IT’S been one year since Dr Meaker released their critically acclaimed album Dirt & Soul on Circus Records.
The album went straight to Number 3 on the iTunes electronic chart, and was the Number 1 selling drum & bass album in the world on its release – gathering support and earning respect from every corner of the globe.
Since that bomb dropped, Bristol’s most exciting live D’n’B act have been touring the world with their own unique take on the ‘Bristol Sound’. How they found the time we’ll never know, but the collective has been back in the studio to rework Dirt & Soul with some of their favourite producers. The result: Dirt & Soul – Collaborated.
Dr Meaker’s producer, Clive, entered the studio with the scene’s best and brightest: Break, Voltage, Serum, Macky Gee, Digital, DJ Marky, Aries, Octo-Pi, Terrahawk, Jasper Atlee and Circus Records’ very own Umpire, to re-approach each of the songs with a view to re-energising them for the dancefloor.
We caught up with Clive to get the lowdown on how he pulled everything – and everyone – together for this latest project.
You just released Dirt & Soul Collaborated. After what must have been quite a lengthy process of pulling all the collaborations together, how does it feel now it’s finally out there?
Yes it took me over a year to get it all nailed. It feels really cool to get it out there and there is so much great feedback from DJs and producers and also our fans and fans of the collaborative remixers too. It feels proper Vibey so I’m really happy with how it’s going.
When did you decide this was a project you wanted to embark on? Was there a specific collab that sparked the idea to make an entire album?
I knew straight away that I wanted to make banging remixes for the clubs but I didn’t want to just hand over all the stems to remixers. I wanted to be involved in making those dancefloor versions and so I decided it would be a cool thing to work with my favourite producers to bring new ideas and energy to the Remix project so the idea was born out of that idea. I branded the whole thing as “collaborated” to highlight what was happening. I don’t think anyone has done this – the way I’m doing it – before. It was great to work with other producers, to share my knowledge with them and to learn from them too. A great project to be involved in and the record label (Circus) have been really cool and just let me get on and do my thing with choosing everyone and leading on the creative direction of it all. It’s been a great project and I’m looking forward to getting it out there.
You perform live as a 7 piece… do you have the live performance in mind when you’re making the records in the studio? If so, do you have to modify some parts of the records to make sure they will work?
I don’t specifically make tunes thinking that way. I usually finish a record and then think “will this work live” and if it does work then it’s a bonus and if not then it stays as a listening only record on an album or whatever. We try most tunes out in rehearsal and we know pretty soon as to whether it feels right and will work, or not – in the live set. Sometimes you know the tune works but the arrangement feels too long or short or needs tweaks here and there, so we then start to improvise and make it right for the live set.
Drum and bass has a pretty unique energy to it – why do you think it translates so well to being performed live when other forms of dance music have struggled with this transition?
The fast tempo gives it the energy in the drums and in our case we have awesome vocalists and musicians that deliver that powerful sweet soul sound. I think any style of dance music could be done really well if the right approach is taken. It’s all about doing it right.
You’ve been touring pretty much non stop since you released Dirt and Soul in its original form… which of the dates have stood out as particularly special?
Yes we never stop touring. It’s life! Stand out shows since ‘Dirt & Soul’ have been Glastonbury Festival, Field Trip Festival, Nibley Festival and The South London Soul Train in Peckham.
Was it a challenge finding venues that could actually accommodate you, rather than being entirely set up for DJs?
Yes that is always the challenge. We are a dnb act and have been playing live for 14 years and the dnb scene is really set up mainly for Djs, so many of our shows are not even playing dnb nights. We play wherever we can and it has taken us to many festivals, clubs and even up on top of the Alps for snowboarding championships and things like that. Even though we are drum and bass we find many fans outside of dnb too. Our music speaks to everyone regardless of preference of style. We have melody and wicked performances of instruments and vocals, so it’s reached far and that has seen us through all these years. We would love to play more dnb raves and events and I will continue to find new venues and promoters who support Live Drum & Bass.
How have you found time to work on all the collabs on the new album? Have you had to do a lot of working on the road?
It was all done at a steady and methodical pace over about a year. I planned it out and then set dates for the sessions with the producers and we got it done. I was balancing them all up and managing the project like I do for other bodies of work such as albums or video shoots. I’m used to working with musicians and vocalists when making music and managing the band, so it took similar organisation skills. Some of the remixes were done at my place and some at the other producers’ places. I drove quite a lot to get to people and even visited Vienna to meet up with Umpire to work on our Remix. The only completely remote remix was with DJ Marky, who was in Brazil. We sent stems back and forth. It was a cool way to work and a first for me. Everyone I asked was keen to be involved and everything came together perfectly as fate would have it.
Bristol is an incredibly influential city musically. Most people will already be aware of acts like Roni Size, Massive Attack etc who came out of the Bristol scene, but can you tell us about anyone who’s currently undiscovered, but that you think is destined for great things?
I think most of the people that I could tell you about – are already known. There are producers and bands in Bristol that I feel should be bigger than they are. I can’t really tell you who will and won’t blow up as I really don’t know; it’s anyone’s guess.
What’s next for you and the rest of the group?
I have some singles coming out on some wicked DnB labels. I’ll be DJing and the band will be touring all summer and then focusing on finishing the next album.
An finishing off with a nice easy one… as someone who’s been involved in the scene for around 20 years, how do you see the drum and bass scene evolving over the next five years or so. No pressure!
Yes I was into rave music as a 12 year old just as jungle was starting off the back of the rave scene. I’ve been a slow burner and It’s taken me a while to get going with my music career over the last 20 years so I’m pleased dnb never died or I wouldn’t have this chance. The reason it doesn’t die is because people dedicate their lives to it . I can’t tell you exactly how it will evolve but as long as people keep putting their energy into it and feel a passion for it then it will keep going and growing.
Get your copy of Dr Meaker – Dirt & Soul Collaborated (Remixes) by clicking here.