Nicknamed Terror Snake and Downie Wolf respectively, Jeremy and Dylan are not your average, boring producers. Meeting at school through mutual interests in surfing, skating and ‘being gangly teenagers’ Jeremy had to work hard to pull Dylan into the world of drum & bass. But, armed with a stack of Mickey Finn & Aphrodite mixtapes and an unrelenting attitude, the snake soon overcame the wolf’s natural propensity for rock music and, fortunately for us all, a love of fast breakbeats and low-slung basslines soon followed.
You started out in the New Zealand electronic scene. What was your first experience with electronic music and what gave you the spark to involve yourself more in the scene to the point where you started producing?
“I (Jeremy) was introduced to electronic music around 1996 when friends of my Dads came and stayed and played us a CD called Junglized. I instantly fell in love with Adam F’s track Circles, and from that started exploring the music further. Initially getting immersed in albums like Grooveriders Mysteries of Funk & Reprazents New Forms. In 1998 Dylan and I met at highschool and i started converting him from a rock kid into a D&B head. Around the same time a friend of ours introduced us to some software called Cakewalk, which piqued our interest, and started us on the path to producing our own music. We didn’t have any aspirations to make a career out of it for years, not really until we got our first release on Fabel Recordings in New Zealand in 2002.”
The Upbeats are known for producing dubstep and drum and bass but you have a bigger focus on drum and bass. What aspect about drum and bass that makes it stand out from all other genres of music from a producer’s point of view?
“I think Drum & Bass first attracted us because it sounded so completely new, and exciting compared to anything else we had heard. Also it was a really edgy, energetic and underground sounding form of music. That has changed a lot over the last 15 years with the rise of the internet and mainstream acceptance of EDM. It has meant that a lot of D&B can now sound quite commercial etc, and quite often that’s a big turnoff for us. That’s cool though because there’s still a big movement of people that produce and appreciate innovative and creative underground music. Also there’s a great community of producers that we respect, and they often give us big inspiration and motivation to try and develop what we do. A bit of friendly competition can do wonders 😉 “
Non Vogue is your own record label. What are the greatest challenges to face when starting up your own record label and what motivates you to keep pushing forward no matter how many hours are spent in the studio?
“The initial motivation for us was to have control over how we released our own music. Which having a label definitely gave us. It also gave us a far better understanding of what is involved to release and properly promote music, especially if you want to do it internationally. It’s a really big job, to do it properly, and that’s been part of the motivation with releasing our new album ‘primitive technique’ on Noisias label ‘Vision Recordings’. We could’ve easily released the album on our own label, but we realistically just don’t have the time and infrastructure in place to do it justice when it comes to promoting & distribution. After running our own label for the last few years, it has been a breath of fresh air working with Vision Recordings. They’re easily the most organised and professional outfit we’ve had the pleasure of working with, and we’re really honored that they chose to release our album!”
You have performed on all the continents except for Africa. Which cities do you always enjoy performing in and what’s the kind of energy you get from the crowd when you start your set?
“It really is hard to beat playing in New Zealand, we’re spoilt back home with how supportive and passionate the crowds are. Having said that a few of our other favorite cities to perform in are Tokyo, Perth, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Budapest, Groningen, Porto, London etc.. (Could go on and on!) As far as the energy goes, we never plan the set we perform, so it is always really dependent on the energy or vibe we get from the crowd.”
You have a new album that will be released later this year. What is the album called and what was the concept behind the album?
“The album’s called ‘Primitive Technique’, and is out April 29th on Vision Recordings. As we stated earlier we’ve always been very drawn to the raw and organic aesthetics within drum & bass, and so for us we set out to say something with this album. A lot of drum & bass production today sounds very synthetic, and edges closer and closer to becoming pop music, so we really wanted to take it the other direction, and push the raw, organic feel we love so much. The artwork concept reflects that, and the title primitive technique.”
The Upbeats have worked with various producers in the past. Which producers do you see yourself working with in the future to created tracks and why?
“We always really enjoy working with the Noisia guys, so we’ll definitely try and make some more collaborations happen in future. We’re also working on a couple of things with Bassnectar, and if we get the time would love to get in the studio with Teebee + Calyx, TC & Hazard. “
Having travelled the world. Where do you see the scene heading towards on a global scale within the next ten years?
“Wow that’s difficult. I would love to see this music expand outside of the traditional centres of Europe & North America. It would be really exciting to break into South America, central Asia & Africa. But really there’s no way to know. As an artists i think you really just have to focus on producing something that you’re passionate about and hopefully people will like and support it.”
What has your greatest accomplishment been from when you started producing music to starting up your own record label?
“Having our music played on the New Zealand equivalent of Coronation Street (Shortland Street). BO! But seriously, probably the two most important events in our career were when we signed our 2nd album to Bad Companys label BC Presents and recently signing to Noisias Vision Recordings.”
South Africa is filled with rhythm and music around every corner, which resulted in brilliant local producers. What advice can you give to aspiring artists, producers and dj’s who want to break into the international market?
“The market has changed a lot since we had our breakthrough, so I think you have to approach it quite differently now. It really feels like, at the moment, unless you’re with a label that has some weight behind it, it’s a struggle to get your music out there. Because there’s so much music available on youtube, soundcloud etc, unless you have an outlet that already has peoples attention, you’re going to have a hard time standing out (regardless of how good your music is). So I think the main things now as a new producer we would recommend would be trying to get on a solid label that has good promotion, and try to get on some popular youtube & soundcloud pages (ukf etc). Also, if you’re a new producer sending someone your beats, try to send them finished versions of the song, it can be a bit annoying receiving 5 different versions of the same track (especially if you’re not that into the track to start with!).”