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Digital – Digi Design

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“Archive is an old school riffed out slammer, basically.” Asking a producer as esteemed as Digital to give his tunes the hard sell would, you’d think, be easy. Not so as I found out. But with near on two decades of experience in jungle and drum & bass, Digital is at the point where he doesn’t need to explain his music, preferring to let the beats do the talking. A back catalogue encompassing labels including Metalheadz, Timeless and Creative Source alongside his own labels Phantom Audio (with Spirit) and Function, his latest release sees Steve Carr take his long standing talent to Ingredients on Shaka Zulu / Archive. The lead track, with its militant ravey lead riff and marching industrial percussion, adopts the half time groove that has become more and more prominent within the scene of late. I enquire whether that was a conscious production decision on his part. “It’s never a conscious thing. I wrote Shaka Zulu first but for Archive [Ingredients label manager] Clive wanted something with some strong heavy breaks in it; a little bit of Amen and the tough stabs. That’s the only conscious thing about it really. Shaka Zulu is just me trying something different that I don’t normally do. With certain artists and their tunes you almost know what to expect. Shaka Zulu and Archive are two totally different tracks.” Digital has been on something of a roll release wise in 2014. Shaka Zulu follows his recent Figjam EP on Horizons Music, which itself comes off the back of his two contributions to Metalheadz’s fourth instalment of their Platinum Breakz series. “I’ve really knuckled down. It’s been a few years since I’ve made a lot of tracks. 18 months of that was mostly made up of travelling, meeting a nice lady…. you know, stuff like that.” he laughs. “Then there was another 18 months of me getting my sound right and getting back into a flow. Once I’m in that flow I’m happy to crack on with tracks. I feel refreshed and hungry for it again.” And what of his inclusion on Platinum Breakz 4? I point out that he’s the only artist to have appeared on all four editions of Metalheadz’s groundbreaking compilation, dating all the way back to 1996. A statistic even Digitalhimself seemed to let slip, chuckling, “I didn’t even realise that. What was on the third one? My memory is terrible for this sort of shit…” For reference sake it’s order reads like this: Down Under (Vol.1), Metro (Vol.2), B-Boyism (Vol.3) adding to Mini Cooper and Creepers on its most recent opus. Does it feel good to go back to his Headz roots? “There’s no other label that I’ve recorded for where I feel like I’m actually a part of it, except for my own you know? I feel a big part of Metalheadz. It’s a family thing for me.” Creepers features long time friend and collaborator Spirit. The duo behind the classic Phantom Force have worked together since the late 90’s and, despite a hiatus from one another for a number of years, are back with new musical fruit to bear. “Spirit is one of my favourite producers and we generally like the same thing. I might go a bit ragga with my sound and hemight go a bit techno or industrial with his but we always meet nicely in the middle.” explains Digital on their why theirproduction partnership is so successful. Expect forthcoming tracks from the pair on Horizons, Phantom Audio as well asfurther output on Metalheadz. Speaking of Phantom Force, I wanted to know what he made of Fracture’s update, adding to the number of remixes Digital & Spirit’s seminal cut has had in its lifetime. “It was sort of done out of nowhere but it was nice to get a freshen up. I don’t think he was afraid to go in, bring it to the forefront and make it bang up to date. I think it sounds fucking great.” Keen dub plate spotters will remember a remix of another Digital classic Deadline, as done by Dub Phizix, which did the rounds before dropping off the face of the earth. “I wasn’t doing music at the time and I’d heard so many remixes of Deadline I was fucking bored of it to be honest. Now when I hear it I think it sounds awesome so I might do some vinyl or something.” From Niagra and Lower Depths to Waterhouse Dub and Gateman, there’s no denying Digital has bookmarked many eras of drum & bass with timeless material. And he has plans for this to continue. “It’s a natural thing for me. It’s not just a fashionable thing. It’s something I’ve done since I was a little kid from wanting to be a DJ and making the music takes that further even now. I’m never gonna fall out of love with it.”

Shaka Zulu / Archve is out now on Ingredients Records

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Grahame Farmer

Grahame Farmer’s love affair with electronic music goes back to the mid-90s when he first began to venture into the UK’s beloved rave culture, finding himself interlaced with some of the country’s most seminal club spaces. A trip to dance music’s anointed holy ground of Ibiza in 1997 then cemented his sense of purpose and laid the foundations for what was to come over the next few decades of his marriage to the music industry.

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