Big Up Mix 100 ~ Etch

podcast_etch_blog

Man like Etch provides the heat for Big Up’s 100th mix installment. The Brighton based jungle revivalist has left a sizable impression on the scene with several acclaimed releases across both Soundman Chronicles and Keysound Recordings, inspiring countless youths along the way. I sat down with the man himself to discuss his forthcoming label, future collaborations and Final Fantasy.

[toggle title=“Tracklist”]
01 – Etch – The Serpent & The Rainbow [Soundman Chronicles]

02 – Epoch – Stonecutter [Unreleased]

03 – Moresounds – Reality Tune [Astrophonica]

04 – Sully – Hours, Miles & Still… [Unreleased]

05 – Mobb Deep – Up North Trip (Etch ReVibe) [Forthcoming BTG]

06 – Ilk – Yes, Ruff! [Unreleased]

07 – Fracture & Chimpo – From Early (Fractures Reduction Mix) [Metalheadz]

08 – Etch – Spider Leg Shuffle [Unreleased]

09 – DJ Roc – Get Buck Juice [Planet Mu]

10 – Big L – All Black (Etch ReShade) [Forthcoming BTG]

11 – Etch – YoYo Riddim! [Unreleased]

12 – Etch – Lazerzone [Unreleased]

13 – Itoa – Top Deck (Moresounds Remix) [Bad Taste]

14 – Jlin – Guantanamo [Planet Mu]

15 – Fis – DMT Usher [Tri Angle]

16 – Gantz – Spooky Action At A Distance [Innamind – Blacklist]

17 – Rabit – Rabit-ing [Unreleased]

18 – Dälek – Ruin It, Ruin Them, Ruin Yourself Then Ruin Me (Dälek Remix) [Tigerbeat6]
19 – Squarepusher (Chaos AD) – Up The Gary [Rephlex]

20 – DJ Spooky – Anansi Abstrakt [Asphodel]

21 – Nine Inch Nails – 6 Ghosts I [The Null Corporation][/toggle]

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interview by Teo Leibowitz



How does your hometown, Brighton, compare with London? What inspired your return after three years living in the English capital?

I’m not really sure, I feel more creatively free in Brighton. I guess, London is very claustrophobic and quite stressful, which reflects on a lot of the music I made while I was living there and a lot of the music you hear coming out of London-centric producers. Brighton is quite an easy going place, you can walk everywhere, it’s relatively relaxing and so on. But the main reason I left London is because of how expensive it is to live there, really. But I’ve noticed I have been a lot more productive since moving back here.

You recently announced Bun The Grid (BTG), in your own words a “label/night/evil empire”. How did this conglomerate come about? What direction are you trying to take the label in? And what would it be like to live in Etch’s evil empire?

Hahaha, my evil empire would be a dark place… But yeah so, Bun The Grid came about accidentally, when myself, Ilk & Bulu just kinda naturally bonded with each other at this year’s BLOC festival. Dom’s always coming through with ideas and knows his way around the music/nightlife industry and is great at giving us a kick up the arse. And Ilk is just an amazing producer and DJ, someone who I’ve always rated, even when he was like 16 years old.

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I'm personally quite sick of genre attachments and scenes, and the UK's never-ending notion of "moving forwards". I personally get frustrated being expected to put out certain things.

[/quote_left]The name just kind of happened sporadically when I made a tune without using a grid, and made it invisible by making the mesh the same colour as the background. I sent the tune to Dom and said “I bunned the grid off”. As for direction, I’m personally quite sick of genre attachments and scenes, and the UK’s never-ending notion of “moving forwards”. I personally get frustrated being expected to put out certain things. I’m drawn a lot more to sounds, as opposed to genres, despite how my tunes may roll out. The overall idea behind BTG is a focus on music that falls between the gaps of beat-driven styles. I’m excited a lot by what people like ITOA, Fracture, Sully, Moresounds, Gantz, FIS, Sam Binga, Epoch & so on are outputting, and labels like Samurai, Exit, Astrophonica and Tri-Angle. They exist on the fringe of genre and put out highly interesting music. And it’s no secret I’ve fallen back in love with faster bpm’s.

[quote]

Also a large reason why I'm up for starting a label is because I'm sick of trying to get people to listen to me. I'm quite lazy and quite self-conscious about my tunes. I feel like online promotion and stuff like that is all about who can shout the loudest, which is not what I'm trying to do.

