Honestly, you kind of know where you’re at with a guy who makes music under a name that includes his sampler on equal billing. Chances are the material is going to be meticulously produced, with a real focus on processes as much as the master mixdown. That’s what you get with the work of Dom & Roland, a guy who infamously created the tramen break (a d&b staple drum break that’s been rehashed and sampled many times over) and a producer who’s been working in and around drum & bass since 1994. You can find handfuls of exemplary examples of his studio honed style on any one of his six full length albums across his own Dom & Roland Productions label and the legendary Moving Shadow imprint - he’s just that type of drum & bass demigod, with such a celebrated reputation, that he can command the type of respect he does with such a succinct introduction.
Making a return to Farringdon on 15th February for the Commercial Suicide hosted Room Three, we wanted to get a better idea of where Dom was at considering that he’s been a little quiet since the 2011 release of his Big Bang album. Revealing to us that he’s been dabbling once again outside of d&b as well as building his own private studio space and using his bountiful contact book to acquire a collection of lost dubplates, he also made us a mix to mark the occasion…
So what's going on with you at the minute? The last thing you put out was The Big Bang album, right? What were you up to in 2012? Were you head down in music?
I was doing some other production work for a well-known rock band who shall remain nameless, they ended up being so pleased with the work I was doing that they invited me to join the band as their keyboard player/soundscape designer. I agreed as I thought it would be fun and different and earn me lots of money. It was good for a while, I got a pro tools system out of it, learnt how to record and mix a rock track ... I learnt a lot....In the end though due to artistic differences we ended up calling it a day before I killed the singer and manager. What else... I built a proper studio near my house, hired a designer and built the whole room myself (you can check the full build in pics on facebook) it took a few months. I still did the odd d&b gig here and there and worked on d&b in my spare time.
Have you got more material forthcoming for 2013? Any projects/releases you can shed a little light on?
Yes. First up is a remix album of Dom & Roland tracks from my label Dom & Roland Productions. I got everyone whose tracks I play in my sets to do me a remix. There are 12 in total, including remixes by Hive, Gridlok, Audio, BTK and Optiv, Break, pretty much everyone I like has done one. I've spent about a year on and off doing a remix of one of Goldie's classic tracks, which I cannot shed any more light on which may or may not come out in 2013. There's a few nearly finished singles. One with Hive, one with Rymetyme and I’ll probably finish Gotham with Audio at some point this year.
The second album I will be releasing will be Dubs from the Dungeons comprised of all the unreleased dubplate mixes of tracks I could get my hands on. There's unreleased Dom and Roland, Dom and Optical, Dom and Calyx, a bit of Fierce and Fresh, some Trace, unreleased DIllinja dubs, and plenty more too... I'm still looking. There's still some stuff I need for it. Getting producers to look for DATS is a bit like getting fat people to ride the Tour de France. I have also found two artists Xanadu and Terror Hubris for my label. There will be singles and albums from them in due time. They are really good, you can hear some of their work on the mix I’ve done.
You're probably as well-known as being an engineer/creating the Tramen break etc. With all the advances in technology and such, have your processes changed over the years? Like, do you welcome new technologies, still strive to keep up with all the new equipment etc?
I still learn new stuff every mix I do, then I forget it and learn it all over again a few mixes down the line. Something I love about making and mixing music, is there is never one way to do things. Having come from an analog background I still see what benefits there are in "going analog" for certain things during a mix... but I fully embraced digital a long time ago and am quite happy doing most things in the computer. There is an amazing amount of choice these days in how to make the sounds you hear in your head. But as with anything in this age of "I want everything now and with no effort" there is a certain amount of shit that has to be sifted through to find the real gems. I have been a beta tester for a few different companies since the early 2000's and am currently testing various game changing plug-ins that I cannot talk about.
You've been in the game a little while now, how do you think the music you are making now differs to that you were making early on?
I don't think it differs that much. Obviously the production has improved but I have the same ideals I had then. I like to make music that will be remembered and isn't throwaway.... I think if you can play a track 10 years on and it doesn't sound dated it is a good measure of this. I still play tracks like ‘The Vandel’ I did with Matrix and ‘Iceberg’ with Rymetyme in sets and no one seems to notice that they are both over 10 years old!
Similarly, what keeps you motivated to carry on travelling and DJing? What keeps you motivated to carry on contributing to d&b do you think?
Although I’m much older and grumpier, I still love travelling. It's still interesting to meet different kinds of people and their attitudes to life around the world. DJing is fun, I love the feeling I get from the crowd (I still remember being one of them). I see DJing as an artform in itself, playing tunes that compliment and talk to each other, something I don't see others do as much as I used to. Drum & bass has always had and will always have a special place in my heart, having made it for so long. Whatever the future holds for me, I’m sure it will always be based around making music. I'm lucky in that these days I have access to all the music I love that inspires me, long before anyone else hears it.
Actually, you've reminded me I want to do a shitload of gigs this year, get in touch with my agent.
Can you tell us a little bit about the mix you've put together for us?
There's a bit of old a bit of new, dancefloor stuff I have enjoyed playing in the past. There’s some new Dom and Roland Productions and Commercial Suicide things coming out later in the year on there too. I just had fun pulling out tunes really. There's a lot of really good new stuff around at the moment but I’ll save that for my set so as not to piss anyone off.
Dom & Roland – FABRICLIVE x Commercial Suicide Mix
Mindfeeders - Dom & Roland (Mindscape Rmx) - Dom & Roland Productions
Be Yourself - BTK - Renegade Hardware
Sprech Funk - Neonlight - Lifted
Oxygen - Bad Company - Bad Company
Chaos - Terror.Hubris - Dom & Roland Productions
Time Bleeds Truth - Klute & Prolix - Commercial Suicide
Rare Earth - Break - CIA
Raiders - Upbeats & Dose (BassNectar Rmx) - Non Vogue
Galleon - Fierce Break D-bridge Nico - Quarantine
Untitled - Prolix & Dose - Dubplate
Spaceface - Mindscape - Commercial Suicide
BPD - Xanadu & Terror.Hubris - Dom & Roland Productions
Facade - Noisia - RAM
Flux - Dom & Roland (Gridlok Rmx) - Dom & Roland Productions
Warp Zone - Mindscape - Commercial Suicide
Feed the Machine - BSE & Noisia - BSE
Carbon Shock - Skynet (Noisia Rmx) - Sudden Def
Moonraker - Karl K, Kaos, Jae Kennedy (Gridlok Rmx) - Human Imprint
U Do Voodoo - Dom & Roland (Hive Rmx) - Dom & Roland Productions
Enforced - Dom & Roland - Dom & Roland Productions