Friends of Dash & Verve: Brackles

In the first of a series of entries charting the rise and rise of our peers, Dash & Verve catch up with bass music heavyweight and all round nice guy Brackles.


It’s been five years since Dash & Verve last saw you. What have you been up to since then?
After uni, I started getting into writing music properly, initially for Appleblim who put me in touch with Rinse. That led me to playing at FWD and things kicked off from there: I got a show on Rinse and it’s snowballed from there.

We’ve seen you on the rosta for some big Rinse fm nights and tune into the radio show on Thursdays. How did you get involved with Rinse?
Because I was sending stuff to Appleblim, he suggested I send a mix CD to them and they gave me a set at FWD. I asked the guys at Rinse if I could do a podcast for them and they said ‘you may as well come down and do a cover show instead’. From there I started doing cover shows once a month and when I quit my job I was ready to start doing a proper show [Brackles’ show is on every week, Thursday 3-5pm].

When we used to get you on D&V, you were more juice DJ champ than producer. When did you start producing in earnest and how did you get your foot in the door to produce for labels like Berkane Sol, Pollen, Planet Mu and Apple Pips?
I started taking producing seriously towards the back end of uni. I always knew if you wanted to get anywhere [in the music scene] you had to produce your own music. It’s really hard to break through if you’re just a DJ – there are only a few people who have done that such as Ben UFO, ONEMAN and Jackmaster but even they’re involved with labels so you’ve got to be doing something beyond DJing usually. [Laughing] It’s probably the wrong kind of answer – usually people say I had this great artistic vision – but it was probably because I wanted to get more DJ bookings really.

How did your early DJ career and winning the Juice DJ competition give you more opportunities further down the line?
I was playing student nights at uni. The Juice DJ stuff and playing those gigs was good experience for reading the crowd. Although it was just Hip Hop and R&B…

You used to play a lovely selection of R&B back in the day! What styles do you tend to drop in your sets these days?
When I play out I probably play a bit of house, garage, UK Funky and a bit of grime at the end and maybe some Dub Step. I listen to a lot more than that like jazz, soul and folk – all sorts. I still buy a lot of that on vinyl but it’s not the sort of thing I play out.

Once upon a time, you were after me to buy MF Doom’s Doomsday lp off me on vinyl. Are you still in the market for that?
I think they re-pressed it didn’t they? How much was I offering you then? I’ve got that one now anyway!

Oh well…I should’ve cashed in at the time. What’s in the record box right now?
Anything by Funky Step who’s just had a bit out on Hyperdub. Really feeling Champion and DJ Naughty. Playing quite a lot of stuff on the Eglo label like Fatima and Floating Points. Alex Nut has got another small label called Ho Tep which is putting out some really good stuff.

Have you got any projects on the go at the moment?
I’ve just had a 12” out for Rinse which is a sampler for a producer album I’m doing with them. It’ll be 10 of my tracks so I’m just working towards that at the minute. It should be out in 2012.

Looking back at your time in Notts, what do you remember most fondly about uni days?
I look back on the Lizard Lounge nights really – they were a lot of fun. I went on a bit of a Neptunes binge the other day. Their old productions probably made up about 50% of the sets then…that and Timberland stuff!

Finally, where are you headed next?
We’re building towards the Rinse CD – it’ll be a clean slate for me once that’s out and I’ll be starting on a new project then. I’m playing at the Rinse night on Boxing Day too; they’ve got every DJ playing on the station at that.

So there you have it. Keep your ear firmly pressed to the tinterweb for more on Brackles at the following places:

Give Me Some Signal!

It was a pleasure, I mean an absolute honour, to finally witness in the flesh, the one, the only, David ‘Ram Jam’ Rodigan when he rolled into town for the Warehouse Project last Saturday night.

David Rodigan

I’ve always been aware of Rodigan and his reggae exploits over the years, but never made the time to see him. It was by chance that it ended up happening. A friend said that he could get a couple of tickets to see Nero at the Warehouse Project and asked whether I wanted them? A brief second later I’d made my decision – YES! It was only when I checked the full line up that I realised that Rodigan was playing too.

Honestly, I don’t think most of the people in the venue had any idea who he was, I saw quite a few confused faces when a heavily balding, bespectacled sexagenarian bounced onto stage with the energy and vigour of someone a quarter of his age. Then he started giving his opening lecture, again the crowd looked around with eye brows raised. They’d come for music, heavy, bassy music, “gramps” wasn’t going to be serving that up any time soon was he? Oh how wrong they were.

