In Conversation with: Droptek
Since becoming an established producer known for his dubstep and electro-house pieces, Droptek has converted to the faster-paced and more frantic side of bass music and now mainly produces Drum & Bass. He’s quickly building recognition with fans who prefer their bass music above 170bpm.
Now he joins the worldwide NCS family of artists with his debut release on the label. Droptek unleashes a monster DJ weapon in the shape of ‘New Style’, out now for download everywhere and streaming across all major international streaming platforms.
Lauded for his ability to craft dark tracks that are both brutally unrelenting and sweepingly cinematic in their composition, ‘New Style’ is Droptek unfettered and furious. Swathes of warm elements gather pace under his masterful hand, bass lines always threatening in the lower reaches, high notes hovering on the other end of the scale. Synths twitch, stab and glitch in a shuddering, ongoing robotic conversation as Droptek segues effortlessly through shades of heavy gloom and soft light. It’s a composition that oozes confidence, managing to build the link between those broad, sonic dimensions that typify classic D’n’B yet still keep the tones that highlight more modern genres of trap and dub.
Still on a high from his album release ‘Symbiosis’ earlier this year, Droptek is also renowned for his work in video game composition, including Ubisoft’s ‘Track Mania’ and the VR remix game ‘Electronauts’. With features on stations including Noisia Radio and BBC Radio 1 and now his first release with NCS, he is truly a star that looks set to continue its international rise in all quarters.
We managed to grab a few minutes with the formidable producer to talk about his new music and what he’s got going on at the moment and what’s coming for him.
Your upcoming single ‘New Style’ is a pretty eclectic blend of a lot of different bass styles, we can hear D&B, dubstep, even a bit of trap and halftime in there as well. Was that a conscious effort on your part to include so many different lines of bass?
It definitely wasn’t a conscious decision to mix so many genres it happened naturally in the studio session. For better or for worse I try not to think about the end product when I’m writing, I like to see where the session takes me and this one, in particular, ended up pulling in elements from all different types of bass music.
You’re well known for releasing on the Canadian Monstercat label – why the move to NCS and is this the start of a long term label partnership for you?
Both labels don’t sign exclusively so it’s not a one or the other type move. I’m also working closely with new dutch DnB label Korsakov where I released my LP earlier this year. I think both NCS and I are open to working together in the future in whatever form that might take.
You were based in Bristol before moving to London. What do you feel the music scene in London offers that Bristol doesn’t and vice versa? Are there any other countries with music scenes that you’d like to immerse yourself in and why?
I feel like Bristol has more of a community vibe when it comes to nightlife. London may have more shows, maybe even larger but London to me seems more separated overall. It’s too big for its own good sometimes and it’s harder to form relationships and meet the same people regularly. Bristol, on the other hand, has a much more connected community and people who regularly support the scene can be found in the clubs on a regular basis. I’d really like to experience Berlin at some point in the future, it’s on the bucket list!
You’ve produced music for computer games as well – how did you get into that and what’s the creative process like? Do you get a brief to work to, or an early version of the game itself? Are you a big gamer and if you are, what games are you into personally? If you could produce music for any game, which one would it be and why?
I’ve not written music bespoke for games but I have had various licensing deals with them. I also worked at a film trailer company before writing original music, engineering and sound design. Work like that is very brief driven and writing for someone else’s’ vision can be a real challenge. While I don’t want to admit I’m a ‘big gamer’, in case my partner reads this, I have been known to indulge. Usually, my cup of tea is a lengthy RPG like Red Dead Redemption 2 or The Witcher 3. I like closing the curtains for a week or two and emerging with a lot more facial hair than I had prior. I think something like Cyberpunk 2077 would be a dream project. I think my modern sound design approach would work for a futuristic sci-fi type game.
Did living and working in Bristol have any influence on your music production? Which artists from the city do you look up to and why? What artists should we be listening to right now?
Oh absolutely. It’d be incredibly hard not to be influenced by somewhere with such a prestigious club history. It made me change my style completely to DnB. Artists like Break and TC were some of my favourites. There’s a whole host of new artists emerging from there, Kyrist and Grey Code to name a couple.
Your debut album ‘Symbiosis’ dropped earlier this year. What’s the feedback from fans been like and how did you find the album writing process as a whole compared to creating single releases?
Feedback has generally been very positive. I think it was a very experimental album and possibly too big for its own good. In hindsight, I could probably have made it more marketable by streamlining it but I didn’t want to take that approach. I wanted to create something you could get lost in for an hour. That took you to different places and wasn’t just a collection of 10 singles and I think some people appreciate that while others don’t. Also what’s interesting is that everyone has a different favourite track. If you’re a techy rollers kind of guy you’ll probably enjoy the title track ‘Symbiosis’ whereas if you’re into your liquid vibes then ‘Illusions’ would be more your bag. Covering a wide spectrum was the aim and I think I succeeded in that. I hope it’s something people can enjoy for years to come.
You’ve remixed for some pretty big US acts like Krewella and Pegboard Nerds – do you have any plans to tour over there at all? How crucial is the US market for you moving forward? Do you feel your sound translates well over there?
My early sound very much catered to that market. Still, the US has yet to fully embrace Drum and Bass so a lot of what I do now doesn’t make sense. However when I released the track ‘0K’ Bass Nectar has been playing it in his US sets and people have gone crazy for it. I think ‘New Style’ will be another example of my sound that works in the US. A US tour is on our radar, we’re just waiting for the right time.
What’s next for you?
I’ve been taking time to create new sounds ready for new releases. I’ve just sunk my teeth into Bitwig’s new modular system so I’m enjoying nerding out. We’ve had an incredibly busy year this year and we’re looking at how we can do it even bigger and better. One thing I can say is that we will be working with a lot of other DnB artists so collaboration is key!
To stream or download Droptek ‘New Style’ click here