As their ‘Double Dipped’ EP hits the streets courtesy of 36 Hertz, the dynamic duo known as SR & Digbee not only drop a massive guest mix on us that’s firing on all cylinders in both 140 and 175 bpm mode but also fill us in on the album they are working on, the difference between jungle and drum & bass, and the secret to stacking and chopping beats like a boss.
First off, introduce yourselves and what you were working on in the studio before stopping to chat it up with us.
SR: Firstly thanks for having us we are SR (Andy Wright) & Digbee (Ben Digby). We’ve both lived in Abingdon for most our adult lives, completely different to North Woolwich where I originally come from. We’ve been spending all our time working on an album for 36 Hertz at the moment, so we’re always locked in the studio. It’s a massive task working on an album, especially when we’re producing EPs at the same time but we’re loving every minute of it!
What kind of music were you guys listening to as youngsters and at what point does this transition into jungle/d&b? Any early memories that you cite as pulling you into the scene?
Digbee: Music has always been a big part of my life. Growing up, my parents were into a wide variety of bands like Led Zeppelin and Tangerine Dream so I was always surrounded by music. I’m still into all types of music; if you shuffled my iPod you would get Curtis Mayfield, Royal Blood with a bit of Tuff Crew, and of course “Let It Go” from Frozen (my daughter’s choice, honest). Film scores have also had a massive influence on me especially John Carpenter and newer composers like Clint Mansell. So I was naturally addicted to drum & bass as it is so diverse.
SR: As a kid growing up I always listened to hip-hop; I never listened to it for the vocals though! As much as I liked rapping, for me it was all about the beats. I always used to play the instrumental versions on the b-sides and pitch them up to plus eight never realising back then that the rave scene was just around the corner! So once the jungle scene came along flooded with breaks, I was instantly hooked. It was the ideal music for me, all those early Reinforced, Moving Shadow, Formation Records, etc., plus tunes like Andy C & Randall’s ‘Sound Control’ and Higher Sense’s ‘Cold Fresh Air’ – the way those artists were using their beats was amazing.
From what I understand both of you have a background in sound engineering – talk a bit about this and how that led to your own productions.
SR: I used to mess around with a mates Akai S2800 sampler and with that knowledge plus knowing the basics of how to sequence tunes together on a computer, I managed to get a job engineering at Tongue & Cheek studios in Oxford. It was mainly house music coming out of there but it was all good though. I worked there for over three years, when the guy that owned Tongue & Cheek sold me a lot of the equipment so he could update the studio. From that point on I sat in my bedroom every minute, every day, producing d&b.
Digbee: I studied sound engineering at Earth Studios in Birmingham to help further my knowledge. It was a good experience working with different artists but I actually learned more through trial and error in the home studio environment.
For the uneducated listener how do you describe the difference between jungle and d&b? Do you see yourself as junglists or do you describe the music you make in a different way? I’ve seen you guys use “Old Skool” and “Nu Skool Old Skool” to describe your sound as well.
SR: There is a big difference between jungle and d&b, mainly in the beats. The energy that jump up and d&b produce especially on the dancefloor is sickening but you can’t beat the chopped breaks and amens in jungle. I love all genres of d&b. I see myself as a breakbeat producer more than anything, that’s why I love producing 140bpm old skool to 175bpm jungle. As long as it carries a heavy breakbeat element, we’ll always be happy making it!
Digbee: We just want to bring back that old skool vibe with a twist and see where it takes us.
You’ve stated elsewhere that LTJ Bukem was an early inspiration – how do you reconcile the two vibes which, to the uninitiated, may seem opposed to each other on the surface?
SR: I always mix the two together! Jungle is heavier in its sound but both styles can work if you get your set right. You get a nice break in the music going from chopped amens and filtered breakbeats into atmospheric strings then back to heavy subs, that sort of thing. Bukem’s sound was a massive inspiration and so we’ve always kept our tunes musical because of this.
Digbee: LTJ Bukem was a huge inspiration to us when we were clubbing and messing about in the studio. We recently did a track called “Harmony” on our Level Up EP which hopefully captured that vibe.
How did you guys link up with DJ Vapour and the 36 Hertz crew? At what point does the “Double Dipped” EP come together?
SR: Vapour heard our old SoundCloud page and he wanted to release ‘Spitfire’ and ‘Morning Strummer.’ We’ve been working with 36 Hertz for quite a while now and what’s good about the label is we get a lot of freedom to produce whatever sound we want, rather than having to conform to a certain style. We all have the same vision of wanting to produce old skool at 36Hertz. It’s something me and Digbee have always wanted to do but up till now we’ve only put nu skool tunes out on various artists EPs, so releasing our own EP is good for covering more of the different styles and genres of old skool.
