Even though drums are probably the most integral instrument in dance music (whether that’s the 4×4 kick drum, dubstep’s 3rd beat of a bar snare or the challenging rush of hi hats in drum & bass and juke) when you remove them it can have just as big an impact as a power play of tom tom rolls and cymbal crashes. Watch anyone around you in a dance search for the snap of a poignant beat: they’re jerking with their shoulders, neck or hands – they’re triggered by the rhythm. And whilst you can’t really mutilate their bodily structure as readily without that drive of percussion present in the rhythm section you can still wrap people up in the comforting swell of a bassline and confuse their bodies into paying attention to the top lines. It’s something grime godfather Wiley proved with his ‘devil mixes’ (versions of this tracks that removed the drums out of a tune and focused entirely on the low end and space of his mixdown), alongside the early meditative dubstep that primarily focused on both those things – though the fingersnap cloying, super reverbed snare points were just as important.
That mindset is probably more where the London based Logos resides. Known to some for his ‘Kowloon’ track that’s found fans in people like Ben UFO and Dusk & Blackdown (who are slated to release it on their Keysound label imminently) his music is properly icy. In the same way that Wiley’s eski beat work was calculated, measured and clinical; Logos’ productions seem to feed off that sprawling quasi-drumless canvas, developing and morphing his riffs, utilizing a lot of the same eski soundset that he eeks out of his Prophet 5 emulation plugin.
His ‘Atlanta 96’ track was in fact the thing that really turned our head: an expansive near 4 minutes of fluttering square wave synths that pique and dive around each other over the top of his 808 kick drums. It’s was abosultely arresting, like Logos stretched out the possibilities of what would otherwise be an incredibly limited palette by letting each individual sound really carve its own niche on the end product. It’s emphatic but it never dares to thump itself upon you. Other tracks like ‘Cloubursting’ mess more with delay, stuttering out his 8 bit riffs into ornamental garnishes of pixelated colour and bits like ‘Canyon (Step II)’ or ‘King Mob’ contradict a little of what I’ve just said by playing more with that ‘Treddin’ On Thin Ice’ era notion of awkward, squeaky drum patterns – though it’s never really the main drive of his music; the attention is more on the interplay of layers.
Logos – Atlanta 96
It goes without saying that we’re stoked to be able to present our 110th Sonic Router Mix from Logos. James Balf caught up with the producer to discuss his history and his techniques…
Sonic Router: Tell us a little about yourself, where are you at what do you do outside of music?
Logos: I live in London and I have a full time job so finding time for production is hard but as Blackdown remarked to me, you just have to really want it, which is the attitude I’ve tried to adopt.
How long have you been producing and what got you making music instead of just loving it?
I’ve been producing since about 2003, and I would say I’ve been doing it seriously, and not just messing about, since about 2004/5. As to what got me in to it, it’s hard to remember really…I suppose you see DJs playing or read about this or that producer and foolishly think ‘I could do that’. It’s a lot harder than you imagine it will be though!
Am I right in thinking you’ve made some d&b in the past and are you still on with it?
Yep – really everything starts with jungle and drum and bass for me. Whatever else I’ve stumbled on along the way, within dance music anyway – Groove Chronicles and KMA, Slaughter Mob, Oris Jay, Slimzee, Horsepower, DMZ – I see through that frame.
Apart from the odd night elsewhere pretty much all I raved to between 1998 and 2004/5 was d&b. I remember going to the End and Herbal a lot. But as far as writing drum and bass goes, even though at the time I was absorbing all the early grime and dubstep, it was basically all I made until about 2005… some of it got close to being released but never quite made it out and it’s all sat on my hard drive now. After 2005 dubstep took over my life completely in terms of writing, but I carried on following d&b right through to the Autonomic/Instra:mental/Darkestral thing, which was (and is) really exciting.
How does that influence feed into what you do with other music you make?
I don’t know how much it does really… there is an awareness of the history and I still draw ideas from my music collection when I’m writing, and I suppose some of the techniques I learned help me now. I think you can maybe hear that with the eski/beatless stuff. One of my favourite jungle tunes is ‘Lonely’ by D’Cruze and I kind of had its 808 bassline in mind when I made ‘Kowloon’, though to listen to them together it’s a pretty tenuous connection.
Talk to us about Radial Productions…
Radial was just set up as a vehicle with a friend for releasing my ‘Medicate’ 12”. It’s inactive at the moment but if I self-release anything again it will be probably through that. Though I like the idea of super short-run labels that appear and then vanish, like Dillinja used to do, so maybe we will just let it disappear into a discogs black hole…
What’s your studio set-up like right now and how do you go about laying down a track?
I use a fairly old version of Cubase on my PC – most of my production is centred around samples, though I use a couple of soft synths, and have a UAD card for adding grit. But I got a Macbook recently and am learning Logic so in time I think I will switch platforms.
In terms of laying down tracks I don’t really have a set plan; mostly I find my best stuff emerges from a concept I write down, so in that sense time away from your workstation is well spent. Either that or you find a sample and the track writes itself around it. Once I’ve executed the basic idea I try to finish the track quickly – that’s important, otherwise you get bogged down.
