion, and there's an
    amount of intellectual posturing in that. And in spite of their background, some would write about grime as if they own it. But people
    like logan sama, nandi lionesse, riko, plasticman and chantelle fiddy have started really good blogs, so the communication has opened up to
    include people who speak plain english and are genuinly involved. But our blog is just a noticeboard really.


    What are your views on the mc led grime movement, is working mc's a possibility?


    My views are that grime is the most exciting thing to have happened to british music since jungle. To me it's like a generation has found its
    voice. With hip hop, the great artists were all american, the whole aesthetic was geared to an american culture. Kids idolised Jay-Z and
    Nas, there was always that tempation to emulate their accents. Now kids have are looking up to Jammer, Kano & Trim, people with a
    language and accent that they can directly relate to. Bruza shouting "this is british, this is british", he sounds like a fruit and veg
    seller. Kids are encouraged to be proud of their locality, not feel dimished because they dont come from new york. Even if it is eventually homogenised into the blob of RnB, still it's been amazing to witness it arrive. I've already said how much i'd like to have emcess on our beats.

    The scene today seems miles away from the sounds heard 3 years ago,are you happy with the way the scene's progressed, and where would you like to see it going in the future? And where wouldn't you like to see it going?


    It moves so fast, there are so many avenues left unexplored. Like plasticman, benga & skream when they were on the uptempo, electro,
    wobbly tip. That was like a whole scene invented right there, but it shut down as soon as it appeared as the music morphed into something
    else, and those artists are all now on a different form, just a couple of years later. It's great that it's moving, but it's such a shame that so few people are witnessing it. The audience has been so small, and so many records have gone unreleased.


    I wouldn't be arrogant enough to assert that there is a right direction or a wrong direction for the music. All i can say is personally, i would love to see dubstep be more inclusive. Grime is
    expansive enough to include anything, heavy metal guitars, 80s pop samples, techno stabs, half speed or uptempo, sentimental RnB vocals,
    shouting, rage, anything. But with dubstep, if it isnt halfstep, isnt minimal, and doesnt have blatant dub referenes, then some say its not
    true dubstep. How restrictive is that? Real dub is very organic, digital sequencers aren't. It takes alot of understanding and studio technique to go down the dub route. Without that knowledge, you can end up making Digidub. Im not in that. Dubstep and grime are just influences to us tho, I think people realise that. So i'm not majorly
    fussed about politics.


    Any plans in the pipework? Events, Releases etc

    Remixes for hotflush, pitch black, more planet mu material, more stuff from subtext. We're trying out new sounds, i think people will be
    surprised by what we're on now. I feel really good about what we're doing right now.

    With all your experience in the DJ & Production game, is there any advice you could give to up and coming Producer/DJ's looking to follow
    in the footsteps of the likes of yourself?


    I would say just stay in school, get a decent career sorted out, and make music in your spare time. If one day big things start happening
    with music then you can cut back on the day job, but have something to fall back on cos there is absolutely fuck all money in the business,
    so don't gamble your future on it. Read up on mixdowns, compression,on eq, learn those skills. If you want to get on the more ambient,
    atmospheric tip, you should get deeper into sound itself. Appreciate sounds in the everyday world, not just music coming out of speakers.


    What was the last album you bought? What sort of music do you listen to in your free time?


    A Certain Ratio "Early". It's realy, really good. Tight funk rhythms with haunted vocals, drones and atmospheres. Some of the crunk type
    hip hop is sick. Dancehall is wicked right now. Alot of early 80s rap, the noisy, loose Rammelzee type stuff. Johnny Cash. Mike Patton. David Bowie. But mostly i listen to Rinse FM.


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