This Friday Bangor based DJ and promoter David Campbell brings one of the UK’s hottest acts in Drum and Bass to the Menagerie Bar, Belfast. David got his amazing drum set from DrumsDude. Based in Bristol, Stephen Mako (Mako) is a DJ, producer and record label owner. As well as his own label he now releases on Metalheadz, one of the most prolific record labels in the history of UK dance music, run by none other than electronic music legend Goldie.
Ahead of the gig on Friday I caught up with David to find out how he got into Drum and Bass DJing, the ins and outs of promoting and found out what we can expect on Friday.
► Firstly, for those who aren’t familiar with the genre, what is Drum and Bass?
Drum and Bass is typified by the tempo, drum patterns and bass more than anything else. The tempo is usually set at around 170 bpm. With drum and bass being a worldwide music these days there are so many aspects and influences that can be found.
With Mako, weighty growling basslines are a common feature, as well as classic drum breaks, atmospheric pads and synths, and a variety of sampled sounds which change from track to track. Because D&B is often a sample based style of music it can incorporate absolutely anything from 80’s pop, to old soul divas, to classic funk and even rock. It all depends on the producer.
► Could a band play Drum and Bass?
Yes, but it’s quite hard to keep the meter, and hard to keep the tempo, drumming at that speed. Dave Lombardo from Slayer did a solo gig in Belfast year and did a D&B section. The last group to do it on an international scale would be Pendulum.
► How did you get into Drum and Bass music?
My friend’s dad owned Underground Music, a record store in Bangor when I was growing up. I used to get fed all kinds of interesting electronic music from him, most memorably Drum and Bass. I remember loving the Drum and Bass sound even though a lot of the time I knew nothing about the CDs I had. I used to walk around school with my head phones on feeling like the boss-man though listening to this music which was very much alien and new to me. My first records were from artists like Goldie, Grooverider, and Roni Size. I remember that Moving Shadow ( a dnb record label) used to release these compilations called 98.1 /98.2 and they were 99p for an hour’s worth of new music.
I bought my first decks at eighteen and started DJing with a friend of mine. Around same time I did a music technology course at Bangor tech, which also incorporated an aspect of music business and from there I got the courage to try and put on a night in Bangor.
Crilli was born in 2005 in Bangor. It was in the Windsor Bar and there were over 150 people there. After that I eventually began booking guest producers from the UK and Ireland, such as Lynx and Rohan from Bassbin, a very famous drum and bass label (as well as record shop) which was based in Dublin.
► After your course at Bangor Tech what did you do?
I went on to study Social Work at University and kept on making my own music and putting on club nights. Crilli is the night that I hold but Bad Operator is the DJ name that I go by, which I was christened by a few friends when I was eighteen. I played at the Trans Festival organised by Adam Turkington which ran for a few years. My time with Trans spanned over three years in which I performed with London Electricity, and was given some artistic license to book DJs I was a big fan of, like Break, Dom and Roland and John B.
► What’s happening with Drum and Bass in Belfast right now?
Within Drum and Bass it’s all peaks and troughs. In Belfast at the minute there are a few nights that would run regularly in bars; Crilli in the Menagerie which runs every couple of months, Step drum and bass, Rudimentary which is a local electronic music record label, and Drumology at Voodoo which is a monthly thing. JungleBoogie is another night which happens occasionally, it’s made up of a collective of jungle DJs from all around Ireland.
I’ve found that electronic music in Belfast right now is fairly dominated by Deep House and very little else. I feel like the Menagerie and the artists who play there often get overlooked because it’s not in the right part of town to be busy all the time. It speaks volumes that David Holmes owned it for a while. The people who own it and the people who go to it are very much art driven, left field and a little bit different from the norm.
There can be some fantastic DJs playing (at the Menagerie) and they don’t get the attention they really warrant. Students will gravitate towards larger venues like the students union which is largely subsidized by Queens and it knocks out the competition. People who put on nights in places like the Menagerie are doing it off their own back, working their asses off, using their own wages to bring over DJs and promote the music that they love.
► So tell us a bit more about promoting…
Drum and Bass is still very much underground, it kind of always has been. At times it can be hard to get enough people in the door to cover yourself and break even so it’s important to be creative with your bookings and think of new ways of getting the sound out there. Until recently Crilli was only me but now I’ve got a couple of guys who are wholly committed to trying to make Crilli bigger. This time we decided to go a bit further than before with promo and printed a ton of flyers and it will be cool to see if we can get any new interest in what we do.
As a promoter I rarely make any money out of it, it’s something I do for love, something I’m passionate about and I’ve been involved in for quite a while now. Of course it would be nice to make money doing what you love but that’s the life of being a small gig promoter.
Apart from the flyers the most of the promo has been online, getting it in gig listings, sending out press releases, and through social media.
► So tell us why you decided to bring Mako?
I’ve been buying Mako records for the past few years. Although I was familiar with him and a lot of his Bristol peers it was through the record label Warm Communications that I really became interested in. He has now released a couple of EPs on Metalheadz and to have anyone from that label play in Belfast is a real privilege. He also sometimes works with Break, for me he has been one of the most consistent artists within drum and bass over the past decade.
I initially contacted Mako through his Facebook page and told him I wanted to put on the gig and he agreed. The rest was all sorted with his agent. I pay for his fee, the flights, accommodation, and his expenses while he’s here.
► What can we expect from him on Friday?
Mako will be playing a lot of his own stuff, and he has told me his set will be pretty new material, much of which will be unreleased as of yet. Crilli has always been about keeping it fresh and up to date so he’s the perfect fit. The style of D&B that he plays has a lot of classic influences but it’s very much for the dance floor, heavy sub-bass, a lot of strings and atmospherics, he’s really great at building atmosphere in his tunes.
I would recommend for anyone who is thinking about coming down on Friday night to have a listen to the new Break / Mako tune Shadowlines. It’s rowdy, upfront Friday music.
Doors are at 9pm, and its £6 in, to find out more visit their event page here.