4Dcast #004: Mortal Grey - Phantom Hertz Recordings Special
It’s been too long since the last 4Dcast, and after the success of their most recent compilation (‘The Deep End Vol. 1’) to mark the beginning of a new catalog series of deeper releases, I thought it was only right to get Phantom Hertz (and more recently Gradient Audio) bossman Mortal Grey on #004…
D» Easy Christian! To get things rolling: introduce us to Mortal Grey - tell us a bit about yourself…
MG» Cheers Max, thanks for having me. My name is Christian Mount, aka Mortal Grey. I’ve been involved in electronic music for about 12 years starting as a promoter, DJ, producer, and eventually a label owner, which is what I focus most of my free time on now. I also host a weekly radio show every Saturday at 11:30 a.m. PST (7:30 p.m. GMT) on Dubstep FM.
D» How did you first get into the deeper side of the dubstep world? Who were your first inspirations?
MG» When I first got into the sound, it was 2006, and the majority of dubstep around at the time would be considered by most people today to be of the ‘deeper’ or at least more minimal variety. Sometimes I miss those days, when people would say that the music I was playing was ‘too slow’ or ‘too minimal’ to dance to, haha. Brostep was not around yet, 2-step and garage were clearly the foundation of and inspiration for the sound. Labels like DMZ, Tempa, Planet Mu, Tectonic, Narco Hz, Hot Flush etc. were what I was filling my crates with.
I would say that my favorite producers from those days were Scuba, Pinch, Luke Envoy, Skream, Goth-Trad, Loefah, Distance and Boxcutter.
I will admit, I did get caught up a bit in the more aggressive style of dubstep that soon followed, but it didn’t take long for me to grow tired of most of the stuff coming out. Perhaps that was due to the oversaturation and commercialization of the sound, or maybe I’m just getting old. I feel that I’ve come full circle in a way, finding myself drawn almost exclusively to the deeper, darker side of electronic music being produced these days.
D» When did you first try your hand at production/DJing? What got you into it?
MG» In 2000 I was working as a doorman in a night club in Flagstaff, Arizona. I became close friends with the resident DJs, and that’s when I began learning how to mix. I started off playing a bit of everything, mostly records that friends handed down to me, or that I bought used - house, trance, drum ‘n bass, techno - whatever I could get my hands on. However, I soon began focusing on the darker side of breakbeats; primarily electro, acid and nu skool breaks. I guess the transition from that to dubstep was a pretty natural one for me.
D» Most people reading this will know about your label ‘Phantom Hertz Recordings’, but for those who don’t – explain how it all started and the concept behind the imprint…
MG» The concept of the label has evolved quite a bit from it’s original intent. A few friends and I started it out primarily as an outlet for our own music and as a home for other lesser known artists. It’s original mission and subsequent releases weren’t genre or tempo specific - it really didn’t have a structure or direction at it’s onset. However, as time went on, I began to get consumed with it’s operation and it became more focused. Last year, I took over full ownership of the label and began to change the structure, the sound and the direction of the imprint to what I consider to be a more cohesive format, and one that I feel will stand the test of time.
D» You’ve recently started up a new catalog of releases specifically focusing on the deeper end of the dubstep scale, kicking things off with a big compilation featuring the talents of Mishva, Darj and INFRA (to name a few) – what can we expect to see in the near future? Any exciting releases you can share with us apart from Mishva’s mammoth PHz EP debut?
MG» Mishva’s is a big one, and that one drops on June 3rd [Soundboy - PH002]. After that I have a release scheduled with a returning artist: Christopher Yikes [Dimensions EP - PH003]. Then I have the pleasure of introducing a new member to the world: Fabricator, who I think will be turning heads immediately. Both of those releases are set to come out this summer. Next up is a three track EP from Red Eyes, including a collaboration with ARtroniks. I’m also in talks with a few other producers, but don’t want to announce anything prematurely.
D»> You also recently took over Gradient Audio: how are you finding things with them? Is it hard to maintain two successful labels?
MG» It is a challenge - between working over full time at my ‘normal’ job and running both labels, I don’t really have a lot of free time. It can be difficult to maintain a balance, but at the same time it’s very rewarding. I do feel that taking over Gradient Audio came at a perfect time for me, though. While Phantom Hertz is now focused more on a particular sound, running Gradient allows me the opportunity to support forward thinking music with no genre limitations. It has a solid group of talented artists already on the roster, and a strong back catalog. I was always a fan of what B1t Crunch3r had done with that label, and was honored he asked me to take the helm so he could have time to focus on other projects. He did stay on with Gradient though as the director of A&R.
