February 19, 2012

Revival: c0p interview for dubstep.ro - 2007

Back in 2007 and 2008, way before BASICS popped up, I used to handle editorial affairs for dubstep.ro, as some of you may already know. Around that period of time Toma Soare (Tomasan), Silviu Costinescu (Alien Pimp) and myself managed to sort out a couple of interviews with people that at the time being were deeply involved in the Dubstep / current Bass Music scene.

Late 2007, one specific interview had Hotflush Records' ex-A&R in the spotlight. A certain gentleman that goes by the name of c0p and has laid a solid foundation for the Dubstep, Techno and Bass Music scenes in Hungary and the whole Europe as a DJ on Sub FM, as a promoter, as a talent scout back when Hotflush was just another label on the market and as a graphic designer for most relevant events in Budapest and for a couple of well known labels from the UK.

Since dubstep.ro took a dive and we are in possesion of what we like to call "timeless material" we took the liberty to re-publish a short novel that even 4 years after it first hit the web, still tells an undeniable truth. A great "early day vs. present thoughts" comparison that could easily spark memories for everyone involved with music or the past and current scenes. A great open discourse (or even monologue at times) reaching issues like: Stereotyp, Dubstep's early days in Hungary, the dubplate culture, Basic Channel, minimalism, Drum & Bass, crowds, the launch of Hessle Audio, El-Sid, predicting the future or simply being busy.

Interviewing affairs handled by Toma Soare.

c0p says it all!

c0p? Instead for me to make an introduction to this interview, c0p does it himself…so easy, you can see I didn’t even ask questions, as a rhetorical view, he does it himself again. We could say c0p talks to him with me in the background…so just go through it…Enjoy!

1. Hey c0p, how are you doing?

A bit busy. Okay, lets say freakin’ busy. Luckily I have to execute loads of projects at the moment. Hopefully you will see and hear the issues in 2008. I think I have to learn living without sleeping as looking back in the past years' boredom is an unknown word in my vocabulary. I’m always working on different tasks in different fields which is basically good. So to cut the long story short, I’m fine thanks.

2. Where does c0p come from? We might get scared, are you a policeman?

Well, I have to draw old memories when my life could have been described by 8 bits. I got my first experience by a Hungarian computer named Primo (pure quality at that time with 1kb memory and 2 colors) and a few years later I hooked up with commodore plus4 and c64. My life was permanently determined by computers. Well, not as much as nowadays but it was enough to jump into the demoscene in the late 80s. There I began using “cop” what was easy to remember, unique (who wanna call himself a cop?), cool to draw because of all the rounded letters and at last short enough to put onto classic 3-bit high score tables. And if you hate cops you’d better think of Robocop hahaha. I still use this nick to all of my activities and at the dawn of the h4ck3r typing I began using zero around 1997. Well, I still use both but zero equalize the word better in typography. So I don’t have anything in common with the police, even my father isn’t a cop as a rumor catched my ears back in the days.

3. When did you start Dj-ing and what did you play that time and who are the artists who influenced you over the time?

My most favorite question as I can start a never-ending tale and everyone gets bored before the end. I’m trying to sacrifice my storyteller side and cut the long story short. I’m trying to live open-minded so I hardly can state that there is just a number of influences reached me during the past decades. I should begin with Kraftwerk's “Boing Boom Tschak”, Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit”, Paul Hardcastle's “19″, Hot Streak’s “Bodywork” or Malcom McLaren’s “Buffalo Gals” just to show what were my grounding hits. Alongside these I melted into the Hip-Hop/B-Boy era with all classic stuff. Honestly I think I’m still on the same aesthetic vibe in a disguise, as only the elements changed during the time. On the other hand I can tell that my very first fave was Boney M, hahaha! Risking of ruining the evolved vision of a progressive c0p I can add Pet Shop Boys to my early 80s influences. I always tell that Rock and me are two different stories but I was listening to EMF, RHCP, Nirvana, Bodycount, Faith No More, Pink Floyd, at least one of their albums. But seriously, I realized that I can’t deny my raw and overwhelming desire of crispy, delicious beats, endless flow of wise minimalism or everlasting flow of bassline driven moods. Maybe that's why I’ve never sticked to any styles too long and ended up as a basshead who just wanna join his forces with others to shape the future.

