The Drum and Bass Gods have certainly been smiling down on East Anglia in recent years. The plethora of talent that has emerged from the region has been nothing short of phenomenal.
One man who firmly planted himself at the centre of the English Rivera's revolution is Norwich's production colossus T>I, and he's back 7th January with his floor shaking “Blue Panda EP” on Natty Dub, featuring some of his most defining music to date.
Consisting of four squarely heavyweight sonic projectiles in renowned T>I format, the EP is ready to be fully locked, loaded and aimed straight at the heart of the dance.
Guestlist caught up with the man of the moment on his holidays in Costa Rica for some insight about the EP and a bit about the T>I story so far:-
Can you remember what the first thought to enter your head when you woke up this morning? Jheeeeeez I’m in Costa Rica!
If you had to only eat/drink 3 things for the rest of your life what would they be? Katsu chicken, banana custard, McDonald’s toffee lattes
If I could give you a plane ticket to anywhere in the world right now where would you go? I wouldn’t - I can’t handle anymore delays!
What was the very first record you ever bought? MJ Thriller
What got you into Drum and Bass? I went to my first rave (Dreamscape 11) in 1994, I fell in love with jungle and the rest is history.
Which three artists have been the biggest influence on your sound? Zinc, Pascal & Hype - the “98”Tru-Playaz era was my favourite.
What would you be doing if you couldn't make music? I still work a day job running a print and embroidery company with my family and friends so I have a fall back plan if music goes tits up... I love it too much to retire just yet!
Whats your favourite song of all time any genre? Annie Lennox “Sweet dreams”
Whats got you motivated right now? Getting a number 1 on Beatport and Juno over Christmas with my 'Souped Up Ep'. That's the stuff that makes it all worth while.
What was your first DJ booking? My first proper gig was 1997 in Norwich’s sickest music venue, “The Waterfront”
What's been the most memorable booking so far? I’ve had loads over the years but it’s really got to be the 2hour B2B set I did with Benny L and Pastry Maker at Boomtown in 2018. The love we've had since has been unreal, we shut the whole district down with a full room and a queue of about 1500 strong trying to get in. That was an absolute moment right there.❤️
Whats been your proudest moment? Releasing tracks on Critical Records.
What does T>I stand for? Is there a meaning behind the name? It has loads of meanings my ex liked “The Infuriator” hence my insta ID but really it stands for Total Integration.
My G Dominator (God rest his soul) and I came up with it as we were going to start a label under that name. Eventually we ended up getting our tunes signed to other labels so never got round to doing the label so I took the name for myself - pretty simple.
It seems that you've been involved in the drum and bass scene in one capacity or another for some time now what has kept you motivated to persevere through the hard times? I DJ, produce and I also co-ran two very successful DNB nights in Norwich for many years. I lost so much money over the time it made me hate the scene a bit at times but I never lost the love for Drum and Bass music itself that's is unconditional.
Have you always wanted to ultimately become a producer? At first no, in my DJ career I loved nothing more than to just play records but as I got further into the scene the more I wanted to play my own tunes so I started to build a studio back in the early 2000s.
I know you have been producing for a while why did it take you so long to start releasing your music? I wasn’t happy with anything I made until around 2007 and I didn’t start sending tracks out properly to other artists until 2009 so thats pretty much the reason. Ironically when I did get certain tunes signed it then took another year or so for them to come out so I eventually worked out my work rate theory... “Slow and steady wins the race”!
Since your first release on Innergroud with Dominator in 2012, you seemed to have gone straight in at the top. Was this something you did intentionally or a stroke of luck? How did the release come around? It was absolute fluke if I’m honest, Marky loved the funk swagger I brought in with Freak and the rawness of the collab I did with Dom for the release called “Dark Age”. I owe that one all to Hazard as he played my tracks at Innovation in the Dam, Marky heard them and then we got them signed so maximum props to those two guys.
Your “Blue Panda” EP drops on Natty Dub on 7th Jan. I searched on line for an explanation of the term “Blue Panda” and came up with a few interesting results (one being slang for a police car) is there a meaning behind the name? No real reason. As usual I just have a knack for coming up with names that bare no relevance to each other on an EP. Although we did go with the title track for the rocket theme in the end.
Which tune was the most fun to make on the EP? “Serve Cold” because I like the subtle progression I managed to get out of it, it’s a repetitive loop that just keeps switching an elevating through to the end.
Your production style seems to adapt very well to fit with the full 360 of Drum and Bass styles, is that something you did consciously or has it just naturally happened? Again a bit of a fluke although I’ve been single minded in what I like right back to the start of my DJ career. I have high standards for the music I play in my sets regardless of the styles and trends at that time. I think I’m lucky, along with a lot of the original rollers producers, that this sounds come back around In a big way of late. I think we can all safely say the raves scene was lacking real Bass & Soul a few years back. Its like we have brought it back to re-educate the kids. It’s a really good time for drum & bass again.
Do you think having such an adaptable production style has helped your success? Yeah quite a lot.
Describe your style of Drum and Bass? Hood rat swing beat!
Since you've come on to the scene it seems the impact of some of the music you have released has shaped the culture of the scene recently and as a result there seem to be a lot of new producers that are heavily influenced by the T>I sound what does it feel like when you hear their music and recognise that in their tunes? I love that. I make mechanical DNB. It’s very stripped back, I like that I’m old skool and still use a lot of outboard gear. I find it easy to make tunes the way I do. It is nice to hear my sound has inspired some producers. Some are a little close to the mark, but I have to appreciate that my style is easy to replicate and take it as flattery.
You've had the honour of remixing some of the biggest tunes in the history of the scene, what's it like when Ray Keith calls and wants to know if you'd like to remix Terrorist or Twisted Individual rings up and asks to do remix Swan Cake? Mental if I’m honest but I've always approached the tracks in the way I wanted to make them. So many remixe’s come and go and don’t stay relevant amongst a lot of others out in the scene. So I I'm always of the mindset that instead of a rehashing them I would do them totally different, a fresh kind of angle on it, especially when I remixed Terrorist because it is my favourite Oldskool anthem!
Did you DJ on New years eve? Where? Yeah man at Bassfest in Sheffield.
What has 2019 got in store for T> I ? Lots of amazing gigs to play an a lot of new music including my debut album at some point.
Who should we be looking out for in 2019? Leaf, Stompz, Warhead, Agro & Nectax.
The Blue “Panda EP” is available from the Natty Dub Online store from 7th January 2018
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