With a massive EP from the South Florida trio Kryteria on deck, Kmag touches down with John Neurotox, label boss and founder of the Dissected Culture imprint for a chat about the trials and tribulations of starting an imprint from scratch and bridging the gap between disaffected locals and the global masses.
As a bonus, label stalwarts The Clamps hit us with a heavy mix, chock full of tech-driven killers sure to fire up even the most battle-hardened neurofunk-warrior.
Talk a bit about the history of Dissected Culture and how it came to be...
The idea of Dissected Culture was thought up in 2005 but the actual idea was not launched until six years later in 2011. As far back as 2000, I remember talking with guys like Dylan & Tech Itch about their labels and what they were doing at the time. They had lot going on and it just felt good to be a part of things with d&b.
This was around the time that my wife and I were attending tons of east coast parties where the heavy hitters were coming through. The scene in Washington D.C. in particular was the main hub during those critical early years. From 2000-2004, we met so many guys from overseas who were not only producers but running their own labels that we decided to keep our ears open to people’s music to consider releasing on our own.
Some of the first artists that we released include Fortitude, DMR, Braincrack, Subwill, Neothrope, Optimal, Cutana, and Phony. All of these artists are from over the pond as they say.
Eventually we met up with Aaron of Task Horizon, the famous Swiss duo, and we were able to secure a release with them that really put Dissected Culture on a different level. Suddenly producers like Xilent & Neonlight were playing our releases worldwide. We also released a second EP from them a year later that was even more jaw dropping which led to even more attention. Obviously, Aaron is a great guy and has helped us a lot.
Looking back on your own evolution as an artist/fan/producer - talk a bit about how drum & bass entered your world.
In 1999 I met these guys Eric and Keenan at a local music joint that sometimes played all sorts of electronic dance music. Eric was into d&b and Keenan was on the house side of things. Eric had some Dieselboy and Goldie CDs that he played for me over and over and I was like, “Holy shit, this is DOPE!” I could not turn away from this new music I had never heard before and was instantly hooked.
Shortly after this my wife and I started going to parties and meeting contacts that built everything up to what it is today. One memory in particular that stands out for me was a show just up the street from our house. It was hosted by a friend that lived nearby and he had organized everything - flyers, DJs, the venue, all of it. This was right around the year 2000 and he actually had people bussed into our town from Greenville, North Carolina believe it or not, which was about three and half hours away. It was our first local rave basically. It had no big UK talent like all the major events we think about today.
It was headlined by DJ Focus from Charlotte, North Carolina and I just remember him dropping these tunes off Future Cut’s Bloodline EP on Renegade Hardware which had just come out at the time. Hearing it on a big system made me realize that these were amazing times in drum & bass history and that we were a part of it!
What completed my transformation was attending the 2001 Planet of the Drums show in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina featuring AK-1200, Dieselboy and Dara with MC Rage. This show was exactly two days before my oldest daughter’s birth and we were wondering how it would play out with me traveling the eight hours to and from the event.
My wife had to sit out this one unfortunately for obvious reasons but once we arrived at the show it was on. I still feel so privileged to have been there, listening to those three guys in real time causing an awesome disaster on the dancefloor, the energy was unforgettable! It gave me so much appreciation for d&b music. It totally changed my life thereafter.
From there I bought my first set of Technics 1200s and Ortofon Concorde’s and eventually invested in 15 and 18 inch subwoofers with several power amps for setting up DJ shop in my house for others to experience drum & bass in real time.
I was the only one around with this sort of setup happening in my home to be honest. It was hard to explain to the locals that lived nearby and I don’t think they ever fully understood it. The police were called many times to our residence for noise complaints but it was well worth it!
What artists or labels do you cite as your primary influences and how did these very same artists influence the underlying philosophy of Dissected Culture?
I’d say that for sure that labels like Lifted, Renegade Hardware, TOV, Outbreak, and Moving Shadow have had the biggest influence on our sound. Artists like Dylan, Ink, Loxy, Evol Intent, Tech Itch, Spor, Skitty, Unknown Error, Chase & Status, and Cause 4 Concern are the guys that we have been following closely over the years, some of whom are still going pretty strong today.
Each of them have signature soundscapes that were the core of the drum & bass scene. No one used sounds like them and they for sure were the some of the first pioneers of this movement. I have great respect for all these artists.
Talk a bit about the meaning behind the imprint’s name and what you want Dissected Culture to stand for or represent.
The meaning behind the name is actually referring to the difference of cultures and soundscapes within drum & bass. Sliced and diced, dissected beats and bass. As a label, our goal is to have the best neck-chopping beats and the craziest deep basslines like no one else has put out in recent time.
The music just has to be a certain way and really we want to find the best of the best and get them on the label to show the world. I try really hard to get the message out on what I think is decent and should be released. Finding decent artists is not an easy task, it takes lots of searching, listening, patience and time.
One of the benefits of being a smaller, more independent label is being able to showcase and cultivate new talent - talk a bit about how you see that process working for you guys.
It’s great to get music in the inbox though that’s not the way we get all our releases. We actually hand pick and find a few of these new artists by searching them out on Soundcloud. Since we are smaller I can focus solely on a concentrated sound to release and take my time if it’s needed until it’s proper.
This past year we’ve received lots of DJ and producer support from people like Doc Scott, S.P.Y, Syncopix , Dirtyphonics, C.A.B.L.E., Drumsound, Nu Tone, Ink, Zardonic, Eastcolours, Zeds Dead, Muffler, Gremlinz and Ashatak to name a few so we feel like we’re on the right track!
