Their new sound has achieved high acclaim, with the self-titled first album on Tectonic selling out on vinyl. Expect melody, expect weight, and expect depth. Music for the soul.
Here is a sincere and in-depth interview from these titans of the bass music scene.
Tell us a bit about what an audience can expect from the live show?
R: We don't perform with live instruments at the moment – it's more an 8-track dub mix, using external effects and internal computer effects to fill out, chop and blend tracks of ours as Author, and our individual releases.
JS: We use whatever works with the set really. It’s an ode to our first debut album. Fans of that will definitely be able to relate. Every set will be different; whenever people come see us they’ll only hear that version of that tune once. It’s a very personal thing really.
How do you think this relates to your individual projects?
JS: This is really what we want to be doing. I mean, you can only go so far with beats and bass and the standard format of producing and DJ-ing. There are only so many combinations and themes. With this you can transform music into something that is really your own. With our individual projects you work on progression within each tune, but with this we can put a lot more thought into the mix as a whole, to make sure everything blends seamlessly, making little VIP versions of tracks or whatever along the way. We’re breaking everything down into its component parts and rearranging it so the audience might be hearing one track over three other tracks. It turns everything into one long stream. One big massive track. It’s great because people who listen to our tracks on youtube or whatever will be getting a whole new experience.
So do you think this is more interesting than just a DJ show?
JS: There’s an age old debate about live DJs and what is truly live and all the rest. First of all we’ve got 20 years DJ experience; we have to do something that keeps it interesting for us. If we are able to remix something and change it as we’re playing, it makes it a lot more personal.
R: There is this concept that DJs only really press play anyway, so why wouldn’t you play live. I don’t necessarily agree with that but I think as we’ve been DJing so long and we’re so comfortable with beat-matching and key-matching and all the intricacies of DJ-ing, for us to go do something almost completely different and create a mangle of different tracks and tweak things live instead of just concentrating on the usual beat-match/key blends, it’s a whole different approach. You’re slightly more confined in terms of the beat-matching and key-matching having been prepared already, but that frees you up to do other things such as trigger fx or tweak processing and arrangements etc. It’s a totally different way of working and we can see the benefits of both sides.
JS: We may not attract the fresh faced 14 – 22 crowd and selling out arenas, but I think there’ll be a discerning listener of a certain age group that may be listening and taking in something of the 90’s aesthetic... But you know our music is still on it, we’re not trying to pretend to be anyone we’re not, or trying to fit in with one kind of trend or another. I think people can relate to that.
How did you decide to work together?
JS: I think I met him through my manager who puts on Outlook Festival and some nights in Leeds (Exodus and Subdub). Simon (Scott) showed me some of Dom (Ruckspin)’s music, and I think Dom had heard of me but not really heard much of my music. I think at first neither of us really liked each other’s music (laughs)… but we could see how we each-others' music could be developed or produced differently.
R: It’s kind of more about taste than it is about technical ability. If you’re doing music now and trying to keep up with technology you haven’t got a chance. I mean that is what drum and bass was like in the 90’s, trying to keep up with the cutting edge technology but now not so much. There’s so much about, you can’t keep up with everything. There’s no shame in not knowing it all. It’s really interesting for us being in that constant state of learning and constant state of experimenting. That’s where taste comes in: we have very similar taste and always have this connection where we kind of know what the other person is trying to do.
JS: Yeah, so there’s a situation where you can be working on something and you don’t quite get it 100% but the other person can come along, see where you’re going with it, pick out bits and make it work.
I mean when we first started out we were making dubstep in the early days, but now it’s something completely different. There’s an efficiency about the studio, software, the live instruments and instrumentalists that we use, etc that we can sit down and create anything we can think of. Even down to film soundtracks or foley/sound design. Unfortunately it’s difficult to get all that involved in the live show…
R: We’d love to get live instrumentalists involved in the live show but from experience with my live band (Submotion Orchestra) it's a lot more complicated than a 2-man all-in-one compact ableton/fx setup. For a start I would probably have to be situated at the front-of-house mixing console in order to make sure the live instruments were mixed properly.
JS: It’s a big risk. But you know the first album sold out and we’ve been to Japan so there’s something incredible going on…
RS: …we must be doing something right (laughs).
What are your views on the whole mid-range scene that’s arisen over the past few years?
JS: It’s not really something that interests me. It’s completely different, like asking a heavy metal fan to listen to Bjork and be musically appreciative of that, you know it’s not going to happen. I don’t have anything against them but I’d rather do what I’m doing to be honest.
