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SPOTLIGHT: Silent Dust Pt.2

SPOTLIGHT: Silent Dust Pt.2
Jack Smith

With another stupidly good single incoming on their own imprint None60, we caught up with Silent Dust to discuss the evolution of their sound, the practicalities of long-distance collaboration and key moments in their career so far.

Greetings, Silent Dust. Tell us about your latest release on your own label None60 – ‘Massive’ Ft. Zilla Rocca / ‘Vostok 1.’ What influenced the making of ‘Massive’ in particular (considering it takes quite a departure from the signature Silent Dust sound) and what facilitated the link up with Zilla Rocca?

Massive is us doing something a little bit different! We are both big fans of what some people may not call “Real Hip Hop” (as in it wasn’t made in the mid 90’s and doesn’t sample Bob James or David Axelrod), so after years of listening to beats from producers like Bangladesh, Mike Will Made It, Lex Luger etc we thought we would give it a go! Vostok 1 is probably the track people who are familiar with our previous material will be into though, it’s almost a roller…. We linked up with Zilla through LA Journo Jeff Weiss who thought we would like the style Zilla was pushing… and we did! So many thanks to Jeff!

How would you say None60 has been progressing since its inception? Does the self-release approach suit your production ethics, or would you prefer to be sourcing your material towards other like-minded labels?

We definitely prefer it to shopping out tunes to labels, that’s not to say we wouldn’t want to work with other labels but none60 comes first for us now. After we put the album out I think we were guilty of taking our foot off the gas (maybe we thought we deserved to?!) but we are definitely back on it now and want to be putting out singles on a regular basis.

The last few releases on None60 have in parts departed from the traditional SD sound. In light of this, what can we expect from your inprint in the not too distant future? A triumphant return to your early liquid-funk aesthetic perhaps?

We don’t really think too much about what what style we are making, we tend to start tunes separately and then bring them to each other and then we will work on whatever ones we both like. The only real conscious decision was for us to collaborate with more vocalists and specifically work with vocalists outside of the DnB circle to try and bring something different to the table. I can’t see us returning to the older sound but you never know!

Can you give us a rundown of your studio setup, including which DAW you use, monitors, key equipment etc? Your sound certainly benefits from the ‘less is more’ approach that you’ve spoken about in the past, yet your new material – looking particularly at Massive and Love Sundered – seem to suggest that this minimalist approach has been expanded somewhat…

We both use Fruity Loops (yes we still call it that), I couldn’t tell you what version but it must be about 5 versions old by now! We know it inside out and it works for us so why change? We both have quite modest monitors… Low end Tannoy & Alesis. Equipment wise we both have midi Keyboards… I wish I could say more but it really is that basic! I don’t really think our music was ever really that minimal but certainly Massive & Love Sundered are a bit more maximal (I don’t think that’s a term yet?!) but it’s all about developing our sound not just sticking to making the same tune for the next five years. We also wanted to bring the beats back as there were a few ambients bit on our album.

How do you practically manage working as a pair seen as you live in opposite sides of the country – do you designate certain aspects of the production to each of yourselves?

Every tune is different but we start music separately and then send over the project file and it goes from there! Sometimes they can go in a completely different direction to the one intended but more often than not we get what we were trying to do! One of us does normally get lumbered with the boring mixdown stuff but nobody really wants to argue over the loudness of snares and hats do they?

In music production terms, can you give any aspiring artists some of your key techniques in the studio? Is there anything you swear by plugin-wise, or anything we might consider an unusual approach to the creative process?

We use a lot of noise samples and field recordings to create atmosphere and to give the mixes a bit more life. Anything we can add that stops it from sounding like it’s been made by a computer the better really. We use Autotune on a lot of samples and not just vocals, it can have an interesting pitch bend effect on samples.

Which track in your oeuvre of work, as a duo and as individual artists, are you most proud of and why? Anything that stands as a pivotal moment in your respective careers?

Having Calibre & Marcus Intalex remix our tracks was a bit special. They were both a huge influence on us early on so to have them remix our work has to be the pivitol moment for us! We are both quite critical of our work so once it’s done and out we tend to go off the tracks so the tracks we are proud of the most are the ones you haven’t heard yet!!!

If you could have produced any one release in the history of what we can loosely call ‘Drum & Bass,’ what would it be and why?

Adam F – Metropolis

Finally, what’s the one Urban Essential you couldn’t live without?

The internet and everything it brings…

‘Massive’ / ‘Vostok 1’ is out now at Juno.