I can continue counting the influences of my musical background after the late 80s but we wouldn’t finish this. So I just mention that I started asking mixtapes from my German, Dutch and Swiss friends I hooked up with on the Commodore64 demoscene (I used to be on the team Faces). That's how I found all the classic UK Hardcore bits, the very first mayday compilation, the Acid House fever, the Ambient space and even the Jungle fever just before 1993. In 1995 I got my first request to play in a freshly opened club and after a few months we started to organize our first monthly club night what went awesome for a year. That's how it all started and since then I played with several of my former icons (Rhythm & Sound, LTJ Bukem, Kevin Saunderson, etc. …) and we also invited a few heroes and upcoming talents to Pecs (Monolake, Jojo Mayer, Seba & Robert Manos, Doc Scott, Lawgiverz, ASC, Aquasky, Search & Destroy, Hotflush gang, etc. …). Looking back to very early 90s I’ll be always thankful for artists like the Basic Channel camp, the Warp stable, Steve Reich, FSOL, Plastikman, Orbital, Speedy J, Burnt Friedman (& Drome), The Orb, SND, Amon Tobin, Alec Empire or Biochip C. Sooo many names worth to mention. I should stop here haha. I think all the musical eras gave me a lot of inspiration and a pack of names but I’m always in search of new elements, fusions and impressions (maybe because I used to compose tunes?) though the aesthetic and philosophy are the same every time. I never cared what style I play until there are connections between them. That’s why I loved playing 8-9 hours sets covering everything from Dub, Minimal, Nu-Jazz, Dubstep to Broken Beat, Breaks, Electro, Drumfunk or Drum & Bass. Nowadays I prefer playing Dubstep (avoiding wobbler overdose and focusing on new directions), quality Minimal (not the well hyped reshaped Prog-House but the stuff influenced by Basic Channel, Profan, Mosaic, etc. …) and top notch Drum & Bass (mostly deep, spaced out vibes with clever drums) but I still play several other styles…

4. For how long Dubstep and what is your opinion about Dubstep's development as a genre over the last 10 years?

I think like several DJs I also started out with Stereotyp’s Yahman and his album on G-Stone besides the first Tempa plates. Stereotyp is more tagged as part of Vienna sound, there is an awesome 2-Step, Dub, Nu-Jazz, Dancehall mash-up style. One of his earliest was Yahman which was an unique dark Dancehall minimalism. But that wasn’t enough to see the whole movement which has a very limited scene. I’m a journalist at the Hungarian mag “FREEE” since 2000 and they asked me to do a 2-Step / Garage article back in 2003. I was digging deep and I hooked up with the “early” Dubstep movement. My guides were the Garage Pressure pages from Australia alongside Kode9's Hyperdub archives that I visited earlier a few times. Then I realized there is something more going underground and I got involved pretty much. Since 1999 Dubstep has gone far further though it’s still underground. From the early new dark swing and sub low (around the millennium) to the forming Dubstep and its angry bro Breakstep (we can even add Grime) (2003-04), the evolving Halfstep (2005) it has become international and much more diverse. Today it’s subtle with inspirations taken from the Basic Channel minimal Techno, influences by Electronica and all other styles (just like originally). Such a colorful spectrum of sound and I’m afraid what would happen if it keeps on evolving because it won’t stop for sure! On one hand I’m scared positively as Dubstep today is awesome and I don’t know how far can we go. It’s already magnetizing Drum & Bass, Electro-Breaks, Breakcore, Dub, Hip-Hop and even Mainstream acts so it could turn up something very big. Or it can blow up just before reaching its age. It is still in an experiencing phase with just a few elements grounded heavy to the compositions and people don’t like experiments. They don’t want to do the math on the floors. In 2006-07 Dubstep have been noticed worldwide and it is divided to popular, more dance compatible and more complex sides. I just hope everyone will be listening to all aspects just like a few years ago when it was smaller. You were able to hear all angles in an hour from deep meditating minimalism to floorfiller breaksbombs or tectonic wobblers. It’s all good to have ammo for the mind and the feet but look what happened with Drum & Bass when they got rid of the complexity and let Clownstep spread. I hardly find sets where you feel grooves and change of moods. Maybe it’s just a selfish need as for me style doesn’t matter and I always wanna make vibrating, diverse and add deeper cuts too. Maybe I’m wrong when I think we have to feed the heads (and not with E) too. I get easily bored with testosterone-filled wobblers all night long. Don’t give the people what they want, give the people what they need. It’s all about education and balance.

