We talk with Shogun mainstay, Rockwell.
Rockwell has been pushing the boundaries of drum & bass for years. He works a variety of sounds and styles into his much sought after productions, constantly keeping himself ten feet ahead of the rest. For that exact reason he's remained a regular on drum & bass line ups across the country, and Europe.
He's made a home at Shogun Audio, where he's released a tonne of music including his 2015 album Obsulute Medium and his most recent work, Chorus of Disapproval. He's always repping with them on tour, including the upcoming Horizon festival next spring.
We caught up with him to talk about joining Shogun, his influences and more.
Hey how are you?
Good, thank you for asking.
You recently released the Chorus of Disapproval EP - the first track that was released from it was 'Hoez to the Floor' - does it get the hoez to the floor?
It’s drum and bass - so the five girls that are in the rave I have observed dancing when I play it, yes!
That track in particular for me sums up your style; a fusion of futurist drum & bass, sections of 4x4 drum stomps and samples that are reminiscent of 90s hardcore/house: how do you squeeze it all in?
I think the scene at the moment is very wide influence wise so I think there’s room to bring in whatever you want into the mix. I never feel like I'm forcing any elements into my tunes, they just seem to make sense at the time of writing. Using different styles and textures in the studio keeps things interesting.
You're one of the only producers to use the 4x4 format in drum & bass - why do you draw on to it?
I listen to a lot of really crusty mixes by people like DJ Assault, Disco D, and Bitch Ass Darius where there they play a lot of classic sounding house pitched up really fast. Also a lot of Chicago stuff like Deeon, Slugo, & Milton which is predominantly 4x4 but reaching 160 bpm. Bumping it up to 170 is only a small increment in speed, but its still challenging to get everything to fit in mix-wise at that speed.
As a producer who did you look up to for inspiration?
I think producers such as Hudson Mohawke, Rustie, Machinedrum and G Jones are making really exciting modern electronic music. I like the way all their music sounds very individual to them and you can tell their tunes a mile off. That's very important to me. There is a homogenisation of dance music attributable to fit into DJ culture, almost writing utilitarian music to blend into DJ sets alongside music written buy other people. I've never really understood the point of that, so I look for and am influenced by people who are out on their own stylistically and creatively.
When did you first get into music production?
It was probably around 10 years ago, using a cracked version of Logic on an old PC, no instructions and a bloody-mindedness to learn this program that fascinated me. I started writing tunes because I had been DJing for maybe 2 years, and it was starting to bore me a little on a creative level. There was only so much pleasure you could get from playing other peoples tunes, so writing my own seemed to be the next step in keeping my interest and taking things further.
You're a long time member with Shogun Audio, how did this partnership start?
I think Alix passed on 'Full Circle' and Friction called a meeting and told me he wanted to sign me, based on the variety of music I had been writing. He said that he wanted me to continue doing what I was doing, and would be up for seeing if I could translate that into an album. I think the fact that I could do straight up drum and bass tunes like ‘Full Circle’ but then also more musical styles that caught his attention.
What do you think about Shogun Audio's position in drum & bass?
I like the fact that we are a collective of producers that all have our own sounds. It’s not like everyone writes tech, or everyone writes liquid, or deep left field stuff. There’s room for everything in drum and bass and I like the way that is reflected in what shogun release. Creatively, I am pretty much left to myself with complete control over how my records sound and look visually, so its a perfect outlet for me.
You'll be repping with Shogun at next years Horizon Festival, ready to hit the slopes?
Yes! I haven’t been skiing for a while so after my set I’m definitely up for seeing if I can still take to the slopes and not break any bones.
Is it your first time at the festival?
Yes, first time and I am very excited.
Any sets you wouldn't mind catching?
I’m not sure to be honest, it depends how my diary is looking closer to the time. If I'm still on site when Mumdance is playing I will definitely be checking his set.
Get more details on Horizon Festival 2017
What else have you got planned?
All TBC at this point to be honest, got a couple of remixes on the back burner so we will just have to see how things progress into the new year.
What is the worst job you have ever done?
I’m a country boy so I spent my summer holidays agricultural labouring which was horrific.
What are you most in love with right now?
Music, still after all this time.
What's the worst trouble you have been in?
Never really ever been in any trouble to be honest, the bad things I've been involved with I was always too smart to get caught!
What would you fill a swimming pool with if it could be anything?
Obviously I'd drain it, put a sound system in there and have a rave.
What's the worst thing you have a reputation for?
Being a 'commercial mainstream' artist according to some idiots on SoundCloud.
If you had to start a new life in a new country, where would you go?
Probably somewhere in Germany because I like the relaxed vibe. Either Hamburg or Berlin get me thinking about a move every time I go there.
Who would be in your ultimate band?
I would love to have seen some of the bands I love when they were maybe a little younger, for example the Misfits / Slayer in the 1980’s. The line ups were perfect and I wouldn’t change them, but it would have been nice to have seen them at the time when they were touring those classic records.
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