Turn back the clock with Bassrush’s resident DJs and MCs as they talk old-school memories, new-school tunes, and their favorite moments from 2015.
Real Name: Derek Finner
Affiliations: Bassrush, Icarus Audio, Dissonance, Shadow Company
What were some of favorite releases of the year?
2015 was a huge year for drum & bass and bass music in general. I honestly could go on forever with this but I’ll keep it short. Mefjus and Enei’s albums on Critical were definitely played in every one of my sets. They continue to floor me with every release. Those guys are putting out amazing music and Kasra is a wonderful person.
Lots of things from Viper, “Bear Hug” from B Motion, “Humanoid” from Prototypes, “The Plains” from Inside Info, “High Water Mark” from Cyantific—big stuff from that whole crew. One of the biggest artists of 2015 for me was Dimension. Every single thing that guy puts out is gold in my book. Calyx and TeeBee had a ton of good stuff this year but “Sawn Off” was the track that did it for me. Everything Culture Shock released was played on a regular basis. I love his stuff. Maztek’s “Straight To Bad” on my imprint Icarus Audio was super huge and did damage everywhere.
There are so many labels and names I could say, many new names emerged and have done amazing things. Some other artists I really enjoyed in 2015 were Xtrah, Silent Witness, Rockwell, DLR, L33—his tune “Badman” on Addictive Behavior is an absolute beast—Drumsound and Bassline Smith, Smooth, Mob Tactics, Prolix, Phace, Foreign Concept, Kasra, Ulterior Motive, Ed Rush & Optical, Optiv & BTK, Audio, TC, Ivy Lab, Kasra, State of Mind, Current Value, Hyroglifics, Disprove, Jade, Pythius, the list continues. I’m really excited see 2016 unfold.
When did you attend your first Bassrush show?
I attended my first Bassrush-esque show in 2009, I believe. It was one of the Bassrush stages at NOS. It was in the dome and I remember walking in and seeing what looked like snow. It was the ceiling literally coming apart from the bass. I walked in when Dillinja was playing, Ed Rush & Optical followed and I can’t remember for the life of me who else was on that lineup.
What was different about Bassrush compared to other parties back then?
Bassrush to me set the bar for bringing really good international talent as well as American artists. No one brought drum & bass lineups like that in the US and I still to this day don’t see it anywhere else. The production level blew everything else out of the water. At the time, a stage with some truss and lighting with a halfway decent sound system was a really big deal. If you wanted to add some video it had to be done in moderation. Those of us D&B followers weren’t used to that sort of sensory overload. We were used to a dark room with a couple lights and a soundsystem that never gave us the results we were looking for. That was always the gripe when we left shows: “I wish the sound was better.” When I started going to Bassrush events, the legacy of the shitty sound system was laid to rest.
When did you officially become part of the family?
It was in 2009 when I worked at Audiotistic for the site operation team and I was asked to come back for the next one. I’ve been there like a festering wound ever since. [Laughs] I’m the site operations director, talent buyer, and production manager for Bassrush.
Paint a picture of your first gig for Bassrush? What did you play?
Forrest [Hunt] called me late one night a few weeks before Christmas. He asked me, “Do you wanna play at the Music Box in two weeks?” Trying to hold back my excitement I calmly answered, “Yeah, sounds good.” At the time I owned a dubstep label called Cognition in addition to my drum & bass label, Icarus Audio, which I own with my partner Brandon Stewart, aka Staticalpha.
I asked who would be playing and I was told Nero, Alvin Risk, and Savoy. I was both opening and closing. I believe this was 2011 and dubstep was really buzzing with the emergence of some really big names in the genre like Skrillex, Chase and Status, and Nero. I decided to take the opportunity to play a 75% dubstep and 25% drum & bass set. I began my set with some deeper minimal dubstep at the time from artists like J Kenzo, Mesck, some dubstep Maztek was experimenting with and Black Sun Empire; D&B-influenced, deep, minimal dubstep.
Knowing what else was going to be played that night about halfway through I turned it up and started playing some stuff from my Cognition label, which was a bit more big-room sounding. I even dipped into some really big tracks at the time from Knife Party. I believe that was their first EP You Blocked Me On Facebook, Now You’re Going To Die. The whole place went ape shit! The film guy actually came up to me while I was playing and said I may have bitten off more than I could chew by playing that. The Skrillex remix of “Levels” from Avicii was released that day and people flipped out due to most never hearing it before. Seven Lions remix of “You Gotta Go” by Above & Beyond put some in tears, which was completely foreign for me to see.
I closed with a double drop of the Sub Focus remix of “Hold On” from Rusko and “Bittersweet Symphony.” That was probably the most memorable moment in DJing for me, seeing the reaction to that. It was very surreal and epic; that hands in the air and everyone singing kind of moment.
Where’s the craziest place your DJing has taken you?
I’ve been fortunate to have played a ton of incredible shows for Bassrush and each one has its own story. [Laughs] Playing to a sold-out crowd at the Palladium with Zomboy, Bro Safari, TC, Snails, and Definitive was absolutely insane. That was probably the wildest crowd I’ve ever played for.
Being direct support for Andy C at the Exchange was pretty amazing. Directly supporting someone I’ve idolized since I was about 13 years old is a pretty crazy thing to mentally comprehend. Also, performing at all of the festivals including EDC Vegas. Honestly, the one that sticks out most was playing at EDC Brasil. It wasn’t necessarily crazy because of what happened or a certain thing that happened but just the overall experience itself. I played at 5AM on Friday night with special guests Dieselboy and Dirtyphonics. We had a lot of fun and the crowd did, too. There was great weather, spirits, and when the sun rose everyone cheered.
The next night when I played the weather was not so great; that’s when it really hit me that I was playing in the rain and there were still about one thousand Headliners in the crowd dancing their ass off. I’m in Brasil playing drum & bass in the rain to one thousand people on a crazy stage and loving every second of it. The whole scenario to me was very hard to comprehend because then comes the next question, “What’s next?” I have no idea where I’m going next but I’m very fortunate to be doing it and I absolutely love it.
What are your Top 5 Bassrush moments for 2015?
- Playing the Bassrush show at Palladium in March with Zomboy, Bro Safari, Snails, TC, and Definitive was probably my number one. That was absolutely bonkers.
- The Bassrush weekend after EDC Vegas with Critical and Blackout. The crowd’s reaction when we turned the house lights off and cranked the sound after everyone thought the event was shutting down early before Black Sun Empire got to play was pretty incredible.
- Noisia in July was super wild. I’ve never sweated that much while performing in my entire life. I think Dino may have beat his record of how many times he said “somebody scream” that night, so it was a big night for both of us.
- Seeing Ed Rush & Optical, The Upbeats, and Prolix all go back-to-back at Escape was absolutely mental.
- Opening for DJ Fury multiple times. It’s a running joke that he’s the world’s greatest opening DJ. I open for him sometimes so I’ve got that going for me. In all honesty, though, that guy is one of the main reasons why I got into drum & bass a very long time ago. I get to open for one of my biggest influences on occasion. It’s pretty awesome if you ask me.