New Zealand-based production trio Truth have risen to prominence with quality releases on labels like Deep Medi Musik, Argon and Aquatic Lab. Eschewing the current trajectory of dubstep, their music harks back to the early days of the genre, to a time when the embryonic sound had not yet succumbed to the brash mid-range dalliances and in-your-face aggression that abounds these days.
Their debut long player Puppets, which they have just dropped on the Aquatic Lab label, represents dubstep in its purest form. That is not to say that it is in any way formulaic or one dimensional, but rather that it is a manifestation of the potential that early dubstep had in such abundance. Spacious, sub-heavy and forward-thinking, 'Puppets' is a nuanced and layered record that displays a musicality and rhythmic intricacy as much as it does a masterful control of bottom end frequencies. Dark, cinematic and physical, Puppets has the ability to envelop and immerse you, whether you are at the centre of the dancefloor or sitting at home in your bedroom.
With the album currently causing waves through the scene and with plenty more to look forward to from the trio, Kmag caught up with them to find out more about the making of the album, the creative process and what the future holds.
The trio have also provided Kmag with a seriously deep exclusive mix, which you can cop after the jump. With the decks they recorded the mix on becoming a victim of a recent earthquake, this is in memory of their trusty turntables, RIP.
Hi guys, how are you doing?
Hey bro! Doing great thanks, just got back from touring the States, now in the middle of an NZ tour.
How does it feel to have the album done and ready for release?
It's a good feeling. The album has been a big project which has taken a good 18 months – two years to come to fruition. Now that it's done we can focus on getting out there and letting people know about the tracks that are on the album, and also focus on making some fresh music!
With the album complete and about to enter into the public sphere, do you think that you achieved everything you set out to do with it?
We're really happy with Puppets. Putting together an album is a completely different process to releasing a single. Aquatic Lab gave us a lot of creative control, from the choice of which tracks to include to the order of the music and the artwork, so we feel it is exactly the album we wanted to put out. We set out to create a package which people want to go out and buy, which people can listen to again and again, and DJs want to play in the club. We've been testing tracks out on the road and we're happy with how things have panned out, so far the response has been very positive!
People have very different opinions on what an album should be and what about an artist it should represent. Do you see it as framing a moment in time from which you quickly move on? Or is it more of an encompassing statement of Truth's music?
On the one hand it is definitely a snapshot of what the Truth sound is today, right now in 2010... it represents probably 18 months of picking what we consider to be our very best tracks and rejecting many more! We also see it as something which should be able to stand the test of time, hopefully people years from now will still break out Puppets and listen to it with the same enthusiasm as when they first bought it.
We firmly believe that an album should have an overarching idea or theme behind it. After listening to the album, the listener should have a clear idea of the Truth "sound" and what it represents; it's a bit darker, with a horror/comic aspect to it as well. The artwork reinforces this imagery.
How does the creative process work between the three of you in the studio? Do you have set individual roles in the process?
We approach every track differently, so there is no set process with us. Sometimes we will all get together and decide what we want to achieve that day and really focus on that goal. Other times we jam and let the ideas flow, just to see where the creative process takes us. We might start with a sample, or a break or a bassline. Often when we get together we will all bring different elements to the table: one of us will bring along some drums he has been working on, while another has some fresh samples, the third member might have been working on some dope new bass sounds. One thing we always do when we get together is try to start something fresh before working on anything else.
How does it work in the studio when you are collaborating? How does it affect the dynamic between the three of you by bringing someone else in?
We really enjoy collaborating, it's great to have someone with different ideas, or studio practices to jam with. You always learn a lot from the process and it's usually very productive. As there are three of us already in the group, we're already used to working with other people and integrating different ideas in to a track, so it's never too hard to get something going.
There are certain sonic similarities to the deeper, darker side of drum & bass that permeate the album. Do you see the genre as having an influence on your sound?
There are a lot of influences on the album and a certain style of drum & bass is definitely one of them. We initially met through a love of DnB in the late 90s. That period has remained a favourite with us, so it is natural that this has shaped our sound to some extent. The music of Ed Rush & Optical between the time of Wormhole and The Creeps had a big influence on us, it was great to meet those guys and give them our music. Some other drum & bass which has indirectly influenced our style would be Grooverider's Mysteries of Funk and Bad Company's Inside the Machine... all classic albums as far as we're concerned. There are many more influences on our music. Between the three of us we have very diverse musical tastes, all of which has played its part in shaping the music we make.
Bass-manipulation and sub weight of course plays a prominent role in your music. Is that where the creative process on a track normally begins?
We pay a lot of attention to the sub bass aspect of every track, we feel that a sub is a mandatory piece of equipment in any studio! Probably the most amount of time is spent getting the various bass elements of a track just right.
We sometimes start tracks where the bassline is the first element to be created and there are tracks on the album where this was the case. Usually however, we will get a beat rolling to begin with as this gives a framework around and within which the bass can work. Once we have a beat I would say about half the time we make the bassline next then everything else, and half the time we make the musical elements then the bass parts.
The album has an overarching dark and eerie atmosphere to it. Is this a conscious decision? Are you generally drawn to music with a darker proclivity?
The Truth "sound" is generally on the darker, creepier, more cinematic side of things, it is what we enjoy making the most and we feel it is important to have a signature sound, especially when putting out an album. Even the more musical or deeper tracks on the album such as Don't Explain, Indigo Mood or Lab Rat have that element to them, and we feel they fit the overall vibe well.
As far as what we like to listen to and play, we're drawn to music from all over. We play music that we like the sound of and try not to get too hung up on any particular "style". We listen to everything we get sent because you don't know where the next dope riddim will come from! In our sets, we try to keep a balance between pure dancefloor bangers, more musical stuff, dark and moody beats, and everything in between!
Did the challenges of making an album fit in line with your perceptions of what it would be like?
We didn't think it would be an easy process; we expected things would take longer than we wanted, that there would be delays, last minute changes and compromises. This is pretty much what happened! But that's all part of the creative process and the rewards are well worth it. We've always wanted to have an album of our music, rather than just singles. We're lucky that Aquatic Lab are easy and professional to work with, and trusted us to get on with the music as we best saw fit.
What is next for Truth now that the album is complete and on the verge of release?
We have lots planned for the future, it's just the beginning for Truth as far as we're concerned. Right now the focus is really on making sure people out there hear the album and get a copy of the music for themselves! We're doing a lot of touring around the album release: the USA, New Zealand and Australia, then back to Europe and the UK in late September / October.
We've been back in the studio working on a bunch of new material which has been going down really well over the past few shows! We also have a number of collaborations in the pipeline or just finished with people like Loefah and Coki, Silkie, Antiserum, Tunnidge, Joker, Ben Verse, D-Bridge, Noah D, Cyrus and a few others...
Our next few releases, such as the EP on Skream's label Disfigured Dubz and our next 12" on Deep Medi (Amnesia/International) are also due for release very soon, so keep your eyes on the release sheets for those!
Words: Sam Collenette
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