There are several project in the works this coming year from new players from the UK, France, Hungary, and Germany, so be looking out for forthcoming releases from the Landscapers, Bangta Rights, Inward Phase, and The Clamps, all of which we’re excited about. We’re also excited to be working with heads like TR Tactics, Opsen, Primal Therapy, and Inflicted.
Next up on the imprint is this massive EP from Kryteria which seems to capture everything that Dissected Culture stands for. Talk a bit about Kryteria - who they are and how they came to be a part of the crew.
Kryteria is a trio made up of Curtis Richardson, Patrick VanVorst and Tristan Romines. They are all from South Florida. I have known about Kryteria for several years and remember their name floating around in the d&b circuit even before the label was born in 2005. Curtis and I have been chatting about music in general over the past few years, especially after they had worked with Aaron (Task Horizon) on a project for C4C.
When I realized that they lived so close and only a few hours south of us in Ft Lauderdale, I needed them on the imprint to help keep the stateside movement going for the Southeast U.S., in particular around Florida where the Dissected Culture label resides.
The EP is heavy all around - talk a bit about these two bits with Genr8 and NC-17 that Kryteria collaborated with as it seems like it’s this kind of Stateside vibe that Dissected Culture is shooting for.
Hey, this is Patrick from Kryteria. On Chimera the tune was really just a skeleton when we sent it to Genr8 who took it to another level. He helped us perfect the sub-line and the mix and it came together effortlessly with his input. He had grown up in South Florida, Miami, was a big part of d&b culture here and was always a big influence to all of us here.
Alliance and The Chosen were two huge producer groups that Genr8 was part of and while he was living in Los Angeles at the time we worked on this tune, he has recently moved back to South Florida and we will definitely be bothering him as much as we can.
As for Loss of Sight with NC-17, we had met up with Sean and Peter when they were still together (NC-17 has since decided to part ways professionally, with Sean taking the alias Critical Distance and Peter keeping the name NC-17).
We originally sent Sean the file which he then sent to Peter and it quickly became a simple old tech-step vibe with each person adding a little edit or ride to keep the momentum going. To all of us it was something to do for fun and not get so technical with; but yet just bang out a tune and keep that old tech step vibe as much as possible. It worked out well and definitely has a great opening vibe which we all agree is useful in any set.
As a whole, the EP took roughly about 6 months from writing the tunes to final mix and master. It really wasn't something we had planned, there wasn't a deadline or anything to make us finish it. It became what it was when it was and the timing couldn't have worked out better. Dissected Culture is a great label, we look forward to our EP dropping and seeing what comes next.
Last but not least, you've got a wicked mix from The Clamps lined up for us. First off, who are The Clamps, and what can we expect on the mix.
The Clamps is actually the project of a guy (Julien) living in the south of France. He has a long history in different projects from hard techno, to nu-skool breaks, progressive trance, to drum & bass. His mix is seriously ill and captures the vibe and sound of Dissected Culture perfectly.
Any last thoughts before we jump into the mix?
I think it’s important that everyone knows that Dissected Culture is run on old school concepts and ideas. From the beginning I have been stubborn to think any other way and I feel that building off ideas based from 10-12 years ago is the way to go. I think you have to play it that way to have a successful label nowadays. It’s wisdom.
Words: Chris Muniz
Rawtekk - Monopolists and Robberies (Original Mix) [Medschool]
The Clamps feat. Hostile MC - Massive (Original Mix) [Mute:8 Recordings]
Smooth - Drone (Original Mix) [Viper Recordings]
Kryteria - Neuron Invasion (Original Mix) [Dissected Culture Ltd]
Rawtekk - To Be A Space Monkey (Original Mix) [Medschool]
The Clamps - Superficial Intelligence (Original Mix) [Free Download]
Aeph - Back To The Jungle (Original Mix) [Lifted Music]
Statistic - Drunken Sailor (Opsen & Primal Therapy Remix) [Dissected Culture Ltd]
TR Tactics - Dirtbox (Original Mix) [Citrus Recordings]
Alexander Head & Analogyzer - Last Passenger (Original Mix) [Kinetik Records]
Impak - ID (Original Mix) [NFG Dub]
The Clamps - This Is Not It (Original Mix) [Dissected Culture Ltd Dub]
Trei - Seeds (Original Mix) [Viper Recordings]
Black Sun Empire & Noisia - Hideous (The Clamps & Redject Remix) [Blackout Music NL]
Qo - Hopeless (Original Mix) [Citrus Recordings]
Rawtekk - Photone Recruits (Phace Remix) [Hospital Records]
Human Error - Try Harder (Original Mix) [Dub]
Limtek - The Dark Knight (Original Mix) [TAMRECORDS]
Killer Industries - Roadrage (Original Mix) [Kosenprod]
Bluescreens - Strike One Part II (Original Mix) [RAM Records]
oneBYone - Speed Run (Original Mix) [TAMRECORDS]
Emperor - Precursor (Mefjus Remix) [Critical Music]
State Of Mind & Black Sun Empire - Unconscious (Original Mix) [Blackout Music NL]
The Clamps - Utilitarianism [TBA]
Opsen & Primal Therapy - Paradox (Original Mix) [Vandal Records]
Primal Therapy - Hologram (Original Mix) [Vandal Records]
Kryteria - Necrosis (Original Mix) [Dissected Culture Ltd]
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