“It’s been going really well. I’ve lost a few pounds and I’m getting there slowly but I’m travelling so much sometimes the only option you have is a big fat greasy burger.” Don’t click away. We’ll get to the music stuff in a minute I promise. I’m discussing eating and dietary habits with one of drum & bass’s brightest breakthrough talents. Obviously. Fair to say it’s been a pretty good 12 months for young Conor Corrigan, better known to fans by his production moniker Emperor. A year that has seen his profile as a producer and DJ increase massively. A year that has seen him cement his place within the Critical Recordings fold thanks in part to one of 2013’s best releases, his stunning Begin EP. A year that has seen him slaughter stages at Fabric to boat parties at Outlook. Though while steps are being taken to make sure his reputation as an artist grows, he’s also taking steps to make sure his waistline doesn’t. “I just try and take a bit of extra comfort in the lettuce that’s on there. Which is kind of healthy.” he laughs. A nomination for best newcomer at the Drum & Bass Arena awards in December is proof Emperor’s ground work has begun to pay off, further recognition of his prowess from his peers and his public more and more forthcoming. How does the man himself feel the past year has gone? “It’s been amazing. It’s all been quite quick really. I remember last year sitting down and thinking I want to be in a position where I’m getting gigs and playing out and I’ve done that now. I’m really happy about it all, it’s really cool. It’s also weird because it kind of feels like I want to do more.” I enquire as to whether the initial enthusiasm and novelty of finally living the dream as a producer and DJ has worn thin yet. “It’s sort of wearing off now because I’m looking at it more like work. Before I’d just sit down, make some silly sounds, put it in a track and people liked it. Now I’ve got to do this remix or I’ve got to finish that track. I’ve got deadlines now!” Luckily for Conor he happens to have one of the best label bosses in the scene at his disposal. Kasra and Critical have won many plaudits for their ability to get the balance of quality and quantity with their output just right. The labels sound and style has rightly seen its popularity soar, something Emperor is proud to associated with. “It’s a great family and everyone on Critical is wicked. I think with my style and newer signings like Mefjus doing the more techy sort of stuff, Critical has done a really good job of moving forward and it feels really good to be a part of that. Kasra’s good at catching on to what’s fresh and has really helped develop us.” Good news is that you can expect some collaborative material from Critical’s two newest titans of tech. The pair have been warming up some musical treats that are all but ready to go in early 2014. “We had a couple of backbone ideas and we needed to finish them. So I went over to Austria and spent a week in the studio with Martin and we finished an EP. It’s two collaboration tunes plus I’ve remixed one of his tunes and he’s remixed one of mine. It’s one of the best things I’ve worked on so far and i’m really psyched about it.” There’s a clear understanding between him and his Austrian counterpart. Having done many planned and even a few unplanned back to back sets together this year the duo have forged a close working relationship, Emperor highly complimentary when it comes to Mefjus’s studio methods. “He’s very technical when it comes to production. His attention to detail is outstanding. We’ve definitely learnt a lot from each other. He’s learnt to be a bit more haphazard like me but he’s taught me to pay more attention to the technical side of writing music.” With his track Control ready and waiting on Critical’s forthcoming Underground Sonics LP, due in January, along with a collaboration with Ivy Lab waiting in the wings, brace yourself for a slew of fresh material from the 20 year old at the start of next year. Emperor will be helping to see out 2013 as part of Critical’s warehouse party lineup that includes Calibre, dBridge and Randall. Having played last year and debuted the VIP of his breakout Modulation’s release Monolith at the same time, he says there will be more special music in-store for those in attendance this time round. “’The whole warehouse vibe was incredible so I’m really looking forward to this one. I’m playing a bit later on because the lineup is just huge. I don’t know if I’ll be able to last until my set to be honest because it’s New Years Eve and everything! But I’ll be playing the whole EP with me and Mefjus, some new bits from myself and tons of other stuff so it should be a really good night.” For now, the man from Halifax can take heart in the fact he’s made such an impression in D&B in a short space of time. Being co-signed not only by Kasra but also the likes of Break and Phace & Misanthrop before reaching the age of 21 is a testament to that. Not to say he’s letting any of this go to his head. “I think it’s important that you eat your vegetables, do a good deed every day and tell your mum you love her.” Now there’s empirical advice if ever I heard it.