Brighton based Breakbeat DJ and producer James D'Ley has come a long way musically since last chatting to Kmag. We caught up with him to discuss the forthcoming Breakspoll awards, the development of his sound and much more.
So you've reinvented yourself to a certain degree as a breaks and bass DJ. What inspired you to start mixing other genres of electronica?
The same reason I got into DJing I think. When I started out in clubs which was over ten years ago now, one night I'd be spinning funky house, the next dnb, hard house the night after then some hip hop around my mate's on a Tuesday. At first it was never about the tunes I was playing because I was playing so many different styles, so instead I put more attention into the way they were mixed and presented. So I was pretty varied with my sound for a long time until I found breakbeat which was the first thing that managed to unify all my musical influences under one umbrella.
However that said, there has been a need to come back to that open minded way of thinking from my early days to recently and explore everything that's going on in electronic music recently. Change is also important as dance music fan bases have changed and come out of nowhere in the last couple of years and all of a sudden the days of 'I only listen to this' are over.
That's what it comes down to, at heart I'm a DJ and entertainer and music is my tool. One of my best sets of 2011 was for the most passionate crowd of breakbeat heads in Gibraltar and it was like I had just got into it again. The vibes were amazing.
Many producers have been experimenting with tempos recently making a range of different music which crosses genres. Are you moving into production and would this be your style?
Yeah definitely, the second half of last year saw me jump into the deep end big time on many levels. After hooking up with the legendary Specimen A from Funkatech records, I was lucky enough to be invited for a studio session to have a chill and make some beats. That was five months ago and to date we've written almost eight tracks in total. The refix of Aerodyanmic by Daft Punk we did has been without a doubt the most acclaimed of the pack, receiving global A list support from the likes of Caspa, DJ Fresh, Rusko, Jaguar Skillz to name but a few and also featuring on Mistajam's BBC Radio 1Xtra show.
Obviously I have a massive desire to continue writing Breakbeat also and have already released on a handful of labels, my debut solo remix for Kraymon of the Whirled on Dusted Breaks receiving the short list treatment for the current Breakspoll.
What was the track that really got you into mixing which began your musical journey?
I got into the idea of DJing way before I had even been to a gig or heard any decent dance music or anything like that. I was around a mate's house late one night when we were still at school and his old man was asleep. I couldn't stop turning his decks on and spinning the tune that was on the platter as was young and drunk and hooked by the idea of it. That tune was Next Generations presents Boy Wunda - Everybody - I daren't link it. But that wasn't what got me into my career as it were more hooked on the decks.
That moment happened at Homelands at some point between 2001-03 when I was watching Black Strobe absolutely own the place with his two foot long spliff and long white jacket. Then the Plumps came on and switched up the vibe and it sent shivers. That was when I knew that's what I wanted to do.
Considerable time has passed since you were last featured in Kmag, what has happened in the world of James D'Ley since then?
Quite a lot actually, I spoke to you just after I picked up a top five nomination at Breakspoll last year and since then I haven't looked back. I've played gigs nonstop for most of the year with events from Gibraltar to the Cotswolds, Scotland to Bristol, Festivals in Somerset to Warehouse parties in London to Rough Tempo radio in Essex and many, many more. I also started producing on my own and with Specimen A to great acclaim and DJ'd for some of the biggest brands in the scene namely Funkatech, Spectrum, Battlejam and Waveform.
It has been the connection with Funkatech Records however, that has allowed me to progress in the larger world of bass music and to them I owe a lot to. Being under the wing of one of the great independents in the UK was one of the biggest things for me in 2011. My production has gone from non-existent to releasing on some of the biggest labels in the scene in the space of six months and the resulting exposure has been awesome.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
As we speak, I'm preparing to put together the annual instalment of The Retrospect of Funkatech mix for Funkatech Records. Something I'm highly stoked for and to be honest is a massive honour. Aside from that I have two remixes I'm currently working solo as well as finishing up the dubs me and Specimen A have been working on. I aim to drop my First EP just before the summer entitled Ontime. This will feature a handful of my best unreleased work to date in the vein of breaks, dnb and drumstep.
The Breakspoll Awards are just around the corner. Why should people votes for you as best DJ Newcomer?
Listen to my breakbeat mix, if you like it, vote for me. I could tell you that in my eyes there is no one out there with the same desire or aspiration for Best New DJ or anyone who is delivering at the same level as myself, but obviously I'm going to say that. Make sure you check out my podcast series on SoundCloud, there are nearly ten hours of free mixes in there.
What are your plans for 2012? Where can we see you play?
Releasing as much as I can and playing out as much as I can all over. Already in the diary this year is Waveform festival, Redfest and Karmageddon, a return to Gibraltar, a handful of London shows as well as my continued shows in Brighton at Freebass @ Concorde 2. The one place in my hometown I will always make sure I can play. Coming up in the next couple of weeks I'm doing a couple of gigs with JFB and Deekline at the University and Audio Nightclub for Battlejam.
Anything else you'd like to mention?
As always hit up my Facebook page and check out the bandpage tab and vote for me, James D'Ley as Best New DJ & DJ. If you're feeling any of the stuff here please come and say hello to me on my social networking sites, I'm always grateful of people showing support. Thank you to everyone who has supported me this year and those previous, I couldn't keep going without it!
Words: Joanna Ranson
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