Transforma is shaking things up on Korsakov Music this week with ‘The Boneyards EP’, a striking display of sound design that pulls inspiration from the depths of drum and bass and beyond. The versatility in this release is mind boggling yet refreshing hopping between some absolute neurofunk belters to soothing vocals amidst mellow liquid and upbeat dance floor vibes. With features on the EP from Marianna Ray, Bytecode and Dropset you know there’s something extra special in store.
Keep reading until the end for my review on the mastery behind this release but first check this out! I had the chance to chat with Transforma this week about his album, what it’s like to work on collaborations with other artists, where he pulls his inspirations from for production and more with this in depth interview showing us what makes Transforma tick.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me for Best Drum and Bass. I’m excited to get into some deeper questions and look closer at ‘The Boneyards EP’ about to drop on Korsakov Music this week in the process.
Since this is the first time we’ve talked for the site give our readers a bit of the history behind Transforma. What got you into drum and bass and producing music? What are some of your most notable accomplishments as an artist so far?
Hello Amy & Best Drum & Bass crew thanks for having me! Well I started out surprisingly making dubstep back in 2012 haha. And I used to resident at a nightclub in Canberra, Australia called “The Clubhouse”. Was a dank rave dungeon and packed out every week so it was like our little home. We had several drum and bass shows there and I just fell in love with it almost immediately and began being rostered on dnb events. I didn’t start out producing dnb until late 2014, had my dubstep phase, made glitch hop mid tempo stuff and then eventually switched to Neurohop. Which gave me the courage to try Neurofunk haha….Scary times :P. But the love for this genre of music was so pure. I would definitely say my most notable accomplishments would be making it to the international stage & travelling doing what I love so much, Signing on some of my favorite labels over my time as a dnb producer of course in Blackout, Bad Taste, C4C & of course our beloved Korsakov Music. And getting to network, develop professional relationships with guys I’ve idolized for so long has been a huge accomplishment.
Let’s Dive into the EP!
‘The Boneyards EP’ is a pretty wild ride. There’s some ultra heavy and technical neuro like “Mindflayer” with Bytecode and “Warpath” with Dropset. Then we flip to super mellow vibes with what I’d consider a country western flare on “Give Me Something” with Marianna Ray. She also beautifully supplies vocals on a second track for this release, “Gone” that provides massive dance floor energy. And that’s not even all! Title track “The Boneyards” is this crazy kind of hybrid between wobbly jump up and techy neurofunk, it absolutely blows my mind.
There’s so much diversity between your tracks, where does it all come from? What made you decide to balance the album like that?
This definitely is something I have wanted to do as a producer for quite some time, but I knew I would have to wait until that time was right. And when Elmar and I got talking we planned a Transforma release for a while actually haha. But we wanted it not to be just another neurofunk EP we wanted some flare, some diversity and experimentation. Hahaha with Give Me Something that is definitely the track that took the longest. I love liquid and always been a fan of Hybrid Minds so I wanted to do something with the same vibe as those guys. I also have a big love for Future Bass and ground breaking artists like fellow Aussie Flume. So I guess there is that Future Bass influence in this track with the pitched vocal shots and the way the melody was composed. Gone means a lot to myself and Marianna, she sent me the vocals for that and it just flowed so nicely throughout the process. Everything came together beautifully. And of course with any neuro track I write these days I am very innovative and technical as possible. And bringing in influence from many other areas outside of dnb to the table. So the 3 heavy tracks definitely have come from influences of sci fi, metal and such.
I also sense a hint of a State of Mind & Black Sun Empire type vibe especially predominant in “Warpath” and parts of “The Boneyards” and I state this resemblance as a compliment in the highest regard. Any accuracy in that observation? You also dropped that killer remix of Linkin Park’s “One Step Closer” so we know you have roots in other genres of music as well.
Where do you pull inspiration for writing music both in and out of drum and bass?
You are on the ball there haha. BSE & SOM are huge influences on me and yeah I definitely see them both resembling in both Warpath & The Boneyards. One of the greatest compliments I have ever received so thank you! Yeah LP was one of my all time favorite bands growing up, there wasn’t a day that I would not blast Hybrid Theory through my discman (Wow I’m old) hahahahaha. But yes before I started producing I was a guitar player for like 11 years & playing in metalcore bands and such. My inspiration comes from so many corners of music….From Muse to Iron Maiden (Elmar that ones for you) haha, to heavier bands like Parkway drive, Bring me the horizon & also classic rock, jazz, hip hop & even baroque era classical music like Bach or Mozart lol. I just love music and always have.
How about your approach to sound design and producing tracks, what keeps your compositions fresh? How do you start a track? What’s the Transforma process? How do you think you may continue to evolve moving forward?
It really depends on the type of track it is. If its a neuro shoe thrower then I tend to just start out making my drums and then basses/sub & playing around with a few different grooves in the bass and drums. And then build from there basically until I am happy with the composition and can move onto the mixing process. But writing a track with 16 layers of melody that’s a whole different ballgame haha. I know I’m backwards I never start with the intro lol. But I guess in Australia everything including the way our toilets flush is backwards hahahaha.
How do you go about naming your tracks?
I guess it’s different each time….I tend to think of memories or places or some kind of event that I’ve experienced sometimes. Others it’s just pure luck haha. The Boneyards I actually named after one of my favorite surf breaks that I used to shred back in the day haha.
