“Determine” and “Life” are two hot new ‘must have’ selections that have been holding strong at the top of my personal playlists for the past few weeks livening up the mixes and smashing the dance floors with fresh flavor from Seattle based drum and bass producer D-Struct on Pseudoscience Recordings. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to grab a quick chat with D-Struct about this release and a whole lot more so read on to check out the tunes and get in depth with this inspiring artist making big moves in the USDNB scene.
“Determine” eases in on atmospheric pads as the mood quickly flips and heavy amens strike furiously, an evident influence of jungle and old school breaks in D-Struct’s writing style building straight through the drop. Thick basslines ride and growl low bouncing between big bass drops and quickly timed breaks as technical beats boom and pop with precision. Topped off with some killer samples which are aptly placed to accentuate the tune in the mix, “Determine” flows well with anything to build the hype on the dance floor.
Heavy beats pound through the intro as “Life” builds moodily over clean kicks with a light vocal crescendo to the drop. Groovy, bassy and bouncy “Life” is layered extra thick complimented by upbeat, vibrant kicks that incorporate influences outside of the spectrum of drum and bass into this track to accentuate D-Struct’s unique artistry with a deep, dark, dirty underground sound. The vocal sample is dispersed hypnotically to powerfully clench the soul conveying intense emotion while remaining open to personal interpretation to engage the vibe of the room. I’ve been playing this one out constantly it’s tested and proved to make the dance floor move!
Now let’s dive deeper into the creative mind of John Aronson aka D-Struct as he and I chatted about his music career past, present and future.
Amy Octane: Thanks for taking some time to do a quick interview! Tell me a bit about your history, what got you into producing drum and bass? What was your first experience like with DnB or dance music in general?
D-Struct: Great question! I really connected with drum and bass when I was a kid, about 16-17 at the time. I heard Groove Rider – Jack the Ripper on the radio one night in the summer and it really blew my mind. I remember listening to the Ed Rush & Optical remix of Watching Windows on repeat in high school shop class (on a mini disc player). A few years later I started going to few small parties that were mostly techno and house. I really did then, and still do, take inspiration from the minimalism and nuance of techno. I have fond memories of going to shows in the early 2000’s to see Skynet, Dom, Tech Itch and others which is about the time I got serious about writing my own tunes.
AO: That’s really interesting and now that you say that I definitely pick up on a bit of influence in your writing style as well. Where did the idea of D-Struct originate? What’s the story behind the name?
D-Struct: When I first started out I was just going by “destruct” – I thought it sounded cool but didn’t really have much intentional meaning. I’ve always been interested in esoteric things like Alchemy and the role of fire and destruction in the process of transmutation is pretty fascinating to read about. After trying to write tunes for a few years it kind of occurred to me use D-Struct as it’s more unique, and I can sort of change or play with the meaning by filling in the blank or adding things so it could become “Drum conSTRUCT” or something else like “DeconSTRUCT drums”. I’ve thought about changing it but definitely feel that D-Struct accurately represents me as an artist. The act of destruction can be a catalyst for creation, and creativity.
AO: Epic! I like how it’s grown into so much more to it than something that sounded cool.
D-Struct: Haha, thank you!! I’ve had a long time to ponder the meaning. Making music is also a process of reflection and introspection so it all sort of makes sense in my head.
AO: So let’s talk about the release with Psuedoscience Recordings. “Determine” and “Life” are both two instant favorites in my personal library this year. Your style is unique and each track carries its own flare as well. I’m really digging the technicality on the drums and you keep the basslines fresh and bouncing along, for me it’s a different kind of energy (I’ll elaborate on that more in the review, I could go on and on). How are you feeling about the release at this point? Tell me a bit about your process and how you got here.
D-Struct: Thank you! I really appreciate the support and kind words. So far the release has been quite well received and I’m super stoked to have the tunes released on Evan’s label.
Determine was really fun to write, the original idea came together fairly quickly a few years ago and it came up in my queue of tunes to finish over the summer. It’s centered around some b-boy samples and the message is really about doing your thing and being determined to stick to it. Many of my favorite samples and breaks in one place.
Life was a project I finished over the summer. The concept behind it is about reflecting on the ups and downs of life, and what the experience of those pinnacle moments feels like. Production wise I really wanted to push the contrast of new and old. I’ve always had a thing for dub, especially the drum fills and I had recently tuned up my old Roland Space Echo so that was a key part of the tune for me. For the bass I just love a good warm sounding additive/FM bass with a sort of warp or curl to it, so there is that going on in a few different ways. The vocal sample was added later in the writing process, and it came across pretty well I think. One of my goals for 2020 is to start working with a vocalist.
OA: I do feel a lot of emotion come across in your tunes. Where do you draw your influences for production? Musical influences, personal influences (which I see you touched on a bit) or interests outside of music.
D-Struct: Yes, writing music is absolutely catharsis for me and just a great outlet emotionally. When it comes to writing, sometimes the inspiration or purpose comes first or it’s starting a beat and the purpose reveals itself around the time the vibe shows up or even in a later session. Clarity of theme or purpose for a tune is sort of my barometer for figuring out what order to finish things in. I’ve had those profound moments where I wake up from some crazy lucid dream and write a song about it but those times are few and far between. Musically I’m all over the place. When it comes to drum and bass a lot of artists have been inspirations over the years: Ed Rush & Optical, Kemal & Rob Data, Teebee, Photek, Source Direct, Noisia, Sinthetix, Rob F, Telemetrik, Raiden, Propaganda, Tech Itch, Decoder, Cause 4 Concern, SKC, Dylan, Dieselboy, Dillinja, Bad Company, and many others. I gravitate towards a lot of different things in terms of genre and era: Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Anoushka Shankar, Laurie Spiegel, Vangelis, Brian Eno, Nils Frahm, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Yes, Dream Theater, Tool, Front Line Assembly, Skinny Puppy, Square Pusher (This list could go on for ages.) Outside of music I’ve always been a gamer and love playing with electronics – I’ve repaired and rebuilt a lot of my own and others studio equipment. And researching music, it’s culture and understanding where the sounds I like came from is another super important thing I forgot to touch on. I’m fascinated with jazz, blues, soul, funk and the Motown sound and equally interested in techno and its evolution in the 80’s.
OA: Your answers are very complete and in depth it puts a new perspective on your artistry, I really appreciate that! So since we’re seeing some other names in that last response… If you could collaborate on a track with any artist, of any genre, who would it be and why?
D-Struct: That’s a tough one; pick any artist/genre… If I had to pick one right now and stay within drum and bass, I’d say Break. His tunes have been a huge inspiration to me over the years in terms of production quality, concept and musicality.
OA: I would be interested in that personally, I think your styles would play well off each other. Ok one more question so I don’t keep you all night I really appreciate the effort you’ve put into this. I feel like we could sit down for about 12 hours if you had the time, I hope to get out your way and have a real chat someday. Your passion is inspiring!
D-Struct: Yes, please, that would be super cool!!
OA: What are your goals for D-Struct in 2020? I know you said earlier get a vocalist on, anyone particular in mind? Anything we can watch for coming soon?
D-Struct: Mainly for 2020 I want to keep the momentum going that I’ve built up over the last few years with more regular releases and really pushing forward as a solo artist, with many thanks to everyone who is supporting my sound! The Azoth EP that came out last December on AGN7 Audio was a big catalyst for me to grow and get more music out there. I’ve got some technical and aesthetic engineering goals I’m aspiring to achieve with working more in the analog realm and currently looking for a vocalist. There are also some unannounced releases on the horizon that I’m super excited about but can’t quite talk about yet.
OA: Ahhh hopefully sooner than later for something new hahah, I can’t wait to see what you have next and you have my full support. I really appreciate you taking the time chat; I hope next year brings big things for you!
D-Struct: Thank you so much for doing this and supporting my music!
You can grab your copy of “Determined” and “Life” HERE out now on Pseudoscience Recordings. We’ll be keeping close watch for more music from D-Struct in 2020 and maybe even a follow up interview from that 12 hour chat
Check out the Azoth EP too!