Dropset: The Unstoppable Machine in USDNB

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Dropset is blowing up the drum and bass scene lately with his technically sound, heavy neurofunk style and the journey for this USDNB producer/DJ is about to get even more intense. Is he named after a weightlifting routine or because his tracks will PUMP YOU UP!?! Dropset has over 20 years as a DJ under his belt and has been seriously into production recently knocking out track after track of thick, explosive, high quality drum and bass. Hailing from Pittsburgh, PA he’s quickly rising in the ranks in USDNB and beyond having tracks played by legendary artists worldwide.

I’ll be the first to admit I slept on Dropset longer than I should have. He first came to my attention in 2020 with “Source Error” on Korsakov Future Stars Volume 1 a brutal display of neurofunk drum and bass this track definitely caught my ear with the relentless energy and colossal sounds Dropset brings to his production.

Quality and consistency continued to flow and Dropset kept the neuro thumping through his collaboration with Volatile Cycle “Descent” on Cause for Concern  and his contribution to the Corridors of Death series on Close 2 Death with “Full Contact” & “Remote Strike”.

It’s clear to see there’s no slowing Dropset down as 2021 has seen him working harder than ever, pushing straight to the top release after release whether it’s a solo project or collab, Dropset just doesn’t stop. This year we’ve already seen an impressive list of tracks, solo projects and collabs including a spot on Protocode’s ‘Alpha Cuts Volume 1’ with Dead Zodiac on “Technology”, “Warpath” with Transforma from ‘The Boneyards EP’ on Korsakov Music, his single “Soul Breaker” from ‘Slither EP Volume 1’ on Boomslang Recordings and he just dropped another bomb on Kill Tomorrow with “Mind Arson” and “The Wastelands”.

Dropset has also previously released music on labels such as Abducted LTD, Divination Recordings and Tactical Audio plus there’s so much more in store as this stateside Junglist is lined up on labels across the board. One thing is for sure, Dropset is becoming a household name in drum and bass!

I had the honor of speaking with Dropset this week getting a bit deeper into his take on the drum and bass world. Keep reading to get the inside scoop on how he tackles production, touring as a DJ and some extra cool sneak peeks on what’s to come from this unstoppable USDNB machine!

You have been on the warpath lately… how are you feeling about current position in drum and bass?

If I’m being honest, it all feels a bit surreal. Like, this isn’t supposed to happen. The odds of success in this industry are not in my favor. At times I still feel like that 15 year old kid at his first local Pittsburgh drum n bass show. Most people don’t know my background, but long story short but up until about 2013 my life was not headed in the greatest direction so I decided to make some changes. Now, when I see a video of one of my tunes going off at a slammed festival in the Czech Republic, or hear a legend like Noisia or John B playing one of my tunes, it’s truly a mind blowing experience.

How do you approach writing tracks? Has your process changed as you gain more experience? What’s the method to your madness? What inspires you when writing music?

So, my writing process hasn’t changed much in terms of the order in which I lay down track elements (drums first, then bass, then synths etc), but my production techniques have definitely evolved. Having had the privilege to be mentored by guys like Philth, Akov, and Joe Ford has really helped me step my game up in terms of workflow and mixdown technique. Inspiration for tracks for me usually comes from simply hearing other tracks that I like. I’ll hear something and be like “that’s a sick vibe” and I’ll try to lay down something similar. The idea ends up taking a mind of its own and the finished product usually sounds nothing like the source material (at least I hope not!). I honestly wish I could be more original in that regard. I don’t have a music theory or songwriting background. I have a 20 years of DJ experience background lol. There’s a lot of trial and error in my process. Sometimes it feels like it becomes a jigsaw puzzle where I have the sounds in there that I want, and then it just becomes a matter of seeing where and how they should fit.

Talk about your 2nd drop variations. What a killer way to extend the track in the mix it’s kind of becoming a signature in your style what drives you to that?

This is still something I struggle with. The second drop is usually one of the last things I do, so by the time I hit that point my creativity feels tapped out. My go-to is a half time second drop but I’ve been trying to push my creativity further and get away from that when I can. I’ll play around with different drum patterns, sometimes even a four on the floor beat. I’ll try changing up the bass or synth pattern. A lot of my process is experimental and just playing around with things until something sounds good.

A lot of your tracks fall on that heavy/neuro/technical tip is this the path you’ll continue to blaze moving forward? What’s the future sound of Dropset evolving towards?

I’m definitely always partial to the harder and at least the darker style of tunes, whether it’s producing, DJing, or listening. My good friend Dan from Volatile Cycle is always pushing me to do something different and get outside of my comfort zone. I finally listened to him and ended up signing the tune to C4C, so I guess that worked out well lol.

How do you approach collaborations versus solo projects? What do you enjoy about each? What have you learned from working with other producers in drum and bass?