There is another, maybe even more important riddle for the future. What will happen with the vinyl plats and how long a dubplate culture can exist? Dubplates are very good for quality control but if the dub players are just a small part of the scene they could control the whole movement only in limited directions excluding several other aspects. How long can we go? Where is the balance? Who is trusted? At the digital age the dubs are sometimes leaking out faster than ever what makes the inner circle even smaller. Several artists or labels don’t send out tunes above 128-192 kbit and a lot of DJs outside have to wait to get a proper version released. But dubs are played sometimes years before street date so common DJs have a massive drawback. What will street date mean when mp3 releases will overwhelm the vinyl sells? We are living in a cataclysm when the society’s customing and listening habits are changing a lot so it’s hard to predict anything for real. I’m sure and I hope dubplate culture will stay alongside vinyls but I’m not sure what will happen next. One thing is sure: we have to keep on pushing the right vibes in the right mixture and make our best adding a bit to the scene. And we should never forget the original open minded approach what drove us into. If we stick to our original purposes it will progress ’till the end.

5. Who are your favorite Dubstep DJs and producers? How’s the Dubstep movement in Hungary?

There are way too many to mention. A lot of peeps just don’t get why the others like Dubstep tunes as these are driven by lazy ass, sleepy Trip Hop beats with lame production and boring build up. As a start I think they either don’t catch the word Dub’s meaning or they haven’t heard too much of Dubstep. There are several styles waving outside waiting to get explored especially in 2007. As a guy devoted to minimalism and feeling passion of thrilling beat cuts, energic and tricky, even offbeat rhythms I found Dubstep the most interesting phenomena in years. I can’t roll any electronic music style today that bridges the gap between 70-150 bpm so easily and consistent. I can’t name any other style that is going to make you freak without pace dictating beats in your face and giving the solution with pure bass. This case is similar to the early 90s era when most of us haven’t understood bogus Jungle grooves. Now we don’t understand the “beatless” freedom of surfing on sinewaves. Hah, sorry I turn off the low end theorist. This year I loved the bass driven deep Bristol cuts (labels like Tectonic, Punch Drunk, Mode, Immerse, Inprint, Compound One) who tend to inject a massive dose of the Berlin-based Basic Channel’s legacy to their soundscape. New breed of producers leaked into the scene from Holland (Martyn, 2562), USA (Intex Systems, Vaccine, Roommate, Djunya) who made a huge impact. TRG also produces better and better tunes without any solid identity which is unique I think. The Z Audio crew does it well, Argon rocks the floors, Skull Disco is on fire, Ranking has one of the best starts this year, Hessle Audio, Subway launched well… I have my all time favs every time like Elemental, Scuba, Boxcutter, Reso, 23Hz & Numaestro, Slaughter Mob, Search & Destroy, Hench Crew, Toasty, L-Wiz, Benga, D1… Okay I’ll stop it. There are a lot of good producers so let’s see the DJs… Thinking and his new partner Kidkut are flawless and guys like Scuba, Ben UFO, Plastician and several others doing the rounds too (how sad El Sid - Hotflush left the scene). Hard to pick just a few names as there are dozens of them.

Pecs had its own musical taste and we represent deeper sound. For example some key players in Budapest states that Pecs could have been the capital of Minimal or we are stronger in atmospheric and tricky Drum & Bass. Perhaps the relatively smaller scene allowed us building it up but that's another story. In Hungary we have an evolving Dubstep scene scene though only Budapest and Pecs have regular nights. Budapest has more of the London style wobble fueled anthems while Pecs is like Bristol a bit in Dubstep too. This is maybe because I play deeper or drumwise stuff besides the wobbling basslines and also some UK DJs had the same impression after visiting our parties and city. The Hungarian scene is still very young though we were between the first countries in Europe in 2005 with inviting UK Dubstep DJs. As far as I remember they were only in Spain and Belgium before Hungary. After the award winning Hotflush Records appearance in Pecs things started slowly. DST had been running his 3 weekly show on Tilos Radio, then Chi Recordings brought Pinch to Budapest, Search & Destroy came back alongside Hotflush, Scuba and Dubstep arrived to the enormous Sziget Festival in 2006. Although we could expect a growing scene in fact it's still an underground movement with small achievements. In 2007 the illustrious Bladerunnaz organized Boxcutter, Pinch and Mike Paradinas (Planet Mu Night) and Caspa (alongside the Dub Phase crew). DST, Gumilap & Kebab launched their first weekly club night (Dub Phase) with a pack of regulars what grew slowly and had an impact at the last period of the year after 2000 people witnessed to Benga, Skream & Crazy D (Tempa) on Sziget Festival'07. They have Izc, BunZero (Sub FM), Chef (Rinse) and Tes La Rok (Argon, Noppa) gigs behind. Also Palotai & Cadik are key supporters since 2006 in their radio shows and on the best'n'oldest Hungarian weekly night “Rewind” (last time they booked Martyn - 3024, Revolve:R). I think 2008 will be massive for the scene but I fear we won’t reach the level of a bigger country. We run dubstep.hu, there are a handful radio shows spraying the sound and more new or experienced DJs join the game but we need to build and grow. University and college gigs are inviting key players like Benga or DMZ in the UK, and in Helsinki there are more Dubstep nights than Drum & Bass so we still have a lot to achieve. Thing is that I’m not sure it’s good earning a big mass at the moment as I mentioned earlier… I hope at least other cities will also have regular nights (maybe Szeged will be the next) what would be far enough. Music wise a guy named Boc launched a net label, DST (Digital Distortions, Crater), Ekaros (Combat, DubKraft) and Sollabong (DubKraft) has releases but you’d better watch Madd, Metro etc.

