Slaine’s ‘Tremors LP’ is the fresh hype on Dirtbox Recordings this week and for those seeking the gritty tech step style this one cures the craving and then some dabbling amidst the sub genres with style. Packed to the brim with hard hitting beats, dangerous driving basslines and all around thick sound Slaine is melding nostalgic vibes with modern flare for the new era audience as well as classic drum and bass connoisseurs. In addition to reviewing the album I had the chance to talk with Slaine about the production of the ‘Tremors’ project, his journey into drum and bass and more! Read on to get the full scoop and grab your copy of ‘Tremors’ out now on Dirtbox Recordings. Beatport and Spotify click here.
Igniting the ‘Tremors’ release with precision is “Sparks”, softly rolling into the album with booming bass drops, amen heavy beats and a zappy grit to create a colossal track with flavor from the jungle for the modern mix.
Title track “Tremors” is up next, a burly, heavy bassy number with punchy broken beats maintaining an upbeat danceable groove. A theme is already starting to develop between the tracks and the anticipation levels up as we smash into the next tune.
Electrifying basslines whip and roar bringing “Rollz” to life, rebounding between beastly beats that are thick and powerful as this track surges through the mix as a whole. Accenting the fills and breaks Slaine turns the heat up even more!
“BHX” offers a hint of a dancefloor orientated vibe with an upbeat, energetic composition twisting and slapping through the beats as the bassline bends in its own furious, melodic groove. This one will definitely get the floor in motion and shake the room.
Funky and broken “Dogtooth” harbors a mellower mood with a fun flow that seeps through the mix to make the floor move. By now we are immersed in ‘Tremors’ as a whole and the tracks are developing a common theme while maintaining their own individual integrity, Slain has put in serious work on this collection of music no doubt!
A very technical piece of music arises next with “Riser” coming in full force with a dark and devious energy and drums that consume the mix. The bassline twists and winds in the shadows in this electrifyingly powerful assault of drum and bass.
“Polymath” pops through the build keeping focus on the highs that travel through the duration of this composition bringing the energy to the top. Growling basslines roll and tumble digging deep as they sprawl through the track assisted by the assertive punchiness of the drums spiraling through the mix.
A bouncier composition introduces yet another flavor to ‘Tremors’ with the track “Mirror”. Shorter, bubbly basslines and precise patterning with the beats offers a bit of a wobbly jump up vibe to this track with enough stamina to beat the floor to submission and carries the mood of the album well.
“Killa Sound” brings a warm build to the mix only to twist the narrative flipping into dark, driving basslines that pave the way for tenacious beat patterns and ferocious fills to blast through making the floor move and groove to this Killa Sound from Slaine!
Wrapping up ‘Tremors’ comes “Muffler” sending it off with beefy, grimy bass and clean beats playing upon the warmth of the melodies to see this album through to the finish. Overall style and sound is legit, you can tell Slaine has put an immense amount of time into these tracks individually and this project as a whole to create a piece of work that takes us into a whole new realm of drum and bass.
Click here to grab your copy of Slaine’s ‘Tremors’ out now on Dirtbox Recordings.
And now, the Interview:
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us here at Best Drum and Bass. We’re very excited to feature ‘Tremors’ on the blog and get some insight on the release to share with our fans! Let’s start off with a brief introduction on yourself as an artist and your path into producing drum and bass.
What made you decide to write music?
It’s hard to pinpoint a time when there was a conscious decision. I just always loved making music of any kind. I grew up listening to a varied amount of music as I have two older brothers who introduced me to loads of different stuff from a young age. I started playing guitar when I was around 13 years old and played in a couple of punk and metal bands, then an improvised funk/blues/reggae type band for a few years. Working in bands was a lot of fun but I got sick of the in-fighting that inevitably happens and peoples egos getting in the way of the writing process. After being introduced to dnb at around 16 through a work friend I had a bit of an epiphany and realized I could make music with the impact I was looking for, without having to rely on other people.