Logos – Cloudbursting
Talk to us about eski and the devil mix: You’ve got a few big tracks floating around right now ‘Kowloon’ and ‘Atlanta 96’ that take that influence and run with it. What is eski to you and what brought you around to producing your own take on it?
I always thought the concept of the devil mix was brilliant – it just sums up grime’s experimental genius and the way pirate radio, the breakdown of the club support for garage after 2001 and the role of the MC freed it from some of the constraints of conventional dance music. There’s also this slightly occult aspect which Wiley alludes to in that interview he did for (I think) the old Hyperdub website… like you are dicing with forces you don’t understand. I think he stopped calling them devil mixes after a point!
As far as taking the old eski productions as a jumping off point it’s inspiring to take an idea that was more of a b-side concept for the original producers and to put it at the centre of your sound – it gives you a licence to be abstract and not worry too much about how well compressed your kick drum is. One of the things I enjoyed about writing ‘Kowloon’ was the feeling that I was putting ‘Eskimo’ in to (metaphorical) orbit and seeing what happened. I’ve been really lucky that some creative and really skilled DJs have wanted to play the tunes in their sets – they’re not exactly ‘bangers’ nor are they fantastically easy to mix on rubbish monitors at 3am.
Walk us though some of your other inspirations right now, you’ve got a really varied mix of music you’ve been repping for recently how does that feed into your productions?
In some ways there are too many to mention good producers around to single people out, and the mainstays are always people like Pearson Sound, Pangaea, Bok Bok and so on. I’m feeling the whole Actress/Thriller axis (I love Actress’s music, but the visual side is really influencing me at the moment). Jam City’s tunes are a constant inspiration and I’m really looking forward to his LP. I really like Visionist’s stuff too. In terms of how it feeds in who knows… I feel influenced by all the 808 machine funk but I’m trying to plough my own furrow as much as I can.
What influences you outside of music? People, places, film, etc…
Mainly books and bad 80s sci-fi movies – I try to read as much as I can – the two things I’ve read this year which I would really recommend are David Peace’s GB84 and Julia Leigh’s The Hunter which are both a few years old but in their own way each appropriate to the mess we are in in 2011.
Older bits I’ve seen around are ‘Medicate’ on your own label Radial Productions with a pretty sweet LV refix on the flip. How did that hook up come about?
I wrote ‘Medicate’ at the tail end of (what I consider to be) the high point of dubstep and even though it’s now a really obscure release and definitely of its time and place, it’s probably one of the best things of mine I’ve written. The link-up with LV came about because Blackdown played it on his show – the guys emailed me about of the blue asking whether they could remix it and it was as simple as that really. LV’s first thing on Hyperdub – especially the track ‘Takeover (dub)’ – is one of my favourite releases from the last ten years so it was amazing to hear them rework ‘Medicate’. They have been really supportive of my tunes since then, so I can’t thank them enough.
Talk to us about the 12” on Keysound, what’s on it, what’s the story behind the tracks and how did you hook up with Dusk & Blackdown?
As I said before Blackdown really supported me from the off with ‘Medicate’. I’ve listened to his show since he started on Rinse and carried on sending him stuff now and again. I had a quiet period where I wasn’t really writing much music in 2009-10 but at the tail end of 2010 I got to a point where my 130bpm stuff was ready to be sent out and him and Dusk have been 100% behind the tracks ever since. I’m doing a 4 track EP for Keysound that should be out – touch wood – by the end of 2011 or soon in to 2012 and also a video for ‘Atlanta 96’ to go with it that my friend Joss Horne is directing, which I’m excited about.
Tell us a little about the mix you’ve done for us, what did you just have to include?
Well I had in mind a panoramic tour of the London skyline at night when I did it, but you can ignore that and just listen to the tunes. There are some of my favourite grime pirate radio rips in there which some people might not have heard, some old jungle and a couple of my own productions. I hope people enjoy it.
DOWNLOAD: Logos – Sonic Router Mix #110
Sleep 8 Over – Untitled [Hippos in Tanks]
Logos – Cloudbursting [unreleased]
Logos – Atlanta 96 x Trim Special [Instrumental forthcoming Keysound]
Riko/Wiley/Gods Gift – Bazooka Riddim [Rinse FM Radio Rip 2006?]
Ruff Sqwad/Neckle Camp – Tingz in Bootz Remix [Heavy Meckle Mixtape]
Waifer/Slew Dem – Gunman Beat [Grimetapes Slew Dem Compilation]
DJ Metro – Burn Dat Boi [Planet Mu]
DJ Diamond – Rep Yo Clique [Planet Mu]
Rufige Kru – Ark Angel 3 [Metalheadz]
Terius Nash (The-Dream) – Wake Me When it’s Over [Logos Screwed Edit]
These New Puritans – Hologram – Salem remix [Domino]
Ruff Sqwad – Unknown [Deja Vu Radio Rip 2003]