The approach to a collab is different with each person. Sometimes I’ll start the project and then send the files to the other person, we do a few back and forths, and boom she’s done. Sometimes the other person starts the project and sends it to me. Sometimes I just make a whole bunch of sounds in my synth and send them to the other person to write with. Sometimes a collab just stalls out and never gets finished lol. It’s cool to see where an idea you started ends up, it’s cool to see what you can add to someone else’s project, and it’s cool to hear what your sounds can do in the hands of another songwriter. One thing I’ve learned is that my friends are far more talented than I am and I’m beyond stoked to work with them!

Do you have a dream collaboration that hasn’t happened yet?

Hmm so many! The obvious Noisia, Mefjus, Billain, Joe Ford, Akov, and any of the countless legends I grew up listening to like C4C, Andy C, Ed Rush, Bad Company, etc.

What has been your most rewarding project to work on so far? Most challenging?

Most rewarding so far has been my first collab with Volatile Cycle called Descent. Noisia played it on their radio show and I literally got tears in my eyes. I was on a natural high for days after that. The most challenging was probably my collab EP coming out on Abducted LTD in August. I was working on that while I was working on a bunch of other random singles, and I kept learning new techniques in the process so then I would have to go back and overhaul the old projects. I probably “finished” that EP 10 times over the course of 6 months. The worked paid off though and I’m very pleased with how it turned out.

You’ve released tracks across quite a few impressive labels so far, who else is on your hit list for future release goals?

Again, the obvious hahah Eatbrain, Blackout, Vision, and the rest of the big dogs. I’ve still got a long way to go but I’m gunning for the top now.

We’ve seen quite a few stellar Dropset remixes, if you could remix ANY track what would it be?

Oh man, tough question. I don’t want to pick a classic because the remixes never hold a candle to the nostalgia of the original. Maybe Lockdown by State of Mind. I think I’d be able to smash that one up a good bit.

Talk about some of the rewards, and challenges, of being a USDNB artist?

Well the main challenge is the fact that our scene isn’t as big as it is in Europe. Granted, in Europe you can drive six hours and hit three countries, whereas here you can drive six hours and still be in the same state. Our smaller scene size is a gift and a curse though. It’s a gift because the market here isn’t over-saturated with producers which gives people like me a chance to make some moves. Also, we are pretty open now in terms of covid restrictions, so I’m able to get out and play some great shows here whereas a lot of my overseas friends are having trouble with international travel restrictions and their own areas covid policies.

Now that shows are coming back to life you have played a few events and have some more big gigs announced! Denver July 31st for Drum and Bass Proper’s 6 year anniversary show and the weekend after August 6 at Outlander Music and Arts Festival in Wisconsin. What are you feeling heading back into these events? What else do you have in the books for 2021?

I’m extremely excited but I’m also very nervous! All of these upcoming events will be my first events traveling to other cities to perform. I don’t want to disappoint anyone! I’ve got a lot things lined up, but nothing has been officially announced yet except for Halloween Hoopla which is a Pittsburgh festival Oct 8-10.

I’ve actually just signed on as an artist with CyberGroove which I’m extremely excited about. It’s an honor and a privilege to be working with them. We’ve got some really cool things planned so keep your eyes out for that. If you’d like to see me in your city reach out to them!

Where would you most like to play you haven’t been yet?

I’m just being cliche at this point but I have to say Let It Roll! Like I said though, I’m just now starting to travel outside of my hometown for shows, so I’m stoked to be anywhere!

Any spoilers or secrets you can share about what’s in store for the future of Dropset?

Oh man. So. Much. Stuff! For upcoming releases I’ve got two with Volatile Cycle out August 6th on EKOU Recordings, my four track collab EP featuring Transforma, Bad Syntax, Knoxz, and Native Impulse on Abducted LTD, a solo tune on C4C in September on the Flavours Vol. 1 EP, a solo tune for Shell Shock Recordings out this fall, and I’m on board with a new Bristol-based label which has yet to announce (although I have posted a teaser vid if you’ve been paying attention) and it is full of both legendary and up and coming producers. In terms of collabs I’ve got about six or seven (we have literally lost count at this point) in the pipeline with Volatile Cycle, about three with Transforma, as well as tunes with Shadow Sect, Kaizen Flow, and a few others that I’m really stoked about but which are still too early to announce.

Thank you for taking the time to chat with Best Drum and Bass if there’s anything else you’d like to add please do so here:

I just want to give a shout out to everyone who takes the time and effort to support what I’m doing, whether that be the listener, the DJ, the mentor, the collab partner, the label, the agent, the promoter, whoever it may be. This stuff is truly a group effort and I could never do it by myself. It still blows my mind that anyone cares about what I do. So thank you as well Amy for taking the time to chat. It’s been a pleasure. See ya in Denver!

If you’d like to read more about Dropset check out this prior interview with Best Drum and Bass. Subscribe to the site and we will keep you up to date on what’s coming from this USDNB legend in the making that’s for sure!

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Drum and bass is life! Co-founder and operator at (((dB))) Decibel Drum and bass. Proud to represent Boomslang Recordings as an official DJ. Check my SoundCloud for fresh mixes weekly! Connect on Facebook