We’re off to a fairly leisurely start with the FatKidOnFire Presents series this year, although we did get the following interviewees’ mix and FKOF free download live in January. It’s only now that we’ve got our act together and are getting around to the interview, but hopefully as you read on it’ll have been worth the wait.
As dubstep continues to proliferate across the globe, there’s a number of producers who call Italy home. Like some of the other European countries, not to mention America, some of the music we’re hearing is of unbelievable quality. There’s a group in particular that have really caught the attention of the 140 bass music world, a collective who have seen a slew of releases on some of the most respectable labels in the sound.
I caught up with two members of this group to find out how they’ve managed to grab dubstep by the scruff of the neck with their breathtaking music – and managed to bag a spectacular showcase FKOF Presents mix and a cheeky FKOF free download at the same time.
This is FatKidOnFire Presents #6 – D-Operation Drop…
Easy lads, how are you all? Everything is going well thanks, we’re all working between music and daily life.
Who are you and how did you get into producing electronic music? We are six guys from different parts of Italy who, at the end of 2009, starting living together in Cesena.
After a couple of months, we started a radio show called D-Operation Drop which eventually became something bigger; floating between production, DJing and VJing.
The production part of the outfit is mainly entrusted to one of the six (who started out producing hip-hop), but the ideas come from all six heads who work together in churning out new ideas.
What was your first experience with the dubstep sound – and when did you decide you wanted to make it? Together, we found the real dubstep sound between 2009 and 2010 when we were living together. In that period, we went to some of the dub nights around Cesena.
It was hearing a mix by Zeemo (who at the time wasn’t part of the D-Operation Drop collective) where we found a completely new sound for us. We then started listening to dubstep (via the Numa Crew – our first love!) and immediately started with production.
What’s your production set up like? Have you got any top tips for any producers looking to get started? Our projects start almost always from zero, without any kind of presets. That’s because we always love starting something different and completely new. Starting with a preset could limit us. With regards to our setting up a project, we usually don’t use a predetermined order to combine the elements, sometimes we start from the bass line, sometimes from drums or pads. It depends on what inspires us that day.
Advice we can give? Turn off the workstation you use to produce, take some good headphones or find some good speakers and start listening to music. It doesn’t matter what you listen to because before creating a new tune we always like to clear our minds and ears first. Try to grow outside the studio – it’s the best way to also grow as a producer. We know this isn’t the most technical advice but we think there isn’t any universal recommendations we can give – or rules for beginners to follow – anything is possible right at the beginning. Knowing how to listen is the best way to start and find originality though.
How would you describe your signature style? What makes a D-Operation Drop production unique? We’re not sure we really know! We have the advantage of being a collective and being able to explore different genres and BPMs – we have a multitude of influences coming into our music from six different minds. We don’t like to set our skills into a unique pattern and for that reason we usually produce different kinds of beats, waiting for the listeners to find a common thread in them.
After a fairly slow 2012, with two releases, you seemed to blow up in 2013; with five EPs out over the year. And, just six weeks into 2014, you’ve already had an extended EP out! What’s been the key to getting your music signed? First of all, you need to present a valid product. But we think the first way to get noticed is to engage with the social aspect of things. Communication and cooperation on- and off-line is the key. Start talking to other producers, swapping beats and point of views. Create connections with music – it’s the best way to come out and earn visibility. We have worked hard since day one and after about 2 years we finally seem to be reaping the rewards of our work with these releases!
Given your split of digital releases and the vinyl ones you’ve had, what’s your opinion on the digital versus physical? Do you think it matters what format dubstep is released on? One of the first things we loved about the dub scene was that music is selected mainly on vinyl. Nothing sounds as fat as vinyl on a sound system – and for that reason our love for vinyl is obvious. But in these times it’s (financially) difficult so labels need to adapt. While we love vinyl, we think it’s important to have releases available across both formats.
A lot of producers have made the decision to start their own imprints as well as sign music elsewhere. Is this something you’ll consider in the future? There are many reasons why a producer might decide to found a label. But in most cases, many do to give space to their sound maybe because they can’t find a good label to release their music. Maybe sometimes established producers decide to found a new imprint because they know their followers will support the project and it’ll be a safe investment.
Personally, although occasionally we have thought about starting a label, we have always had the good fortune to find someone who’s willing to support our productions. Of course, if one day we decide to take this step, we’ll mainly release other people’s music and not our own. Music from REALLY promising new producers – mixed with veterans of the scene – backed with quality design, which new labels often don’t seem to do.
What can you tell us about your FKOF Presents mix? We had so many issues trying to sort this mix! We had problems getting into the studio – but we eventually made it. The mix is built entirely from our own tracks. We tried to give some space to a lot of our unheard productions, giving the listener the opportunity to get an idea of what our sound is like…
Have you got any dubs that are consistently destroying the dance? We have a couple of our own tracks, like Addis Abeba and Body Rock, with a more rootical or dubwise vibe, which always have a good impact on the dancefloor.
As we said earlier, our love for bass music started with the Italian sound system culture. It gave us the chance to listen artists like Jah Shaka, Aba Shanti, Channel One, OBF and many others. As a result of these influences, we are really happy that down the line we can engage fans of the same music while still keeping an audience who prefer sharp synths and rollers happy. This makes us proud of our work!
One of the things we particularly like to do is to exchange tracks with other artists. We believe that mutual support is the foundation of this musical world and consequently, when we have the chance, we are always willing to exchange tracks and support those who do the same with us.
We’ve recently received new material from Mikael – one of our favourite producers who is finally getting the recognition he deserves in this scene. His tracks like Sandwell and Wada are able to blow out speakers (and they have done)! We also keep in touch with the likes of Clearlight, Sepia, Piezo and a few others that who put out crazy works. But If we had to mention one track in particular, however, we would say the Wayfarer remix of our track Don’t Breath. That one’s an instawheel every time we play it out!
Any final words or shoutouts? We’d like to take the opportunity to thank all those who support us, but in particular J:Kenzo, N-Type, Distance and Biome (who support us regularly). It was an indescribable thrill to hear our beats played on RinseFM and at Outlook! They were milestones we never imagined reaching and so we will always be grateful.
We will also use this space to ask you to keep an eye on our Facebook and SoundCloud accounts. We have a couple of pieces of news to reveal very soon! Last but not least, we really need to say thanks to all the FKOF gang for another opportunity to work with you. It’s always a real pleasure!
The FKOF review:
“Growls appear slowly, rising up from nothingness to hint at an impending drop that is full of evil activity. A rolling rhythm shows off the Italian stallions’ ability to give the listener an LFO workout as it moves with an almost obscene pace through the sound spectrum.
“The duo use intelligently placed pauses to create both mystery and intrigue, as the changing re-occurrence of kick patterns will confuse the brain. A ghost-like entity that embodies itself with frequent voice sweeps combines with the hypnotic centipede-style percussion to make this production as powerful addition to D-Operation Drop’s infectious back catalogue.”
Discover the D-Operation Drop digital discography on Juno here
Find the complete track list for the D-Operation Drop FKOF Presents mix here
D-Operation Drop’s Stefano recently appeared on GetDarker TV, stream his set back on YouTube here.