James signed to Reinforced when seventeen & began climbing the producer’s ladder, by receiving considerable recognition (from the UK dnb scene), with an (un) authorized remix of Doc Scott’s “Here Come the Drums”. However, label-heads can rest assured, there’s more than enough product to go round.
Drum & bass’ freshest hope in 2003 is building a strong catalogue of material daily, and is willing to let labels come to him. “I’m not a slut,” he says, “but if big labels are interested in my stuff then I’m gonna give it to them.” Label-wise Breakage doesn’t have commitments, more connections. He’s a free agent and he’s enjoying his freedom. Reinforced and Inperspective are there for him and vice versa, but the new school jungle coming out of South London has a higher purpose. Touted by artists such as Blame and Photek as one of the up and coming artist to look out for, Breakage has helped inspire the Scientific drum and bass movement in London with his amen and drum funk take on dnb. Like many artists of worth, Breakage doesn’t particularly like his own tunes. He’s stunned and speechless about a workload that has people chatting his name for a second time round. These days it’s Lemon D dropping ‘So Vain’ on the Valve system or Flight and Bailey plastering his name all over the 1Xtra playlist. “It’s a really exciting time, but it’s strange to think people are talking about my music like that.” Like the majority of Breakage’s music, ‘So Vain’ is heavy on the Amens and subs with lashings of reggae and dub feeling. Finished over nine months ago, it was recently snapped up by Breakage’s adopted family in Ireland, Bassbin, to the dismay of Valve and Goldie.
“It was at the first night of the Metalheadz club at Limelight and Bailey was playing,” says Breakage. “I was up on the balcony with my friend and it just dropped. It got a rewind almost immediately. I couldn’t believe it. That was like the first time I’d heard my tunes out and I was checking to see if it was really me.”
As his name suggests, breaks play a big part in it. Like his spar and Bassbin associate Equinox, Breakage is looking at the genre as a whole and where it’s moving. “The breaks are the most important thing in drum & bass,” he says. “Even if you have a break sampled with a scratch or a noise on it, if it sounds good, it sounds good. Use it. It’s a natural groove. You can do so much more with a break than a two-step or whatever.” If you’ve heard Breakage’s remix of ‘Acid Rain’ on Inperspective, you’ve visited edit city. Breakage lives there. The insane break chops and drum cuts are key to his natty sound. But there is also level of compromise. Keeping the dancefloor in focus is a necessary balance to experimentation, he says. Paradox and Photek are big influences, but so is Squarepusher. So what comes out on the other side is a dubwise notion, a sound raw and deep and deceptively simple.
“It’s that dub sound, I don’t know what else you’d call it,” he says, with Equinox hanging on the other line. “It basically comes from what I sample, which is hundreds of dub records and CDs. I sat down for like a year to work out what kind of drum & bass I was making and thought about my style. I want people to recognise my tunes and know they’re me.” There’s little risk of missing a Breakage tune in a club - the rewind normally gives it away. But recent excursions including ‘Rise’ and ‘Mars’, both getting flexed on 1Xtra, push a deeper dub vibe. Lucid dreamscapes, but weighted with bass and soul, they are part of Breakage’s constant effort to realise new directions and ideas in his music.
With a name tagged by DJs early on as one to watch, Breakage’s future will see him sticking to his guns. “There’s a crazy little electro drum & bass album project I’m trying to get together,” he says, “Think Mr. Oizo - that yellow puppet from the old Levis ad with the insanely catchy hook.” There’s also time set aside for more atmospheric film score style d&b, he says. Oh, and Doc Scott has just asked him to do something for 31.
Edited by IanAR on 28 Jan 2011, 22:02
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