After a gap of four years since their debut Margins Music, Dusk & Blackdown return with their new album Dasaflex on Keysound Recordings. Imbued with a spirit of rebirth and refreshment, the new album features guest appearences and a range of sounds. Kmag chatted to Dusk & Blackdown about the album, and the process behind its creation.
Guys, it’s been quite some time since your last artist album. Tell us about why it’s been a while, and what you’ve been up to in the interim.
Well, it’s been a while because you can’t really rush making an album, plus after “Margins Music” – which itself took four years to write – we wanted to spend time getting lost and waking up in new inspiring places and spaces. That took a while but it was worth it. In addition in 2010 we devoted a huge amount of time to building “Margins Music Live” with a fully integrated digital backbone and live musicians. We collaborated with two singers (Farrah and Japjit), a multi-percussionist (Renu), a synth player (Bobby), an MC (Trim), a sound engineer (Camillo) and a VJ (Jonathan) who wrote 22 music videos synched for our set. So yeah, that might be part of the delay!
What created the spark to make the new album?
By doing our monthly Rinse FM show we’re fortunate to be exposed to a huge amount of music with that pirate spirit. UK funky was a huge turning point for us, an explosion of ruff snares and percussive momentum that reminded us of garage and early dubstep; quite different to the way dubstep had gone with the halfstep beat. Then there was things like juke, all the colourful synthy stuff that bleeds into the Butterz grime sound, slow dark 110bpm house and a re-appraisal of 2step, not that we ever felt we ever stopped loving it.
Describe the process of putting the album together, and give us your thoughts on the end result.
The actual process of making music isn’t wildly exiting to describe: a lot of tea, pizza, late nights and intense focus on detail. Someone driving the PC but both of us fully in it. The trick is to try and make music that creates the greatest possible emotional intensity – whatever emotion you’re trying to invoke – without compromising what you stand for or parodying your past material. Sometimes you need a bit of vision (“lets go over there…”), sometimes you need a bit of unsighted trial and error (“I dunno, let’s just try…”).
The end result? Well that’s really for other people to judge. I would only add that we increasingly have a sense of being different from much of what’s going, excluding the Keysound family of course. We like darkness, edge, musical contradictions, funky & swung percussion that tells its own story, a sense of atmosphere that evokes emotion. We’re not into commercial shite, trancy chemical strings, bright over-compressed plastic pop, brostep, bland tech house or a whole host of other styles, so our album is as much as stand for the values we believe in, musically, as a reflection of the music we write.
Who are some of the artists featured on the album?
The artists on the album are our singer Farrah plus MCs GQ and Shantie.
Farrah we worked with on our first album, she was integral to that and we’ve kept working with her since. “Lonely Moon (Android Heartbreak)” was the hardest track we’ve ever worked on. It took two years to write, off and on, and six months non stop at the end. It feels worth it now but at the time it nearly finished us off. Farrah has an amazing voice, and after “Margins Music” I had the urge to vapourise it, to see it in gas form as if to transition her from human to something… inhuman. We started playing with layers and layers of her recordings and during the “Margins Music Live” rehearsals she wrote some lyrics, picturing a lonely heartbroken android, abandoned on a cold moon.
As we fell in love with UK funky, we did so through Marcus Nasty’s show and Shantie is his MC, so we couldn’t resist approaching him to see if he was into the beat that became “Next Generation.” He was massively, which was such a compliment. His flow fitted the beat perfectly: it made sense to work with someone who’s used to riding more bouncy, percussive tracks than grime MCs who work over stiffer riddims – and plus we’d done that twice on “Margins Music.”
Finally GQ: he’s a jungle legend. I’m interested in mutations and seeing what can come of taking multiple different forms and seeing how they interact. In the case of “Wicked Vibez” I wanted to capture the spirit of a jungle rave in a UK funky track. Once I had that idea all the little elements came into place, the Omni Trio snares, the euphoric “ecstasy” breakdown. Selecta too dark!
In that same vein, tell us about some of the artists Keysound has worked with, and is working with at the moment.
Blackdown: Well we’ve had 33 releases now which have featured Skream, Burial, Wiley, Zomby, Starkey, Trim, Zed Bias & Steve Gurley, Scratcha DVA, Geeneus, Durrty Goodz, Riko, Flowdan and more. We’ve had albums from LV & Joshua Idehen, Sully, Damu, LHF. We’ve supported up and comers like Kowton, Logos, Grievous Angel, Balistiq Beats, Visionist, Gremino, Walton and Vibezin. In the near future we’re going to be working with some of the freshest new producers, that’s our plan. If you’ve heard them on our Rinse FM show, then you may have a sense of where we’re headed.
How does it feel to be making your own music again?
Well, in truth we never stopped, we just kept our heads under the parapet. Underground, that’s how we roll…
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