Dan Guidance has made a name for himself in the Drum and Bass scene composing some of the most thoughtful and dreamy tracks in the genre. The Bristol-based liquid heavyweight has released music on Technique, Soul Deep, and Liquid Drops. His latest release, The Awakening EP emerges from the rising LA-based label, Divination Recordings.
The first song, “My Biggest Fear” opens with an atmospheric pad and floating vocal that speaks of distant memories and faded dreams. There is such beauty in the simplicity of the elements used in this track. The crisp and delicate drumline carries you through this heavenly journey as a deep sub bassline clutches your chest. The somber vocals cast a gloomy shade making this song perfect for a rainy day. Dan Guidance is really wielding the “feels” like a deadly weapon with the lush soundscape captured here.
“Tracers” is the second song on the EP and talk about a “happy ending.” This tune conveys this feeling that makes you want to zone out and reflect on the things you love and appreciate. ( Yes, good liquid can do that to you! ) From the cue, the sun-kissed sounds and piano notes channel optimism and it feels like the beginning to something new. The drop brings about a warm bassline that wraps its arms around this tune completely while the intermittent stabs keep you grooving.
These are the type of liquid tunes that made me fall for liquid drum and bass.
The Awakening EP is ethereal, introspective, sometimes melancholy, yet also uplifting. Songs like this make you want to close your eyes and drift away to the ambient melodies reminiscent of chillwave and dream-pop. Themes of nostalgia, longing, beauty, and optimism are interspersed throughout Dan Guidance’s work. I have been a fan for a while and luckily, Dan Guidance was nice enough to answer a few questions from us about the upcoming EP.
Tell us about The Awakening EP. What were your thoughts when creating this release?
The Awakening is a 2 track EP, soon to be released on US imprint Divination Recordings. Originally, both tracks had vocals (I scrapped the vocals on ‘Tracers’), and the idea with both was to have a strong, unique lead sound to alternate with the vocal parts. The leads in both tracks have a sort of wonky and nostalgic feel to me. I had been listening to a lot of Tycho, Washed Out and Nosaj Thing, and very much wanted to capture that slightly old and wonky sound.
What’s your favorite song on this EP? Why?
‘My Biggest Fear’ is probably my favorite, as it carries the most emotion for me. There is something quite melancholic about the droopy, wonky synth line. I listen to a lot of melancholic music. It is a quality I really like in music and am happy when I can produce something that gives me that pensive vibe.
I see that you started out as a metalhead. Me too! What were some of the bands you listened to growing up?
Yes, I was really into metal back in the day! I was really into Sepultura, Pantera, Biohazard, Carcass & White Zombie. That kinda thing. I was lucky enough to see most of them live too.
At what point did you realize you wanted to start making music?
When I was around 15/16 probably. A friend of mine had a copy of Rebirth, which I quickly got hooked on. I would stay up all night making squelchy 303 tracks, tape them, and listen to them back in my mum’s car on the way home, much to her annoyance probably! I then started making tunes with Acid Pro. Mostly techno back then. I didn’t really start writing DNB until about 2011.
Moving Shadow seems to be one of the major influences that made you start making liquid DNB. What other artists or labels influenced you to start making drum and bass?
Yes, Moving Shadow was definitely a label that I took a lot of inspiration from. Renegade Recordings releases were another big influence. Big Bud, Future Engineers, and Solid State are a few of the artists that have inspired my DNB sound. Also, the warm-up and wind-down atmospheric DnB sets by a friend, DJ RedLawrie, were also a big influence.
From when you first started listening to DnB in the 90s/2000s until now, how has the music/scene changed since?
The genre has grown massively, producing many sub-genres. It’s also a lot more accessible to make tracks or set up your own label, so there’s a lot more artists and labels about. Which is a good thing in my opinion. Obviously, the internet changed everything, from buying music to promoting to sending demos.
How would you describe the signature Dan Guidance sound?
I am really self-critical, so… shit snare, terrible kicks, and crappy bass!! Joking aside, I try and make tunes that build an atmosphere, which I can then break out of at the peak of the track. Most of my tracks share this technique I think. I would also say that melody is prevalent in most of my tunes, and quite often a vocal.
What is most important to you when producing a tune? (What do you focus on the most?)
Firstly, the groove. It has to somehow have that flow. This is what I concentrate the most on. Also, I focus a lot on the balance between each track. Trying to find the perfect frequency spot for each part in the metaphorical jigsaw that is the mix, so that everything is balanced and clear.
When you’re in the studio, do you have any rituals?
Using EQ, compression and other tools, for example, is something that I will do on every track, which could be seen as a ritual. Oh yeah, and I have to have a dance to the track I’m working on, to test out the danceability.
What’s next for Dan Guidance? Any plans to make a live DNB band still in the works?
I am doing a lot of collaborations at the moment. I am working on music with the massively talented Marvel Cinema and Matt View, with forthcoming releases on Fokuz and Soul Deep. I am also collaborating on music with Twintone, Marcus Tee, MsDos, Kontrast, Enok, K2T, and Peron. I really like collaborating with other producers. Bouncing ideas back and forth really keeps the creativity flowing.
The live DnB band is still just a pipe dream really. One day!
Purchase your copy today: Dan Guidance – The Awakening EP