When it comes to production you’ve been an absolute machine pumping out an impressive balance of singles and collaborations with other artists over a variety of major labels. Recently you worked on “The Devil in My Mind” with Shadow Sect and have teamed up with Volatile Cycle, TR Tactics and more in the past. On ‘The Boneyards EP’ “Mindflayer” with Bytecode and “Warpath” with Dropset are both beasts in their own regard.
Let’s talk about collaborations a bit.
In what ways does your process differ working on a solo track as compared to working with other artists?
Haha yeah especially in this pandemic I linked up a stack of collabs throughout and have managed to land them on nice labels. I hadn’t released a full Ep since 2019’s “Snake Eye’s” on Bad Taste so I had the mindset when I knew that life was on pause to go harder than I have ever before. And managed this EP, another EP (coming soon), a bunch of singles and also pile of collabs and remixes all within last year even continuing atm….Just can’t stop hahaha. I guess working solo I am in my zone and I won’t be disturbed for hours like no joke I will forget to eat or any normal human being activity when I am locked onto a session haha. Collabing I find it’s either you pass back n forth a few times or you just send a bunch of sounds you’ve made to the other guy and so on.
What about working on tracks from artist to artist? Do they have different processes or quirks you have to adjust to?
Oh yeah they most definitely do…..Some you are like whoa what and others is literally a walk in the park. It varies from each artist I guess.
Which of your collaborations has been the most fun or rewarding to work on?
I really enjoyed all the work I have done with Marianna, we just gel musically and she is a blessing to work with. Really loved doing the TR Tactics collabs & VC collabs aswell. And always great working with your stateside boy in Dropset! I have so much belief in him and we always have a great time working together.
The most challenging?
Ahh I’m on one right now that’s due on the next EP that has been a complete pain in my A** haha but worth it. But it has live guitars and such…..Hint it has a full metal breakdown 😉
Who would you like to collab with on a track that hasn’t happened yet?
Oh my gosh definitely BSE or State Of Mind or Gydra that would be just……..Mindblowing.
I bet it’s even more intense adding a vocalist and guitarist into the mix as we hear on “Give Me Something” with Marianna Ray? Who is on the guitar in this track? How does that change the process of writing electronic music?
Actually the guitar is just part of the melody that Marianna sent me with the vocal tracks. I added the strings and some of the piano to accompany it but yes definitely want to incorporate more live instruments soon!
What’s your personal favorite from ‘The Boneyards EP’?
Ooh that’s a tough one I am gonna have to say either Boneyards or Gone.
Any hints on what else you have in the works for this year?
My April / May / June is jam packed haha. Expect incoming releases coming on Hanzom, Urge to Move, Blackout, Bad Taste, 0101 music, Code Smell, Abducted & More for Korsakov <3 Also my next EP is a full collaborations EP with Vegas BCUK, TR Tactics, Binary, Traced & Dropset 😉 keep an eye out on that…
What piece of advice would you give to someone trying to ‘come up’ in the game?
Always stay humble no matter what…..Keep grinding and working your ass off. Hard work pays off and in the end the right people will find you.
Thanks so much for taking the time to give us all a glimpse into what makes Transforma tick. We wish you great success with ‘The Boneyards EP’ and all your future endeavors. If there’s anything else you’d like to add feel free to do so. ☺
Thanks so much Amy it has been an absolute pleasure to bring you and the audience reading this into the whacky world of Transforma hahaha. I look forward to sharing the hell out of it!! Plus I shall see you all when raves come back <3 <3
Let’s take a listen to ‘The Boneyards EP’.
Here’s what we’ve heard so far…
“Mindflayer” featuring Bytecode is a machine in its own full of ruthless upbeat energy as snappy snares fire round after round amidst basslines that tumble and bounce. Variations in the measures keep this one rockin with crazy fills and maddening FX. A wicked breakdown really makes this shine, expect the unexpected it will blow your mind!
Marianna Ray supplies angelic vocals on “Gone” a heartfelt yet sorrowful story full of powerful verses that flow amidst warm symphonic sounds. With a bubbly upbeat vibe and a bassline that engulfs the soul “Gone” is a perfect pick to serenade the dance floor.
Teaming up with Dropset on “Warpath” really slams us into the heavy side of neurofunk with thick, burly measures that attack as the energy builds throughout the composition ravaging the mix. “Warpath” has a dark, technical feel nostalgic to the roots of neuro with a fresh, fierceful force and will consume the crowd with its pristine power as it tears through the mix.
Still to come is the beautiful ballad “Give Me Something” featuring Marianna Ray, a softer more serene ride on the liquid side of Transforma’s sound design and a striking contrast to much of the rest of ‘The Boneyards EP’. With a western swing influencing the vibe Marianna’s vocals are smooth and silky adding elegance to the mix flowing amidst strings, keys and a melancholy melody. “Give Me Something” is just a glimpse into the boundaries Transforma is willing to break.
Title track “The Boneyards” displays supreme sound design in this clean yet chaotic composition blasting with bass from every angle. Generating one hell of a hybrid the bassline wobbles along the lines of a dirty jump up vibe with plenty of neuro elements to keep it grounded. Changing it up between measures “The Boneyards” rebuilds to a heavier neuro twist once more before snapping back to the stagger and smashing on. If I HAD to pick a personal favorite from the EP this would be it. So much energy and finesse; Transforma shattered the expectations with “The Boneyards”!
Keep it locked to Best Drum and Bass for all the latest on your favorite artists and more. I’ll be keeping you up to date on Transforma and Korsakov Music all year you can count on that and we know there is a LOT more to come very soon!