D» Who would you say your top 5 favourite producers are at the moment? Any that we should take note of that might be rising up the ranks in the near future?
MG» There’s so many producers that I enjoy, it’s hard to narrow them down to five. Maybe these are given, but I would say Biome, Kahn, J:Kenzo, Kryptic Minds and Distance are pretty much instant bags for me.
For producers to look out for in 2013 and beyond, my obviously biased answers would be Anthologic, Darj, INFRA, Mishva, Lysergene, Feonix and Fabricator.
D» What are your top 5 most favourite/precious records you own?
MG» That’s actually a bit of a tough question, as I’ve had nearly two full crates of dubstep records stolen from me in the past. I’ve lost DMZ001, DMZ002, Hot Flush 001, Luke Envoy ‘Gamma’ / ’Honour Kill’ (if I could have one back, that would be it) etc. etc. The records that have made it to 2013 are all very special to me, but some gems include the Mary Anne Hobbs ‘Warrior Dubs‘ LP set, DMZ003, DMZ005, Scuba 004 from Gravious, Forensix ’1st Dynasty’ / ‘Solace’ on Mechanoise, Ringo Records 002 with Distance & Skream, and a few of the earlier Skull Disco plates. Not to mention quite a few classic Nu Skool and Acid breaks from around 2000 - 2006.
D» Finally; any shoutouts?
MG» First to my Dad - TK - who runs TKM Audio where I get most of the mastering done for Phantom Hertz. Second, a shout to Forensics, who was instrumental in facilitating the shift to the deeper side of things as director of A&R for the label. Lastly to my friends Broke-N, B1t Crunch3r, to my very supportive and understanding girlfriend Jacqueline, and of course to all of the artists on the label and to all the fans supporting the music!
Thanks Max, and big ups for all that you do! I look forward to getting your next release out on Gradient, I think it is going to be very well received!
It’s been a while since the last DDDD mix special of the series, and after hearing London based Chubba’s forthcoming release on long-time favourite Odea Records, I thought it was about right I got him on the guest spot - so here it is!! 30min long - switching it up a little..
Finally got round to upping the next Dusk FM show in the archive from a couple of weeks ago - this one was big for those who weren’t locked at the time: first hour was a bit of a history lesson - contained some classics/percys of mine from the likes of Distance, Cyrus, Mala, Goth-Trad, Loefah and V.I.V.E.K - second hour was full of the usual freshness..
Two features on here in a week must be a new record - I’m always slow at getting round to the interview section, but I hope this makes up for it.. Owner/founder of rising internet radio station Dusk FM ‘Ostra’ provided us with the third installment of the DDDDcast series, and if you caught the mix you’ll know it was a big one - here’s the words to accompany…
D - Easy Fin, how’s yourself today?
O - Yeah, all good mate thanks.
D - First off, for those who aren’t sure – what’s your name and where do you come from?
O - I’m Finlay Reid aka ‘Ostra’ and I come from Surrey but currently based in Birmingham.
D - What got you into DJing in the first place? When did you start?
O - I started DJing when I was about 16. Back then a few mates of mine had just started messing around on a controller and I joined in. About a year later I had saved up for a second hand pair of 1210’s and just went from there.
D - How would you best describe your mixing style? What kind of music do you prefer to play out – strictly the deep 140 sounds? Or do you like to mix it up? (No pun intended haha)
O - Hmm, my mixing style varies depending on what I’m feeling that day and other important factors like the crowd. I do prefer playing out the deep 140 sound and most the time it’s what I play, but I do have a small collection of drum & bass and some darker house, which I’ve been slowly expanding.
D - Very topical question, but which do you prefer when playing out – CD or vinyl? What’s been your most memorable gig?
O - I prefer playing out on CD’s, its simpler, with vinyl there always seems to be a problem, most of the decks at clubs are worse for wear. I prefer playing on vinyl at home, there is something about it! Sometimes I’ll bring a few records to a gig. As for my most memorable set - this is quite hard to choose, they all have left me with good memories, but I think either my first gig which was the 2012 Outlook launch party in Birmingham, it was the first time I had played out on such a big system in a warehouse. Or the Rainbow warehouse showcase, they had a stage on the street, all my mates from home came up and the vibe was incredible. Both events were Seedy Sonics, these guys put on great nights and I owe a lot to them.
D - So you own the new internet radio station Dusk FM (which you’ve kindly allowed me to have a show on as well – cheers for that mate ;)), but how did that all come about?
