Tuesday, 08 January 2013 14:13

Thumpa Interview - Core Exclusive!

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It would be wrong to call Thumpa an 'unsung hero', because those in the know now all about him and his pioneering efforts in freeform and hardcore at large. It's that not enough people know about him and his Rebuild Records empire. Well, no more. Here at Core we recognise talent and commitment, and Thumpa has these in droves. We flipped the script and let Thumpa do the talking in our interview.


The Rebuild label (http://www.rebuildmusic.net/) has been making waves in underground hardcore since 2009. Thumpa's unstinting devotion to his label and the music he loves has seen compilation after compilation sell out in record time, and recognition of his work has not come before time. Wth things set to grow and develop further in underground hardcore in 2013, we thought it was high time that we spoke to Thumpa. But we've decided to do things a little differently, and given the man some topics to go in on, rather than direct questions. Have a read, and let us know what you think as ever in the comments below!
Core: Your personal background in music
Thumpa:  I've always been into music since a young age, my Dad was (and still is) a soul and blues DJ and he's got more records than anyone I know! When I was 10 my parents got me a 'Rave 92' tape with The Prodigy, The Orb, 2 Unlimited etc and it just went from there. In 1996 I listened to hardcore and drum & bass for the first time on Radio One (Vibes and DJ Rap live at Tribal Gathering) and I just fell in love with it straight away. I saved up for some decks (my Dad wouldn't let me get decks til I had 1000 records as he wanted me to have a musical education!) and every week I'd spend my tenner wages from being a paper boy on one hardcore record and one jungle record. Over the next few years I learnt how to mix and played at local parties then in 2000 I scored a residency playing D&B at Simon Bassline Smith's night 'Technique' in Derby. I could bore you with all my bookings from 2000 onwards but here we are in 2013, I'm still here and still playing out regularly!
Core: ReBuild's background/releases/most recent release
Thumpa:  I started ReBuild Music in April 2009, it sounds cheesy but it feels like I was meant to run a label. I don't make music and I like a wide range of stuff, plus I'd like to think I've got an ear for good music, so the label is a pleasure to run! The label started off with digital EP's on Trackitdown etc but it got very boring very fast, so at the start of 2010, I organised a double CD called 'Worldwide Freeform' and haven't looked back since. I've released 6 compilations, they've all sold out in months (if not weeks) and every one has had a lot of praise from the loyal supporters of ReBuild. The most recent release 'Freeformania' sold 300 copies in 48 hours, which was absolutely mental. I'll probably do another one in April 2013 with 3 discs of hardcore, breaks and freeform. If you're reading this and you make music, get in touch!
The label has featured pretty much everyone I respect in this scene, Gammer, Slipmatt, DJ Shimamura, The Speed Freak, Fracus & Darwin, DJ Fury, the Nu Energy/HBC boys, the FINRG boys, S3RL, Ponder, Gavin G, Pinnacle, Greg Peaks, Prospect...the list goes on. If they make great music they have been on the label!
Core: Your take on hardcore/ what you see as your place in the scene
Thumpa: The hardcore 'scene' is in a very weird place right now. There are almost 2 separate scenes, with the big raves having a lot of samey music and (in my opinion) stale lineups with no inspiration. Then there's our scene, with events like Hardcore Underground and I Love Hard Beats where exciting, fresh music is pushed by Fracus & Darwin, A.B, Douglas, Endemic and the Hard Beats Collective boys, the breakbeat boys like CLSM, Ponder, Gavin G, Entity, Strife II and more. I know I've missed people off the list but you know who you are boys! In no other scene is talent stifled and held down like it is in hardcore; compare it to drum & bass where new talent is nurtured and pushed to the big lineups and you soon see the problem with hardcore. Artists like Hazard, Original Sin, Sub Focus, Chase & Status etc have become huge over the last few years because of people like Andy C and Hype showcasing them but it is just not like that in hardcore. 
Take for example, CLSM have just released a triple CD album through all the major outlets with a disc of new stuff, a disc of classic CLSM tracks and a disc of grime, hip hop, dancefloor kind of stuff. This album is excellent, the music on there should be on Radio One daytime, never mind played at raves, but where is the support from the big boys in hardcore? There have been several commercial artist albums in HMV, Play, Amazon released this year but because they aren't 'one of the boys' they don't get any support from big DJs, labels and promoters. The hardcore scene is unprofessionally run across the board and there is very little in the way of partnerships and support between events and labels, there have been massive public squabbles lately and it has made our music look even more unprofessional. Unfortunately, this is one of the many reasons why drum & bass is massive throughout the world and hardcore is probably a smaller scene than it was in 1996 when I got into it. There needs to be a lot more working together and the big labels and events need to realise that labels like ReBuild and HU are actually selling a lot of great music and making decent money. Saying all that though, I am making it my personal mission to get labels working together in 2013...