[/quote]

Also a large reason why I’m up for starting a label is because I’m sick of trying to get people to listen to me. I’m quite lazy and quite self-conscious about my tunes. I feel like online promotion and stuff like that is all about who can shout the loudest, which is not what I’m trying to do. I just enjoy nerding out and making music that resonates within myself. Other people liking it is obviously a great bonus, but a lot of the tracks I make that I’m personally really into are rarely the ones people take much notices of, because they tend to be a lot more subtle and personal. This gives me a platform to release them without having to “sell myself” or fall into the current trend.

“Yo-Yo Riddim”, a forthcoming track on BTG, has a prominent vocal feature. Are you looking to collaborate with vocalists/MCs at some point in the future?

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I don't think I'll ever work with grime MCs, I love grime's energy and sparseness, particularly the newer wave of grime, but it's not something I'm particularly drawn to in terms of production.

[/quote_left]That whole thing came about by accident, despite being the primary catalyst in starting BTG. I’m always open to the idea of working in new creative avenues. I think first and foremost I buzz off creativity in any medium, so trying out new things and experimentation is always at the root of what I do. In fact, I have worked with the amazing Farrah on a track which should be out by the end of the year. it was a lot of fun, because I’ve always sampled vocals, so it’s nice to have a bit more control over the vocal element of a track. As for MCs, I’ve also worked on a hip hop track with Black Josh, T-Man & Sparkz all of who are part of the Manchester based LVLZ collective, who are also a crew that I’m really currently influenced by, and I’d love to work with again in the future. I don’t think I’ll ever work with grime MCs, I love grime’s energy and sparseness, particularly the newer wave of grime, but it’s not something I’m particularly drawn to in terms of production. Although I made a grime tune about 4-5 years ago, which is actually coming out this year.

You use Fruity Loops Studio as your main production hub. What, for you, distinguishes FL from other software and what other software/hardware is involved in your production process?

Yeah, Fruity Loops will always be the center of my productions, even if I collect vast amounts of hardware, FL will be the final shout. Mainly because I feel it’s just a very simple piece of software that does exactly what it has to, translates what’s in my head into the program. I’ve used it since I was about 12 years old, so that’s 10 years now… I also use lots of other software, but I treat them kind of like external instruments that I generate sounds in, then bounce back into FL. For example Ableton I tend to use for stretching samples and blending certain elements. Reason I use for its internal synths and effects, and I sometimes use Logic for the same reason. I also sample a lot off of vinyl, I enjoy digging (despite that era potentially being over) and hip hop culture, so it’s always going to be a big part of what I do.

[quote]

Old hardware is very en vogue at the moment, but I think a lot of people are getting it for the sake of it, rather than investing time into it.

[/quote]

I’ve also recently got a Roland D-50 Linear Synthesizer, which is amazing for kinda Detroit chords and pads, I use it to some extent in pretty much everything I do now. I’m looking to expand my hardware a bit, but not letting it engulf my sound. I’ve always been a lot more into sample manipulation, as opposed to straight synthesized sounds. Old hardware is very en vogue at the moment, but I think a lot of people are getting it for the sake of it, rather than investing time into it. I really enjoy getting away from the screen and tinkering on stuff for a bit and learning new things, so it’s definitely an avenue I’d like to explore. I’ve also been getting quite into Max/MSP and using it through Ableton via Max for Live, although it’s very time consuming and I tend to spend hours making one insignificant thing, as opposed to writing actual tracks.

Your mix features one of your Jungle reworks of an East Coast classic, Big L’s “All Black”. How influential is hip hop to your production and can we expect to see a series of “West Coast” reworks too?

[quote_left]

Hip hop has always been in my family, one of the first albums I was ever bought by my Auntie was Snoop Dogg "Doggystyle". A questionable purchase for a 9 year old, but I wasn't even listening to the lyrics really, I was all about the beats.

[/quote_left]Hip hop is HUGELY influential to my music; it always has been always will be: from ’80s electro to “golden age hip hop” to UK hip hop to current day southern-influenced kinds of styles. Hip hop has always been in my family, one of the first albums I was ever bought by my Auntie was Snoop Dogg Doggystyle. A questionable purchase for a 9 year old, but I wasn’t even listening to the lyrics really, I was all about the beats. My uncle who has always been a big influence on all the music I make, from giving me his old hardcore and jungle records and of course through his creative medium of choice, which is painting and graffiti, he has always been big into hip hop. I actually produce hip hop on the sly under alias – The Slice Provider, I have a bandcamp with a bunch of free stuff. It’s all a bit of fun, it’s never been the forefront of my productive output.