Who are some of your influences or artists you admire?
My influences would be a lot of classic techstep and neuro like older Calyx and Teebee, Black Sun Empire, Ed rush and Optical etc and I will always have a deep admiration for the style they carved out. These days the people I’m really feeling are artists like Break, DLR, Quadrant and Iris, Fathom Audio, Rizzle, St.iff.
Describe your journey as a producer into drum and bass. What’s the most memorable moment of your career so far?
It took a few years to get the basics of sound design and drum programming to a level I was semi-happy with. I started producing dnb around 15-20 years ago, back when it was a lot harder to acquire the knowledge needed to make the sort of stuff I really loved. There was still a lot of gate-keeping going on within the dnb community and my only source of sound design techniques was forums like dogs on acid, and just trial and error. I persevered through the dark times and slowly worked out the aspects of production I needed to know. I had my first release back in 2011 and have been steadily putting stuff out since then. The most memorable point so far was when I got a release on Symmetry Recordings called ‘circuits’. Symmetry is one of the most consistent labels for me and still to this day releases some of the best dnb around.
I have to say the ‘Tremors LP’ is absolutely stacked!! TEN tracks and you still managed to develop a unique sound for each individually while maintaining a core principal in the overall style of the album as a whole and every single one hits HARD. Let’s get into some of the specifics about that…
What were some of the goals you had in mind when you started the Tremors project?
My main goals were to just create a more substantial body of work, with references to a lot of the styles of dnb I grew up loving. The ethos was to try and make something that works on a modern dancefloor but with elements of what has came before, without just rehashing old ideas. I feel the album is a decent melting pot of tech/neuro sounds and more stripped back, dancefloor, even jump up grooves. I can genuinely find something to love about all sub-genres of this music and wanted to reflect that with the album, it’s not purely music for the old school tech heads and it’s not just pandering to what’s cool right now.
How did those goals develop or change as you worked through the process?
I feel I generally captured what I was going for, however as the project developed I realised that one of the main defining themes running through the album is an almost sci-fi aesthetic. I decided to try and elaborate on that with the sorts of retro synth melodies/atmospherics i’ve used throughout the album and the overall theme of tremors, referencing the b-movies and sci-fi films/tv and comics that I grew up loving.
Describe your production technique for an album of this magnitude. How long did the project take as a whole?
The project has taken about 2-3 years to complete. A lot of that was down to covid delaying certain things but overall I think it helped as I could give it the thought it needed. I wanted to make sure there was a coherent theme running through the tracks and this collection was whittled down from a possible 20-25 ideas I had made. It’s hard to pin down a particular production technique as they all started life in different ways. Tracks like ‘sparks’, ‘riser’ and ‘killa sound’ all started out with synth melody/arp experiments which I then built around, whereas stuff like mirrors, polymath and bhx were very much about creating a solid bass and drum groove and then I began writing on top of that.
How do you keep yourself fresh writing such an immense amount of music for the same release?
My way of keeping myself fresh is to always have multiple tracks on the go at the same time. I make a LOT of stuff and always have something to switch over to when a project is doing my head in, or I feel I’m doing more harm than good. This is the biggest piece of advice I would give budding producers, always have a few things in process rather than focusing on just one project. Just realize when you need to take a step back and return with fresh ears. I will usually leave a track for a few days then sit down and listen from start to finish with a pen and pad and write down everything that pops out, then methodically go through and add those changes.
Were there any hurdles you had to overcome while writing for Tremors?
Honestly I think it was generally quite smooth going. A few mix tweaks were needed on some of the earlier tracks I had made, and it was hard to decide on the exact track listing as there were a couple more that almost made the cut. Overall though it could have been a lot more stressful.
How did you go work through those moments?
