Originally from Bournemouth, Dave Wallace, Kieron Bailey and Brent Newitt have been an integral part of the UK’s underground bass scene for fifteen years. As a trio, they’ve released under the aliases Aquasky, Masterblaster and more recently Black Noise, under which they’ve had releases on Southern Fried and have since been signed by Lee Mortimer‘s Wearhouse Music label. Their Black Noise project strays away from the DnB and Breaks that Aquasky’s known for, and heads in more of an Electro-House direction. We caught up with Brent to talk Black Noise, Aquasky, and the direction of the UK Bass genres. Here’s how it played out:
(interview after the jump)
GDD™: What do you drink?
Brent: Cider. Hand-pressed or from some crazy farmer in Somerset. Ya dun no!
GDD™: Let’s start from the top, how’d you break into production, and was it always DnB and breaks when you started out?
BN: For me, it was hip-hop that I started to make in ’93 on Black On Black records. Dave had his rave band U4ria in 1990 and Kieron first started making jungle in 1992 on Underdog Records.
GDD™: So at what point did you guys meet and how did Aquasky come about?
BN: Dave and I knew each other from playschool, and up until ’95, we’d helped each other out on production. Then the trio formed.
GDD™: Who influenced your sound then, and who does now?
BN: Back then it would be Bukem, Fabio, Krust, Roni Size, Peshay, Skanna, Wax Doctor & most stuff that Jack Smooth at Basement Records was responsible for. Now as Aquasky I would say it’s the new 140 BPM sound of madness – Too many names to mention but so long as it’s fast, furious, heavy bass and cracking beats then we’re down. Chuck in some ragga too, and we are all over it!
GDD™: So pretty much the DnB royalty then. Whose live shows have inspired you along the way?
BN: It’s hard to say as I am a big jazz and hip hop fan, so a lot of what I used to see in the 80s and early 90s inspired me to make the music. When I started producing, I think it’s people like Orbital, Prodigy, and Goldie‘s live show in 95/96. Hmmm, probably tonnes of acts at raves that I can’t remember from back in the day too!
GDD™: …and whose sets do you currently rate?
BN: Currently, I am not sure in all honesty. I don’t really go for that live show thing anymore. The last live show I saw was Orbital in 2010.
GDD™: You guys have been in the game for over 15 years covering a massive range of genre across the EDM spectrum. How easy is it to roll with the trends and stay current in Dance Music today? Would you say that it’s easier than in was 10 years ago?
BN: It’s easier to jump between styles these days. Remember we are from drum and bass, and if you dared to try something different back in the 90s it was usually frowned upon! We use to get lots of stick for making latin house albums or hip hop or breaks, but not anymore. There are a few ‘new’ djs and producers these days who seem to think you have to stick with your own sound and nothing else. This became apparent when we started Black Noise, but in all honesty fuck ‘em! Let’s see if they can make a living out of music for nearly 20 years, and let’s chat then! [laughs]
GDD™: Fair play. Do you still consider Aquasky to be your main production output, or are you focussing more on Black Noise now?
BN: No, Aquasky is always the main focus for us. The stuff we did on Southern Fried was supposed to be as Aquasky but the label wanted us to start a new name because they didn’t want the breaks baggage that we carry! Understandable, but I’m not sure if it was the wisest of decisions in retrospect.
GDD™: So what’s the next step for you, and where do you see the underground bass genres heading over the next few years?
BN: I hope it goes dark, heavy and becomes a force of political upheaval like rave was 20-odd years ago. There are too many kids today who don’t know what it’s like to go all out for your music. To totally live a scene, and have that unity with others. There’s too much internet anonymity and quick-fix music and genres. Music is our passion and music should be everyone’s passion. It makes you smile, it makes you happy, it makes you sad, it makes you want to take on the world and collectively make something happen. Bring back the illegal raves and the all weekend parties in fields in darkest Dorset or Wiltshire!
GDD™: Getting all desert island discs on this, what’s a record you guys couldn’t live without?
BN: Mark Murphy ‘Red Clay’ – we worked with Mark when we were on the Mr. Bongo label, and we did our “twenty:twelve” latin-disco-jazz album under the alias Tenth And Parker. Mark is like 86 years old now, but he’s incredible. He use to knock around with Jack Kerouac.
GDD™: You’ve recently launched a new Sample label called Monster Sounds, can you tell us a little bit about that, and what we can expect?
BN: It’s a sub-label of the awesome Loopmasters company. We did the first artist series pack for Matt at the label, back in 2007 as he was an old fan of ours – Bukem also dedicated one of our tracks to him back in ’96! With all our contacts and friends and our 14 years of running a record label, we wanted a new challenge where our skills of organisation could be put to good use. We want to present to the world a collection of really broad packs; professional items for professional – and weekend – producers to enjoy and to have fun with. We also want to try and make sure that each pack has a vocalist on, as we know from previous experience that good royalty vocals are hard to find. Thankfully, we work a lot with vocalists and can make this happen.
GDD™: Beyond Monster Sounds, What’s on the cards in 2011 for Aquasky and Black Noise?
BN: As Black Noise, we are now working with Lee Mortimer‘s label, Wearhouse Music. We have 2 EPs on his label and 3 collabs with him, then we’ve also got a collab EP with Kelevra coming out on our Passenger label soon, as well as remixes for Engine Earz and The Squatters. As far as Aquasky’s concerned, we’re fully focussed on our next album which we hope to release in September. We haven’t got a title yet but it features many guests like Diane Charlemagne, Ragga Twins, Tenor Fly, Lee Mortimer, Engine Earz, Spyda, Acafool, and more!
GDD™: Cheers for taking the time out to chat with us Brent, and best of luck with the releases.