Canada, Canada, Canada… what would we do without you?
I’m sure there’s a long list of things to follow that question but primarily we’d be lacking in one producer that’s been making waves in the scene for years on labels grand and small.
So Gabe, you’ve been a recognised figurehead in Drum & Bass for years, what does that mean to you?
I’m pretty chuffed that some people might feel that way. I find it flattering in general that stuff I do can impact others the way it has and the fact that it gets appreciated makes me feel blessed!
Was Drum & Bass, DJ’ing and generally being involved in the music industry always the dream?
Not really, if anything, kind of fell into it more by accident. My heart was more set in sports throughout my youth. Music was always a part of my life but I never really thought I’d be making it, let alone releasing it. I always figured I’d end up being an architect (like my old man) or something…
If you had to be doing something else aside from DJ’ing & Producing what would it be?
Maybe marine biology or sailing across the world.
Haha awesome mate, marine creatures are pretty wild! What’s the attraction there? And if you could do both, as in, carry on with Gremlinz but still be a venturer of the seas, would you?
I dunno, I guess that I’ve always just had a fascination with aquatic life. It’s so strange yet either so beautiful at the same time or incredibly alien. There’s so much that we don’t know about our own oceans. Given the opportunity, I probably would do both.
So how did you make the jump from sports, maybe following your fathers footsteps or possibly hanging with the fishes to making beats and spinnin’ tracks?
Well, music has always been important to me. I think having a personal soundtrack has always helped carry me through life so, from an early age, I was always buying a lot of music.
Was really into Hip Hop during my younger years and would watch a local music channel on TV called Much Music regularly. They’d always showcase new music and I eventually caught a video for Goldie’s ‘Inner City Life’. I was basically sold from there and that opened up the floodgates to Drum & Bass. From there I would purchase as much as I could find on vinyl and through buying records, I eventually made friends with a few people who spun D&B. Eventually they got me into DJing and that led into production…
What was it about DnB in particular that appealed to you?
When I was first exposed to Drum & Bass, I was really into Hip Hop… more so the beats than anything. The stuff that exposed me was the music on Metalheadz & Reinforced and to me it was like some future Hip Hop. Just out of this world. I was hooked instantly.
Any tracks in particular that really got the hook in?
And do you listen to a lot of D&B? Or do you make room for other genres in your listening time?
In all honesty, I’d say I probably listen to other genres especially funk, soul, dub reggae, techno, house, old hip hop, jazz, more then D&B. I do have a lot of love for the genre but aside from the artists & style I’m more drawn to, I’m a bit out of the loop with what the rest of the genre is saying.
Some people might not know this about you, I think too often than not, people assume that most Drum & Bass producers are British but you’re actually Canadian, how would you compare the music scene in Canada to that of the UK?
Hmmmm… That’s a bit of a tricky one. I was fortunate enough to be around when Toronto had a really strong scene. It was quite inspiring and the parties were huge. At one point it was really lively. Unfortunately the ball got dropped hard and it’s dwindled down to the point where I wouldn’t really be able to say many positive things about it. I find overall it’s very stale, limited and non-progressive. Don’t get me wrong, there are still heads that try and push as much as they can, but overall something is lacking within our scene. As far as the rest of the country, haven’t experienced enough of it to be really able to form an opinion.
Fair play, and how well received is Drum & Bass and electronics in general over there? I know a fair few Canadian producers that are putting out some amazing stuff in the realms of electronic production.
People who are into it for the music are actually quite passionate about it. The so called EDM scene here is also huge . We do have a great deal of talent coming from here on all fronts, which is quite exciting! Unfortunately the local support doesn’t seem to always be there.
And do you think that’s because it’s such a niche genre? It hasn’t exactly got that soft, warm and comfy appeal that might appeal to, say, my mum etc.
What in regards to the lack of support? I’m not too sure. I think it stems from a lot of different things. I guess a lot of it might be ignorance. We don’t really have many outlets to showcase what we do locally, for instance our local radio stations won’t play anything that isn’t given to them by the major record labels here so it’s very hard to get exposure. There seem to be so many factors that to actually try to think about it gives me a headache. My philosophy has been more just do your thing and if people like it, awesome. If it goes over their heads… oh well. It doesn’t really impact what I do or why I do it. If I was just making beats in my room and no one else was able to hear it I’d probably be just as satisfied.