The mix issues were quite easy to fix, and were simply down to hearing the tracks too much and not recognizing what was going wrong, so that process of taking a break from them and coming back with fresh ears was really helpful. To help decide on track listing I just sent some stuff out to a few DJs I really trust and got some honest feedback. I saw the tracks that were going down well at certain events and the ones that were missing the mark somehow.
Were there any unexpected surprises along the way?
Unexpected surprises would mainly be just seeing which tracks were getting the best responses in the raves. You never quite know how stuff is going to go down. BHX got a lot of decent support early on, which really surprised me as I thought maybe the riff was a little too repetitive or cheesy, however the response kind of encouraged me to trust my gut with the rest of the tracks and just wrote what felt good to me.
Something out of the ordinary that perhaps made writing this release more memorable?
I had a colossal computer failure at one point. I luckily had most of my stuff backed up and managed to get it fixed anyway but was stressful at the time! The failure meant I had to write a couple of tracks on my laptop without a lot of my favorite plug-ins etc but the constraints were actually pretty beneficial and I managed to make a couple of more stripped back tracks that I really like. Mirrors was written that way and it’s been getting some of the best feedback and crowd reactions of them all.
What was your favorite track to write on this release?
I think my favorite track to write was BHX as it is just such high energy, and was one of those tracks where the writing process just flowed from start to finish. Every now and again you just get those tracks that you seem to pluck out of the ether with very little effort.
Which was the most challenging?
The one i remember getting most frustrated with was ‘Sparks’. I loved the melody idea I had but it took a long time to get the bass and mids hitting right. I really like it now I can listen to it with some perspective, but for ages I just couldn’t even bear to open the project up.
When was it decided you would release Tremors on Dirtbox Recordings?
This project was always going to be for Dirtbox Recordings. Lee UHF that runs the label has always been really supportive of my music, and has given me some really great opportunities. I felt the kind of album I wanted to do fitted really well with the upfront dancefloor style of the label and it just seemed like a perfect home.
What was it like working with them as a label for this release?
It was a really fun process and very encouraging to be given the freedom to just make what I wanted. Lee understood the style I was going for and also offered some really decent advice along the way. It’s nice to work with people that have such focus and a clear plan of action.
What’s your favorite thing about producing music?
It sounds like such a cliche but making music is a bit like therapy for me. I just get massive satisfaction out of making stuff that actually gets me (and hopefully others) moving. I think like anyone that’s passionate about something, it really energizes me and makes me able to cope with the not so great bits of modern life a lot better. I feel like it’s pulled me through some extremely dark times in my life and has been the one consistent thing that keeps improving the more time you put into it. Kind of like exercise, you don’t need anyone else, just put the work in and you will see the results.
Where do you hope to see the sound of dnb evolve in the future?
I’m just happy to see it keep naturally evolving. It amazes me that something that was so underground and UK-centric 20 years ago has now become such a worldwide force and doesn’t seem to be stopping. I’ve seen the cycles come and go a few times now and I guess I’m just looking forward to what comes next. I would love to see a resurgence of some form of the techstep sound, like the ‘No U-turn’, ‘Quarantine’, ‘Metalheadz’ type stuff from years ago, which I can kind of see happening after the whole jungle revival thing.
What else are you working on at the moment that we can keep an eye out for?
I have a couple of EPs almost finished which should be dropping on Ghost Snares over the next few months. I’ve just done a guest mix for Futurepastzine which is going to be online this week, and I’m also working on a couple of projects for Dirtbox.
If there’s anything else you’d like to add or share with our audience please feel free to do that here:
I’ve been running a label (Ghost Snares) for the past year and a half with a couple of close friends ‘Elkie’ and ‘J Dok’ who both produce amazing stuff. We release tracks every month and run events so be sure to check us out for updates.
You can find us on Instagram/ghostsnaresdnb (click here to connect)
Thanks again for your time! We wish you much success on the Tremors release and all of your future endeavors.
No problem at all. Thanks so much for all the support!