For the next hour and a heartbeat, Rodigan layed down anchor after anvil of monstrously weighty dub and reggae. From Tippa Irie “ticka ticka tock”ing his way through the set to Hawaii 5-0 surf style dub washing over the increasingly rampant crowd, Rodigan made new friends with every track he dropped. Not only was he playing this music, but he was educating as he went. Providing narrative to go with each new dubplate, informing the uninitiated about Sound System culture, reminding the knowledgeable about why they love the Sound so much. This was literally, a master at work.

My only regret, the ocean of Red Stripe I’d consumed before the set. Sadly my memory of the names of the tracks Rodigan played (and no doubt he told us what every one was) completely eludes me. The solution, get out and see him again.

For a snippet of what the man does best check out his Kiss FM show, or have a look at these videos from his appearance at the Boiler Room earlier this year.

BR #67 David Rodigan (Pt.1) from BOILER ROOM on Vimeo.

BR #67 David Rodigan (Pt.2) from BOILER ROOM on Vimeo.


Martyn – Ghost People

I’m excitedly awaiting an early end to the day so I can shoot down the road to Piccadilly Records and pick up a copy of Dutch born, US based, heavyweight producer Martyn’s new LP offering – Ghost People.

Martyn - Ghost People

After the release of his debut full length – Great Lengths – back in 2009, I’ve been a keen follower of his remixes, original cuts and mixes. His selection as the 50th act to represent the Fabric mix brand was a strong shout and brought me over the “Fabric” side after being a snobbish “FabricLive” only listener previously.

If the album lives up the expectations built in me by the first track I heard from it; Viper, then we are all in for a treat. Viper embeds itself in your head like a rapidly rotating sawmill blade, all gritty and aggressive with its metallic sounds. At the same time it retains a refined balance, never getting too wild as it builds through the introduction of sharp hats, breathy pipes and dampened disco claps.

The official video is up for your visual delectation on all your favourite video sharing websites. It reminds me of digital video technology from 1991 but with the colours and sheen of a 2011 production. Have a butchers yourself.

Brainfeeder, the generous tykes that they are, have given Mixmag the whole album to stream on a try before you buy vibe. I, being conscious of how limited people’s attention spans can be, have tacked all the tracks to the bottom of this blog.

Now go buy!

Ain't Nothing Fresher

There’s an Indian Summer blazing away in Britain. It’s even managed to show it’s face in Manchester, a city famed for year round drizzle. Adding to that the fact that universities are now back in full swing, means Oxford Road has been a very vibrant and colourful place this week.

Seeing all the bright eyed Freshers, student loans in pocket, snakebites in hand, got me reminiscing about the “best years of my life”. Memories of those (not too) distant uni times always come coupled with sounds, music, particular songs that really punctuated the whole experience for me. I’m going to remind some, and introduce others to three songs that may have passed you by but certainly left their mark on me. Oh, and because we’re all lazy bastards these days, I’ll even post some links so you can listen whilst you read.

Fat Freddy’s Drop – Wandering Eye

This track is one of ten phenomenal tracks from the debut full length offering from New Zealand’s most soulful dubists, Fat Freddy’s Drop. I treated myself to a copy of Based on a True Story for my birthday in the winter of my final year and boy did it see my through those dreary final exam days.

The album’s a journey, waking you up with the piano stabs of “Ernie”, walking you down the stairs to breakfast with the gentle shuffle of “Cay’s Crays” as you still brush the sleep from your eyes. It takes you to more melancholy, reflective places as you reach midday and “Dark Days” before firing up the end of the day party with “Roady” and “Wandering Eye”. Finally you’re eased into the early morning post party lull by the softest of Joe Dukie vocals and watery, dream like soundscapes of “Del Fuego”.

Why, Wandering Eye? That song does for me in one track what the whole album combined also achieves, it takes you on a journey. It has the time to do it as well, being nearly ten minutes in length. But at no point do you feel it’s gone on too long. I’m sitting back with a satisfied sigh as I think about this track.

Tom Vek – Music Television

You won’t know this song, well if you do, you’re more in tune with the work of Tom Vernon-Kell (a.k.a. Tom Vek) than I first gave you credit for.

