As we continue our effort to truly champion the best producers and DJs in and around dubstep(/ bass music) here on FatKidOnFire, we occasionally get the opportunity to feature some of the best in the sound. Today’s interview and accompanying FKOF free download is one of those rarities – and it’s also one of the first times the contributors (Olaf and Michael, take a bow!) and I have collaborated to produce (in my opinion) one of the finer FKOF features we’ve had on these here pages…
As individual producers, Dom ‘Ruckspin‘ and Ryan ‘Jack Sparrow‘ have had a number of heavyweight releases. But it’s their collaborative project, where they go by the alias Author, where they really caught my attention. Their first album, the self-titled ‘Author’, debuted the duo’s sound via Bristol’s Tectonic – with what Resident Advisor’s Andrew Ryce described as:
“…A brand of dubstep that feels more like a 140BPM counterpart to Goldie’s ‘Timeless’, than, say, Rufige Kru.”
Ruckspin and JSparrow recently released (this time on Black Box) their sophomore long player, titled ‘Forward Forever’. Michael and I caught up with the duo soon after the album released (as it graced the top of the sales charts and received brilliant reviews) – and, on the eve of their time at the Outlook and Dimensions festivals in Croatia, we’ve got a special FKOF free download to celebrate…
‘Forward Forever’ is a strong name for an album. In what sense has it moved ‘forward’ compared with the previous one? Dom: The name came about from Rider’s phrase in the breakdown of ‘Keep Moving‘. We thought it was appropriate because it’s kind of a running theme throughout the album – the idea of just pushing on in our own direction, regardless of ‘scene’ or ‘trend’. We also thought that in music, especially now with music technology, you are in a state of perpetual self-education.
If we had listened to the critics of the first album, and tried to make our second album cater to a particular group or genre then I don’t think it would have been anywhere near as challenging or inspiring.
Ryan: I think it relates to how we try to come across with the project. A strong positive energy and good vibes. As Dom said we took the name from Rider’s feature. In hindsight, the album could have been called ‘Keep Moving’ as personally that’s my favourite track. The theme for the whole album I guess is innovation and progression as individual producers and as a genre.
How did the name Author come about? Does it have a story and/or a certain meaning to it? R: We were racking our brains for a name and sending texts to each other with names, it was quite funny really. One day it popped in my head while looking at some old books – it kind of went along with the theme of each track telling a story and we were essentially writing a book with different chapters. It was also very important to be quite anonymous with the name so that the music was the focus.
What’s been this album’s biggest challenge? How has it differed from ‘Author’? D: Much of this second album was written in various points over the last 4 or 5 years – some of the tunes were sat on my hard drive waiting for that perfect moment to release within the right context.
I felt that the Author project was an appropriate home for tracks like ‘Roman‘ and ‘Gathered‘ so Ryan and I dragged them out and dusted the projects off. It was quite a challenge bringing the tracks up to date production-wise, without ruining the raw vibe of the original, but I think we managed to balance it.
Probably the biggest challenge with the album has been the admin side, but then that is the same throughout anything creative. You spend an hour in the studio for every three hours chasing emails!
R: Yeah it’s very much about finding music that was laying around and rediscovering it really. I personally maybe write 600-900 tracks a year and might end up with 100 of those I like and then 15 go to Author and Sparrow projects. The hardest bit for me is maintaining confidence in what we are doing while everyone is doing something different. Going against the grain is pure struggle but it’s an empowering feeling. Overall I wouldn’t change anything with the music or what we have been through to get where we are with it.
Dom, has your ongoing involvement with Submotion Orchestra influenced the way you approached this album? If so, how? D: To put it bluntly, no… I always have the same approach to any production in terms of musicality and feel. I don’t really think it’s fair to compare the two projects as they are completely separate, but of course because I have produced both and we have Submotion Orchestra’s trumpet and flugel king, Simon Beddoe, featured on quite a few of the tracks – so I’m sure people will compare them.
How does this album relate to your own vision? Has the process somehow changed your approach to music and production? D: I’m not sure what you mean here. If you produce an album, I don’t think you can then look back on it retrospectively and say that it has changed your approach because if it had, you would have changed your approach to the album. I think the only thing I have really taken from the experience is that there are still lots and lots of people out there who don’t believe the hype and are crying out for good music.