O - Yeah, no worries man, good to have you on board. I think it was the end of summer when the idea started forming. The thought at first was to give DJs, producers and promoters a platform in Birmingham to go on air and to be a foothold for underground music. That still is the ethos of Dusk. So I asked a few people if they wanted to play and went ahead and secured the domain name and hosting. From there it was a sort of ‘learn as we go’ process. It’s all worked out so far.
D - The deep, minimal dubstep sound is ever expanding, but who would you say your top 3 producers to watch in 2013 are and why?
- Mesck – He makes sick tunes! If you haven’t heard it already check out his recent release and you’ll understand why.
- Format – Yeah again the bits I’ve heard are solid; interested to hear what comes this year.
- Deafblind – Again, the bits I’ve heard are sick. I’m sure we’ll see some cool collabs and nice tunes this year.
D - What are your top 5 most favourite tracks of the last year? And your top 5 most favourite to play out?
O - A lot of these cross over so I’ll only mention 5. There are so many other good tracks to play out as well.
- Proxima – ‘Lie Detection’ (This tune goes off)
- Biome – ‘Shaman’ (Everything he is putting out is good though)
- J:Kenzo – ‘Indaverz’ (Remember first hearing this at cable, again, a lot of what he puts out is great)
- LX One – ‘Losing Control’ (Really liked this release)
- Kryptic Minds – ‘Rule of Language’ (This one’s sick)
D - What does the future hold for Ostra and Dusk FM? Any exciting new projects/shows/gigs you got coming up?
O - Yeah I think so, Dusk FM is taking over room 2 at the next Origins night, 1st February. The line up is huge in both rooms, if you’re in the area you should come down. Paradub needs a mention here too; with MJ Cole booked for the next night on February 8th.
Looking to the future, I hope to see Dusk FM grow. A continuation of the t-shirt series we just launched working with more artists. Perhaps in the future, we will start up our own night. It would be a small and intimate sort of night if we did, but yeah stay tuned for more info on that.
Finally big up to all the Dusk FM family and those that have supported us over this short space of time.
Seems like it’s been a while since I last had a mix up on here, but Mishva steps in a sorts that right out.. He’s doing some big things at the moment - expect to hear a lot more of him in the near future.. Don’t forget to check his releases on Krypt and Iron Shirt which you can buy from all good digital vendors..
It’s been a long time coming, but Vanity’s interview to accompany his mix for the series is finally online.. I’ve been a big supporter of Leicester based producer/DJ Vanity (aka Matt Oliver) since I first heard his Phantom Hertz release (‘FifthDimention’ / ‘TheFirstStep’) some months back, so it was great to get some words off him…
D - First of all – tell us a bit more about yourself and your productions…
V - I’m an 18 year old producer/DJ from Leicester. I make music around the 140 bpm mark, whether it’s dubstep or 2-step garage - I’ll leave it up for you to decide. I started making music about two years ago now, it came about through a mate introducing me to it and giving me a copy of FL Studio version 6 I think it was. We used to spend every lunch hour at school in the music suite making tunes on Cubase and Reason. I never took it too seriously at this time, we were just making really bad electro house stuff. It wasn’t till a year ago that I started writing tunes that where sounding pretty decent, I was in my second year at College studying Music Technology at this point. I got a cheap Mac and a copy of Logic about 8 months ago and wrote my first track on my Soundcloud which was a remix of Blu Mar Ten’s ‘All Or Nothing’ which is a free download. A month later I wrote another remix, this time of Fetch’s – ‘Just Sit With It’, which is also up for free download. One of my mates at college then introduced me to a pair of producers known as ‘Kryptic Minds’ - I imagine anyone reading this will have heard of the duo, if not check them out! The sound that these guys where making was like nothing I have ever heard before, and after listening to their whole back catalogue I wrote the tracks ‘FifthDimension’ and ‘TheFirstStep’, which later went on to be released by Phantom Hertz Recordings in May 2012. I have done a couple of remixes for Kev Willow’s label ‘Viral Beat Recordings’, one of which is forthcoming at the end of this month. More recently I have just released a tune named ‘Shelter’ which is another free download, it features vocals from Charlotte Rawling and has had some love and support from BBC Radio One.
“…this is where music and technology are going in terms of live performance for me, technology now-a-days makes it easy to do anything.”
D - What got you into the deeper, darker dubstep sounds? What inspired you to start DJing?
