Aquasky are about to drop 2 albums that represents their time with seminal label Moving Shadow entitled ‘Shadow Era 1 & 2’.
Signing to the label in 1995, the two albums showcase the music the guys were making in the era in the form of original tracks, remixes for the likes of The Art Of Noise, Omni Trio & Sneaker Pimps & a healthy dose of never heard before Dubplates.
On the eve of the first installments release, we caught up with Brent Newitt of Aquasky to delve into the crews history, influence and the reasons why they wanted to re-release their classics.
You have been releasing music for over 20 years, what has been the biggest change you’ve seen in the way the music industry has operated as a whole?
Genres don’t seem to take the time they did to build up and then break through. Things are so much quicker and the ascent seems as quick as the descent for artists and genres. Also, artists are indispensable these days. The music is released digitally, so no vinyl with photos of the band, their names, shouts to who they are down with. Jeez, even hard these days to associate artists to label rosters. And with no mainstream magazines like there were, its hard to break the music into a bigger scene. Everyone use to pick up magazines in the train station and thumb through. I found out about so many bands that way that I wouldn’t of stumbled across on the internet.
Why did you decide to re-visit your moving shadow releases and drop the Shadow Era Album?
We never went back to that era of our career after we left it. Our music turned to the darkside by 98/99 and the ambient/intelligent/liquid scenes were just a vibe we didn’t wish to recreate. It was too precious and meaningful for us as we were kids and things happened so fast for us back then. We quite liked escaping that scene and going into a new scene that we weren’t known and starting again. It was fun and we were young enough to make the challenge a success. But these tunes were big back in the day and did very well for us and we wanted to showcase our 20th year by remastering them and also finding tracks that we only ever played on dubplate back then and never released.
Theres a few remixes on the album of some pretty major players from the era. Are there any major remixes or collaborations that were particularly memorable for you?
Our first remix was Larceny. Not a big name but the label Nuphonic went massive by 98. I always loved that remix and as it was our first ever remix i am well proud it came out as well as it did. I love that panning skipping rope we put into it. I also really like the Hunch remix of ‘Visible In Space for Clean Up Records. Again, it was super creative and I love the Bob James ‘Nautalis’ break we used. I have never heard anyone else get that break to roll like that since.
In the early days, what was it like gaining recognition from the likes of LTJ Buken, 4Hero, Giles Peterson etc?
Funny… we use to share a house and we had a pay phone. We use to get all those guys calling up, people who we have admired for years beforehand. And coming over as well… just madness really. We are still close with 4Hero and Reinforced as well as Rob Playford and the Moving Shadow family. I am very proud of what we accomplished back then and will always regard the people who we were involved with back then as family.
How did the Bournemouth music scene of the 90’s differ from that of the London scene?
It was deeper. We had spent years already, well 5 years, doing the rave circuits and the free parties across Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset and Devon… so it was a mix of hippies and ravers. No attitude and it was all lovely. That reflected in our music and attitudes. With our long hair and all encompassing musical tastes between us, we didn’t really fit into the London scene so much. But that was never what we wanted to do, chase around trying to pretend to be from London. We were proud of being from Bournemouth and back then, 93-96, Bournemouth had a really, really strong D&B scene compared to cities far bigger than our town!
What influenced you to start your own Drum & Bass labels Sonix Records and Incident Records?
The sheer amount of music we made. We lived together pretty much for 8 years… that’s a lot of music that can be made during that period and being from Bournemouth, there weren’t really any distractions. We just got on with it and needed new outlets for our music. Sonix was the tougher sound and Incident was the deeper sound of Aquasky.
What are your top 3 most memorable DJ moments in the 90s? (eg. Best crowds, best venue etc.)
My first gigs will always stick with me. My first European gig was with the Basswerk family in Koln, Germany at the Red Rose club. Why I remember that I don’t know! I still have the flyer somewhere. The first Moving Shadow tour at Bono’s Pod Club in Dublin with Rob Playford and Andy C. I had only be playing d&b for a year by then and I was DJing next to Andy C… talk about a baptism of fire! Then I would say probably another Moving Shadow Tour to LA with EZ Rollers, Calyx, Jakes and Jumpin Jack Frost. That was pretty bonkers for sure and we stayed in a hotel with the full WuTang Clan.
Were you surprised at some of the support you received when you released the “Teamplayers” album?
To be honest… no. We worked so hard, spent so much time and money to make that happen. We had such a wide array of cast. It was our attempt to prove breaks wasn’t the bitchy scene that the media made out. Most of us were friends and most of us had broad musical tastes way before making music for a living. Just because we didn’t make Plodstep Breaks didn’t mean we didn’t like some of it and some of the artists too… I’ll always think that to be one of the defining breaks albums and the broadest in musical styles and vibes. And to this day I big up all involved, whether artist, artwork designers or the guys that made the videos. We were all family and we came together as family.
How has your production changed since you first started producing music?
Personally, I have gone back to making drum and bass under the name Oslo. And this time round I want to make the nastiest, noisiest, hardest, jump up amen rattlers. The total opposite of the drum and bass I made 20 years ago. And of course, we started on analogue, but made the switch in 2003 to digital. So there is that whole element now. Music back then was warm. Music now is cold.
How do you think you’ve influenced Drum & Bass as a genre?
I wouldn’t say we influenced D&B. We influenced Breakbeat after we left D&B. We left our mark on D&B in a period when it was only UK guys making it and we nearly all knew each other. So our music didn’t have much competition back then, so it was easier to make a name. So we will be remembered for sure. We did make some really deep music then and people loved it. Its a good question as I have never actually contemplated or mused over how people would remember our D&B. More than likely we will be remembered as the outsiders from Bournemouth who did their own thing, had our own little friendship and humor between us and knew what each other would say before we said it. But listening back to these tracks now, I am happy with what we did… we kept it deep, we kept it rolling and we always used rare and interesting samples as we were vinyl collectors. We only ever used the amen break once between 1995 and 1999!!!
What can we expect from you guys in the future?
These days we don’t record together. We have all got our own lives, careers and families. It would be nice to think we would return to the studio one day. I still have so many ideas and I am sure Dave and Kieron are the same. Its just finding the time now we are adults! Kids… DONT GROW UP!!!