Kick drum envy. If you’ve ever gone on twitter and seen producers conversating about their passionate lust for another’s bass drum, you’ll likely know what I’m talking about. Blawan (SR Mix #50) is probably the most referenced producer whose heavy, repeated frequencial splaying gets these square eyed dude’s juices flowing -though Randomer’s (SR Mix #64) midas touch with his EQs should be highlighted here too. The kick is an integral tool in the impact Blawan’s music has (decidedly so since he’s veering further into techno); it absolutely pummels through a mix and ever since he hit out at the world with his Hessle Audio debut, it’s been that weight and the meticulous attention to detail that’s had the listening public besotted. His kicks ring out and tail off so menacingly in an airy warehouse space but they still punch and reflect brilliantly off every surface of a more enclosed space. That’s what gets these other producer people’s ears so wet; the versatility of those kicks and the tangible impression they leave.
It’s probably worth noting too that whilst it’s an incredibly commendable sound, it’s not really a new thing and the lineage behind Blawan’s predilection for making tunes where the bass drum pounds itself into a starring role is kind of a cavernous timline. Other people, like Randomer, like Boddika, like Joy O and like newcomer Bobby Champs, are building on the same naked, heavy pulse formula to make dance music that a lot of the time blows the internet’s collective mind. The limited layers combined with the drive of the drum work can often be a really stark contrast and can slice through a plug in heavy, synth driven glide-athon with real poise.
Champs himself, is making music that vehemently sounds aggy. Looping phrases like “dance with the devil” over ham fisted kicks and acidic throat noises is always going to sound a little bit brutal, but the grace with which he balances that and the ascending synth line on ‘Moonlight’ more shows his eloquence, rather than any element of his own internal anguish. His debut EP for the Pictures Music label is quite a learned thing. It’s well thought out and, in a way, it’s probably a little bit cleverer than it should be for someone’s first record. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just an impeccably well considered a thing. The production is incredibly tight and there’s a level of control that suggests a great awareness of his surroundings. ‘Lucid’ is stabby, riding over the purity bass tone of pitched 808s, ‘Moonlight’ is riddled with infectious chopped vocal samples and ‘All Night’ is the anthem piece that sits on static soaked kick slams yet as a whole, the EP is dangerously cohesive.
All three tracks (four if you included the dub version of ‘Moonlight’) share a sound palette that’s been collated with true purpose and it really is a fucking impressive thing to behold. And as the first artist to hit out on Pictures Music in such a direct to 4am dancefloor manner it’s probably the main thing that led to this, Champs’ darkside contribution to our mix series…
Sonic Router: Let’s start with the introduction. Who are you? Where are you from? Can you provide three interesting facts people might not know about you?
Bobby Champs: My names Bobby Champs, I exist between Essex/Brighton my granddad was a getaway driver, my dad designed the Ministry of Sound logo and I was born and raised originally in Hackney
How did you get into making music? What were the things you heard that made you want to start producing?
I’ve been DJing for a long time so it was a natural progression, I managed to get my hands on Logic and that got me going, I’ve moved to Ableton now. I guess it was less the sounds I heard and more the sounds I didn’t hear that inspired me to start making music to fill those gaps
What got you into techno? Do you go out to it a lot?
Listening to stuff like Orbital, Prodigy and Daft Punk at a young age got me into electronic music. I don’t know what it is about techno but I’ve always been drawn to it like a moth to the flame
In your DAZED interview you mention seeing sounds as colours. Do you think this musical colour synesthesia helps you fit things together when producing or mixing?
Yeah I suppose so; it gives sounds a meaning and a purpose to me.
What colours do you see your own music as?
A lot of my stuff comes up in dark colours; some deep greens and navy blues.
You are putting your debut out on Pictures; a label it’s probably fair to say is known a bit more for pensive melodic kind of music. What made you want to put it out through them? Can you tell us a little a bit about the tracks on the EP?
I’ve always liked what Pictures do, I first heard of them through the Dark Sky release that kicked them off, I figured if they could put out something as dark and for-the-dancefloor as that, then my music should fit in well. In terms of the EP it covers a lot of aggressive acid sounds with deep kicks. I like it.
What else have you got coming up?
The next big thing I’ve got coming up that I’m excited about (apart from the release!) is a show down in Brighton at AKA ROAR (with Theo Parrish and Julio Bashmore on the 2nd March). Apart from that there are a few more releases down the pipeline which I’m looking forward to.
Can you tell us a little bit about the mix?
This mix is a bit different to what I normally do; I wanted this mix to highlight the deeper darker techno that I enjoy mixed in with some of the newer stuff coming out. In terms of exclusives there’s Scuba’s ‘The Hope’, a great release that really reminds me of early Prodigy as well as a track from Randomer’s forthcoming Hemlock release. There’s a new forthcoming from A1 Bassline that I’m quite excited about and some tracks from Tessla and Ziro, two artists I’m really excited to hear more from… and there’s a few of mine in there that I have some plans for in the future too…
Do you have any words of wisdom for our readers?
Never eat KFC cold.
DOWNLOAD: Bobby Champs – Sonic Router Mix #119
Levon Vincent – Double Jointed Sex Freak (Part 3) [Novel Sound]
Shed – Boom Room [Ostgut Ton]
Andy Stott – Black [Planet MU]
Planetary Assault Systems – Sucktion [Mote Evolver]
Dexter – Great Northern Diver [Clone Basement Series]
EQD – A [Equalized]
Analogue Cops & Blawan – Sickle [Vae Victis Records]
A1 Bassline – Slur [Dub]
Karenn – Lime Washed (Barrelled) [Works The Long Nights]
Tessla – D Jane [Punch Drunk]
Scuba – The Hope [Hotflush]
The OliverWho Factory – Galactic Transit (Recall Instrumental Mix) [Rush Hour]
Ziro – Minus [Dub)]
Randomer – Scruff Box [Hemlock Recordings]
Untold – U-29 [R&S Recordings]
Bobby Champs – Charlie (Dub Mix) [Dub]
Blawan – Peaches (Melting Flesh) [Clone Basement Series]
Boddika – Warehouse [Hotflush]
Objekt – Porcupine [Hessle Audio]
Bobby Champs’ Moonlight EP is out on 20th February through Pictures Music.