Rocketing his way out of southwest London only four short years ago, the interstellar bad boy known as Xtrah has quickly established a name for himself with now-classic releases on imprints like Subtitles, Critical, Symmetry, Metalheadz, and Ram. Coming with a self-described “cyberfunk” style that merges the best of sci-fi, tech-driven dancefloor drum & bass with the deeper, atmospheric edges of neurofunk D&B, Xtrah’s sound is instantly recognizable and one that continues to catch the attention of all the heavy hitters in the scene.
Throughout his meteoric rise to the top, Xtrah has remained fiercely independent; avoiding the lure of being signed exclusively to one label and most recently even starting up his own Cyberfunk imprint. With a series of heavyweight collaborations with Mefjus and Noisia finding their way to the masses this month through a series of EPs—one on Cyberfunk and the other on Noisia’s Invisible imprint—Xtrah is hotter than ever and with good reason.
The Matriarch on Cyberfunk has just hit and features two cuts that pit Xtrah and Mefjus head-to-head as well as introduce two new artists, Incognito and Phentix. As if that wasn’t enough, the massive six-track Gravitas EP that he’s been perfecting in the studio for the past three years is set to finally hit the streets with two jaw-dropping collabs with the dream team of Noisia.
Read on for a glimpse into the future of drum & bass.
November is looking large for you! Fill us in on all that’s about to go down!
Thanks, man! It’s about to get a bit hectic, I think. The Matriarch EP just dropped on my label [and] features two collaborations by myself and Mefjus alongside solo tunes from both Incognito and Phentix. I also have my Gravitas EP dropping on Noisia’s Invisible imprint and I’m delighted to say that Noisia and I have two collaborations on that. It’s a six-track EP, my biggest project to date! It’s out on November 27. I’m also featured on Dub Phizix’s Fabriclive CD which I think may be out at some point in November, too. He and I did a tune a long time ago which he has used as part of the CD. Lots and lots going on!
It seems like you’re firing on all cylinders these days!
I’ve been really inspired lately, what with starting the record label, having some wicked artists wanting to work with me (known and unknown), doing lots of label nights this year, and just being productive in general. It’s hugely inspiring to me! Just hope I can keep it going, which is what I intend to do.
I imagine the collaborations have been a source of inspiration. How do you see your collaborative work with Mefjus on the Matriarch EP as being different than from when you’re in solo mode?
It’s been really cool working with new people, especially producers of this caliber. Mine and Mefjus’ styles are pretty different, but when we were in the studio things just fell into place. I can hear that in the music.
I had a label launch in his hometown so I went over a couple of days early to crack on in the studio before the night and we smashed “Fever” out in a day and a half! There were some small tweaks to be done to actually finish it but the tune was playable by the time I played in Linz, Austria two days after I arrived.
Matriarch took a little bit longer—it was done online—but I still feel it captures the sound of us both on one tune again, which is exactly what I had envisioned with this collaboration. Huge big-ups to Martin for getting involved with the label!
Speaking of the label, Cyberfunk is relatively new in that this is the second release off the imprint and already you’re coming out of the gates strong! How do you see this as establishing what the imprint is all about?
This release definitely captures the essence and ethos of what we are about: providing a platform for new producers such as Incognito and Phentix to release really good music on and also releasing music by myself and other established artists. That’s what I want to be doing so I can look back in a few years and be happy that I’ve possibly helped a few people get their names out there as well as having other amazing artists whom I respect and support release on my own label. Can’t ask for much more than that!
Introduce us to Incognito and Phentix.
Incognito has a very minimal/tech sound but his music is always full, which is hard to accomplish. It’s definitely got a deep feeling to it with lots of warmth and filtered basses layered with distorted mids that create tension and a kind of eerie-ness! It’s very ‘Headzy but done his own way and whenever you play it in a club it fills the room. Can’t wait for more from him.
Phentix is a young, talented producer from Linz, Austria. I met him at Mefjus’s house and he played me a few demos in the studio which blew me away from the start. He’s exciting to me because although it’s a sound you may be familiar with he has his own twist on it. Believe me when I say keep an eye and an ear out to hear more from both of them in the future.
As if that wasn’t enough, you also have this huge Gravitas EP for Noisia’s Invisible imprint due in a few weeks! Tell us how those collabs came together.
I started Gravitas a couple of years ago now and wanted it to be part of the EP, as it was going down nicely wherever I played it. I asked Noisia if they’d like to finish that one and they said yes so I got the parts sent over to them and that was how it came to be.
“Up to Something,” our second collab, was something they started at their studio. Thijs from Noisia played me it when I first visited them to perform at their hometown event Machtig. I really liked it so I offered to finish that one. Thijs sent the parts, I had a go at it then sent my ideas back and they liked them and that was that really.
Weighing in at six tracks, this is your largest EP to date. Give us a sense of what kind of story you see the EP telling.
This EP has a very off-world feel to it. I’ve always loved anything to do with space and planets and I was going for a futuristic funk sound, trying things I haven’t done before. There are some samples and vocals throughout that come from the same source and almost reinforce the general concept behind it all. I’m not going to go into it too much—I like people to make their own mind up about these types of things—but there’s definitely a consistency between it all.
Last but not least, where do you see yourself and the label going from here? Anything specific we should we be looking out for in the New Year?
I would like to continue to grow and progress in every way possible. I will be working on and releasing new music as it’s ready. As for Cyberfunk, we have some very cool music lined up from some great artists known and unknown. I will be collaborating and releasing music with established artists and releasing our first Artist EP in 2016. We also have our events which have been amazing this year in the UK & Europe, and there’s a few lined up for 2016 already, but overall I just want to keep doing what I love and working with good people.
The Matriarch EP featuring Xtrah, Mefjus, Incognito, and Phentix is out now exclusively on Beatport. Vinyl junkies should head directly over to the Cyberfunk shop to pre-order your 180g vinyl and Matriarch t-shirt bundle, which is due to hit on November 20.
Xtrah’s Gravitas EP drops on Invisible a week later on November 27, so be sure to lock in your pre-order for that one as well.