This Saturday, May 6, UK drum & bass legend Friction will be playing the latest installment of Bassrush’s Funktion series in Los Angeles (snag your tickets here!). One of the genre’s greatest champions, Friction has kept his Shogun Audio imprint going for 13 years (their birthday just passed), and even more impressively he has a widely popular radio show dedicated to drum & bass on BBC Radio 1. Now, just having launched his second label called Elevate Audio with its first EP, Quadrant already out, it seems Friction has no intention of stopping his support for and progress in the scene.
To get all the heads fired up and ready to rumble ahead of this weekend’s show at the Belasco, we had a sit down with the busy DJ, producer and, let’s face it, D&B media mogul for a glimpse into the past, present, and future of drum & bass.
Shogun Audio has become the gold standard for drum & bass production, and now it’s turning 13. What was the original vision behind the label and how has it been to watch it grow?
The funny thing is that when I started the label, there was never any set plan with the music. I just wanted to release what I like and the sound of the label formed very naturally. Looking back now it’s mad to see how far it’s come!
There’s obviously a lot of buzz around the new Elevate imprint. What was the reason for developing this second label? What do you hope to achieve?
I’ve always been someone that’s been into the full spectrum of drum & bass, so the plan behind Elevate was to create a label that could cover the more straight-up dancefloor side of the scene, as Shogun has always been more focused on the deeper liquid and tech side of things. We actually had our first release in 2013 when we released “Long Gone Memory” and then “Freak” in 2015. We were just waiting to get to a point where we could properly launch the label which happened last year when we released my Dare EP.
It seems with Elevate’s Quadrant Volume 1 out now and Volume 2 on the way, there’s a focus on bringing high quality tracks but with distinctly new sounds. How do you pick which artists and which tracks you want for a project like this? Is there a theme in mind?
The plan with the first Quadrant EP was just to have an EP focusing on tracks that could work in the club. No other direction than that really. Obviously, we try and get the sounds to work together but I just wanted DJ’s to be able to look at it as a go-to EP to play in their sets.
Will there be single producer releases on Elevate, or will it strictly be compilations and your own stuff
We’ve got big plans for Elevate. We’re working on material from other artists at the moment as well as singles from me and my debut (belated!) LP next year.
I just try and put the whole scene together in my radio show and make it a real listening experience that takes you on a journey.
The BBC Radio 1 Show won Best D&B Radio Show at the Drum & Bass Awards this year, and it has certainly been a staple of listening for any D&B head for many years. Looking back to the beginning and where the show started, how do you think radio has managed to evolve as a format as the musical culture of drum and bass has evolved into a digital, SoundCloud-driven world? How do you bridge those two formats?
Yeah. I’ve been doing my Radio 1 show for five years now and I have to say, it’s gone so quickly! It’s been interesting to see how the market has changed as far as how music is released. Things are definitely more intricate now. Tracks are released a lot quicker and promo time is a lot shorter. I just try and put the whole scene together in my radio show and make it a real listening experience that takes you on a journey. I’m constantly on peoples’ cases to make sure the music played is as upfront as possible!
Anything else you’d like to say about current projects or what you’re really excited about coming up for Friction, Elevate and Shogun before we rest up for the big show?
It’s a really exciting time right now. I’m about to embark on festival season. I’m looking forward to releasing my next single. Shogun and Elevate have a packed release schedule and I’ve obviously got my Radio 1 / 1Xtra show running each week. It’s busy but I wouldn’t have it any other way!