Friday, March 20, 2009


After playing to a packed out CULT crowd we sat down with Dan Brookes, one half of the pairng that are responsible for bringing D&B back to the daytime playlist....

Welcome to Nottingham, it’s good to have you down but first things first, where’s your brother?

To quote the name of a popular film from last year, my brother is “In Bruges” He’s DJing in Belgium, he wanted to come and sends his apologies to everyone but unfortunately he can’t be in two places at once. But we do try and both go to as many gigs as we possibly can.

This is your second time in Nottingham, how did you think tonight went?

Wicked yeah, I went to Riley’s, before the gig to watch the boxing. Then I walked over to the gig and had a wicked night. There’s a good vibe. It’s very similar to London I think. Everyone’s very unified and it seems like everyone’s having a good time. It’s a very multi-cultural place which is wicked, I really enjoyed it! It’s a really nice intimate club which is cool, we’ve been playing bigger raves but it’s nice to get back to the grass roots so to speak.

What do you think is different about playing in a more intimate venue?

It’s a totally different vibe. You can completely connect with the people who are dancing. When you’re playing big raves it sounds obvious but it’s a lot less intimate, you don’t catch people’s eye, smiling at you and singing along. It’s all kind of blurred into one huge block of heads. Playing nights like CULT is really what it’s all about. You want to be talking to people and that’s part of the whole thing for me. I like to hang around after the gig and chat to people and hear what they’ve got to say. Tonight I’ve got to shoot off which I’m gutted about, and most of the time I’m driving but if I can I like to hang around for a few drinks after.

It’s only really the last few years that you have come into the spotlight. How did you go from making tunes in your bedroom to being involved with Breakbeat Kaos?

Fresh and Adam F set up an Aim address for people to send their tunes to. We sent them a couple of bits and Fresh got back to us and really liked some of the stuff we were coming up with. Some of which was turned out on Futurebound’s label, Viper. We just carried on sending him stuff; we wouldn’t really let him rest to be honest! We went for a meeting, and he really liked a few of our tunes, Hard Knocks and Mistakes, which was our first single and that was it really. We just carried on trying to push our sound and keep the ball rolling.

Music production is a massive industry to establish yourself into, how did it make you feel when you finally got that break?

It’s funny because when you’re in the position yourself, you never really stop and think. It’s like a progressive elevation of your expectations in a way. Your expectations are quite low to start off with and then you start realising that you can set your sights higher and you can achieve more that you initially expected too. To be honest, Tear You Down was the moment when we thought ‘Wow, this is amazing’. So many people were listening to our tunes and really liking what we were coming up with. Up until that point, we were really just writing tunes and it hadn’t yet blown up to that proportion. It stopped us in our tracks. People say things don’t happen over night but it really felt like it did for us. It was crazy.

As ou say “Tear You Down” was a massive tune for you guys, it got rinsed on Radio 1 and was a few DJ’s record of the week. How did that affect you as a producer of an ‘underground’ genre?

As a Drum and Bass producer you’re not ever thinking that your stuff is going to get played on daytime radio, so it’s massively exhilarating when you first hear the stuff being playing on a regular basis and all your mates from school are calling you up because they’ve heard it. We’re making dance music, and until recently it doesn’t often appear on the radio. I think it’s wicked. We’re not compromising what we do to try and get played on the radio, we’re just doing what we love and what we’ve always done and people are acknowledging that. Which is great for us, we’re really happy.

Drum and Bass has come along way from being strictly underground to being in the mainstream, with lots of tunes making it onto daytime radio and more and more producers attracting a lot more attention. What do you think this means for the genre as a whole?

I think there are two sides to every story. It’s bringing a lot of new faces into the raves, a lot of people who wouldn’t have necessarily turned up before hand and I think that’s a really good thing. A lot more people are starting to enjoy the music and it’s starting to reach a further audience which you can’t argue against. Unless of course the quality of the music is actually suffering, and I don’t think that’s the case. But there’s always people in the scene who want to hold on to what they value in Drum and Bass which often is the fact that it is an underground form of music. It’s always going to take time for people to accept that some artists are going to become popular. I think it’s great though, the more people the better as far as I’m concerned. Like I said. if the music’s not suffering as a result of it, then the more people that we are reaching out to the better.

How do you go about getting yourselves out there in the first place, do you think it’s important to have a self promotion strategy?

