Dubstep’s got its purists. It’s a fact that’s most likely born out of the way it was shaped in its early days, when it was spurred on by just a few committed people and producers intent on attending FWD>> and continuing to push the sound in all directions. It’s kind of a weird thing to be though, considering that the genre’s genesis evolved out of a very open ended nature of what ‘dubstep’ could be (read: anything written at around 140 beats per minute that had a lot of sub bass in it) so to be the idealist follower of the sound, you should be able to love a multitude of styles and influences all at once and grow with it, finding things to love in all the twists and turns it yields. But whatever; even if you’ve never been that much of a fan or you’re the guy whose bought two copies of every DMZ release they ever put out, when you’re stood in front of a big speaker and that traditional combination of space, bass and rolling drums hits you just right, the lure of the sound is very easy to find - it’s that much of a physical thing.
That direct influence is something that V.I.V.E.K seems to understand dutifully. Here’s a producer who’s not only released music on the founding father of meditative dubstep, Mala’s Deep Medi label, but has spent four years of his life building up his own soundsystem, creating his own specifications for how his music should be presented. It’s no wonder then that Vivek Sharda’s spirited mixture of tribalist rhythms and sine waves pricked up the ears of Pinch - a figurehead and label owner who’s Tectonic back catalogue and Subloaded night are key figures in the sculpting of the genre in his native Bristol - and it comes as little surprise that his music is so well tweaked for soundsystems: his recent 12” for Tectonic is littered with protracted bass stabs and a constant low tone that would serve to move you even if it was the only sound on the record.
Appearing in Room Two this Friday, we caught up with Vivek to try and learn a little more about his history and outlook considering that the internet is a bit of a baron place when it comes to his biographical information, and to go alongside the interview he made us this brooding mix to help us celebrate our latest landmark.
There’s very little information about you online. Has that been a conscious decision that you’ve taken, to limit the amount of gumpf on websites? I mean, it certainly lets the music speak for you…
It’s never been a conscious decision, no. I just haven't had the opportunity to speak about my scenario within this music thing. I guess my position has its pros and cons; the pro being that people know about you and your music, the other that the some know nothing about you [laughs]. It's just the way it is. I try and portray myself with the music I produce, so I leave it up to the individual to dissect who I am.
There are hints that you were first a drum & bass head out there though. Is that accurate? How did you get into the dubstep sound? What drew you to it? Where did you first hear it?
I was definitely into my d&b; I adored it - especially the Metalheadz sound, it was so ahead of anything out there. But to be honest I lost the love of the sound. Something within me said no, so I started searching for something new. I specifically remember my first interaction with 140 was down to one of my good friends Razor Rekta. He schooled me on much of this sound; I remember sitting in his house and hearing Hatcha on the radio and just being totally confused to what I was hearing... it was fantastic! What drew me especially to it was the connection to dub music and the space that every sound seemed to have. It was like a breath of fresh air.
Your music’s been championed by scene leader Mala, something that’s pretty much a purist’s dream. How did you get in touch with him?
That's all down to Silkie. I had gone to visit him at his house to build a beat. We ended up drinking and talking. I gave him a CD of some tracks that I had built. He had a listen and reckoned Mala would be into the music. Turns out he was and before I knew it I was on the phone to him; so big up Silkie! Even though we rarely see each other I have a lot of love for him.
Furthermore, how did it feel for him to release your music? Did it open a lot of doors for you in terms of a career?
It felt great. I don't know how people perceive producers, but generally we are the most insecure people around [laughs]. Generally I am over critical about what I produce and that is very unhelpful for me, so to have someone like Mala reach out to me was a blessing and made me have some belief that I was actually making something decent.
You’re playing in Room Two for Tectonic this Friday, a label on which you just released a record. How important do you think playing out and DJing is for you as artist? Is it an integral part of the process do you feel?
Before anything I’m a DJ. I love playing music out. It is definitely the most important part of doing what I do. I met Pinch a while back when I was touring Hong Kong and China and we made a straight connection. It’s an honour to be part of the fabric birthday too and I look forward to spreading my music on one of the best systems in London.
What else have you got coming up?
Well my main project is my night, SYSTEM. I’ve spent the last four years building a soundsystem with my best friend and I run the night with Mala. It’s been a real breath of fresh air and I look forward to building on what has already been achieved.
Can you tell us a little bit about the mix you made for us?
The mix represents music I am into and also shows the diversity of the sound we know as dubstep! System sound for system people.
Catch V.I.V.E.K in the Tectonic hosted Room Two on Friday night.