You also said “So called EDM scene”, what do you mean by that? I’m not personally a fan of the word really… EDM…
I guess I’m referring to what people here group electronic music as. To be honest though I feel it’s a cringeworthy word and I just associate it with the crappy midrange power tool dubstep, all that horrible big club house and whatever other stupidness is in that realm.
So today sees the release of your new EP on Paradox Music. We spoke to Dev a month or so ago, a legend of the scene, what’s the relationship between you guys, as this is your first release on Paradox. Do you know Paradox at all or did he just offer you a slot purely based on the fact that you’re a legend in your own right?
Dev’s been a good friend for many years and an artist I respect a lot. I’ve probably known him for close to 10 years now. Originally my friend Rumbleton and I had done a 12” for his label “Outsider Music” and I also help him out with the artwork. Since the Outsider release, Dev’s always been on me to do a 12” for Paradox Music… About 5 years after he first mentioned it it’s finally come true! I’m actually really chuffed about this release as I’ve always held his label in high regards and knowing how picky he is when it comes to what he chooses for PM, It’s a real honour!
Following the collaborative After Dark EP with Homemade Weapons, who we spoke to a few weeks back, I’d say your next release on Paradox Music, with Ahmad, incorporates very similar flavours but perhaps steps back more towards your B-Boy routes. There’s a very interesting cross-over of ominous dark-room minimalism and energetic break-beat fury. Talk us through the ideas behind the EP…
Overall, anything I’ve made has usually incorporated a moody undertone. In essence I also prefer more subtle minimal stuff over blatant, in your face music. I find weather the music has a break or is on the minimal front, the thought process, behind the two, are quite similar…
I guess the challenge for this record along with some of the more recent break heavy stuff I’ve done was to have a consistency with the minimal vibes rather than have two separate sounds. “The Orchid” would reflect this ethos, as it jumps back and forth between minimal & amens. “Nibiru” on the other hand is just straight breaks and stabs; kind of a salute to the elements that made us fall in love with Drum & Bass!
And have you got a favourite track out of the two?
For me “The Orchid” is my pick of the 12’ as it was the first track that Ahmad and I had the opportunity to collab on and it’s basically set the tone for us!
Forgive me for asking but I can’t say that I’ve come across Ahmad before, or maybe I have but it’s not a name I’ve seen on the reg. The Orchid and Nibiru are both wicked and so it’s definitely a name that I want to familiarise with. What’s the connection and why the collab?
This is Ahmad’s debut release so it would be the first time you would have heard of him. He’s someone that I’ve known for a while and we’ve been working on a couple tunes together. He is very talented but kinda wants to remain mysterious for now. You’ll be hearing a lot more from him though ;)
Music, more often than not, comes with a title. But where Electronic production or, I suppose, anything lacking a vocal is more open to interpretation; lyrical tracks can provide a title in themselves or from the story that they tell. Electronic music being more abstract is interesting to me in how the people who’ve made it title it. How did you come up with track names on the EP?
Guess for the most part, the names just come from various sources or influences around me. Some of them are references to things taking place in my life or experiences. Other’s come from things that fascinate me. I’ve always liked orchids and wanted to use the name as a title. For some reason it just felt like it fit this track. I tend to nerd out and get carried away watching tonnes of documentaries and gather info on various random subjects. “Nibiru’ I guess sums up some of the stuff I was going through during an astrology and astrological events phase.
Do you have a favourite track out of all the beats that you’ve ever made?
I’d probably say looking back that out of all the stuff that’s out, “Voices” by Stranjah & myself edges out the others. It was our first outing on Loxy & Keaton’s label ‘Xtinction Agenda’ and if I recall correctly the last tune Alan & I finished together. I remember it being a nightmare to export because it kept crashing the cpu due to all the layers and plugins and to this day, I feel it still sounds relevant and it’s a personal reminder of the epic studio sessions we used to have!
