Across two different time zones, from the UK to India, Knowledge caught up with two of the team behind the labels gracing this month’s cover CD, Lucky Devil and Revolution Recordings.
The Lucky Devil collective, as it originated, drew together the skills of four individuals with very different areas of expertise as Guy explains. "The idea was that we would all use our individual strengths to do whatever projects we wanted to. One person was a singer, another was good at A&R, I was into PR and promotion and one guy was a music lawyer."
The four people he refers to are Laura Ayah, Matt Impact (pictured), Guy Nautilus and Jon Baker respectively and the fact that they are all currently off doing their own thing poses no problem. Indeed that was the intention at the collective's conception.
"It's a very organic thing that just evolves," continues Guy, "depending on where we are at the time and who's doing what. We'll always be involved in it because drum & bass is what brought us together and is something that we all share a great passion for. We recognise how much we've influenced each other and what we've done together.
"I don't ever want it to be a static thing. It's not like we've got a label so that's it for the rest of our days and we're just gonna keep on churning out the same old shit. When it comes to a time when one of the labels isn't doing it for us anymore or people aren't into it, then we'll do a new project. It's something that should keep changing."
It was through DJing on Rude FM, that Matt met many up-and-coming artists from the scene. Surprised that their considerable talents were not yet being snapped up, he started to think about setting up his own label and in 2004 kick-started Revolution Recordings with some help from Guy.
"I've always been online looking for new artists and was constantly surprised at how many tracks weren't getting signed. We used to and still do Rude FM and over about six years have met some good people. Break was doing the set after me about five years ago and was just starting out on Eastside and had a few releases on No U-Turn. He went on to do the third release on Revolution. We met Sabre through Rude as well as Alix Perez and again it was a similar situation. I thought they all had really good music but weren't getting many releases."
At this time Guy was earning his badges in music PR, working alongside the well-respected Laurence of Electric PR before moving on to a branch of Pinnacle called Windsong. Having also gained some work experience at Jockey Slut, Guy in fact went on to write for us at Knowledge.
Also DJing on Rude FM, Guy had been throwing Lucky Devil parties in around the West End and Shoreditch with Matt, Jon and Ayah and thought that this quartet would be the perfect to successfully grow a new record label. He didn't, however, want it to just be another outlet for churning out dancefloor anthem after dancefloor anthem, aiming instead to model it on the labels he had followed religiously over the years.
"There are so many labels that I've stuck with over the years," Guy explains, "because they've put effort into presentation. Good Looking is one of them, along with non-drum & bass labels like Warp and Ninja Tune. They make something that is more than just music! The whole Lex series as well is really amazing stuff. The way they package it is so thoughtful and everything they do is a real collector's item. This is the future for music because people are downloading everything. If you want to be selling some physical product, you have to make it really special. It has to be a bit more than just a slab of wax."
It is at this point that the venerable Eveson, who seems to be cropping up throughout Knowledge every month, once again joins us. Ayah has close links to another of Bristol's The Insiders and indeed is the featured guest vocalist on 'Meltdown', their latest release on Intrigue Recordings.
Through playing at their Intrigue nights, Ayah became friends with Eveson and consequently introduced him to Guy and Matt. Having seen the depth of Eveson's unmistakable talents, Guy decided he was the perfect candidate to redesign their logo and produce the artwork needed to make the label releases something to be treasured.
"I love his tunes," concedes Guy. "I got chatting to him through the music and only found out afterwards that he was an artist as well. We had a logo from years ago and always had this idea of developing it. When I explained to him what we wanted he got it immediately. My door into the whole world of drum & bass was through Good Looking.
"That's what inspired me. The image on that label was something I could always trust and I often bought the tunes without hearing them. That's what we were trying to aspire to, to have a stamp to let people know that they're going to get a certain quality, without any nonsense. We just want to get good music out there and support artists doing interesting things."
Whilst Matt, Guy, Ayah and Jon have currently scattered to various other projects ties are certainly not severed. Guy's journey has taken him the furthest afield, to Dehradun in North West India, at the foothills of the Himalayas where he originally only went to learn yoga but unsurprisingly fell in love with the lifestyle, the people and the scenery.
Meanwhile, back in the UK, with Jon now working for a big music law firm and Ayah pursuing a successful singing career, Matt is steering the ship. The CD was mixed by him and is a smooth, rolling mix through the back catalogues of Revolution and Lucky Devil Recordings, taking in some forthcoming highlights and a couple of other hidden gems, kindly supplied to them by long-standing friends.
