Injecting a dose of soul into the steel heart of dubstep wasn't on Von D's to-do list for this summer, but he's doing it anyway. Come June, the French producer who calls Manchester his true home will drop his debut LP, anticipation for which has been mounting since his track Show Me hit big a couple of years back.
Daydreaming is packed with vocal collaborations with artists of various ilk, including a handful with Phephe, whose ethereal vocals blessed Show Me. We caught up with Von D to get a little taste of his craft, his preferred tunes, and what makes his tracks so darn nasty.
There are a ton of Von D singles out there, but Daydreaming is your first LP. How long has it been in the works?
I have worked for almost a year on that LP but it's difficult to say because I was making other tunes at the same time that are not on the album and I also included one track that is three years old and reworked it. But I would say a year.
You've got a guest on nearly every track on Daydreaming. What do you look for in a collaborator?
Especially on an album, I wanted to do something different than on my 12"s so for me having a good vocalist to a tune is always a pleasure. I'm really into that phase. Working with people brings you different vibes and other ideas and I like to be surprised by what singers are going to do. It's always a great feeling. Same with other producers; when we do a collaboration, if it's with the right person, it always goes well.
You've gotten nods from heavy hitters like Gilles Peterson, Skream, and DJ Craze. Who would have to include you in one of their mixes to make you feel you've reached your peak?
I don't know if I will feel like I've reached my peak one day. But yeah, I've got few people in mind and I can't say nothing until its done.
Your track Show Me has gotten you lots of recognition and a couple of big name remixes. Was this the track you expected to gain so much momentum?
I never expected that AT ALL. I was the first to be surprised like this, trust me. I made this tune very quickly almost in the same vibe over a day or two. I received the vocal very late at night. Phephe was online and sent me the vocals. I was smoking a spliff and listened to the vocal for the first time and I was so impressed by the vibe of the vocals. The following morning I woke up and worked all day on it and then when it was done I sent it to a friend who told me "Hmm, I don't like that beat," and then I sent it to Chef and he went mad for it. Big up to DJ Chef who played it on Rinse and, after that, you already know the story...
Is there a track on Daydreaming that you expect will have similar results?
I can't say I'm expecting something 'cause things like that happen without any control, so it's hard to say. I never expected nothing from Show Me in the first place. I just make what I feel.
You've traveled all over the world to perform. Which city had the best response to a Von D set? Any unexpected fanbases?
A lot of cities have some great response to my sets. I was very surprised by the vibe in Tel Aviv and also in St. Petersburg in Russia.
The dubstep format is your weapon of choice. What beatstyles did you create music through before settling upon dubstep?
When I started, I was making jungle music. It was in '96. Then from that, I was experimenting with every style (house, hip hop, jungle, techno, etc). Then I went into a phase of breakcore and a lot of ambient music. My first release on vinyl was a breakcore track in '97, I think under another producer name.
What styles would you like to experiment with in the future?
I have no idea. I'm just excited to make music all the time, so let's see where it goes.
Name three albums that shaped you as a musician.
There's more than three, but I would say: Parliament/Funkadelic - Mothership Connection, Photek - Modus Operandi and Everything from King Tubby.
And three tracks you can't stop listening to right now...
Roy Davis Jr ft. Peven Everett - Gabriel, Dillinja - All The Things and Lee Perry - Soul Fire.
If you could trade your talent as a DJ and producer for any other skill - archery, knitting, bird watching... anything - what would it be?
Paris is your home, but what's your favourite city in the world for music. Why?
Paris is not my home even though I'm there quite often. My favourite city for music is Manchester. The vibe is incredible over here.
After Daydreaming comes out on June 6th, what's next for Von D?
Gigs and other projects as well. New projects are in the making process so can't really talk about it now.
Words: Abdullah Saeed
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