I first heard of Tom Vek when Ed told me he’d managed to blag us not only a couple of tickets to his gig in Nottingham, but a little chin wag pre show. I’ll be honest, I’d not heard any of his music before I wandered up the street leading to the door of the Rescue Rooms where he was going to be playing later that night. From behind the half closed door I could hear three chords blasting out with rhythmic simplicity, the line “I’d be lost without you” ringing almost shrilly over the top. I had a feeling I was going to like this guy.

We chatted for half an hour or so about the usual unintelligent stuff junior interviewers babble on about; What’s your favourite type of fish? How much was your bus fare to the venue? What fascinated me most about Vek as we spoke was how wide and varied his abilities were. Not only was he writing and playing pretty much everything on his recordings, he spoke excitedly about the design process for his album and single artwork that he was also a heavy contributor towards. I have a feeling he also had a hand in coming up with the video concepts too (the video for C-C (You Set The Fire In Me) is a cracking example).

But what was that track I heard? It’s called “Music Television”. Not on any of his albums, you could only get it as a B-side to the 7″ single of “Nothing But Green Lights”. I suggest you go out and get it, pitch it up 1.5% on the turntable, sit back and enjoy. Failing that, I managed to find this clip on YouTube of him performing it at the gig in Nottingham back in 2005. Happy Days.

Roy Davis Jr. – Gabrielle feat. Peven Everett (Live Garage Mix)

But this song is ooooold! Yeah I know it is, nearly 15 years old now. Regardless of when this was released, this was one of those songs that just kept cropping up at exactly the right time for me. I remember buzzing after Quellequs expertly slid it into a radio show one Tuesday night, then hearing it as a closing track at the end of an awesome night out a few weeks later (I think Brackles was the selector that time).

Peven Everett’s vocal is like a relaxing mug of warm milk pre bed time over the top of the garage/disco beat. The hum-a-long horn line (also performed by Everett I am informed) that comes in at the chorus bringing the track to the boil.

I catch this song on the radio maybe once a year and instantly lose interest in everything else that’s going on around me, I can’t help but give it my undivided attention. This track could be my “Love Shack”, and by that I mean a track that I should not be allowed to hear whilst in control of a car (my dad once drove straight into a farmer’s field after missing a 90 degree corner whilst singing along to the B52’s Love Shack).

Drop this one on the stereo as you return home from your Friday night session, it will set you up nicely for the weekend ahead. It certainly has for me.

Picture Book

I’ve decided to keep it close to home for my first blog post. Every month until the end of the year, I’m going to fill you in on four top drawer artistes – a band, a producer, a singer and a photographer – all of whom I am fortunate enough to know personally.

First up is one of my favourite bands on the scene today. They’re an eclectic trio, two brothers from New York / Liverpool (I think they’re actually from Manchester) and 1/50,000 of the population of the Faroe Islands. Individually they are Ash, Dario and Greta. Collectively, they are Picture Book. Their music is, well dance music, simply put. Crowd rockers like Explosions and Make A Move get you doing exactly what their titles suggest. But there’s diversity within their style, as songs like My Love and Sunshine showcase a more dramatic and heartfelt side. The way they stitch this all together in their live show is what sealed the deal for me.

I’ve been racking my brain trying to remember the first time I saw Picture Book live, I think it must have been at a sparse mid week gig in Night & Day Cafe, Manchester. The crowd might not have been many but the compulsion to dance was unavoidable. Ash flew between guitar, drum and keys, his snake like dreads attacking the air just as the mythical Medusa’s locks once did. Greta twisted and twirled physically, vocally and with the stroke of her bow, drawing you in to the dance. The fact that all three of them were on their feet as they played (Dario commands the beats from an SPD-S, kicking the bass pedal with the back of his foot), made it impossible for the audience to do anything but the same and join them on the floor.

Picture Book are a live experience, constantly upping their game to make the live shows bigger than the last. Since seeing them at Night & Day I’ve found myself returning time after time to get another fix. In that time I’ve seen full scale stage invasions, the addition of a string quartet, a legendary saxaphone solo from the one and only “Shwood” and the most unexpected but insanely delivered outro / breakdown to their show at the Paul McCartney Auditorium. My advice (for what it’s worth) is check out their gig listings – here – and get your ass along to a show. You can thank me for the tip later.

I guess all that’s left is to offer you some snippets to try for yourself before you head out for the live Picture Book experience. So, check out some sounds and let them know what you think on their facebook page, cos they love to get involved with their fans.

Sunshine by Picture Book

Explosions (Son Of Kong Remix) by Picture Book

Picture Book are signed to Blue Horizon (Warner), their debut release is (I hear) coming very soon.