Interview: Lost City, Ward 21 – “Sicko” [Liondub International]

0


“The future of DNB and Dancehall music.”

Liondub presents the first in a series of singles leading up to the massive “Maps” LP from Los Angeles’s Lost City in collaboration with vocalists from around the globe. “Sicko” kicks it all off with maddening, deadly vocals from the infamous Ward 21 clique out of Kingston, Jamaica. Included in the package: the original stripped back Dancehall mix, a high energy signature ‘JNGL’ mix, as well as each instrumental. This is next level, dark Bashment, Jungle Drum and Bass heat!

“Sicko” is a wicked nasty introduction to the “Maps” LP from Lost City. The tone is dark and mean, building tension by plunging you into a deep, foreboding soundscape that is overflowing with ragga Jungle flavor and Bashment vibes. Ward 21 makes a killer impression with their aggressive vocal stylings and cathartic performance. They really show their personality and talent with the delivery of the lines and the manipulation of their vocal tone to emphasize certain moments. There is something here that Ward 21 brings that cannot be imitated. This is true Kingston sound straight from the source. It’s these unique vocals and complimentary sound that come together to solidify a banger in its own right that can be rinsed out accordingly.

This release sports an original and ‘JNGL’ mix with additional instrumental versions for both. Each version stands tall on its own as the overall ingredients sustain the energy and vibe no matter what the interpretation. The original version is a fun Dancehall take that will get you bouncing, while the ‘JNGL’ mix is a naughty burner that will rip your face off. It’s really cool to explore the sounds of the old with the new in an updated arena as both productions are very strong and truly fitting of the Liondub sound and mantra. The original is sure to please the OGs and those privy to the genre while the ‘JNGL’ mix definitely has the sound to satisfy the new kids on the block. It is a real pleasure to indulge in the different perspectives on these genres that we love. Unmistakably, Liondub once again has found a way to bridge the gap between the humble roots and ripening fruits of this sound.

Lost City is made up of veteran producers/DJs Noah D (Noah) and No Thing (Tom), both whom currently reside in Los Angeles, CA. I had the opportunity to link up with these two and ask a few questions about their origins as well as their future.


How did you guys come up with the name, Lost City?

Tom: In our opinion, it was a lost sound in LA at that time when we were starting. In America, we felt like the Jungle sound that was super hot in the late 90s/early 00s just wasn’t around anymore, so we felt like we were traveling through a “lost city” like an overgrown, jungly lost city of treasure.

Noah: We knew there were many kids, 21 and younger, that quite possibly didn’t know what Jungle was at all. It really hadn’t been represented in the scene besides warehouse parties and the occasional nights at Respect. We thought it’d be exciting to bring this sound back in a way that’s alot more current and relatable to the times.

How would you describe your sound?

Noah: We’re trying to make modern, updated ragga Jungle. We often work with vocalists. When working with vocalists, we’re trying to make a full song that first and foremost is meant for the dancefloor. The hope is always that it could be listened to as well as enjoyed by someone who is not super familiar with DNB/Jungle. We try to touch on sounds that are new and relevant, but always keep tastes of classic Jungle elements in there. Our song BPMs used to be all over the place, but for now we’ve settled into the 170-175 BPM range.

Tom: Over the years that we’ve done this, the sound has evolved. With the upcoming singles in the “Maps” series, they all have a Dancehall or steppers version as well as Drum and Bass. We still love the Halftime and Dancehall sound and keep it in our music. Right now, 170-180 BPM is our sweet spot. Anything is possible. It’s all going to have this taste of old school Jungle/Dancehall thing going on whatever we do.

Tell us about the “Maps” LP.

Tom: The LP will consist of six singles that each have six different vocalists and all six releases are similar where they have 1 DNB/Jungle version, 1 Halftime/Dancehall/steppers version, and instrumentals of both. They will be coming out once a month for the next 6 months. If we were looking at an old pirate map, each one of the releases represents a “lost city” on the map. The artwork reflects that as well to resemble a pirate map.

Noah: This will lead up to our album in January with all of the songs together. Each single is zoomed in on a specific part of the map. The album will be zoomed out where you can see all of them and Lost City is the compass. We made a solid point of putting in instrumentals for this series. For a while, we were doing mostly vocal tracks. Alot of people in the DNB scene enjoy instrumental tracks and so do we, so we’re not compromising our vision. We were just neglecting the fact that it might be wise to include instrumentals.

How did you become interested in Drum and Bass/Jungle music?

Tom: Started going to raves in SF at age 16. At that time, I was listening to Deftones, Tool, and Rage Against The Machine. My girlfriend took me to a rave. It was mostly Trance and House which I didn’t like much, but then we found a Jungle party with MC Jamalski and other local Jungle DJs. This happened to be the heyday of R.A.W. at the time. To me, it felt like the Punk Rock of electronic music. I bought a couple of CDs (Photek, Form & Function and the Toasted: Massive Ragga Jungle compilation). At age 16, it was the only form of electronic music that appealed to me.

Noah: I went to a handful of events, but I barely went out to raves. The only thing that appealed to me really was Drum and Bass. I randomly came across a CD by a guy named Boymerang. It was Intelligent Drum and Bass stuff: sorta moody/jazzy. It just kinda blew my mind. All the breaks and basslines.

Tell us about your first rave experience?

