It's insane to think about the progression that defines Break's career. While many might not remember his early bits for A-Sides' Eastside imprint, it was his work with Silent Witness during the end of No U-Turn's run that truly made believers out of many; at a time when people might not have been sure about where the drum & bass scene was heading, Break's catalog was prolific and necessary. He's released material for all of the illest labels in the scene, including Metalheadz, Commercial Suicide, Ram, and Subtitles, but its his Symmetry Recordings imprint that housed not only his two critically-praised solo albums, but helped nurture the careers of Mako, Fields, Detail, and a number of producers that are starting to get scene-wide acclaim. On the heels of his new single for Warm Communications, we got a chance to chat with the vet before he set out DAD Mix series on fire with an exclusive set.
You're going on 13 years since many of us got wind of your work. How much has your production setup changed over the years? Are there any pieces of hardware or software that have stood the test of time in your studio?
It hasn't changed that much, I'm still hanging on with Logic as my DAW, the UAD and other plugins have reduced my need for outboard gear as much. But I've been missing the analogue sound I had more back in the day, so I'm in the process of going back to a mixing desk with real units for compression and EQ. My DBX 266 compressor hasn't left the studio since the beginning and I'm always recommending it to people for amazing sound quality and price. It is much more satisfying turning real switches and knobs.
While your output isn't as hectic as it was during maybe six or seven years ago, you're still consistently churning out material. What motivates you to continue to keep the consistency high?
There's a lot more producers these days, so one does have to keep prolific as the turnover of releases is so high. I have slightly lost my appetite for making five dnb tunes a week, but try to finish the best ones than just churning out every idea I start. Also having the studio out of the house does reduce the time available at the computer, so when you get in there its more important to come with something proper. I've spending more time on other genres these days, too. It can get tiring making dnb all the time so I try to switch it up to keep my inspiration for dnb fresh and less influenced by just dnb.
While you run Symmetry, you still make time to put out material on other imprints. Is there a particular sound or style you keep for your own imprint, or do you just send bits out and see what people are feeling?
A bit of both really. It partly depends on the style of tune, usually I'll try to make the track fit the label that's requested a tune, often the Symmetry releases are my personal favorites.
Over the last year or so, a number of different outlets have pointed out that the dnb coming out lately has been better than the last few years. Do you subscribe to the notion of drum & bass going through a particularly good phase right now?
I agree that there is a better consistent amount of good stuff in the underground sense, but the commercial stuff and music released on the bigger dnb labels is almost the worst ever, too. Like a few people I've talked to recently, the problem is that there's no sub-genres as you would get in house or techno, so everything around 170BPM is called drum & bass which is a bit misleading and not representative of the genre in general.
It's gotten so formulaic these days anyone with a kick drum build-ups and risers thinks they've smashed it; it's the lowest exploitation of crowd psychology, really.
Talk to us about your release for Warm Communications.
They've been a very cool label to deal with and I had total freedom to do what I wanted which makes completing a release really enjoyable. I remixed a Mako track which had some cool samples to work from and was the first track I used the Diva synth on for a bassline, which has a really rich and thick tone. The a-side "Coming for You" is a classic roller with a cool '80s rare groove sample, it's a real bubbler in a club and keeps people dancing as the bassline and percussion develops. It's great to do something for a U.S. label and have my music represented out there.
It's been four years since the release of your sophomore LP, Resistance. Are you working towards your third LP? Any idea on when heads can receive that?
I have been working on it this year, but would have been rushed to get it out by Christmas, so hopefully will be ready by Spring 2015. In the meantime I'm trying to sort out a kind of greatest hits thing, with tracks from the past couple of albums and back catalog. It will be remastered and some tracks updated slightly and we will have a few unreleased tunes, in the vein of Calibre's Shelf Life. Also the various artists release Symmetry Sessions Pt. 2 will hopefully ready to drop by the end of the year.
Outside of an album, do you have any other singles or remixes signed for the remainder of 2014?
I have a single lined up on Playaz that I know they're keen to get out soon, I've just remixed a track called "Leh Go" by Jus Now which is out very soon which has been smashing it every set (check out on the mix). I've done a collab with DLR for his album and have tracks lined up with Utopia and Ingredients in the near future.
What can the androids expect from this mix you sent over?
It's basically a reflection of what I'd be playing in my sets at the moment so for people that couldn't catch me in a club this is the vibe right now. There's some unreleased stuff and the latest releases and remixes at the moment.
Do androids dance?
With a programmed algorithm but probably not with much soul, it's not gonna be quite Michael Jackson... more Justin Timberlake.