The following MakeItGood x FatKidOnFire feature has been a long, long time coming. One of my goals/ ambitions with the MIG x FKOF series is to push the sounds of the young up-and-coming producers, labels and DJs in dubstep – but also (try to) feature the more established artists in the genre (and bass music as a whole).
I first started talking to Tristan and Dre from Truth back when I was finalising the artists we were going to feature in MIG x FKOF 100.
These two NZ producers (New Zealand bringing the bassweight as per usual) have set the stakes for what is possible with a few releases from the best labels in 140bpm-led bass music. With singles out on Black Box, Tempa, Deep Medi, Wheel & Deal and an LP out on Aquatic Lab, Truth have toured the world and played events like DMZ in London and Club Love in NYC.
So it’s safe to say Truth are possibly the biggest artists to ever feature in the MIG x FKOF series. Timings didn’t allow for the feature to occur during the #100 celebrations (as the guys were moving from NZ to America at the time) – but Tristan hit me up last week saying they had a bit of time and wanted to finally sort the feature…
Who and what is Truth? Truth is Dre and Tristan from New Zealand, music producers, DJs… We travel to a lot of crazy places, play a lot of crazy gigs and release a bunch of music on a variety of labels.
What is Truth? That’s a whole other question. Truth is portrayed as ‘the facts’, something which is unalterably right, rock solid and unable to be argued against. But in reality, Truth is the opposite, there are many sides to the Truth. Everybody has their own Truths, some of which can be mutually exclusive.
On a more sinister level, Truth is what we are constantly told to believe by everyone else: religions, governments, corporations, family, ‘common sense’… It all adds up to layer upon layer of bullsh!t which we all have to wade through. We have to accept the fact that what we consider ‘Truth’ is anything but. You can be a sheep and follow the lies, or you can choose your own path.
Dubstep and New Zealand. There’s a complete madness with the number of brilliant producers coming out of NZ (and that area of the world as a whole) – what’s up with that?! It’s pretty crazy isn’t it, especially for such a small place (4 million people spread out over 2 islands bigger than the UK)? New Zealand has had a very strong bass-music tradition for a long time now. We like to think it all started when Bob Marley visited NZ in the early 80s. That visit had a profound influence on the roots/ reggae scene in New Zealand, ever since and to this day NZ has had a very strong reggae culture. A lot of kids of our generation grew up with that music being played by their parents.
In the early 90s the rave/ hardcore scene took a big hold on NZ, and especially the more broken beat/ darker sound. Ed Rush was touring NZ years before he ever hit Australia. That sh!t evolved, heavily influenced by the UK… And from the mid-90s Christchurch (our home town) was one of “the” places for international DnB DJs to come tour. As teenagers the two of us saw so many influential artists like Ed Rush & Optical, Konflict, Bad Company, Shy FX, Grooverider, Roni Size…
And we’re talking BIG parties with real soundsystems where you felt totally immersed in the sound.
Partly a result of all that, and the visionary promoters throwing the shows, a lot of producers emerged in that scene, and also in other electronic genres like house. Those cats like Concord Dawn, The Upbeats, State of Mind, Bulletproof etc managed to get a foothold in the international DnB scene which is pretty inspiring for a bunch of people in NZ… And more and more people have been making music ever since..
Over the past 2/3 years things have really gone nuts with so much new talent emerging, maybe it’s something in the water.
Also, it must have something to do with the extreme isolation of New Zealand as well. There are literally 4 cities you can regularly tour to without flying 3.5 hours to Australia. So as a producer, you can get quite a name for yourself, and still play very few shows. It means less distractions and more time to focus on making music. For example, when we signed ‘The Fatman‘, it was over a year before we played our first show as Truth. You’d probably find the same thing if you talked to Perverse right now… Blowing up all over the place, very talented, but I bet they are playing very few shows at home. You can also guarantee they are in the studio every single night honing their sound and probably working a fulltime job too!