For this EP you guys are actually dropping the bpms into future jungle territory – how does future jungle differ from jungle in your eyes? Is it just tempo or does the vibe change as well? Are the crowds who appreciate each bpm different?
SR: Jungle kills me every time and it’s been around for so long now, it really has formed a sound within itself that is very different from the original jungle tracks. It’s more than just dropping the tempo, the keys and patterns change, it creates a whole different vibe that crowds who like slower tempo beats appreciate too. But it’s still dnb no matter what bpm it is!
Walk us through the tunes one by one on here – what kind of idea/inspiration/sample did you start out with and how did it build from there? There’s some familiar sounds in here mashed up in an exciting way – give us the lowdown on how it all came together!
Digbee: ‘Body Swerve’ was the first track we did and was originally going to be on our album – it’s a free rave LFO bleeps and bass track.
SR: We then thought of ‘Zoom Zoom’ which was inspired by an old Dreamscape event we went to at The Edge. G. E. Real mixed up Wrecks n Effects’ ‘Rump Shaker’ in his set by playing the acapella at 33 rpm. It was a classic moment for me in the old days and so we wanted to capture vibe that for the EP. Once those tracks were done, we really wanted something on there with a ’93 FBD/Metalheadz sound, so this was the idea behind ‘Special Dedication’:
What does your current production setup look like? Any advice for producers out there hoping to draw upon old skool vibes in a new skool way?
Digbee: We’ve always used Cubase for arrangements, it does the trick! SSL channel strip is our main EQ at present, as are Wave’s compressors plus Kontakt and loads of soft synths, there’s so many plug-ins out there it’s just a matter of finding out what you feel comfortable with. I’m also looking at getting an analogue synth again as I miss that warm sound and tweaking knobs.
Any specific advice for chopping beats?
SR: Try to put as many edits in as you can, timestretches, filters, pitch changes, etc., rather than layering three snares over the top; use all of the breakbeat’s character and dynamics. If two of the snares have a different sound to each other, then use that to get the beats rolling. You can get more movement flipping between the snares and little snippets of the break. If you always over-layer the snares then you’ve just got one hit repeating itself all the time which is good but can get a bit repetitive. Remember just keep chopping the beats!
Before we jump into the mix, let us know what else you guys have cooking in the lab.
Digbee: There’s a remix EP featuring some of our tracks coming out at the end of November with remixes from Randall, Callide, Vapour and ourselves which we are really excited about.
SR: Plus we’re currently working on an album that should be released sometime next year. We have all been discussing putting on some 36 Hertz nights so we can try to push this nu skool sound, but that won’t be till after the albums finished!
Nice – am excited about this mix – what kind of vibe/tempo should we be expecting and are there any extra-special treats we should be looking out for as well?
SR: There’s a lot of our tracks on there, it’s all 36 Hertz artists and tunes. We’ve started off with the 140 stuff with a few Jem One, ESP and Vapour tracks thrown in! Then it goes into 175 jungle. There’s plenty of dubs, Randall’s remix of ‘Nostromo’, Callide’s remix of ‘Supersonic’ plus a remix we’ve done of DJ Monita’s ‘Luv ta Luv Ya’.
01: SR & Digbee – Contagious
02: SR & Digbee – Body swerve
03: SR & Digbee – On the run
04: DJ Vapour – Back to ‘89
05: Jem One – Massive
06: DJ Vapour – Chime booty
07: Jem one – The bleep
08: DJ Hybrid & My selecta – Reach
09: DJ Vapour – Feel the Vibe
10: Suspect Chin – Miss you
11: Jem One – Bullet to the Head
12: Indigo Virus – Woah iz me
13: Underkut – Both Ends (ESP remix)
14: SR &Digbee – Back to Basics (DJ Vapour remix)
15: SR & Digbee – Special Dedication
16: SR & Digbee – Zoom Zoom
17: Jem One – Drop This
18: SR & Digbee ft Lewis Cutler – Supersonic (Callide remix)
19: DJ Vapour – Bubblegum Riddim
20: Delphi productions – Proteus
21: SR & Digbee – Nostromo (DJ Randall remix)
22: Inta Warriors – Inta (DJ Vapour remix)
23: NC-17 – Welcome to the Jungle
24: The Skeleton Krew – Luv ta luv ya (SR & Digbee remix)
25: SR & Digbee – I man
26: NC-17 & Nusense – Inferno
27: SR & Digbee ft Emma Higgins – Twisted love
28: DJ Hybrid – Nothing Left
29: NC-17 & Soul Culture – Jungle Nightmares
30: SR & Digbee – My DJ
31: SR & Digbee – Jog on (VIP)
32: SR & Digbee – Harmony
33: DJ Vapour – Anti Gravity
34: SR & Digbee – Nightmare