Edinburgh Drum & Bass
With both Xplicit and Hospitality on this fortnight it’s a great time to be a drum & bass fan in Edinburgh says Henry Northmore
Manga may no longer be with us but drum & bass heads still have plenty to celebrate in Edinburgh. This fortnight sees two exemplary events taking place across the city. First up is Xplicit, which makes its mark with a huge night of hard and dark jungle at their fourth birthday party with Ed Rush, Randall and Hazard, while across town the following night, Hospitality hosts a raft of DJs from Hospital Records (including Danny Byrd, Blame and Cyantific) showcasing the liquid drum & bass sound.
Growing out of the hardcore scene back in the embryonic days of dance culture in the early 90s names like Goldie, Fabio and Grooverider helped popularise heavy bass. ‘Initially I was listening to a lot of hip hop back in the breakdance days, but one Saturday night on the way back to Oxford with friends I ended up going to one of the free parties Spiral Tribe were throwing back in the early days of hardcore,’ explains Ed Rush of his introduction to dance music. ‘I had such a good time and I got hooked on the music – the early breakbeat had the same kind of beats I was hearing in the hip hop tunes I loved.’
Rush, forging a strong production team with Optical, was amongst the early pioneers at the forefront of the techno influenced neurofunk scene, a futuristic, hard and heavy mix of deep funky bass grooves as spearheaded by their own Virus Recordings imprint. ‘At the time we were just doing what felt right to us, and we were just lucky that what felt good at the time was pioneering enough for people to look back on as a turning point, but it’s not something we consciously did.’
Danny Byrd represents the liquid side of drum & bass. ‘When the liquid scene kicked off it was a new fusion of house with drum & bass and that’s what drew me in. I can have all these soulful, R&B, house and garage elements in there.’ Byrd also got his first taste of clubbing during the early days of rave, and as dance music splintered he was torn between happy hardcore and jungle, eventually plumping for jungle and his sound evolved from there. He’s been signed to the much respected Hospital Records from the label’s inception. ‘They’re critical but know when to take the risks. I’m definitely privileged and don’t take that for granted.’
Of course the two subgenres aren’t mutually exclusive, with exponents of each holding the other in high regard. ‘I play liquid sounds in my set,’ says Rush, ‘it’s more musical, it plays a role as it gives my sets more depth. If you’re just banging out neurofunk and hard tunes all night the impact gets lost, but if you throw some contrast into your set the big drops sound much bigger. I use a lot of Hospital tunes, I think they’re brilliant.’
Similarly Byrd is full of praise for the darker end of the D&B spectrum: ‘I try to play across the board. My style is quite quick mixing so I love the harder stuff. I love Ed Rush and Optical and can’t wait to see what they do next.’
So, two great nights showcasing what drum & bass has to offer. Make sure you take those vitamins – it’s gonna be a busy weekend.
Xplicit fourth birthday featuring Ed Rush at Potterrow, Edinburgh, Fri 23 Jan; Hospitality with Danny Byrd at Luna, Edinburgh, Sat 24 Jan.