Interview with DJ Aries
We chatted to Jungle legend DJ Aries.
How would you describe your sound at the moment?
Drum and Bass mostly, Dubwise drum and bass as well, it’s a jungle sound, taken from the 90’s jungle. But the Aries stuff in particularly is more slanted towards the reggae kind of sound, dubwise, ragga, dancehall kind of flavour and that’s how I would describe my music, so a mixture of reggae and drum and bass.
The Jungle scene is in a healthy place right now, what has kept it going all these years?
It’s because it’s a natural music, it’s more organically made and less synthetic it’s taken from a lot of influences of other styles of music, so there is always fusions of different genres and styles within jungle music. It’s also quite a strong thing in the UK as its heritage was based from the 90s as a lot of people maybe already know. I think that is a really important part of what is going on, at the moment we are in a cycle. In the 90’s, 70’s music was quite popular and the decade after the 80’s music was popular, with garage and jungle and those retro scenes. So lot of young people who go out to clubs these days there, their folks were listening to jungle or rave music. Even stuff on the TV nowadays, you listen to the television and you hear sections of drum and bass and jungle in the background, 15 – 20 years ago that music was too fast, but now it’s become a normal thing, and that’s got a lot to do with it.
Do you think part of what has made the scene healthy is live music and not just samples?
Yes definitely, the singers are a lot more accessible, the scene is kind of smaller but more accessible.
With Chopstick dubplate being so far apart geographically, how does new technology allow production to rise above your location?
Well the internet obviously allows that a lot, we actually work on different software to make music as well, so we actually send each other big sections of audio and that’s how we work together. One of our guys Chopist who is part of Chopstick lives in Barcelona. We do often link up, when we all put the effort in to be together in the studio, the technology we have in studio enables us to go back to songs, if it was on the mixing desk before you had to finish it, now you can save something on your computer and go back to it later on. It’s a lot of collabs, someone will start something and send it to someone and they’ll finish it off.
The collaborative stuff is really important, also for influencing styles, I do a lot of combinations of music. I work with chopstick, I work with kelvin 373, Stibs, a long-time friend gold dubs, you’re all passing of vibes from each other and skills and techniques and passing on that work. So that has also enhanced it as well and we all use similar software, even though it’s different it all does the same thing
And when did you start producing
I started producing in the late 90;s, I had my first go 95 / 96 but I got into when the pcs came out in the late 90s when you could buy a sound card for your pc and load some samples onto your sound card, I got into it then. Before that people were using audio on their Amigas and stuff like that, I had an Atari St but I didn’t really have the correct technology
When it went into PC mode and these different companies were producing software, like propella heads at that point I was able to make music that sounded like it should, rather than having to make house or something, I was limited because I could only make certain sounds with the synths, once we could do sampling, I could take any section of music and sample anything. My first release was in 2005 on vinyl, I had a little release on a cd 2001 / 2002, but since 2005 I’ve been releasing vinyl regularly. Still up to this day, this week we’ve got the stamina remixes coming out, Dreem Team classic with Daddy Freddy and a couple of weeks time we’ve just done the latest Congo Natty single with Tenor Fly and that’s coming out on vinyl, we’re really lucky to be able to put out the old skool format of vinyl, a lot of people are still buying vinyl and that’s really important
Internationally every time I travel and I go different places, these guys with 3 or 4 Dj’s in their crews and at least one of them plays vinyl, and at least one person has lots of records in their collection and they have old stuff in their collection, people like to collect stuff, and there is a collectors market and a lot of people love to play vinyl and are strict vinyl djs, and are struggling because there is not so much stuff out there, but they are really faithful and really supportive so they are still buying whatever they can get their hands on.
Vinyl sounds better though as an audio head?
That is a big argument, someone people would say the audio would sound better than digitally and you know I can see their points and some people would say vinyl sounds better and you could say home listening for vinyl or club listening on a sound system and lots of people have different perspectives on that these days I love the sound of vinyl, being able to put one on and take one off but at the same time I like listening to something I don’t have to take on and off, you can put something on for 2 hours and not have to change it.
How did your involvement with Chopstick Dubplate come about?
In 2007 I was playing for a guy down in Bristol, it was around the time I was starting to put out regular vinyl, so I was getting bookings out of the Midlands where I’m originally from, and I started getting a few bookings here and there, I basically started playing for the guy in Bristol, called Devon who runs a night called Breakout and he said we’ve booked this guy called Jacky Murda and the gig came and unfortunately Jacky couldn’t make it, so he wrote to me and we had a chat online and said I can’t make that gig but I’m in the UK on this date and I’m going down to Brighton to make some dubstep with this guy how about we link up. I met him at the train station and met this guy who was an American guy, quite loud, different to what I was use to and we went make to my place and we went in the studio and we made a couple of tracks over those 3 days and I started going over to Barcelona and when he came to the UK we started linking up in the studio and then we started working on an album project and 6 – 12 months down the line I was asked to be part of the crew, since 2007 we’ve been working on releases since then
What are the main changes you’ve seen since your early days in the scene?
Because the people in the jungle scene and the people that make the music are really good people, there are so many good people out there, I see less politics than in other electronic music scenes, meaning the scene is more unified, and everybody has a similar goals. A Junglist is not just about listening to music. It’s a lifestyle and a culture.
You hail from Birmingham (well near), a town with more Jungle heritage than some of us Southerners might release. What Jungle nights and artists from your area inspired you on your way up?