Also, in an isolated place like NZ, there is also a need and support for a local bunch of producers to make their name, with a reasonably receptive audience, but an audience with very high standards and expectations too.
How did you both get into mixing and producing dubstep? How would you describe your production style? As far as production style is concerned, thats a pretty subjective question, it’s really in the eye of the beholder…
To us we make dancefloor music, quite often heavy and dark with a focus on the bassline. We like cinematic atmospherics and bad 70/ 80s horror sounds. But at the end of the day, any artist creates their thing – and once it’s made, it’s the person experiencing the art who gives it context and meaning. Some people say our music is minimal, others think it’s heavy as FKOF, some people have claimed we are leading the battle against brostep, others think our music is dark and twisted and a lot of people say we have a very diverse sound as far as style, but with distinctive production values.
We got into dubstep about 5 or 6 years ago. We had already been making and releasing music and running a pretty successful night in NZ. One day our friend one day brought Mala round to Dre’s place to chill for the day. They ended up talking music and playing each other beats. Mala left a CD of the first few Deep Medi releases which were coming out soon. The next day we got together (there were three of us back then, but now two), Dre played us the CD and we thought that it would be fun to have a go making something around that tempo… Especially as we had a massive sample collection of sounds which simply didn’t work in a DnB context.
Straight away, making dubstep caught hold of us. It was fun, tons of space to play with, less “rules”. Never having listened to dubstep before we had no preconceptions as to what it should sound like, just absolute freedom. Those first 2/3 days we made a bunch of tunes including ‘The Fatman’ and ‘Stolen Children‘… Both of which ended up being our first release as Truth, and our first release with Deep Medi.
How long have you both been producing and Djing?
Since about roughly 1998.
How do you go about building your tunes? Is there a process behind each one? What software do you use? We pretty much always start a new track when we get together in the studio, as you never know when inspiration is going to strike. Give it a couple of hours to see if there is something we can work with.
Must tunes start with the drums so we have a rhythmic backbone for the track. We usually get a rough beat together pretty quickly so we have something to work with… But we don’t initially spend too long fine-tuning as we want to keep it fresh and get the ideas flowing. From there, there are a number of ways to take things, could be the bassline next, could be putting some samples together, or creating musical elements from synths or it might be a vocal we want to work with. Once again, this is the creative phase where the bulk of the musical ideas are composed so for us it’s important to work relatively quickly and get our ideas out. Often one person will be operating the machine playing ideas/riffs whatever while the other is like “keep that”, “record that” …”that sucks” or whatever… Often in the case of a ‘good’ tune (i.e., tracks we like later down the track), the musical ideas will come together in a few hours, and then be finalised or polished over the coming days or weeks.
You’ve had a long list of releases on some of the most respected record labels in dubstep. What’s your favourite from your back catalogue and why? We’ve said this before… Each of our tracks is a ‘favourite’ for its own reason. We wouldn’t finish and put out a track we weren’t proud of. Having said this there are some tunes which are particularly close to our hearts!
‘The Fatman’ and ‘Stolen Children’ equally since they were our first release, that’s always going to be something special! Also since it got pretty big in the scene when they came out, which did great things for our name and opened a few doors for us.
Our debut album ‘Puppets‘, for similar reasons… We worked on the album for 18 months straight, and when it came out the response was really good. Great reviews in print and blogs. Lots of people feeling the tunes. It was nominated for the Dubstep Forum Album of the year. Our only regret was that we didn’t release more of the album on vinyl, but that was out of our hands.
This year, we’ve been blessed with a release on Tempa, which has always been a dream of ours and a relationship we’re going to continue…
Of course the second album ‘Love’s Shadow’ has been a labour of love, especially as we’ve given it out for free to the fans! Something personal and direct from us.
Turntables or CDJs for when you play out?
What’s been your best gig and if you could DJ alongside anyone, who would it be? That’s a hard one. We have played so many awesome gigs over the past few years. There are a couple that come to mind from the recent tour – one was headlining Razmatazz in Barcelona, Spain – on a huge sound sysytem to almost 3,000 packed in the club.
