The ice-cold sounds slicing their way through the cold winter air in Birmingham's Custard Factory are exactly what the crowd have been waiting for.
The DJ behind the decks has just started his set and is already masterfully conducting a relentless audio assault on the ardent DnB fans in front of him, with a tantalizing blend of whomping bass and punchy treble creating the perfect beginning to one of the most anticipated sets of the night. Icicle is in the building.
Like so many drum and bass DJs, Icicle first got involved in the scene as an impressionable teen, going to local DnB nights in his hometown of Eindhoven, Holland.
"When I was 15 my friends took me to a local night called Jungle Galaxy," explains the Dutchman. "I can't remember who was playing but it made a massive impression on me. The next day I went to the local record shop, The Waaghals, where I met John, aka Rosco, who became a good friend and mentor, teaching me a lot about the music as well as introducing me to the more leftfield stuff."
The drum and bass nights seemed to have an immediate impact on Icicle, reigniting his passion for music, a passion that had lain dormant since learning the piano and drums as a child. So with a renewed vigour for melodies and the increasing amount of modern technology available to DJs, the next step was to get involved.
"As soon as I worked out you could use a computer to program music I couldn't wait to start," continues Icicle. "Then I bought a turntable so I could mix tunes into a CD player, and the rest is history!"
Now, several years on, the Dutchman has managed to develop his early ventures in DnB into what he now describes as a "minimalistic but not minimal" sound, drawing heavily on techno for influence yet remaining true to the cornerstones of DnB with its driving basslines and immaculate breaks.
"In my earlier releases, especially the ones with Switch, you can hear jazz, soul and hip hop influences but over the last few years I've been influenced mostly by techno," says Icicle. "Techno itself has evolved a lot over the last few years and has spawned a new generation of technically superb artists. The concept of creating sounds from scratch and building on them is what I really love about the genre."
Having smashed dancefloors around the world with his techno infused DnB, Icicle is now looking forward to releasing his debut album in early 2010. The transition from producing 12" to an entire album is evidently something the tech-master has had to adapt to.
"The debut album project is something entirely different to everything else I've done so far," explains Icicle. "When you write a 12" you just write loads of tunes and then the label picks two that they think fit their sound, then sell it, that's it. For my album though all the music has to be related in some way and tell a story. You have more freedom to explore your sound, but there is a lot of pressure to do it well too. You only get one shot at a debut album, so it takes time."
Although Icicle is a well respected, household name for drum and bass fans, it's obvious that the Dutchman feels the album will have to set new standards for his production and define who he is an artist.
"The album has to sum me up as a producer. It will show more of my influences and will feature not just DnB tracks," he tells Kmag. "I've written a lot of dubstep recently which seems to be going down well and people tell me they can immediately hear it's me. That's my aim with the album, to diversify within my own sound, but drum and bass will remain the back bone."
As a member of Friction's Shogun Audio crew, including the likes of Alix Perez, Spectrasoul, Break and Noisia, Icicle seems to be signed to the ideal label to release his productions, and it doesn't sound like it's all work and no play.
"There is friendly competition on the label but in the end Shogun Audio will make sure everybody gets deserved exposure," he continues. "What drives us to produce our best work is more to do with the extra benefits like well organised Christmas dinners in Brighton, or a joy ride in Friction's rocket powered Audi!!"
More recently, when not being driven around by Friction or gorging on roast turkey, Icicle has taken the time to work with Knowledge on a remix competition, providing elements of his Time To Remember tune for Knowledge readers to rework.
"When I was asked to get involved with this project I immediately thought of this track because it has a lot of my signature elements in it," he explains. "I think, especially as there has always been a lot of talk about my style of production, that it would be nice to see other people's take on the tune. Possibly hearing my samples in a lot of up-and-coming producers' tunes is a sacrifice worth making!"
Words: James Bass
Icicle's Cold Fear EP is out now on Shogun Audio.
Icicle in the Knowledge download store.
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