R: I am always learning and always listening. My own vision for Author was to just be anonymous and let the music come out and see what would happen. The industry these days doesn’t let you get away with that though… Unless you want to fail or you are backed by a lot of cash for fantastic promotional campaigns. There is no vision specifically with Author, we just want to make music and play shows and hopefully it will reach the right people.
You’ve just returned from a US tour. How did it go and what were the highlights for you? Also, what do you like most about live performance? The USA tour really opened our eyes to the fact that there is a massive counter-reaction to what most of us in the UK consider ‘US style dubstep’.
There was massive support for what we were doing, and although we were sometimes booked alongside more ‘hype’ acts playing the latest trends in trap and brostep, we were mainly booked for really appropriate nights full of open-minded mature listeners who really appreciated what we were trying to do. The live thing also meant we could interact a lot more with the crowd and bring them along on our journey!
America is the bollox to put it simply. I was expecting glow sticks and nipple tassels but what I got was the most stoned I’ve ever been and a great feeling of relaxation and being humbled by the people coming to see us. We considered moving there! Definitely looking forward to going back out there and touring in November.
Ryan, how would you describe touring to someone that has never experienced it before? Well in all honesty, my first long haul tour was in Asia back in 2010 and I was able to take my girlfriend at the time so I had a companion, we hit China and Japan etc. It is hard work but the rewards are great. I used to be quite closed off and not much of a people person but travelling and playing has given me confidence and I have gained friends. I suppose you get out of touring what you look for!
Dom, what can people expect from a live performance by Author? What’s your setup like during the show? D: The Author live ‘performance’ is more of a live dub mix than a ‘performance’. We run stems from several projects – mostly Author but some solo bits and remixes etc, blended into an hour-long dub-mix that we effect and dub out throughout. The setup can range from full hardware setups that run through an analogue desk with outboard hardware FX and live trumpet (for UK dates) to a more compact, laptop-based midi-controller setup for overseas gigs (the promoters often don’t have the budget to bring the full live show at this stage!). Whichever it is, I always make sure I bring my Roland space echo pedal – it’s an essential piece of kit for any serious dub engineer!
What gigs are you looking forward to in the coming months – and why? We are touring America again in November/December. Dom has Submotion tours booked in and I have Sparrow tours until then. We’re looking forward to going back to California and Denver as we made some friends out there and it’s just an unreal place to visit!
Have you got any shoutouts to conclude the interview? D: Big thankyous to everyone involved in the making of the album – Quark, Quantum, the June Miller boys, Rider Shafique, Bobby Beddoe, Ben Glass, Danman, Jehst, Stig, and everyone who helped us out and supported the sound. Bigup to Beau at TenEightSeven for being a legendary mastering engineer. Bigup to all the soundsystems that operate properly and deliver this music how it is supposed to be heard. Most of all, bigup to the listeners who can see through bullshit hype/trend music, actually give a shit about the music that they listen to, and support the artists who bust their balls making it.
Big thanks from FatKidOnFire and all the readers!
Click to DOWNLOAD
“A mellow vibe sails across the boundaries of the listener’s perception, supported by a relaxed but substantial bassline that hits the chest with precision. Broad panning has an almost telepathic effect, opening a doorway to freedom in the way only Author know how.”
“Crisp percussion is intelligently used throughout the production, matched by an impressive number of variations that flow within the track’s patterning. A refreshing kick cements the power of the low end, as the high end holds the listener in a spell as they travel through this wonderful audio journey.
“After the deserved successes of their releases, including two stellar albums, Author have once again raised the bar with their intelligent and attractive take on bass-led dance music. ‘Break Yourself’ inspires delight with its intricate blend of bass, beautiful chords and positive energy. If you’re making your way to Outlook this year, make sure you catch Ruckspin and Jack Sparrow in the Croatian sunshine – there’s no other way to experience the Author sound!”
At Outlook, you can catch Dom and Ryan on the Black Box boat (number 24) this Friday night and the Black Box vs Osiris Music takeover. The duo are also playing Dimensions if you’re staying on in Pula.