The other was the Deep Medi Boat party at Outlook Festival which I played alongside Mala and VIVEK – which was pure vibes on a boat in Croatia.
In the USA, playing at the Deep Medi night in Denver for the 5 year Sub.Mission birthday was really special.
The album release party in San Francisco at our residency (Deep, Dark & Dangerous) was also pretty amazing, people down there really feeling the vibes on a Tuesday night!
And finally, going back to New Zealand for a couple of album release gigs was dope… The people there came out in support, and really know the music!
Who are your top 5 dubstep producers at the moment; and why? Any labels you’re feeling? All the new guys are killing it right now… here are 6!
The future of dubstep. Do you think the ‘deep and dark’ side of things has been overdone yet? If so, what’s next? The ‘Deep and Dark’ side of things has always been there since the beginning of dubstep and has always been a major element of the sound as far as we’re concerned. Clearly to us, the current resurgence of that sound stems from the over-saturation of ‘Brostep’ as a bit of a backlash against it. Many of the dope new producers have very few (if any) tunes even released, so it will be really interesting to see where they take their sound.
Right now some of what is coming out is sounding a little bit formulaic. The next step within the deep/dark side of things is a bit more innovation coming in… More interesting beat structures and edits would be part of that, but also changes in the overall aesthetic of the sound being produced, still keeping the tension there, but innovating in the mix maybe, bringing different elements to the fore etc etc…
If you look outside the dubstep genre, really good producers are doing a lot of cool stuff and working outside the box with sound, but often taking an influence from dubstep… And we think that’s going to bleed back into dubstep as a whole.
But really, who knows? There’s always going to be a need and demand for darker music in any genre… It’s the alternative to the mass produced poppy bullsh!t our lives are constantly saturated with.
You’ve just put out a free album. What inspired the very generous gift?! Any other forthcoming releases we can look forward to? We simply felt that after putting out music on a ton of labels, all of which we’re very proud of, it was time to do something direct for our fans… We’ve been planning a second album for a while, and when it came down to working out label details, we decided to go a different route. There are a lot of people all over the world who have supported us in various ways, and a lot of people who buy all our releases, so the album is a way of thanking them. It also means people don’t have to feel bad if they want to share the music with their friends, it’s not ‘stealing’ if the music was free to start with…
And when you say ‘free’, you have to realize that the album definitely is not free as far as we’re concerned, we have put countless weeks, days and hours into producing and testing those tracks, and coming up with an album we’re really happy with. So if anything, we hope people will just pay it forward by introducing new people to the music.
We’ve got a bunch of exciting music coming out in the near future including a 4 track EP on L.A.-based SMOG. That release is called ‘Evil in the Woods’ [see image/ link above] and is a diverse release musically. There is an EP we have produced with Dutty Ranks which is being released on vinyl on Boka… it’s exciting for us as it explores the style of collaboration we have done with Dutty even further. We’ve also signed a number of the dubplates which Youngsta has been pushing recently… Can’t make any announcement as to label quite yet.
Tell us about your MIG x FKOF mix… This mix is pretty much packed full of dubs, there’s a lot of fresh Truth material, including some fresh new signings which are coming out sometime on some dope labes. There is a lot of music by up & coming producers as well… We get sent a ton of really dope music by people, so a mix like this is a great opportunity to play that music and have it heard.
Have you got any advice to new DJs or producers looking to get their music heard or signed? Finish as many tunes as you can as the last 10% is the hardest and it’s a real skill to have. A/B reference without copying other people’s music – i.e. find a track you like the sound of, and make your tune sound like that (as far as mixdown is concerned, but don’t copy the actual musical ideas).
If you send tunes out, make sure you are REALLY happy with them. Be realistic that the person listening to the music is also probably listening to 100 other tunes, so you really need to make your tunes stand out if possible! Very likely the person listening is going to skip through the intro and head straight to the drop.
