140BPM vs. 70BPM
Firstly, we decided to make this mix much faster than usual. The reason for this was to exploit the relationship between 4/4 house and techno and 2/4 dubstep. Throughout, the mix rides the divide between 140BPM and 70BPM. There’s something magical about doubling up tempo to hype a mix, or dropping down to half the speed to let things really grind. The tempo halves (DJ Blaqstarr > Skream), doubles up (Skream > Various Productions) whilst on the Rustie record the BPM seems to wander chaotically. Bass Clef’s brilliant Cannot Be Straightened draws a line back to dubstep’s millennial UKG origins with a double speed shift up to 2-step halfway though. Bruk out!
Secondly, playing at 140bpm meant we could use loads of tracks we’ve wanted to include in a mix for ever. We’ve loved the Gold Chains and Com.A records for years but they’re so fast we never thought we could crowbar them into a tracklisting. (Whatever happened to Gold Chains? He was great).
Improvisation vs. Planning
There’s two ways we record mixes. Often, a bag of contemporary records might have a similar mood and feel so it’s very easy to return from record-shopping and instantly knock out a 60-minute mix.
The other way – and what we did here – is when a record or a few records are so exciting, they become the centre-point of a mix. We’ve got three or four of these hypothetical mixes in our heads at any one time and we’re always looking for tunes to flesh them out: plotting the relationships between records, joining the dots one by one. It can take a long time until you find the right record to fill in the gaps. Sometimes it’s not until someone makes it.
Bad tools make for good decisions
The mix was recorded mostly live with two 1200s, but there’s a fair few loops chopped together bluntly in Adobe Audition. We really think there’s value in using really basic chops and edits, even though in today’s Ableton-ready world it’s about as Luddite as doing it with a tape and razor. It’s good to be slightly constrained technically – it means you don’t stray too far from the aesthetic of the original tracks and you have to think a bit more. Hopefully, our mixing is sympathetic and unobtrusive. We don’t like letting the mixing get in the way of the mix (unless it’s deliberate). We’ve just started experimenting with Ableton and hope we can remain disciplined.
The Number One Song in Heaven
Our most loved records are interesting or innovative and will feature something very beautiful or something extreme. Also, the very best records often introduce unexpected elements. The tunes we love the most are the ones that stop you dead in your tracks, doing something you’d never imagined would happen. The ones that expand what you think music is and does. We also really value colour and dynamics. We got into electronic music through raving, so we’ll take a massive riff over a discreet change in texture every time. We’re also very partial to a well-deployed bassline.
The backbone of this mix is a half dozen dubstep records of the more odd and awkward variety. In between there’s the wonky, creepy synths of Zomby and Rustie, Hot Chip’s Day-Glo colours, Com.A’s caustic electro, Salem’s weirdly blissed-out crunk and, after couple of very intense records, some levity from Jimmy Edgar (big up the Will Smith revival!). We love, love, love these records and hope in that putting them together, they become more than the sum of their parts. We also hope you enjoy it.
Based in London, British Males are James Cowdery and Chris Power.
00:00 Lennie De Ice – We Are IE (Caspa + Rusko mix) // Y4K
04:32 Zomby – Strange Fruit // Ramp
07:43 Buraka Som Sistema – Kalemba (Hot Chip mix) // Greco Roman
12:42 Radioclit – Secousse // Mental Groove
17:50 DJ Blaqstarr – Shake It To The Ground (Switch featuring Santogold mix) // Mad Decent
20:06 Skream – Tapped // Tempa
23:17 Various Production – Monster // Various Production
25:06 Rustie – Zig-Zag // Wireblock
28:26 I Hate It When People Make Tracks Like This – Jimmy Edgar // Detroit Underground
30:18 Bass Clef – Cannot Be Straightened // Blank Tapes
34:17 Gold Chains – Rock The Parti // PIAS
38:37 Com.A – Radio Squelch Crush Land // FatCat
42:08 Kode9 vs. LD – Bad // Hyperdub
45:39 Martyn – Shadowcasting // Revolve:r
50:24 Salem – Redlights // Merok