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D-Region & Code Interview Aug 2016
D-REGION & CODE have been active in the worldwide drum n bass scene for over 15 years. Collectively, the pair have released close to 100 tracks across various formats (Vinyl, cd, digital) on both mainstream and independent labels. These include: Moonshine Music (USA), Awesome DKD (Canada), ZYX (Germany), Emotif (UK), Botchit & Scarper (UK), Studio Rockers (UK), Cymbalism (US), EZ Rollers' Intercom (UK), Aquasky’s Sonix label and MC Det’s Times Two imprint to name a few. We take a few minutes out to see what's hot and what's not for them right now...
DJ Code, being formerly one half of legendary Sketch & Code, has a huge jungle back cat. Can you tell us about your current Kool FM residency?
The show is Saturday morning 5-7am GMT (UK). A lot of regular listeners are heading home from the events on a Fridaynight or just getting up. It hits America around midnight/ early hours of the morning and the show before me is live from Brisbane where’s its Saturday afternoon so I always have a decent audience from Australia which makes for an interesting chatroom where some people are starting their day and others are ending. Having a weekly show means that we always have an outlet for our music to be heard and enables us to test new ideas/ demo’s before completing the finished version. It also gives me the freedom to play a far more diverse set than I would in a club where a certain sound or style is expected. The music policy for the show is simple, if it’s good I’ll play it which means I cover all styles of drum n bass which is great at a time when there is so much music available.
D-Region, you are based in Toronto. Can you tell us about some of the Toronto drum and bass nights you have played at?
I played out largely for A.W.O.L. (World Dance) North America. The guys who ran Jedi Records out of Toronto went to London back in the 90’s and arranged a licensing deal to bring the AWOL brand to Canada. I was producing tracks for Jedi at the time and that led to me being added to the AWOL roster. That’s also how I met Code – they brought him over to play an AWOL event.
How do you find sending stems over the internet to work together?
Working with stems can be a bit tricky, especially when you just want a second pair of ears on an idea which could go in different directions. We’ve yet to find a stable stem sharing system that really enables a cloud based master so one of us always keeps a working copy in their studio while the other sends ideas for consideration. D-Region has a full studio in Toronto so we usually finish our pre-master mixes on that system. The advantage of working this way means that we are able to work on tracks at a convenient time which suits our needs.
You as a duo are also established remixers and having completed tracks for Elizabeth Troy, Sizzla Kalonji, Konshens, Lights, Maestro Fresh Wes, Trinity Chris, Det, Skibadee, Loggi, Backdraft, Sappo, Miss Omega among others. Who has been your favourite person to work with so far?
Every artist is a little different. Trinity Chris is great because he just sends us incredible vocals and lets us have free reign. Similarly, Loggi sends us amazing tunes to work on and encourages us to push the sound as much as we want in whatever direction. The track we remixed for Maestro and Lights was also a real pleasure to work on. Maestro was very easy going and sent us his feedback on the tune as we went along. We’d work with any of these people again, no question.
You receive regular commercial radio play in the UK on Kiss, 1Xtra, Radio 1 and XFM. How important is it for your music to gain commercial radio airplay?
The financial side of this helps where the money generated through commercial radio play can be greater than the return from sales. It’s often a barometer to how popular the track will be, if it is supported on commercial radio it would suggest the track will have a broad appeal. It’s good to receive support and recognition from people who have the pick of the newest and freshest music the scene has to offer. It’s also pleasing when presenters who don’t have a specialist drum n bass show feature a track as this means we are really being appreciated for our music.
What DAW are you on at the moment?
We mix everything in Cubase Pro 8.5 but some of the working drafts are done in Logic 9 Pro.
Tea or coffee in the studio?
D-Region - Coffee.
Code – Beer or Red Bull, or both.
What are your favourite VSTs?
For sound design the obvious ones remain great starting blocks: Serum, Massive and FM8. But when we get into the details: everything in the Universal Audio arsenal becomes really essential in our studio. The VSM-3, Shadow Hills compressor and tape emulators for example are really effective at bringing different elements to life in the pre-master (but you gotta be careful not to overdo it because a lot of those are arguably mastering tools). And the Slate VMR is always running in some capacity on most if not all individual tracks in the pre-masters.
How do you start a track? With drums, intro or bassline work?
A hook. Every song starts with a hook. That doesn’t necessarily mean a big vocal or a massive piano riff....but it has to have something. We’ve scrapped a bunch of tracks because there was just nothing in them that was memorable. That said, there’s nothing wrong with having “go to” drums or bass and just cranking out a bunch of tracks that are essentially variations on a common theme. That’s great – especially if you create your own sound in doing it. But that’s not our approach. We don’t aim for a specific sound. In a perfect world, there is no “D-Region & Code” sound to a tune beyond the fact that it gets in your head. What we try to do is make each of our tracks memorable in some way. Now, in some cases that means we go for the mainstream vibe with big vocals but we can also go a little deeper. For example contrast something like Desire with other tracks like Starscream and Legacy. They all sound different but, hopefully, they all stick out in their own ways.
At a more granular level: we don’t have a common starting process. For example The Legacy started with that piano riff sample and the drum beat...we just built from there. The bass line and all the morphing was one of the last pieces of that puzzle. On other tracks like Fly Away, Untouchable, Hustle From Born or Desire it all started with the vocals and we built everything else around them.
Do you mix your tracks down as you go along or is it more done towards the end?
Depends. If the track has to go back and forth between us many times, the mixdown has to be done at the end. If it’s just one of us with primary care and the other sends revisions, the mixdown is usually sorted before the tune is completely finished. And then of course there are always those troublesome tracks that have to be adjusted endlessly because of one element or another....those are a whole different story and usually end with us sending them out for input from engineers we respect like Sappo or Sweet & Sikka.
What releases are up next for you?
D-Region & Code – “Say Goodbye”
We’re currently working with Sweet & Sikka at Inna Rhythm Recordings and have a few tunes lined up with them. Say Goodbye will be first up as a free release and available at the end of August. Then next will be The Kingdom at the end of September and after that we have a track we did for Konshens that’s in the clearance phase. After those, we have tracks in progress with vocals from Pat Fulgoni, another with 2Nice and we’re working on a few ideas with Identified and Trimmer/ Fireteam.
If we see you out, what are you drinking from the bar?
Code – Beer or Red Bull
D-Region – Grey Goose.
Thanks for your time, any shouts and thanks?
Shouts: Sweet & Sikka, all at Inna Rhythm/ Formation. Eastman and everyone at Kool London. Rebel Iris at TRIP (The Rebel Iris Presents). Mo Love at Emotif/ M-Ocean. Chris McKee, Simon and Zach (Jedi, AWOL), Shannon and Taigs. Emma, Trixie, Missy and Hettie. Sappo, Ewen at Mixmag, J Swif at DNBHQ, Dan at Cygnus, Jay and Terry at On The Rise, Adam at Backdrop, all the labels/ artists who supply us with tracks to play and anyone who has ever bought or supported our music.
Twitter - https://twitter.com/dregion_code
D-REGION & CODE DNB MUZIK INTERVIEW 2016 by Aliina Atkinson (Missrepresent)