Well I def got into rave music really early, end of 1990 listening to pirate radio, shortly after that we were getting tapes from Top Buzz, Tango, Ratty, these kind of guys there are a lot of Midland based producers at the time, a lot of nights, Fibre Optic, Pandemonium, there was a massive rave scene, Coventry Eclipse, loads of them, there was a massive rave scenes in the Midlands, all the London djs moving up and the Midlands ones moving down, I got into rave music late 1990 and I’m still into it today, I’m still following that same scene even some of the same djs that I was listening to back that, they are still pushing that sound.
How has the scene exploded globally?
Really with these new platforms, more people listen to our music than ever before there are more people consuming and dancing and enjoying that music around the world than ever before. Actually the scene is much much bigger than ever before. It’s about getting the music out to the masses and people enjoying the music.
Spreading Jungle music and music is really important and that’s what a lot of us our doing, I get to play in some really different places, other countries, I’m going there and spreading the vibes and that’s the way I think about it , I’m going to go there and I’m going to go an try to push that sound to load of people who might not have heard that music before.
We are all from different places around the world but we are all listening to similar kinds of music and maybe doing the same things recreationally. So its people on the same wave length that have a similar perspective on things, that’s happening through the music, it’s a communication platform, people listening to the lyrics and the vocals and the consciousness of some of the tunes and relating to that in their own lifestyle with their own issues.
What was the first record you ever brought?
I cannot remember what my first record was, I can remember some of my early rave records where
When and where did you notice breakbeat coming into music.
1990 I noticed, we were going to a nightclub and they did an under 18’s night and they played Shut up and Dance and a cross of hip hop and house, hip house that was a kind of fusion of breakbeats and stuff, it’s a hazy period of time for me to be honest.
What are the main changes you’ve noticed in Raves?
Raves were raves in the 90’s, even if they were jungle nights they were still raves, a garage night was still a rave, a lot of production used to go into the rave, backdrops, videos, stage walkers, fire eaters all this stuff was a main part of the scene it was about the environment, not just the music. Later in the 90s that evolved into a club scene, when a lot of the music commercialised and a lot of businesses came about and it went into the clubs, subsequently a lot of the production started fading out and it was concentrating on something else, but healthily in the last 5 – 10 years I’ve noticed there is a really strong rave scene again and that is really important to have that rave scene as well as the club scene, as well as all the other scenes. The raves are a family, unity thing, going against the system a bit and being more underground and being away from commercialised Babylon system that everyone talks about
Reggae and Dub are clearly an important aspect of your music, what makes their relationship with Jungle so strong still to this day?
I think it has a lot to do with bass and warmth, but it’s a hard question, I could go on for 5 hours.
What music did you grow up listening too?
All kinds, my parents listened to a lot of reggae music, and I was influenced a lot by them listening to the Rolling Stones, African music, 2 tone, Ska, Reggae all kinds of different stuff, my parents are quite social, there were always people coming to visit and when people came round they would put some new music on, when I first got into music I got into pirate radio, I was more into the rebellious side of it, I wasn’t in to the music until I found some other pirates and the other pirate radio stations I found had rave music on and that’s when I discovered rave music through pirates in the 90s and I was like wow what’s this. So I was into music, I listened to it, it was just there throughout my life suddenly 1990 I got into it, started doing music and I DJ’ing music and started doing raves.
What direction do you see Jungle heading in?
Jungle is always there, it’s been there for 20 odd years and it’s not going anywhere its a lifestyle for many people so those Junglists will always be Junglists for the rest of their lives, music will progress and evolve, tempos and other styles of music that fuses with it. Some people would say that drum and bass came of the back of jungle and that is a huge market and some people wouldn’t identify the connection between jungle and drum and bass. But it’s a really strong thing, they influence each other, they are very similar things but they are also quite different as well.
The drum and bass scene recently has had a lot of influences from jungle, and I think a lot of the Jungle sounds and breakbeats coming back into dnb are certainly helping the Jungle sound. If you listen to of other styles of music, you’ll hear those Jungle breaks and Jungle style of production within them it’s very apparent. So I don’t see it going anywhere I see it evolving and progressing but I don’t see it going anywhere.
Some people will get into it, some will get out of it, but it will continue to be there. I go to clubs now and the 90 – 20 year olds that I see at these clubs and I meet them and they are talking about tunes from when they there were 2 or 3 years old and they know the scene, they are well into it, they’ve got that fresh love, and I’m seeing that the most that I’ve seen it for a long long time. People will hold that music with them for the rest of their live.
What projects have you got coming up?
We just put out stamina remix, there’s J-Line remixes a Kosine and dialect remix, an original mix and there is a mix I’ve done with my friend Stibbs and my other friend s Kelvin 313 from our label born on road. That’s coming out pretty soon.
We’ve got a Congo Natty project , Tenor Flys classic track born again, that myself, Gold Dubs and Jacky Murda have done a mix and that’s coming out in February on vinyl and digital on Congo Natty label.
On Chopstick we’ve got a couple of EP’s, we’ve got a singer called Jessica who is from Birmingham, reggae veteran from long time, he used to tour with Leftfield, he’s done an ep with us, we’re been working on it for quite a while now.
Following that we’ve got another Ep ??? which is an instrumental with version different vocal versions, so one track with 6 different vocals, featuring Demolition man, Daddy Freddy, Mister Williams, Nancy from Congo Natty and a few other people.
There’s a stack of releases coming out on Chopstick
Then we’ve got our other label, Born on Road, on that label we have the next release that is coming from underground Bristol veteran of jungle and drum and bass producer Stubbs, and another guy from Erisian they have done a collaborative tune with a rough really heavy amen, old skool sounding workout called “yo ma badman” and loads of different remixes.