Core: What you see happening next in hardcore/what you see changing in the near future
Thumpa:  I personally think that the hardcore scene will continue to go downhill, and the underground hardcore scene will continue to trend upwards, with more new music and more partnerships. The problem with hardcore is, the people at the top of lineups aren't doing anything to warrant being at the top, whereas all us lot are doing everything we can to get on those lineups. Things are getting better with Hardcore Underground getting a bit of recognition and my label doing so well but there really needs to be a big meeting between everyone, the big and small labels, the major promoters and everyone who is someone in 'the scene' to make some kind of deal where we all look after each other and new music, fresh faces and exciting lineups are made a priority. Ravers really are open to new ideas and want new music, we just need to get that music out there and give them a variety of sound in the main rooms that can break a night up and keep everyone interested. A lot of people don't want anthem bashing and 'Come Running' for the 4th time, they want new music and they want stuff they've never heard before! I also think DJs should do a bit more DJ'ing and a bit less playing 15 of their own tracks at the same tempo and style. A DJ set is meant to progress and reach a finish, not plod along with vocal anthem after vocal anthem. There needs to be light and shade to a set and you need to take ravers up and down, that's my opinion anyway. 
Core: What impact you see Hardcore Underground's win at the recent HH awards having.
Thumpa:  I hope that some good comes from it, I am really happy for them and it was nice to be there at the awards and congratulate them! I think it probably shocked a lot of the 'big boys' who probably thought they had it in the bag, but the simple fact is HU are releasing albums in HMV and on the major stores like Play and Amazon. I don't see anyone doing that kind of thing, the last UK hardcore artist album released through major stores was probably Darren Styles' album in 2010 ish. HU have got a great business model and as long as they keep releasing quality albums with good, varied music then the sky is the limit! I think this music scene needs shaking up and HU, along with ReBuild and our other label friends are the people to give it that shake. You can print that off and stick it on the wall folks!
Core: Your thoughts on DJ'ing
Thumpa: I'm not really sure what to say on this. DJ'ing means different things to different people, to some its playing brand new music and breaking new anthems, to some people its doing a live set on Ableton etc and doing loads of crazy entertaining stuff, to others it’s just playing good tunes, old or new, and making sure people have a good time. I'm not very technical so I've always just played a set of tunes I like, chucking in a few old tunes but making sure a crowd hears brand new stuff too. I'm very old skool when it comes to DJ'ing, I like to start at one point and finish a bit harder, faster or deeper with a progression of music through the set. Some DJs just play an hour of vocal anthems and their last tune is as hard/fast as their first one, this is not DJ'ing to me.
Core: What else do you do outside of music
Thumpa: I live with my girlfriend in a little city called Lichfield. We have 2 cats and a nice house that we own together. I have a simple life really, I have a nice desk job that keeps me warm in the winter and I work 15 mins walk from my house. I'm out a lot of weekends either DJ'ing or going to raves (I love all kinds of dance music, especially hardcore, D&B and gabber and I love a night out listening to music!). I watch a lot of football and WWE (don't ask!) and I've got a solid group of friends that I love like family. I've met a lot of people through this music, some don't like me because I am opinionated and loud with it, but I think most people know I love this music and want to see it do well. Not much gossip I'm afraid, next question!
Core: Shouts
Thumpa: Shouts to everyone at Core Mag, I wrote for it back in 2008 and loved every minute of it! Shouts to Tansy my very understanding and very beautiful girlfriend, my old man for introducing me to music, my Lichfield boys for always coming to gigs with me and supporting me from day one, the HU boys who have been great mates for 10+ years, Oli G & Mozz, A.B, Douglas, the Endemic boys and everyone at HBC, Grant at Slammin, Rude at Uproar (thanks for being the first big promoter to book me in 2004!), Andy Vortex, Scorps, my heroes Sy, Brisk, Devastate, Sharkey and Kev, all the artists on ReBuild and all the people who buy the releases...you know who you are!
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Gideon Thomas

Senior Contributor

I am the Senior Contributor for Core as well as an independent writer, reviewer, and researcher. I currently contribute a range of websites and magazines, and I am a press agent and music reviewer for a selection of labels and bands. Please get in touch if you want to know more.

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