As the legendary Playaz continues to reign supreme in the drum and bass scene, the imprint turns to the OG Taxman for the knockout blow as he continues to steamroll his way through the tail end of 2019 with hit after hit erupting from his studio.
With bangers like “It Comes At Night” and “Inside The Ride” setting the stage for the analog hypnotism of “Telepathy” on the horizon, the old-school-meets-new-school flex that Taxman is cooking up in the lab these days reflects a return to the sound and vibe that rocketed him into the stratosphere in the first place.
The first to admit that he’s tapped into an electrifying vein of inspiration lately, the Playaz stalwart warns that there’s an unholy amount of Taxman bizness headed your way so look out! To get the full scoop on this newfound energy and outpouring of goods we thought we’d touch down with Taxman himself to catch a glimpse of what the future holds as well as some in-depth production and career advice for the man that is essential reading for all creatives out there struggling to find their footing in the scene.
It looks like you’re planning on closing out 2019 with a bang! What’s behind the new outpouring of tunes from the studio?
I just feel inspired again and feel like I can write what I want to write and people will listen. I suppose I caught myself trying to sound like all the new kids, so I took a step back for a bit. There’s a certain sound that’s in at the moment, but I feel there’s also an air of being able to do what you want and it will be accepted.
I didn’t have that same feeling a few years back, it felt like you had to make one sound, dry jump up with no energy, which to be totally honest I wasn’t feeling. As my brother [Original Sin] said, “it’s wide open at the moment, you can do what you want,” which I feel he’s right. So, from all that, I just submerged myself in the music again, started listening to what got me into all this in the first place.
I was finding all these forgotten gems on you YouTube, all these old tapes from nights in the mid-90s. The one that stuck out the most was a Desert Stormtape with Darren Jay, DJ Ron & Grooverider, hosted by Navigator, Moose and Five-0… I must of listened that tape every morning for a month, and from vibing on that pretty much came these new singles (apart from “It Comes at Night” which I wrote in October 2018).
We’ve read that these are not only cuts from your “private dubplate collection” but that this new music is “my sound, on my terms.” Explain what you mean by that and how the new tunes may differ from your earlier output or may be cutting a different path than what the rest of the scene is doing at the moment.
Like I said, it’s too easy to go and make a tune “like that one.” I’ve never been about that, and I’ve always been told I have my own sound. I went to a few festivals that my brother was playing at this year, and he was playing all my new tunes and they were going off every time, just making people dance and pull faces. That’s what it’s all about, and these tunes are just me writing what I want to write. I pretty much went off dnb a few years back, I just didn’t like what people were making, and I felt like I was expected to make that too. I grew up on breakbeats and fat subs, not empty drum loops and screeches. These singles are me with my head and heart back in it, and making dnb on my terms.
Behind this fierce independence is a vision that has spanned decades. How do you keep things fresh over the years and continually hammer out the hits? Even more important for all the budding producers out there hoping to follow in your footsteps, how do keep the faith when you go through a dry spell where the tunes and creativity just aren’t coming?
If I knew that I wouldn’t have had a few flops along the way [laughs]. I think a lot of my music relies on themes over each track, like “Die Tonight” was another dub sample loop track, “My House” was house inspired, “Scanners” was heavily inspired by the movie Scanners, not just the title, but the samples, loops, vibes, and artwork. “TDK” was me giving a nod to the GLR era around 95/96 and so on…
So yeah, I think doing different themed tracks like that has always been one of the angles I approach writing a tune at. And the same pretty much goes with my whole singles collection that is forthcoming – I suppose if you haven’t got a vision and an idea, you haven’t really got much to work with but that’s just how I work.
Personally, if I’m having a dry spell, I just don’t go into the studio. But if I’ve been in the studio loads, I’ll take a bit of time off afterwards too.
First it was “It Comes Out at Night” then “Inside the Ride” and now “Telepathy” is on the horizon. How many more cuts should we be expecting in the series and is the plan to eventually turn these into an album project?
I’ve got two more singles and two remixes lined up which will take us up to Christmas. I’m already working on new tracks, and this singles schedule is working great for me, so right at this moment I have no plans for an album, and if I did, I don’t think I’d tell anyone. There’s nothing like the pressure of people knowing you’re writing an album and being asked about it constantly.
Before we go we’d love a little production tip so we can get our Taxman flex on! I’m thinking especially of any tips you have for helping us to get those fat Taxman snares in our own tracks!
Overthinking snares used to make me want to quit making dnb altogether to be honest! My advice is to keep it relatively simple: no more that two layers. I use a lot of snares out of breakbeat loops and drum loops rather than looking through loads of snare sounds. Remember to use different type snares for different types of tunes too. If you’re trying to make some jungle then you don’t need some heavy snare that’s gonna take your face off. Same goes with kick drums too (I don’t tend to layer kick drums much though)… horses for courses innit, mate?
And if you’re making a curry, poach the chicken in the sauce, don’t fry it. Thank me later.