We've got an in-depth talk here with one of drum & bass' hottest acts right now, Magnetude.
Magentude are a heavy hitting duo, based both in the UK and Russia. There’s been a constant stream of high quality, fast paced technical drum & bass coming from them over the last couple of years and since the tail end of 2019 they’ve certainly switched things up a gear.
The RAM signees, who've also seen releases on Eatbrain, Viper & Lifted, were one of the members involved in the relaunch of Evolution Chamber and have been behind two of the label's current releases. Both tracks, 'Mantis' and 'Falling', shook the scene and been tearing up clubs and festivals since they first came into circulation. These two tracks, alongside their mammoth remix of Delta Heavy & KUURO’s 'Replicant' have signalled a Herculean entrance to the new decade and we’re promised that this is just the start of even bigger things to come.
They’ve laid down the groundwork for an epic year, so ahead of the madness that’s to come we’ve had a chat with them. From their early beginnings at Close 2 Death Recordings, to their host of powerful tracks on RAM, Eatbrain, Lifted, Renegade Hardware and Viper - all the way to the recently relaunched Evolution Chamber alongside Task Horizon & Receptor. James & Rustam have covered it all.
What’s got you both motivated right now?
Rustam: We spent the last several months of 2019 working on getting our Evolution Chamber imprint set up with Receptor & Task Horizon which we are using as the outlet for a lot of music we have been sat on for a very long time.
James: Setting up the label was quite a time consuming task. We had been working on finishing the many tracks that we had been sat on.
Rustam: We have kicked off this year with a nice succession of releases which has all been really well received and from that alone and this now found burst of inspiration in the studio.
James: We have just announced our first Evolution Chamber Festival Stage which will take place in Romania in May and have several Evolution Chamber nights locked in too. We thought this would take at least 2 years until we were in a position to start hosting events, but to accomplish that since launching the label in November and only 3 releases under its belt has really assured us this was the right decision.
What’s your schedule looking like right now?
Rustam: We have just wrapped up 2 releases for March, have releases locked in for April, May and are working on around 10 additional singles, 5 collaborations and 3 remixes all of which we plan to release this year too. We are also toying with the idea of doing some special VIP remixes of old and popular Rusty K tunes… Maybe.
James: There’s literally so much going on the bookings side too. We play in Austria (Innsbruck, Dorbin, Vienna), Switzerland, a debut show in Slovenia and have been booked for Pirate Station in Russia in August, an event we both wanted to play since before we thought to pursue a career in music.
You guys have been on fire. In the last three years you’ve built a solid back catalogue spanning Ram, Eatbrain, Viper. That’s some top level shit there, describe the last few years for you both?
Rustam: It has been very surreal to say the least. All the labels mentioned including Lifted Music & Renegade Hardware are all staple labels that inspire us so much. When we started our project, all the labels mentioned were labels we wrote down as labels we would love to work with.
James: We genuinely thought it would be a gradual build to reach them all and we set a 5 year 'target-plan' to try to get something on all of the labels mentioned, little did we expect we would have done it in the space of 2 and a half years, but there’s still some way to go.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt during this time?
Rustam: We feel that if you step away from writing the music you want to write, you can end up losing yourself trying to please everyone around you, then end up setting very high expectations with releases and when you do not see the results you would like to see, this can affect you, your morale and motivation.
You’ve made some big achievements in this time, some that take artists a lifetime to make - is there one that really stands out for you both?
Rustam: To be honest everything we have done up until now has been a big achievement for us and we were very lucky to have crossed paths with the right people at the right time.
James: From going from Lifted to Eatbrain to RAM in the space of a year is a huge feat. Not to mention playing Let It Roll and Creamfields last summer which takes some artists many years to reach those levels.
Rustam: But one of the best achievements is us being able to have maintained such a strong friendship with living so far apart for as many years as we have.
What’s left on your bucket list to achieve?
Rustam: There is still a lot to be honest. From events and tours all the way to artists we would love to work with and/or remix - the list is endless.
