Joe Syntax is among a new breed of drum & bass artists; a generation of producers who are as well versed in strains of dubstep, house and techno as they are the roots of jungle. It might be a cliché to muse about the impact the internet has had on people's listening considering that everything is now constantly so accessible, but when you listen to Syntax’s latest work, the ‘Modus Bass Fun EP’ which just came out today on Med School, the tendrils of other genres really creep through.
Whilst drum & bass has long be defined by the break, the heavy tacked drum spine that powers the tune, players like Amit, Goldie and dBridge have toyed with the genre’s atmospheric properties, pushing the realms of what happens around that drum line but on tunes like ‘Bassline Sinker’ and ‘Red Zone’ Syntax concentrates much more on the interplay between the bass line and the rhythm track, making a massive feature of the ferocity of the drum work. They’re high pressured, coiled rollers wound tightly so that they really explode on a dancefloor. When we caught up with Syntax late last week he spoke of how playing out has influenced his writing and it’s more than evident all the way through his latest EP, one that he’s joining us in Farringdon to launch at the Med School Room Three on Friday 20th July.
Ahead of the appearance we caught up with him to find out where he’s been since we last spoke…
We last featured you on the blog nearly a year ago now, what have you been up to?
The past year I’ve been quite focused on developing my music production-wise. I've made the switch from Reason to Ableton as my music making work station; Reason being the Neanderthal workhorse and Ableton the Superfuture DAW. I actually still use Reason a tiny bit it's mainly Ableton now. That software does everything I need. My music's always been largely sample based so I've been exploring synthesis quite a bit and generally getting to grips with the new gear. I’ve also been making quite bit of slower tempo music lately and have played some wicked gigs around the UK and Europe.
Are you approaching music in a different way since you’ve been working with Med School?
Since signing to Med School I've been fortunate to play out a lot more than I had previously, which has had an effect on my music - largely production wise but also musically. Playing in clubs or at festivals really inspires me to write music. I just got back from a great small festival called Noisily in the Leicestershire woodland which felt more like an organized free party and I spent the whole week after it writing techno. I think I've started writing music with more of a sense of place in mind.
You’re about to mark the release of Modus Bass Fun by playing here on the 20th July... what’s the idea behind the EP? I read that it’s all about that dancefloor bubble, do you think the title is indicative of the music?
There isn't really any big idea behind the EP apart from it being a collection of tracks which seemed to fit well together. The title track ‘Modus Bass Fun’ was initially a working title for the tune but gradually stuck and I think it represents the EP well. Whether it’s indicative if the music... I guess so, as there's a sense of playfulness among the tracks so it seemed like a good title for the collection.
This release is more dance floor geared than my last one as I'm more interested in making music which I can play out at the moment. I was DJing long before I started producing so it’s nice to release something which is more DJ friendly and some very respected people have been supporting it so far which is always nice.
What’s next for you after the EP?
I'm going to be in the studio a lot over the summer writing more music and doing some collaborations.
I'm signed to do an album with Med School which will happen eventually. I have quite a few more chilled and leftfield tunes which didn’t work for this release that could work perhaps on an LP. I quite like the idea of doing another EP to be honest but nothing set in stone; your first album is like your baby and I want it to be right. I’ve also got my remix of ‘Signal Drop’ coming out on a Med School compilation sometime later this year.
What can expect from you set next month?
I'm really looking forward to it. I'll be mixing it up style wise, as always. Will definitely be playing bits from my new EP and hopefully testing some new music from myself. I've also got some great new stuff from my Australian friend Royalston to play too - that man is killing it.