Choosing just ten emerging drum & bass producers to look out for in 2012 is no easy task, there are so many talented people out there. This isn't meant to be a definitive list, we know there are plenty of equally worthy producers we could have mentioned. We just wanted to give you the heads up on some people we're particularly feeling and if you think we've missed someone then let us know in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Some of the people here have been around a few years but we feel 2012 will be a breakthrough year for them and some are relative newcomers we think are going to make an instant impact. Without further ado, in alphabetical order, here are our ten drum & bass producers to look out for in 2012.
Hailing from Sarajevo, Billain (pictured above) represents one of the neurofunk scene's most talented producers. Influenced by war in his home country as well as the films of Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg and John Carpenter, Billain began producing minimal techno, but after hearing Ed Rush & Optical's Wormhole, Billain made the inspired jump to drum & bass.
Known for his prolific use and creation of custom sounds, Billain is now in heavy demand for sound design work for major companies working on material for films, documentaries and advertising, but he continues to produce the wildest dnb.
Initial track signings came from Breed 12 Inches and C2D and, after further developing his own unique sound and style, more signings started coming from labels like Rise Audio, Syndrome Audio and Citrus. This year sees Billain release on Blokhe4d's Bad Taste Recordings, one of the UK's most innovative labels. Set up by Bad Company's Vegas, Bad Taste has a reputation for clever, techy music with a hard edge and will see Billain release his long-awaited Batbots / Manifold in early 2012.
Liquid funk wunderkind Command Strange has been around for a few years now but he's definitely a talent to take notice of this year. His sweet melodic productions, full of positive vibes and equipped with beautiful soul, jazz and funk samples, have already acquainted him with lovers of the musical side of d&b.
Releasing his first tunes on Liquid Brilliants at 16, he also has releases on Fokuz, Influenza Media, Allsorts and Digital Colours. Command Strange continues to experiment with sound, somewhat deviating from the usual liquid funk and bringing jump-up and tech into his music. His album release on Fokuz Recordings at the end of 2011, Episode 91, beautifully demonstrates the skills that this producer brings to d&b, making it hard not to pay full attention to what's going to come next.
Brazil has given drum & bass some great DJs and producers over the years such as Marky, S.P.Y., XRS, Bungle, Drumagick and, more recently, Crytical Dub, Level 2 and BTK. Another name to add to that list is DJ Chap. His sound can be broadly defined as liquid funk but don't think it's lightweight, much like his compatriot S.P.Y. his music is heavy and tough yet deep and emotional at the same time.
Chap first started DJing and producing D&B in 2005. We first took note of Chap's talents with Tell Me in 2010, which Bailey even rewound on his 1Xtra radio show. In 2011 he had two big tracks on the Liquid V Club Sessions 4 compilation, Midnight Love (a collaboration with vocalist Iriann Joyce) and Sky Is The Limit with Level 2. Into 2012 and his track Seven Lines has just come out on Marky's Innerground label and look out for more DJ Chap releases this year on labels like LuvDisaster, SP Breakz and Digital Blus.
19-year-old Swiss producer Frederic Robinson appeared from nowhere last year, dropping the amazing Laughing At Clouds on Diffrent. The lush, lucid track, with its agile percussion, twinkling synths and just a tiny undercurrent of "grrr", became one of the surprise hits of 2011, and heralded the arrival of a deft, idiosyncratic new talent. Characterised by intricate drum programming, subtle arrangements and a keen melodic sensibility, Robinson's thoughtful productions dance just out of reach of categorisation, and with excellent remixes of Pedestrian and Melo under his belt, 2012 promises big things from this talented producer.
Gerra & Stone
Gerra & Stone have been making waves along the south coast for a while, but it's since the circulation of the downright dirty Droneheads that the Southampton lads have got the rest of the country standing up and taking notice, gaining DJ support from Hype, Kasra, Basha, Xtrah, Ulterior Motive and Octane & DLR to name a few.
Both started out on their own but the pair have been friends for years. Both working within the same local scene, they began to notice similarities in their tastes and ethics. After being booked together for a few B2B sets, it became clear to the boys that their joint talent and enthusiasm could really produce something exciting.
Gerra & Stone's intoxicating sound has been distilled to perfection, unleashed on the world at the optimum time. Deliciously dark, yet destined for the dancefloor, delicately smooth, with punchy little glitches, this exhilarating amalgamation of textures and flavours is sure to hit the spot.
Portsmouth based Macca has only been putting tracks together since 2010 but he has already built quite some reputation. He cites his influences as Netsky, Camo & Krooked, Sigma and Calibre, but he's managed to take these reference points, and somehow take his music further outward, into new and exciting territory.
In describing his style, some might say chilled. We would expand this to challenging, adventurous and downright beautiful. He, like S.P.Y. for example, makes music which is both cinematic and intimate in turn. With clean, minimal lines, his music evokes calm and ease whilst pushing our music forwards into the future. Macca has touched both drum & bass and dubstep with the same meticulous approach, and incorporates both genres into his live sets.
Macca has not only made an impact with his own work. Remixes in 2011 included Johnny Jack's Wide Open (with ParaDigm), and the quite moving remix of Rameses B's Memoirs.