6. What is your connection to Dubstep?

I’m not sure. I still play several styles besides Dubstep and I can’t imagine myself leaving the others behind to become a pure dubstepper. Some DJs are confused because I play different styles, some even more narrow-minded and play just one specific section of a genre. I like mixing the things up if it is possible. For example it’s fun playing some deep Minimal or Dub in Dubstep sets and I play every course in a Dubstep set. It’s very important not to stick anything but aesthetics or philosophy so we can implant as much diversity into our sets as possible. The whole Dubstep and even electronic music meant to be a playground where everything goes. Stealing elements from here melting them with those… If we stick to a strict sound or composition that would end the story. Keepin’ the sound moving, mutating equals living that's how life works isn’t it? So in every style including Dubstep I go for new impulses and stick to old quality pieces. Strange anyway as Dubstep still divides people. This is just another sound what has something more than the actual trends. We saw the situation several times and we can see where Drum & Bass, Breakbeat, Nu-Jazz or Garage are today. I just hope Dubstep won’t end up in a plain scheme and stays innovative and colorful. I’ll give my tiny knowledge to the movement as DJ on air or in clubs, as a writer in articles and reviews and I still have two more connections… I was asked to help Hotflush as international A&R in 2005 and I still help finding new talents and help talents find their home at other labels. Luckily I have a good relationship with several key figures and lots of artists are sending me their unsigned or unfinished tunes as well. I feel really lucky that I was asked to write in 2000 to a magazine because it helped a lot to build relations with all the scenes. One other thing I’m involved is graphics. I was asked to create designs to several Dubstep labels and clubnights. It’s good I can add my bits to last vinyls a bit longer. With the digital sellings personality disappears, you have a bunch of unsorted files in a folder and you lose all material beauties. I think mind and matter are equally important, maybe that's why I studied architecture and do graphics. I wouldn’t be able to live just in digital and forget books, sleeves, hi-q printed graphics, folding tricks, different papers, the smell of it. There is no flash animation or any digital trick that could replace several thousand years of handwork knowledge. Basically I also try to plant and reproduce manual methods in digital. So I was very glad to accept requests from several labels like Runtime (Elemental - London), Argon (Nick - San Francisco), DubKraft (Alien Pimp - Bucharest), Hotflush (Scuba - Berlin, lately), Immerse (Kidkut - Bristol) or even from Renegade Hardware and Santorin (Germany) and there are much more to come… What shocked me is that all happened just in 2 months. I’m not sure if my nomination on Dubstep Awards in the Artwork of the year category helped in reaching out. I was in the top 5 after posting two event flyers. We’ll see what 2008 holds to all of us…

7. Did you enjoy SummerBreak 07? You played after me and Sinkronize.

Hope you guys liked what you heard. Yeah it was very nice though the whole trip was almost a nightmare. There was a massive traffic so we ended up driving about 11 hours instead of 7-8 and I missed my time around 23:00 as Brains missed theirs too. So the organizers postponed my set 1-2 hours and then another… As a result I haven’t slept a second and jumped (moved slowly) behind the deck around 8 in the morning. I was happy I was still able to mix and concentrate on selection for almost two hours. Then I instantly drove back and hit the bed around 19:00 in Pecs. Wished to stay since we had a nice chat with TRG, Kubiks and several guys. I felt like I’m at home with such hospitality. It’s always good to play out in Romania (props to Dudu, Roli Breaker, Seba, BAU & Timisoara massive!) and many thanks goes to Hazee solving the problems!

8. If it were to give a shout to us… ?

I’ve already written a novel so I just wanna give some strict advices by tracks. “Don’t Believe The Hype”, “Shape The Future” and “Watch Your Bassbins I’m Tellin Ya”! Seriously these are important things. Keep the spirit alive and never stick to any formula, build your own scene that's the most important.

More about c0p here: http://c0pland.blogspot.com/

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