James: The main thing we would love to do in the future is to write an album which is something we have been discussing quite a lot lately. This isn’t to say we are starting an album soon though. There are a lot of factors we need to consider and we feel we need to be in a stronger position and stick more closely to the present, focusing on this year's output first and foremost.
Rustam: 'Magnetude Live' is one of the biggest dreams we have had - Combining our music with our stories to create not only an audio experience, but visual experience too.
You’ve had big support from a lot of the scene, now you’re playing alongside them!
Rustam: Absolutely! The guys at RAM have been some of the most supportive guys we have come across not only in a professional way, but in a personal way also.
James: It is great when you can work with a label and it is very serious when it comes down to business but you can also have a laugh and banter. Jim Wayne and Hannah do a lot of work behind the scenes and are key players in getting the music out there and deserve a lot of praise.
Rustam: Jade at Eatbrain has always been a huge support for us too.
James: Another person or persons, Max & Katie of Koven. Such cool and down to earth guys who we finally met at LIR and are just super sweet and supportive of everything we do. A.M.C too is also a really big supporter of our music and really encourages us. Macky Gee too!.
Rustam: And of course there is Andy C who really believes in our music and really stands behind what we do, which is very surreal as he is a huge inspiration for us.
You were both producers before in your own right, How were those days?
Rustam: Under Rusty K I built a core following, but I reached a point where I thought I needed a more mature sound. James was pretty much there with me from the start and while I was signed to Close 2 Death.
James: For me, working with Close 2 Death I would say was both amazing for networking and being the place that it all began for us both. But also bad for me on a production standpoint because I would work on amazing releases for the label, go back to my own projects and think my music was never good enough, hence why I never released a lot.
When did you first meet? You met online right?
Rustam: I think we met on VKontakte which is the Russian Facebook. Back then, I was writing music and just contacting people in my friends list and sending my music out to people. I didn’t have internet until 2009 so when I got it I went wild with trying to make connections with people.
James: I think you contacted me through my old profile on there and was just sending tracks and then boom, we connected!
How did you combine your individual sounds together? Were there compromises to be made or did it all slot together nicely?
Rustam: We gelled pretty much from the get-go. I think us working together closely for several years before we created Magnetude really helped us a lot as we understood each other a lot.
James: When we write tracks together, either of us could suggest something and the other fires back “This is exactly what I was thinking and about to do too!”
Your sound is heavy but draws influence from a broad spectrum, assuming your musical tastes are quite varied? What other music do you love?
Rustam: When we are not preparing tunes for gigs, playing gigs, or working on drum & bass, we do our best to avoid listening to it. For a lot of people, they think that this is a very strange thing.
James: But it is one of the main things that keeps our minds fresh with ideas and motivated, as we draw in influence from what we listen to, plus we feel you can just get tired of the music if you are writing and listening to it 24/7.
Last year you launched a new label alongside Task Horizon and Receptor, Evolution Chamber and opened with a maaad tune from yourselves, 'Mantis'. An insane opening track - set the bar high lads!
Rustam: This was one of our most daunting and longest releases to finish to be honest.
James: We started 'Mantis' at the same time we started 'Snatch', and was testing it out at every gig. The amount of times we would get back to the hotel and have to turn our phones on silent due to constant messages after the show with videos asking “What is this tune!?!?”
Rustam: Seeing the reaction for this track was amazing but also applied a lot of pressure for us to make sure the track was at the highest level possible.
James: With the anticipation around this release, we put it out as the first release of our new imprint Evolution Chamber that we set up with our friends Task Horizon & Receptor, and it really surpassed our expectations.
Your follow up 'Falling' is an absolute banger. Was it in your plan as a follow up single and can you go a little more deeper into the process of the track?