Make it personal, and if you feel you have to email a million people at once, don’t include all the email addresses in the “to” field; learn how to use BCC… Some of those contacts might not want their details shared with all of your other contacts.
Sometimes you have to forge your own path too… Not all successful producers made it big by sending out tunes to other DJs and having their stuff signed to labels. If you can be innovative and smart with getting music out there, that can have even more impact.
3 people (dead or alive) you’d chill with (and why)?
- King Tubby – he is the greatest, super inspirational, the foundation of our music
- Jack Nicholson – actual proper badman
- Snoop Dogg – would be really fun smoking a phattie with this top dogg.
- John Coltrane – Such a badman with a style of his own
- J Dilla – This guy has influenced so much music out there right now, would love to make a track with him
- David Attenborough – the one and only.
In your opinion, the best dubstep producer out there is…? It’s a tough one, we’re really feeling the productions of all the new guys mentioned above, but there are guys like Kryptic Minds, Mala, Icicle and J:Kenzo that have been smashing it for a few years now.
In your opinion, the best dubstep track ever made is…?
It’s a really tough one… But as far as classics go for me the ones that really got me into it were:
- Digital Mystikz – Anti-War Dub
- The Bug ft. Warrior Queen – Poison Dart
- Skream – Midnight Request Line
So many great tunes, but these three are classics:
- Kromestar – Kaliwanji
- Breakage ft David Rodigan & Newham Generals – Hard (Caspa & The Others remix)
- Antiserum & Eskmo – Monstahs.
So there you have it. A long, detailed and definitely well-thought out interview – and, unsurprisingly, the mix is as brilliant as Tristan and Dre’s responses to my questions. And just look at the dubs inside…
Click to DOWNLOAD
1. Truth & Yayne – I Belong [dub]
2. SP:MC – Receptors [dub]
3. Ben Verse – Different Way [Crunch dub]
4. Badklaat ft. Beezy – Calling [dub]
5. Truth – Gaza (Andrew VC remix) [Defy dub]
6. Truth – Triads [dub]
7. FNC – Imprinted [dub]
8. District – Kraken [dub]
9. Truth & Yayne – Surveillance Society [dub]
10. Truth – Spook (Olie Bassweight remix) [Defy dub]
11. Collision – Politics [dub]
12. Kaiju – Close Break VIP [dub]
13. J:Kenzo – Invaderz (Truth remix) [dub]
— Ben Verse – Tiger Foot [Crunch dub]
14. Sleeper – Dawn of the Replicants [Chestplate dub]
15. Truth & Crushington – Death Row [Defy]
16. Ben Verse ft. Darrison – Sativa Soldier [dub]
17. Truth – Iron Lung [dub]
18. Truth ft. Yayne – Raindancer (Babyon System remix) [Defy dub]
19. Truth ft. Yayne – Raindancer (J:Kenzo remix) [Truth free]
— Dubtek – Carnivorous [dub]
20. Strago – 4117 [??]
21. Truth & Dutty Ranks – Weave [BOKA dub]
22. DyAD – Losing Touch [dub]
23. Content – HDR830 [dub]
24. Cyntel & Hex – Jesters [??]
25. ARtroniks – Onset [??]
26. Von D – Try Me [dub]
27. Boot – Dreaming Again [dub]
28. Dubfreq ft. Fanton Mojah – Hail Di King [??]
29. Sleeper – Shook [??]
30. Truth – Born Enemies [dub]
31. Truth – Spook (Biome remix) [Defy dub]
32. Truth – Subconcious [dub]
33. Pistonsbeneath – Black Sleep [Mindstep dub]
34. Truth – Talking to Myself [SMOG dub]
35. Truth – All Over [SMOG dub]
36. Truth – Devil’s Hands [dub]
37. Truth – Eternal [dub]
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The Weeknd’s ‘Rolling Stone’ remix:
Truth remix of Flight Facilities’ ‘Clair De Lune ft. Christing Hoburg’:
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