It is these very friends that they plan to continue working with on forthcoming releases as well as always having their ears to the ground in anticipation of fresh talent.
"We're always looking out for new people but we're happy working with the producers already on board, supporting them and being associated with them. We've got a few releases coming out in the future from these guys Incident and Paul SG. My main thing now is to work on specific projects. Rather than just signing tracks to actually go in the studio and say "this is what we want to create". To get producers like Sabre and Survival, guys that we've been with for time and do a specific project with vocalists and with a certain thing in mind that we can package properly."
Matt Impact runs us through his mix, track-by-track...
1. Switch ft. Henree - Piece of History
"The ultimate set-opener, setting the mood instantly with its spoken-word intro. Taking things back to the early 90s, with a future twist, this track is for all those who remember and for all those just starting their journey."
2. Do The Math - Fading Grey
"Made in 2005, this track still sounds just as good as it did then. Blending lush, musical soundscapes with a driving, filtered Amen and off-beat sub-bass."
3. Survival - Sky
"Coming out later in the year on Ant TC1's label. Serious roll-age from one of our favourite producers."
4. Vicious Circle - Jetpack
"So fresh out of the VC studio, it's not even 100% finished. Revolution has been a massive fan of these guys' beats since day-one so we're stoked to have them on board."
5. Break - Not Enough
"Bringing the unmistakable funk that Break does so well together with some filthy basslines and devilish hooks. Subtle jazz elements, vox-stabs and razor sharp beats keep your head nodding from start to finish."
6. Incident ft. Paul SG - Autumn Drops
"These guys have been sending us beats for a while and they have obviously been putting in some serious effort."
7. Switch ft. Stunna - Nightwatcher
"Opening with eerie sonics and deftly-moulded beats, the drop comes like a bolt from the blue, tumbling down through those bassbins with no remorse. Pieces together all the elements you've come to expect from a Lucky Devil release."
8. Nocturnal - Been So Long
"This track is a revolutionary journey from start to finish. Crashing drums, intricate, morphing b-lines and a beautiful vocal combine with these boys' tight production skills to form a piece of heart-wrenching badness."
9. Survival - Point Five
"A straight-up, speaker-battering excursion that lulls you into a false sense of security before breaking down the doors with a relentless b-line."
10. Dose & Menace - Trigger Happy
"This one cuts you down with its distinctive metallic chainsaw synth riff and clean percussion. A DJ favourite all round the world, watch out for the remix coming later this year."
11. Sabre - Colony Assault
"When we first heard this we were stunned by the contrast in styles this man is capable of. A sinister, ominous roller that marches along with unstoppable force, packed with hypnotizing breaks and samples."
12. Data - Blowpipe
"A genre-defying, bass-excursion that had us all turning the volume up to max. An absolute killer track that has been turning heads from here to Kathmandu."
13. Sabre & Survival - Omega King
"A stunning track that begins with epic strings and a beautiful piano hook, before the beats smoothly ease their way into the foray. As always with these two producers, the bassline remains unpredictable and morphs its way through the track like a tiger in the undergrowth."
14. Zyon Base - The Wire
"Melancholic piano samples and a haunting vocal combine with tight breaks and a roaring b-line that gets straight down to business. We love this one!"
15. Do The Math & Alix Perez - Onyx
"Full of early '90s stabs and synths, relentless beats and a creeping b-line, this one still does damage on the dancefloor."
16. Data, E and Dynamic - Skinwalkers
"An electronic journey into the darker reaches of the dancefloor, full of eerie soundscapes and some incredible beat programming."
17. Cern - Sparrowhawk
"Deep, dark & dirty! Get your screw-faces ready cos this one's dangerous."
18. Break - Traits remix
"Big up the bad-man Break for letting us stick this remix on the mix, fresh out his studio. Incredible production as always! Pure badness!"
19. Bulletproof, Teknik & Nymfo - 3 Of A Kind
"New Zealand meets Holland on this mega-funk rollout. Watch out for this coming on Bulletproof's massive Cyanide imprint."
20. Zero Tolerance & Survival - Cold Blood
"Minimal at its best. Serious b-line pressure and flawless production. Colder than the arctic extremes."
21. Break - No Going Back
"Once the bass-groove gets hold and begins to work with the grinding mids there is quite literally no going back. Bad! Had to edit this short to fit into the hour limit so check the stores to hear the rest."
Mix hosted by www.digital-tunes.net
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