Tom: I just remember going to a party where I didn’t really understand what was going on. Everyone was wearing raver bracelets and I was all about Deftones and Tool back then. Went to the DNB room, the MC was rapping and I didn’t understand a single word he was saying. He was flowing so hard! The DJ was playing some crazy ass shit that sounded like the drums from Punk Rock. And from then on, I was like “This is like Punk! Alright, fuck yeah!” I felt like nobody was really judging anyone. You could be weird or an outsider, but as long as you were dancing, we were all connected and felt like you belonged. Sometimes at other shows, the vibe is clique-y and you need to be dressed a certain way. It made me feel comfortable and safe like I can run around, be part of the flow, put on my bass face and get weird.

Noah: I just remember my friend discovering Psytrance and dragging me out to all kinds of renegades that were outdoors like at the beach, or in the woods. I was definitely like “Woah, this is weird” but I thought it was kind of cool since it was different. That was before I really got into DNB.

How did you begin producing music?

Tom: At age 16-17, I was going to raves and listening to mix CDs like old school R.A.W., and UFO. I got a really cheap drum machine (Yamaha RM1X) and learned to sequence it. Got into DJing when I lived in Portland. It took alot of years before we could finish one track. Once we could finish a track and feel like its done, then it became easier to make more and more.

Noah: Started with production then got into DJing. After a while, I realized that I wanted to take this music seriously as a career. I was really into it and wanted to see how far I could take it. I hunkered down and spent most nights working on production rather than going out and partying.

Tom: Noah and I had a couple of DNB releases on Renegade Recordings back in 2004. It was a more liquid side of Renegade Hardware. It took about a span of 6 years to go from experimenting with beats to having a professional release on vinyl.

What’s your philosophy towards producing?

Tom: You have to wear different hats. For me personally, you have to switch hats. You can be free and creative, but then there comes a point where you may need to be more technical and methodical.

Noah: The beginning of the process we try to catch a vibe and not get too distracted with technical things that will slow you down. I can get really into the technical stuff. Alot of times, Tom is better at starting songs and not getting caught up in that kind of stuff. I’ll take a while to start a song because I want all the pieces to be just right. Sometimes I’ll lose the vibe or the idea, so often Tom will start songs and I’ll come in and expand on the idea. We’ll go back and forth from there. We balance each-other out.

What do you focus on most when making tunes?

Tom: Our strengths are different. Noah’s better at finishing songs and doing the serious engineering and mastering. The nuts and bolts, scientific sound design. Noah also has a more musical background since he was in a band in high school. That gives him an advantage when he’s writing melodies. I like experimenting with synths and making bass sounds.

Noah: I’ve always put alot of focus in the drum work. being very careful and particular about how the drums are. The song has to feel like it can take up a massive space. It has to have that big energy. If it’s not there, you have to figure out how to get it there or start a new project. Although I do get technical about things, I’m not a plugin collector and I don’t sit in front of Serum for hours. I just have a heavy duty attention to detail. I can really dive into that realm and enjoy carving out the fine details. Tom is better at keeping up on new sounds and techniques. It’s really important to tap into a higher frequency and find your flow state where you can really get into a song.

Tom: Yeah, you gotta be able to dance in the studio and get weird sometimes. If it makes you want to get up and throw beer cans at the wall, then you’re on the right track.

What are some things you learned from hosting a weekly club night in Portland?

Noah: One of the big benefits from running a night is that you get to meet so many people that you may have never met otherwise. I remember networking, making connections and having alot of fun. We would get our posters and go out in groups of 4 with our staple guns postering up the city. It was our whole life for a good chunk of years. There are obviously challenges when running a weekly night. It takes up a lot of your time. Between online promotions, posting in forums, booking artists, unexpected problems, keeping up on everything, etc. We would often just have artists stay at our house. One of the places we lived at had a spare room that we dressed up really nice for them. It was cool to get more personal time with certain artists or get the opportunity to collaborate on tunes. You get alot of practice with DJing too as you may have to open up the night often or fill slots.

Tom: You have to follow your passion. It almost has to feel like a curse, like you can’t not do it. It’s not easy and you have to do a bunch of legwork. Your journey will test you and it is up to you to push through it.

What compels you to make this kind of music over other genres?

Noah: I think this music hit us real hard at a time when we were very impressionable. I’ve had times where I consider going back to live music or I’ll take a break from listening to DNB. I’ll start playing guitar again or listening to Flamenco. Then, I’ll hear a Drum and Bass song and get sucked right back in. I’ll still show up to Respect or something. I’ll be in the back chatting with people, but then someone throws on the right tune and I’m running up to the front and dancing my ass off. It just feels like it’s in my DNA at this point.

Tom: I would agree with Noah. If you think of different genres of music as different languages, I learned this language at a very impressionable time in my life. That’s the language I understand and this is how I express myself. I could learn other languages and I enjoy other music, but I’m a fucking Junglist.


Lost City, Ward 21 – “Sicko” on Liondub International is available now on all major music outlets.

Purchase here >>> Lost City, Ward 21 – “Sicko” [Liondub International]

LIONDUB LABEL Links:

EMAIL: liondubpromo@gmail.com

facebook.com/liondubinternational

soundcloud.com/liondubinternational

Share.

About Author

Los Angeles-based Composure takes his first steps on his journey to serve the drum and bass gods. Repping Drumz and Divination Recordings, his foundation is built on both deep-rooted underground history as well as its infinite potential. Having played stages at several notable events in the Southern California area, he is also stepping up and cutting his teeth as a producer and is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with.