Just to revert back to the Jungle there for a second… I’m an incredible break-beat fiend, as soon as I hear even a whiff of Junglist noise in a set I start to do a kind of crazy Jungle dance, it’s just something about the rhythm, there’s a wild flexing groove in it. Do you have a similar love affair with Amens in any way or is it just me?
I think overall breaks tend to do that period. Every great drummer had his own personality and this was always reflected with breaks. There’s just so much soul in it. To be honest, the amen isn’t my all time favorite break but nothing beats a good amen, especially when it comes to getting you moving! It’s like an audio explosion of energy!
What is your all time favorite break? KitKat perhaps?
I have a few: Funky Drummer, Apache, Meters, Think, Tighten up and the Funky Nassau.
Are there any other production aliases lurking about aside from Gremlinz that we should know about? I’m always interested to hear the other sounds that a producer might be putting out.
Not at the moment but I have been dabbling with some other genres for fun. A few house things have made their way out.
Would you ever pursue house production for more than shits and gigs?
Yeah definitely! I love the genre and find it’s refreshing to do other music. I’ve been doing quite a bit with J.A.Y.C.E. so will definitely look to make more on a regular as well as other things.
So, production on the whole, did you always know that you were going to be making music?
Not at all haha, only once the DJing bug had kicked in. I always looked at DJing as combining music to make new music so from there it just felt like the next natural thing to try and make my own music from scratch.
Stranjah & I were working on a remix for a ragga label, ‘Crunk Vinyl’, and we were encouraged to come up with an alias. I think at some point it was mentioned that we were like little gremlins, holed up in our basement studio, so we went with that. It was “Da Gremlinz” to give it some goofy Hip Hop vibe. The remix never saw light of day but I guess the “Gremlinz” part stuck and since Stranjah already had his name I inherited it.
What’s the thought process behind your production? Do you see something of a day and go “That gives me an idea…” or do you just sit down with your hardware/software and crack on?
Depends really. I’d say it’s pretty random. I just end up getting influenced by everything around me. Sometimes I’m inspired by film, other times it’s events that happen, sometimes I hear a sound and I get an idea from that. A fair amount of the time I’m in a bad mood and making music ends up being a distraction from it. I treat it like a cross between venting and say a hobby (like playing video games).
If you could produce a track with any band/producer/singer etc. who would it be and why? What kind of track would it be?
Probably Dj Kemo [(of the Rascalz) (check tunes like really livin’, blind wit da science, funky migraine, etc.)] which was a Canadian Hip Hop outfit out of Vancouver Canada. He used to make these smoked out beats with crunchy breaks that had the most incredible hypnotic grooves! DJ Kemo is one of my favorite Hip Hop producers, to this day. I imagine it would end up being something smoked out and moody.
Dream location for a DJ Set?
I’d have to say playing “Renegade Hardware” at “The End” would take the crown for dream performance location. Don’t know if it really qualifies considering I’ve actually had the fortune of playing there a number of times but growing up in Toronto, I’d get all the tape packs from the Hardware nights and I’d listen to them with my friends imagining how sick they must be. Still count myself lucky for actually having been able to experience it in person.
And what’s the worst night you’ve ever had to DJ? Baring in mind that this could be at the fault of your own or others…
Worse one would probably be when I did a cross-country Canadian stint with Mutt and we had to play at some rock bar… It was a bit awkward to say the least…
What do you think the future holds for yourself and your music?
I’ll keep making it as long as the passion is in me to do so. At the moment I’ve been really inspired by a lot of the fresh talent that keeps coming into our scene. I’m also working on several different projects including an LP, as well as some very interesting collaborations and of course some collaborations with the kru!
Any tips for aspiring producers/DJ’s out there?
Don’t be scared to experiment. Have fun with making music and don’t put the emphasis on trying to get somewhere with it. You should let your passion for the music be the first and foremost important aspect of it. It’s not about the glory. Just enjoy the ride.
Safe Gabe, big respect for giving us the chance to have a chat! Keep on smashing it dude!
Thanks for the support and I’d like to send a shout to: Loxy, Ink, Clayton, Scott, Silo, Dev, Presha, Doc Scott, Goldie, as well as the rest of the the kru (you know who you are) and everyone who supports!
PM028 with Gremlinz & Ahmad was released today and you can grab your copy here