We like to leave it up to the music, and let the people give the verdict. We’re really quite perfectionists about our tunes and we try hard to get them spot on. We don’t like to put stuff out lightly and we always try and make it as good as possible, but I suppose that goes for everyone that’s passionate about it. We’re lucky enough to be surrounded by some really good people and have a good crowd supporting what we do, in both the label and the public. So thankfully, we don’t have to do that much except for focus on making good music.

How do you find it working in a pair, do you ever find yourselves arguing?

Because we’re brothers, we’re quite fortunate that we have very similar tastes. We’ve got the same mum and dad which helps a lot because we we’re around the same things when were younger, listening to the same tunes that they we’re listening too. And listening to what we were listening too we were sharing the same experience the whole way. It doesn’t take much to reconcile our disagreements when we do have them. Obviously everyone has differences, we fight over tunes but it doesn’t happen that often.

When you were growing up together, how did you both decide that producing was what you wanted to do?

We used to go raving a lot, and we used to love listening to the same tunes on the dance floor. We’d go home after a night out and talk about it for hours. That progressed into wanting to buy some production equipment and give it a go. We didn’t really know what we were doing at all. We started working on tunes together and messing around until six in the morning. We came up with some really terrible ideas, but eventually we found a groove and started to really get going.

Everyone has they’re influences growing up, but now that your established artists what do you think influences what you do?

We love all sorts of Drum and Bass, but all sorts of other genres as well. To be quite honest, recently it’s just been album after album and there hasn’t been that much time to listen to specific tunes. I’m almost embarrassed to say it but after eight hours of making tunes you don’t really want to listen to that much. One particular album I’ve been really into lately is the Sweeney Todd soundtrack, I’ve been caining that. I love Tim Burton and a lot of other ambient film soundtracks too. Funnily enough, I like stuff with no drums that you can just zone out too. I really like these guys called the Dorian Concept which you can’t really categorize but I love it. When it comes to making Drum and Bass, that is a full time job but in terms of listening I don’t really listen to that much.

What is on your I-pod?

I don’t have an I-pod man. I’m still stuck in the dark ages rocking out a walkman. I’m an eighties child. I like old mixtapes but when I’m in the car I just listen to the radio, I switch between Smooth, Radio 1 and Classic FM. I’m not a Drum and Bass till I die sort of guy. I wouldn’t jump in front of a bullet for Drum and Bass, I love it, and it’s my life to a certain extent but I love listening to all styles of music and so does my brother.

What’s your view on Dubstep?

I like it, but to be honest for a long time I was not convinced that I liked it, even though I accepted that the bass is pretty cool. It never really grabbed me. But recently there’s some tunes that have started to crop up that are pulling my attention a little bit more but I wouldn’t call myself a dubstep fiend or anything. I love some of the new Chase and Status stuff because it’s dupstep with a drum and bass production style. I’m getting there, just give me some time and I’ll catch up!

What can we expect from you guys this year?

We’ve got an album coming out in September, so we’re just working really hard at the moment trying to get it done. Stressing out about it and trying to get it right. I find myself spending every waking minute thinking about it. It’s kind of like writing a book, you never sort of let it go. Until it’s done and wrapped up, you struggle to distance yourself from it at all. But I’m looking forward to when it’s finished. It’s been a great experience working on all sorts of different stuff for the album: Don’t expect the standard Brookes Brothers style tune. We’re really excited about it and hope people like it. Before that though, we’ve got a single set for July called Last Night.

As a DJ, what is you opinion on the Vinyl vs. MP3 debate?

Like many others, I prefer the sound of vinyl a lot of the time. But we play a lot of tunes that aren’t out on vinyl and it would be so costly to cut them all. I think CD is practical and convenient. I think the sound quality is a bit toppier but it saves people a lot of money in this current climate. I’ve noticed that people have started to mix their tunes down differently for CD. I think what is a good idea is if producers start making less trebly mixdowns for the CD format and a bit more treble for vinyl. I think that might fix the problems but that’s just me.

What do you think about Nottingham? You going to come back and see us again?

To be honest I haven’t had much of a chance to see a lot of it, but that’s more of an excuse to come back. The people seem to be really sweet and the vibe is nice, everyone seems to be out to have a fun time which is what I like. I’ll be back, next time I’m on the M1 I’ll pop in to say hello!!

WORDS: Rosa Brough

No comments: