Was delighted to return the favour on remix duties for Bobby Tank. Loved his work on Catalyze, which is basically an 80's synthwave pop tune. I gave it my own spin and brought it into the d&b dimension.
I chatted with UKF to reveal three things you probably didn't know about me and reflect on my turbulent teenage years. Head over to their website to read what is likely my most open interview yet 😬
Had great fun working on this month's show. I got interviewed Austrian masterminds Camo & Krooked for #Back2Future and dropped some exclusive new music from Muzzy, Keeno and Fliwo. The show is available to listen back to on the BBC iPlayer.
Each Bobby Tank track is like a work of art; masterfully blending emotive jazz chords and virtuoso synth leads with powerful, intricate rhythms. When I was considering remixes for We Got It, I instantly knew he was the right choice. LIFE/THRILLS was all about combining jazz / funk / 80’s themes with futuristic synths - it was essential that I got Bobby involved. I was blown away by how well he reinterpreted the song. Read on to find out more with this exclusive interview with the man himself…
please introduce yourself…
Bobby Tank, though my real name is Neil Taank. Bobby is just a nick name.
Sounds like you had a lot of fun in the studio working on this remix. Talk us through the process...
I sure did and as you are already aware, I've been a fan of yours for quite sometime so was more than honoured when you kindly asked me to be a part of the remix project.
It all depends on the original compositions so my process can vary. I approached this particular remix by extracting that beautiful piano sequence in the intro of the original, emulating it and then pretty much work round that melody. Everything else just seemed to follow and fall into place.
Your tunes sound like the culmination of some very interesting influences. Tell us about these influences and how they shaped your unique production style.
I inherited a love for soul, jazz pop/funk, rock at a very early age from listening to whatever my mother had blasting out the system when I was kid. MJ, Prince, Genesis, Aretha Franklin, Kool & the Gang, Madonna (just to name a few) were the sounds that consumed my household whilst growing up so I naturally gravitated towards gaining a great appreciation for funky upbeat melodic music. As I grew older I started listening to jungle, metal, hip hop etc and around 2006 I started to steer towards electronic music.
Your virtuosic style suggests an accomplished musical ability. Can you tell us about your musical background and your journey to becoming a successful producer?
I picked up my first instrument at age seven and have progressed from there really. Experimenting in various bands. Learning an array of instruments and understanding composition helped me cope with foundations of what I’m making today. It wasn’t until late 2010 I actually started making music on my own under the alias Bobby Tank.
Travelling the globe as a performer you must get the opportunity to see some interesting sights. What is your favourite city? Can you share any experiences?
Over the years I've been extremely fortunate to visit/experience so many different cities and cultures off the back of my crazy music! Japan stands out for me the most as its purely in a league of its own and they thoroughly understand what I do. Played alongside a good friend of mine that goes by the stage name Brokenhaze back in 2014 and was one of the most memorable nights of my life. Their hospitality is second to none and they really made me feel like I was on the right musical path for all those years.
Are you a fan of drum & bass? What are your favourite tracks?
Went through a phase of exclusively listening to jungle music for a couple years when I was a kid. DJ Krome & Mr Time 'The License' blew my mind and still does to this day.
What are your thoughts on the current state of electronic music?
I feel the experimental aspect of composition with electronica has dissipated over these past couple of years, there is no real sense of individuality anymore. Nearly every promo I come into contact with with sounds like one producer chucking out recycled loops. Don't get me wrong though, there's a sea of unbelievable music out there, we just need to desensitise from these generic trends and really open up our ears and minds.
What would be your dream collaboration?
Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis... I'd be too shook though.
Any tips for aspiring musicians?
Fuck what everyone else is doing and just do YOU.
Thank you for your time Bobby! It’s been a pleasure working with you on this release. Do you have any final words?
Big love Tom and beers on you next time we link 😉
Follow Bobby Tank...
My single ‘We Got It’ feat. Rothwell is out today. Really enjoyed handpicking the SPY and Bobby Tank remixes. They are epic, highly recommend checking them out! 🎉👍🏻
I'm proud to announce the launch of my #R1Residency show on BBC Radio 1. It's a privilege to represent drum & bass on one of the most globally recognised radio stations. Every show will be a journey through the best in cutting edge drum & bass. I will also be bringing on guests for my #BACK2FUTURE feature where an established artist reveals a track from the past and present. Kicking things off this week I've got d&b legends Matrix & Futurebound on the phone. Whichever part of the world you're tuning in from, let me know what you think of the show by getting in touch via Facebook or Twitter.
Following my One Mix, Julie Adenuga invited me to be her UK Represent for the week in the run up to the release of my album. I made a visit to the Beats 1 studios in North London for an interview where I chatted about the album, the collaborations, my One Mix and a bunch of other stuff. Can’t thank Beats 1 enough for their support, they’ve got really behind the album which is great as I’m a big fan and regular listener of the station. Check out the full interview on SoundCloud. M x
I was very honoured to be asked by Apple Music to do the One Mix on Beats 1. The mix is mostly made up of Metrik tracks with a focus on LIFE/THRILLS aswell as some unreleased edits and tunes currently doing the damage in my DJ set from other artists. You can check out the full mix now on SoundCloud. Drop me a comment and let me know what you think. M x
Really chuffed to find out today that BBC Radio 1 have made my track 'Chasing Sunrise' Elisabeth Troy their track of the day today. That means it gets played on every day time show throughout the day. Drum & bass being played at 6.30am on a Thursday morning, not bad going :)
I chatted to DJ Mag about the challenges of writing a second album, some of the influences behind LIFE/THRILLS and working with Hospital. Here's an excerpt...
I know a lot of people say they struggle with a second album but I didn’t struggle with it. It just seemed to come together really quickly, because I knew what I wanted to do, I knew what I wanted to write, and I had a lot of fun in the process.
The first stop of my album tour took me to Hospitality at UEA LCR Norwich. Shouts out to Carasel, Krakota, SPY and Nu:Tone for an awesome night.
I chatted to the good people of UKF about all things album, family and things that inspire me. Was a great opportunity to shed a bit of light on some of the thought processes behind some of the tracks and I had a lot of fun recounting some experiences that helped shape it. Here's an excerpt from the interview piece.
Take that ‘difficult second album’ cliché and burn it with fire… Exactly two years after his agenda-setting debut Universal Language, Hospital headliner Metrik has returned with an overwhelming follow-up ‘LIFE/THRILLS’.
The 80’s has always been a very prominent theme in my music. Electric Echo is my homage to Synthwave, a nostalgic vintage synth music that really resonates with my love for that era. I got in touch with Gunship who are legends of that scene. They were really up for the idea of working together and excited to bring the two worlds of synthwave and d&b together. The end result sounded like it could have been out of Stranger Things with that retro 80’s feel. Might do an in-depth article on the making of this tune at some point. Watch this space!
Listen to the full track courtesy of UKF Drum & bass.
So after a year and a half of hard work, late nights and excessive coffee consumption, I'm very proud to say my new album LIFE/THRILLS is out now on Hospital Records. Thank you so much to everybody who has supported me and I hope you enjoy this album as much as I enjoyed making it.
My new album LIFE/THRILLS comes out October 7th. In the meantime, I'm putting out a few singles. The first of which is the title track which features vocals from NAMGAWD. Really pleased with the support it's been getting so far. 😎🔥👑🙏
I've been working a fair bit with TC over the past year or so and happy to announce a new collab to appear on his album. 'The Light' came about through a period of throwing various ideas back and forth over the internet, we then finished the track in his studio in Bristol before EDC Las Vegas. The result I think is a nice blend of our styles. His album 'Unleash The Wolves' will be dropping in May, it's sounding amazing so keep an eye out for it!
It's been great to see all the positive reactions to my new track Terminus. It's a track I really enjoyed making as it was really refreshing to strip things back a bit. Sometimes all you need is a kick, a clap and a distorted saw wave! The name originated after a period of watching an unhealthy amount of The Walking Dead, one of my favourite shows to unwind to after studio session - mass zombie genocide seems to do just the trick. It features on the epic 60-track compilation 'Hospitality 2016' which is available now from all good stores. 😎
What makes the perfect snare?
I’ve often been asked about my snares over the years so it’s nice to get the opportunity to shed a bit of light on how I think about them (I tend to think about them a lot!)
At 174bpm the snare occurs every 0.35 seconds so, by a large degree, dictates much of the character and dynamic of the track. For this reason, it’s important to address the frequency balance to avoid offending our sensitive eardrums (particularly on a powerful club sound system) and to provide the right amount of punch to convey the impact of the music. Conversely, it’s important to consider the snare’s aesthetic to ensure it complements the style of the music as well as the drum track as a whole. I like to think of my snares as three main components:
Transient: The moment the stick hits the skin of the drum, the initial attack. I generally don’t have too much low content here and is fairly flat from the mids to the highs. You’d be surprised at how much sonic information in relation to the character is delivered in these first few milliseconds. It’s important to consider the length of this layer, too short and your snare will sound synthetic, too long and you will lose the perceived “punch”.
Body: The body of a snare sits at 200hz above the kick at 100hz. I tend to mix the low frequencies of the snare and kick equally to -10db. Be careful not to isolate 200hz too much as the lower mids are crucial for providing warmth and realism. I often boost around 500hz which can help distract from that classic “too much 200hz” vibe. Sometimes adding a very subtle low-passed acoustic live snare layer here can add a nice aggressive feel and help glue things together.
Tail: This is where your high frequency content sits from the upper mids to the top end (1000hz – 10khz). The release of this can be extremely crucial to the “roll” of the drums. It’s important to keep your top end nice and controlled – too much top in this region can make your overall drum mix irritating. Lately, I’ve been making this decay very tight whereas in the past I’ve gone for a very splashy top, layering with white noise and cymbals. It’s popular at the moment to add a peak at 1.5khz to emphasise the character of the upper mids (check out Wilkinson & Culture Shock). This can really help pull the snare out of the mix in an area otherwise dominated by musical parts.
The perceived “punch” of the snare is achieved by the dynamic relationship between these elements. For example, a slight fade on the tail can give the transient more emphasis. It’s a very careful balance. Sidechain compressing the body and / or the tail to the transient with a very fast release can also give nice results. I prefer to use volume envelopes to sculpt the dynamics as this gives you more control. Ultimately, your snare needs to sound convincing – if you are finding things are sounding too artificial, try adding some live drum layers to give a more “humanised” feel.
Here is a screengrab of a snare I’m working on in a current project where you can see the three individual layers. It can be tempting to solo the snare and work on it without any context so including the rest of the drums in the mix can help a lot. It’s also useful to include the bass and synths as musical elements can be highly suggestive to the character of the snare.
Finally, experiment. Sometimes seemingly unorthodox and extreme techniques can lead to great results. Once you’ve established your layers, liberally apply plugins (compressors, saturators, distortions, reverbs, phasers etc.) and see what comes out on the other side. Hopefully you will arrive at something which characterises your productions.
Who makes the perfect snare?
I’ve always been impressed with Rob Swire’s snares and his drum engineering in general. He achieves a pleasing level of punch without sounding offensive yet maintaining a realistic organic feel. I’ve often tried to emulate this aesthetic with my own drums; heavy hitting with soft transients and glossy tops. Writing an article on snare drums wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Sub Focus and Culture Shock who also have some of the best snares in the game IMO!