An Interview with USDNB Artist UFO!

by | Jul 10, 2024 | Interview, Spotlight

Stateside Spotlight: UFO!

UFO!, also known as Ed Garro, is an undeniable pioneer in the stateside drum and bass scene. Hailing from San Francisco, he has been a dominating force since the 1990s, garnering respect within the stateside scene for his eclectic sound. His creative journey extends beyond the confines of drum and bass, dabbling in and producing various genres over the years. Most recently, he’s turning heads with a new project called “ET FINGER,” a collaboration with Nick from Bro Safari, a drum and bass OG from Evol Intent. These two are pushing boundaries, so look out for more to come! 

UFO!’s passion for dance music finds its roots not in the confines of a studio, but in the early hip hop battles, absorbing those experiences and honing his skills as a battle DJ. That underground energy fueled his passion, and it wasn’t long before he discovered the raw underground power of hardcore, jungle, and drum & bass coming out of London. This was a revelation, a world of relentless energy. He continued to sharpen his skills on the turntables, mixing and scratching as a battle DJ, with Qbert being one of the biggest influences in that scene. In 1995, UFO! took his influence beyond the DJ booth. He co-founded San Francisco’s Phunckateck crew. Together, they threw legendary parties that drew crowds and put San Francisco on the map as a major hub for drum and bass.

UFO! continues to push ahead, carving out a niche on the outer fringes of the music scene in the most impressive way. He has no plans to stop. This music is deeply rooted in him, it’s a drive to continue to create and inspire. 

An Interview with USDNB Artist UFO!

Thanks so much for chatting with me! I’ve been a fan for a while and USDNB history is a big interest of mine, especially being from Oklahoma. How does it feel now to see drum and bass through this new lens, in 2024, how everything has evolved?

It’s fascinating because the world we live in today is completely different from what we thought was happening just ten years ago. I feel a lot of floodgates have opened since then. I’ve been here before and the resources are endless. Drum and Bass is a new creature. I’m seeing it in a new manifestation. I want to be a part of that, and nurturing its evolution. My music has always been about that. 

How would you define your sound? What’s the origin story?

My music has always been inspired by what we thought today would look like back in the 90’s. We thought dude, hell yeah. There’s going to be this amazing high tech world. Because, you know, we were kind of in the Clinton era and everything was just buzzing. New forms were rising and Drum and Bass was this new form of energy.  Back in the 90s and early 2000s, there was money everywhere. People were flocking to San Francisco, and it was possible to afford rent here. It was a time of innovation, with people coming up with groundbreaking ideas. The tech boom was fueling everything. There was a new influx of curiosity. There were these tech guys just coming out to a party, they weren’t coming out to a Drum and Bass party.

It stood out against the Midwest and the East Coast. It was a group of misfits. It was ageless. You had people in slacks. Drum and Bass people had this look and New York set the standard for what a junglist looked like. It felt like we were part of something incredible. I’m thrilled you brought this up because seeing these things happen always makes me smile.

Is there a component you felt strongly about that you were bringing into drum and bass in your early production?

I always had this element of halftime, which I relate to dancehall or hip hop. I was inspired by that style of rhythm. I wanted to bring those kinds of elements into the music, reintroducing those elements to an up-tempo chaotic nature of Jungle and Drum and Bass. I looked at what my roots were and my understanding of the culture. My thing was, we have to bring in that hip hop swagger that later on manifested itself again in EDM trap. The sound that was already so familiar to me in halftime. So I’m going to express that. I just went in, I just jumped in, and put all my drum and bass engineering knowledge into the sound. Because I make music, I’m very aware of where things come from and the changes that happen in music. It’s what excites me about music. It’s a very important part of who I am. That’s the way I see the music.

Is there something that sets you and your artistic identity apart?

It’s quirky, it’s weird. It is it’s own thing. I take in culture. I’m open to all artistic forms. By nature, I’m always looking at things in a sideways view. By being weird and awkward, that’s my intention in music. I strive for that. If everything’s at 10, then I have to go to 11. It’s almost as if I’m an audio alchemist. I want to see what happens if I add this kind of vibe, or that kind of vibe.

Drum and Bass has continuously evolved over the years. What does the current state of music feel like to you?

Gen Z has this appreciation for rave music like a zip file for all music that came before. An appreciation for Acid House to Bass. They like everything. They are taking it in. They know it at the jump. No limitations. The young generation has an appreciation for all styles of bass music. I like to think of myself as someone who has that appreciation for all styles. For some it might seem dorky, but it’s the only way music is going to stay relevant for the future. Everyday there’s room for progress for things that are bubbling and rising. The state of music is the state of mind.

Tell me about your intros. You have some amazing intros that I’ve heard on mix after mix. The samples are on point and totally set the scene. What’s the thought process going into that?

It’s a theme. I’m heavily inspired by Stanley Kubrick, film….. trying to get that part of the mind that Albert Einstein used to figure out space and time, that part of the listener experience, to put together a vivid picture in your mind. Not just the audio spectrum but to bring in an element of imagination. By utilizing storytelling and cinematically starting a set, because you can do that in the rave, things got weird. When I figured out 5th dimension was something I could jump into, I could get people to put themselves in this situation with just their mind. To put a picture in your mind. To immerse you into the world-into cinema.

I think like a director, there’s a story. Their life has ended and now a new one has started. My intros have always been about grabbing your attention and bringing you through this world for the next hour, hour and a half.

If dnb wasn’t an option, which artist would you choose as your absolute favorite?

VangelisHis ability to create mysticism in music. He reminds me of what a Greek god would sound like if he made music. When I think of him, I think of this musical god with synthesizers and acoustic instrumentation. Joy and romanticism and death. Trial and tribulation. The movie Blade Runner was the catalyst. I like this style. He’s a big part of the advancement of music.

Any production tips you’ve picked up over the years?

Have fun, fuck the numbers, fuck the hype. Music is life.

I follow you on Bandcamp, I see these jungle edits and two days later they’re gone. I’ve seen it happen for months! What’s with that? 

I make these edits of jungle tracks and flip them to footwork or lately, drill. Like a track will kick in halftime like NY style drill track, after 16 bars go and back to the original track. What I do is I put up it up there (on Bandcamp) and say “hear some sick jungle anthem edits, only up for two days, and then I’m taking them down”. It creates scarcity in todays digital abundance of music. People will hit me up and say “I missed out on that jungle edit.” “I need that track”. I pick the songs that are already there, flip it, but don’t make it available constantly. It creates an atmosphere reminiscent of dubplate culture. It creates hype and tension. “They’re like anthems, it’s going to set the place off.”

What current projects are you working on? The Glitch Mob track is phenomenal and we know that you’ve got ET FINGER blowing up. What else is up in the world of UFO!?

I was asked by Adam F to remix Aroma Therapy, that’s pretty high on my list. What I’m going to do is grab the a-side and b-side and turn it into one track, kind of like, do a remix of the whole album. That’s the biggest thing. Everything else is simple releases that are going to be part of the “plan” but this is going to be special.

Be sure to check out UFO!’s new upcoming projects, expansive catalog of tunes, collabs as he continues to make waves throughout the USDNB scene. I can’t wait to see what comes next.  

 

Content Crafted by:

aliengirl

Little Junglist alien girl based in Oklahoma City. Spreading the word of drum and bass on the daily. Catch me front row, eyes closed, with the bass flowing through my soul.