James: 'Falling' is the continuation story to 'Signals' which we released on RAM in 2018. To piece them together, we would need to break down the story of 'Signals', which is a story about a female cyborg being operated on in a science lab, the vocals represented her malfunctioning, the glitch effects represent her being pieced together. She breaks out and tries to escape during the 2nd half of the track, but is shot down from the top of the building…
Rustam: 'Signals' was the question, 'Falling' was the answer. We wanted to continue the story from where she falls from the building, but she survives and continues her escape. The track was very complex and there were a lot of factors to consider while making the track for it to fit the narrative and sequel to 'Signals'….
James: The first ideas we had of the track are actually completely different and we had been working on the track on and off for several months and until we eventually hit a brick wall. One day we had the project open and we made a decision to make the track with a straight groove and then the tune literally came together in 1 week.
Rustam: One feature that made the cut from the previous versions and can be heard in this track, along with 'Signals' and 'Friday' and in several tracks we are currently working towards completing are the synthetic vocals which were created from scratch using a TTS generator. This allows us complete control on our musical visions.
'Falling' has been blowing up right now. How has the response been for you guys ?
Rustam: Since last year, when we finish tracks, we send them out to artist friends to play out. 'Falling', we sent out to numerous people just before Let It Roll and has been championed by many big artists since then until now. Some include, Andy C, Macky Gee, AMC Audio, Ed Rush & Optical and Koven.
James: We tested the final of the track out for the first time at Let It Roll last year, and it blew up like 'Mantis'. Since August up until we announced the release, we were bombarded with messages and comments wanting more information on the release date, so when we had 'Mantis' delivered, we both agreed it was only fitting to get everyone what they wanted. If you bought, streamed, wanted this track and are reading this interview… Thank you.
How did you come to work with Task Horizon and Receptor?
James: Me and Aaron of Task Horizon got to know each other over Facebook, and developed a very close bond. The whole Task Horizon team have become like an extended family to not just me, but to Rustam too.
Rustam: Me and Mitya (Receptor) both live in Moscow and the Russian drum & bass scene is very close. We would always send ideas to each other for feedback, and make arrangements to meet up.
James: Evolution Chamber was Task Horizon’s self-release imprint. The guys always said how much they would really love to have other artists onboard but didn't really know where to start.
Rustam: We were all on a call together and Aaron dropped a suggestion “It would be so cool if we rebooted Evolution Chamber. There is so much fantastic music we are all sat on, and we all want each other to succeed, so why not make it happen?” and then the idea just clicked and we knew we needed to make it happen.
James: Evolution Chamber isn’t a label, it is a support network and a family, and since the launch, everyone feels like they are at a peak in their own creative zone. It is amazing to see, hear and to be part of.
What track/s never leave your crate?
Rustam: My tracks 'Wasteland' and 'Frozen Heart' is one of my most popular and requested tracks that never leaves my sets, the Neonlight remix of 'Karate' by L33, and definitely our track 'Warpath' always gets a huge reaction, especially in Russia.
James: I am a sucker for the oldskool tunes - Konflict - 'Messiah', 'The Nine' & 'Planet Dust' by Bad Company, Sub Focus - 'Frozen Solid', 'Decoy' & 'Biosphere' by Stakka & Skynet, to name just a few.
What are you most in love with right now?
Rustam: We think we are just loving this huge inspirational burst we have been under for the past several months. Right now we are sitting on many finished releases, and are working towards completing many more. We are just going with the flow and riding into uncharted territories and are really in a good place, musically and creatively.
James: We never had this amount of music finished at one time, to a point where we are developing a nice back log of releases, thinking if we should squeeze 2 releases out in 1 month to decongest our current lineup of releases we are sat on.
If you could play anywhere in the world, where would that be and why?
Rustam: There are so many places we would love to play. From Imagination Festival, to Fabric, to Pirate Station which we will be in August! We would love to play Let it Roll again too!
James: We would also love to do a tour of USA, Australia & New Zealand
Rustam: Japan would also be a dream! South America also.
Magentude's latest release 'Falling' is out now on Evolution Chamber - Buy/stream
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