As far as drum & bass goes, no label has a more distinct sound than Spearhead. BCee (aka Steve Jefroy) signed his first release for the imprint in 2005, carrying the flame for an emotionally-rich style of DNB that labels like C.I.A, Soul:r and Signature had started.
For the last 14 years Jefroy has shaped the sound of the label, releasing 4 full-length LPs amongst signings including S.P.Y, Seba and Alix Perez. Jefroy also manages Future Retro, Spearhead’s recently-revived sublabel and home of last month’s excellent Treats EP.
Ahead of Spearhead’s next Room Two takeover next weekend, Jefroy sent us an hour-long mix in anticipation of their return. As he told us in our accompanying interview, there are few tags that fit his music perfectly, but we will say his mix rolls through a wholly musical and heartfelt side of the genre.
I'd say it’s uplifting with just a hint of sadness about it. Like a nice summer’s day, but you have Radiohead playing on the radio.
From where did you source most of the records?
One great thing (that can also be a bit overwhelming) about running Spearhead is the amount of promos and demos that come through to my inbox. There’s no shortage of music, but it can be a mission to find the gold. I'm pretty fussy about not just what I sign for the label, but also what makes it into my virtual record box.
How does the mix compare to what you’re playing at the moment?
This mix is a good representation of what you can expect to hear from a BCee club set right now.
How would you describe a Spearhead showcase for anyone who hasn’t been to one before?
We are all about the positive uplifting vibes, but don't expect loads of generic liquid to just nod along to. I try to avoid calling the nights 'liquid' because it doesn't really sum them up. We are all about real underground drum & bass with plenty of music in it, but still with plenty of grit. Ballsy liquid? In the right context, that’s probably the best summary.
Can you talk more about the other guests appearing on the night?
Technimatic have been a part of Spearhead from their days as Technicolour & Komatic. Although they’re currently signed to Shogun, the great thing about this scene, and especially the way I run Spearhead, is that it's all about personal relationships. We share a lot of the same ideas both musically and on a personal level. They always bring the right balance of music and energy to the party. You can expect plenty of dubs from Villem & McLeod as they now have their debut LP in the bag, and it's BADDDDD. As someone once said, “not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good”. You never quite know what to expect musically from Mutated Forms, but you can guarantee that they will smash the place. It’s Rene LaVice’s debut at a Spearhead showcase, so I’m looking forward to how he plays it!
You recently revived the Future Retro imprint after an 8-year hiatus. How did the Treats EP come together?
I revived Future Retro after several enquiries from fans about what had happened to the label and the back catalogue. I got a lot of stuff remastered for a re-release, and was approached by a distributor about releasing some material. That started a conversation about relaunching the label, and with so much good music on my computer it seemed to make sense. Under the alias The Vanguard Project we’ve been working hard to capture that classic feel sample-based drum & bass but with a fresh twist. That was always my idea for the label. We’d been playing Treats for a while and it had been going down well, so we looked through our projects to see what else would fit. Next is a BCee EP called Magic Words, partly because I don’t want people to feel it’s the label for stuff that isn’t quite good enough for Spearhead. I've got some absolute fire ready for both labels and I can't wait to get them to you!
We’re yet to see any activity from Spearhead this year – can you give us any insight of what’s on the horizon for the label?
Sure, it’s been a slow start, but we have lots coming up. Dexcell have an Under The Blue remix EP coming, with guest remixes from Anile, Technimatic, Villem and myself. Dexcell also went back in on Closer and turned it into a full-on break workout. It’s coming out on 13th April.
Nymfo is also releasing a new EP called Crystal Clear, and there’ll be a series of remixes of my Northpoint album from Lenzman, LSB, Seba, Anile, Monty and Bladerunner. Finally there’s an EP from Macca & Loz Contreras, an EP from Need For Mirrors and the long-awaited debut LP from Villem & McLeod. They’re all mastered and ready to go!
On Future Retro there’s my aforementioned Magic Words EP, a new various artists EP, new material from Dexcell and a new EP from Saikon, which I’m really excited about. Things may have got off to a slow start, but I think from April there’ll be monthly releases across both labels through the rest of the year.