His original recordings have been released on Soul Deep, Lifestyle, Project 7, with others due to drop on Soul Deep and LDNB but next up is the single Love Is Tender on Nu Venture.
Norwich-based duo Mind Vortex have been steadily carving their way through the ranks of drum & bass producers of late. The guys music could be fairly described as heavily dancefloor-oriented with a liquid bent – names like Wilkinson, Hamilton and Loadstar spring to mind (coincidentally stablemates in the Ram Records camp).
Mind Vortex gained sufficient notoriety with their first release on Plush in 2009 (That Good Feelin / Silent Dream), to result in some of their more tear-out tunes subsequently being picked up by Ram. Their releases on Ram to date (notably Onslaught and Generator which featured on last year's massive RAM 100 release) have been straight-up dancefloor smashers, but their upcoming single Now It's Time (originally heard on Andy C's Nightlife 5) is steeped in funk, a solid liquid anthem that is sure to see their profile grow further.
The guys obviously have a huge amount of talent - both musical and technical - and with the support of one of the leading labels in the scene at the moment, Mind Vortex are up for a big 2012.
The economy is in bits, no-one can find a job, Cameron's still in power, wars continue to rage across the globe and it's bloody cold. What could be a better soundtrack to these dark times than the menacing, industrial productions of a young man calling himself Pessimist?
This young Bristolian, real name Kristian Jabs, is only 19, but he's already carving out a very respectable reputation in the scene with strong releases on Renegade Hardware, Commercial Suicide, Ingredients and Kasra's phenomenal Critical stable, who put out militant, clunking cyber-roller Niche in 2011. He's also been remixed by S.P.Y and Med School golden boy Joe Syntax, and his DJ skills aren't to be sniffed at either.
Hard-edged and twisted, with a knack for detail and some seriously disturbing low-end, Pessimist is set to rapidly rise through the ranks this year. If you like your drum & bass to sound like it's come straight out of a dimly-lit car park in some dystopian future city, Mr Jabs should be right up your alley.
Roygreen & Protone
Austrian producers Roygreen & Protone only met in August 2010 but they've come a long way in that time. 2011 saw tracks like Other Song released on Think Deep's Selective Soul compilation but you'll be hearing a lot more from them this year as they have releases lined up on labels like (deep breath) Soundtrax, Innerground, Fokuz, Celsius, BluSaphir, SP Breakz and Director's Cut and collaborations with BokaBoka, Tokyo Prose, Duoscience, MsDos and Skepticz.
"Our approach to making music is quite simple; we tend to produce as we feel," says RoyGreen. "We think this gives us a widespread variety from deep and mystical to uplifting and soulful. We like to draw outside of the box!"
Particularly look out for their release on Marky's Innerground Recordings with the equally talented Monologue and their remix of Changes by Big Bud & DRS. Big Bud, who is releasing a Roygreen & Protone EP on Soundtrax on January 30th, says of them: "Ain't been this excited about a signing since I grabbed a release off Spectrasoul in their early days."
High praise indeed!
Safire has been steadily moving from strength to strength over the last 18 months. The Melbourne-based producer has been making music for the last seven years or so, and also running the long-standing Broken Beat Assault, which has been touring international artists and putting on quality parties in Melbourne for about five years now.
Since his first releases in 2008 - Dream Carrier / Shadows (Climate) and Heatstroke with Mindscape (Resolute), Safire has continued to rise. He has collaborated with a number of well-known producers, including Octane & DLR, Ant TC1, Cern, and Dabs. His deep, techy tunes have been gaining well-deserved recognition across the dnb landscape, evident in his recent string of releases on Ant TC1's much-respected Dispatch Recordings.
His collaboration with Octane & DLR, Peel Street, featured on the Dispatch #50 release at the end of 2011 and he has an upcoming collaboration with Borderline on Dispatch, as well as a number of other drum & bass releases slated for the next few months. Add to this his forays into the 140 BPM world (notably a collab with 3RDEYE, Embryonics, on Requiem Audio), and you have the picture of a well-rounded, versatile and extremely skilled producer. Safire has a couple of shows lined up in Europe in the July to October period, and has proved himself as one to keep a close eye on in 2012.
A deep and soulful producer from Auckland, Sam Reed, aka Tokyo Prose, has been just beneath the surface of the d&b scene for some time now. Signed to Samurai Red Seal, 2011 saw the release of Introducing Tokyo Prose EP that included the beautiful sounds of Saving Grace. This firmly rooted his place within the intelligent side of things and was championed by many of the scene's creative forces, such as Calibre, dBridge, Lenzman and Spectrasoul. Late last year he demonstrated his virtuosity even further working alongside Phil Tangent, releasing Parity and Rearview.
With a firm focus on musicality and groove, the Tokyo Prose sound always has a polished aesthetic which suits both the dancefloor and easy listening time. It's clear to see that the future for this talented producer is a bright one.
OWSLA Debut For Phonat
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Chroma Knock Knock On CIA
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LeeFest 2013 Preview
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Teddy Killerz And Jade Talk Violence
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DJ Vapour Guest Mix
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Symptom Guest Mix
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Antics Records Unveil Collateral Damage
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DJ Upzet Guest Mix
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Numark iDJ Pro Review
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Youthman Drops Some Bangin Music
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Scientia Continues With The Carbon Remix EP
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Detail Guest Mix
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