V - As I touched on a mate from college showed me some of Kryptic Minds’ tunes and gave me a couple of their albums. I then started trying to write this sort of music, it just felt right you know? To be honest with you now-a-days I don’t listen to much dubstep at all, I try and keep myself away from it all otherwise I tend to get too influenced by other producers’ sounds. I guess this way you make it the way you think it should sound rather than how other people want it to sound. I’ve always been a producer first, DJing comes after production for me. I wouldn’t say anything inspired me to start DJing as such, I mean I really enjoy it and it’s a great way to showcase new material to your fans. Currently I’m leaning over more to live performance stuff on Ableton, I love the idea of mixing and remixing tracks live, this is where music and technology are going in terms of live performance for me, technology now-a-days makes it easy to do anything.
D - How would you describe your production style?
V - My productions usually sound deep and dark, I’ve usually been better at making darker sounding tracks rather than chilled ones. Although in saying that, my latest track was quite laid back, so I guess I don’t really have a style in a sense. I like to spend time on my drums; it’s the little things that really stand out in tunes for me. I record a lot of my drums and percussion hits myself with a little portable recorder, I try and stay away from samples when it comes to drums. I like to keep my drums sounding fresh and interesting rather than just using a kick, snare, hats, shakers etc. - that gets boring for me.
D - When starting to build a new track, how do you go about the process?
V - I start with a template that has all my buses and send effects loaded up, which saves me a lot of time. I always start on my drums first, go into my sample library of field recordings and get something flowing. I’ll then move onto pads and atmospheres and maybe some music. Bass would come next, and then the effects. Every track is different but I usually start on the drop or the main 32 bars of the track and then work backwards.
“Dubstep for me is whatever you want it to be, it depends on the individual.”
D - Where do you see the future of dubstep going? Do you think the minimal sound we all know and love will eventually fade away and make way for something new?
V - I don’t know man, I mean who knows? I hope not haha, but no genre stays around forever. I don’t think it will disappear as such - I think the fans will just move on to newer things. I mean trap has been making an appearance in a few of the sets I have been hearing, a few people have even described it as the ‘new dubstep’, which I wouldn’t agree with. People are always looking to jump on the next bandwagon when it comes to music I think. Dubstep for me is whatever you want it to be, it depends on the individual.
D - What new, up-and-coming producers and labels have caught your eye recently and why?
V - In dubstep there’s of course Phantom Hertz; ever since releasing on them myself I have been following their material, the last few ‘LowVoltage’ releases have been amazing! The stuff Redshift One has been putting out has also been wicked, been hearing loads of good stuff from labels such as Artikal Music UK, Echodub, Innamind Recordings, Tribe 12 Music, Viral Beat Recordings, Solace Records and Mu Djina - which is co-owned by Camu, a good friend of mine. If you haven’t heard of Camu yet, head over to his Soundcloud (http://soundcloud.com/camu) and check out his material, make sure you check out Mu Djina’s first release over on their Bandcamp too (http://mudjina.bandcamp.com/), mastered by myself. There are many up and coming artists that are always catching my eye such as Cyntel, SHD, SpiritLess, Nixisin, Musslo, Kismet, Biak, M.A.K.Z., Al-Jabbah, Darj, Zoobi, Camu, Decka, Nutral, PJ, Midnight South, Ajaax, BunZer0, Charlotte Rawling, Disonata, Forensics, Greyscale, Hex, Jafu, Content, Tallan, Mortal Grey and Syte - big love and respect to you all! Also want to say a massive thanks to Liquid Fusiion/Fusiion Mixes, FatKidOnFire, Girl8bit and Mr. Suicide Sheep for all the support!
D - Any new exciting forthcoming projects/releases you can tell us about?
V - Not much going on at the minute, I’ve got a forthcoming remix out on Viral Beat Recordings at the end of the month (October), and a forthcoming Dubstep release which will be out before the end of the year. I have a few collaborations in progress, but nothing too serious as of yet.
D - What does the future hold for Vanity?
V - Lots more releases and bookings hopefully! I’m planning on getting loads more music out next year, I’ve had chats with a few labels to hopefully get a 4 track EP out by May time next year, with a couple of singles released in the meantime. I’m planning on doing more tracks with Charlotte, as well as with other vocalists after the great response from the last track we made together. I also plan to start accepting bookings early next year so you may see my name on a few flyers, one of my mates is just about to start up a night in Leicester too which he wants me to be a part of, so that will be interesting. I’ve also been in discussion with online bass music radio stations about getting regular slots every week, so lots to look forward to in 2013!