But yeah, the East Coast Jungleworx idea came into my head after I made the “Bucktown refix” on the flight back from playing Reconstrvct in NY last winter. I realized I could forge a lot of these tracks to fit into my 160bpm-ish sets and that’s basically it! As for “West Coast” that’s definitely an idea I’m going to explore, but I’m currently working on East Coast Jungleworx vol.2, they’re also good to just get out there and shed a bit of light on BTG, because they kind of embody the approach we’re taking with BTG: a bit of fun but not a joke and aimed for the headphones and the dancefloor.

You’ve played out in Brooklyn, Barcelona and Prague in the last year, among various other shows in England. Which shows have stood out and which cities would you like to perform in and visit in the future?

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While deejaying is not my favorite thing to do in the world, it’s always great to play to audiences looking to have fun and see the world, as I tend to be a bit of a hermit by default

[/quote_left]Yeah, It’s been great getting about a bit. While deejaying is not my favorite thing to do in the world, it’s always great to play to audiences looking to have fun and see the world, as I tend to be a bit of a hermit by default haha. I think obviously my favorite show I’ve played in terms of a great audience, great vibe and a personal benchmark in my DJ skills was Reconstrvct. Everyone who was there that night knows… Shout out to all the stateside crew. Prague was also amazing, was a really cool city, cross club was crazy and getting messy with Epoch, someone who I feel I’ve known my whole life. Overall, I feel like I’m perhaps more appreciated abroad, for whatever reason, crowds always seem more up for it. That said, doing a little secret hip hop set in Bristol for 4seasons last year was amazing too, the crowd went absolutely mental!! Was not expecting it, especially as I wasn’t even on the line up, I think it’s just further evidence that hip hop will always stand strong, and was also another catalyst for driving me towards incorporating hip hop styles into my production.

Your mix for Sinewave featured an untitled track by yourself and Bristol based producer, Facta. You also hinted at a future release on the latter’s new imprint, Wisdom Teeth. Can we expect more collaboration between you two in the future? Which other producers would you like to collaborate with?

[quote_left]

Hopefully over the course of this year, and into next, people will come to know what I'm getting at a bit more with the releases I've got planned, and know that I'm not one to hang about under one umbrella.

[/quote_left]Yeah, shout out Oscar! That tune we never actually ended up finishing, but it’s basically finished anyway and I still really rate it. I think it covered both of our sounds at that point perfectly. Facta is someone I’ll always rate; he has a really distinctive sound and is able to bend that into whatever style of track he makes, which is something I always aspire to achieve. As for Wisdom Teeth, I guess the cat’s out the bag, “Toxin” will be coming out on Wisdom Teeth very soon with a wicked K-Lone track on the flip. “Toxin” is a weird one for me, I genuinely thought no one would like it, but it turned out to be quite rated amongst the people who have heard it. It’s kind of a weird 118bpm semi-garage, semi-grime roller. But throwing curve-balls like that is kind of what I’m all about: its freedom of expression and experimentation shining through. Obviously I’m still in relatively early stages of my output as a producer, and I don’t think my vision is fully realized by myself, let alone other people yet. But hopefully over the course of this year, and into next, people will come to know what I’m getting at a bit more with the releases I’ve got planned, and know that I’m not one to hang about under one umbrella.

What do you get up to, when you’re not making/listening/playing out music?

Tschh, not actually that much to be honest hahaha! I’ve just got back from visiting my uncle in America and pretty much all I did there was make music as well. I’ve got a very prolific work rate and have a kind of OCD about the fact of constantly being productive. I’ll always have my laptop with me, with something on the go, whether it be making audio samples from messing with plugins and VST’s, sampling films and youtube videos and so on. I’m also a massive video game fan, I nerd out hard on compelling single-player games like Final Fantasy VII and The Last of Us etc… I also love films and visual media. My primary education through college and Uni was focussed on film and film sound, I got huge amounts of love for exploitation cinema and video-nasty kinda stuff. 9 times out of 10 while I’m making tunes I’ve got some dutty budget ’70s slasher film on in the background, I sample them a lot too. I also got love for experimental/art house cinema and stuff from people like David Lynch, Gaspar Noe, Lars Von Trier, Maya Deren, Jan Svankmejer… Shout out my old film studies teacher who believed in aliens, you know who you are <3. What’s your favorite book?

I’m not actually much of a reader, which may come as a shock considering what a nerd I am. I’m definitely in the “a picture speaks a thousand words” school of thought, and I guess I kind of overwork my mind a bit and can never focus my full attention on one thing, hence having films on while making tunes. The last book I read, Energy Flash by Simon Reynolds was really cool and an essential for anyone interested in the history of dance music. Obviously the bait ones such as Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas and The Beach, they were cool, I read those way back in school though, when we had to do “reading afternoon” haha. To be honest I think Final Fantasy taught me to read and write haha…

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