R: When I first got into dubstep; which was kind of ’97, there was a lot of experimental stuff about, you know people like Pinch, Vex’d, Photek, Headhunter, really forward thinking artists using all kind of garage influences, industrial, dnb, techno influences. I thought it was a really exciting new genre that I could really get my teeth into and be accepted for whatever it was I brought to the table. Coming from a classical musical background I could appreciate it all for what it is. All that variety really excited me. But then you look at this genre which might be termed as ‘bro-step’ or whatever, “mid-range wobble”. That became commercial; because it is always the most blatant and un-subtle version of something which is going to be the most commercially viable. Same happened with drum&bass a few years before. Dubstep as a genre came from a combination of the space and minimal approach in the dub genre, combined with the groove and tempo in the garage genre. There’s nothing dubby or garagy about what Skrillex is doing. I could call it electronic dance music or whatever, but I don't consider it to be anything new or special. There's a Jimi Hendrix statement in one of my releases (Cymatic - 'Electric Church') that pretty much sums up my feelings about the whole subject.
JS: You know while these kids are listening to Skrillex when they’re 15, we’ll be waiting for them when they’re 25. (laughs)
Can you describe your set up?
JS: At the moment it revolves around a laptop running ableton, several midi controllers and some external FX all going through a standard DJ mixer. We take a very minimal set up abroad with us really. It’s very easy to fit in a bag and take with us. Obviously we’re looking to incorporate more live elements but… we need to get paid more to do that(laughs).
R: Plus, it is very difficult with instruments. You have to start thinking of getting the right levels, and without a proper sound engineer, I’d probably end up doing that, meaning I’m at the back doing what I do with Submotion Orchestra: I’m wanting to do something different to that with Author. We are looking into it from late this year, next year sort of time though. Perhaps only involving a couple of guests from the old album and the forthcoming one. Everything’s been really busy - it’s definitely something to look forward to.
If you had to choose a track which our readers could go look up to get an idea of the Author sound… what would you choose?
R: It’s difficult, when you’re talking about trying to keep everything varied it’s hard to associate that with one sound… You know those people who always talk about the “London sound” or the “Bristol sound”, that doesn’t make any sense to me because there’s so many people all making different stuff, how can there be a sound for one area? Or even one producer? If they’re all good enough, they’ll be making all kinds of different things. If you produce for live bands you have to work with what they make, so you can't make everything sound the same.
JS: Yeah, even when just talking in terms of bpm. We’ve produced all kinds of tracks, including techno or drum and bass… But if we were talking about one track, I think ‘Green and Blue’ for me is a serious contender both in terms of production and getting something we’re both really really happy with. We can both play it happily every time; even though it’s quite chilled out, and know it is going to work.
R: Yeah it’s important to have confidence in your own tracks.
JS: Knowing that it’ll sound great when you listen to it at home and appreciate and also that it will also sound really fucking heavy in a club and get people moving. Some people might go “oh why are you playing chill out music” when it’s not. It has a lot of power and weight behind it. What would you say Dom… Drain?
D: Well… Drain's a great track and a great album track, but I’d probably say Mothership or Teacher. They’ve both got this really bizarre, dark and ambient sound but still hold a lot of energy. Going back to the whole raw, energetic, atmospheric sound you’d find in old warehouse raves. There’s a culmination of a decades worth of music that we’ve both put into that album. So Nightmares On Wax, DJ Shadow, Metalheadz, LTJ Bukem, all sorts of influences from over ten years and can be found.
What releases have you got coming out and what gigs have you got coming up?
JS: I’ve just had one out on Deep Medi, Mala’s label. It’s Afraid of Me – Jack Sparrow which features Dom (Ruckspin) on the flip.
R: I've just finished production on the second Submotion Orchestra album which will be out on Exceptional later in the year, and also recently released a track called 'Belong' on Rob Booth's Electronic Explorations compilation.
Gigs wise we’ve got Outlook Festival, Dimensions Festival, Sparrow's off to America and I'll be doing a Submotion Orchestra tour in October to promote the new album. It’s pretty busy really till Christmas.
Any in England?
R: I’ll be playing Get Darker in London on the 3rd August, also I’m playing in Leeds on the 17th September after getting back from Outlook. I'll also be doing a lot of DJ support for Submotion Orchestra as part of their UK tour.
JS: Pretty excited about playing a little Japanese island called Okinawa at the end of the year too. It’s a beautiful place. They really appreciate the music out there.
So how do things differ over there compared to here?
JS: They just love it so much. They buy, they listen, they appreciate.
R: I don’t think they have been fed as much commercial hype about things. Everything out there seems to be on a level playing field. They’ll appreciate us going all out and being experimental and don’t need a load of hype or commercial radio play to really appreciate what we’re about.
Photography by Benn Kafanke : https://www.facebook.com/pages/BCK-Photography/125580780846437