With it’s recent rise in popularity within the growing music festival movement, drum and bass continues to absorb new influences – but is it moving away from some of it’s original, raw edged flavors? Enlisting an international group of talent, ringleader Sam aka Malachai (of Cabin Fever fame) moves and shakes the scene with releases on his own Natty Dub Recordings imprint: part of a growing movement of dnb labels honing in on the gap for original taste tested sounds. As the name suggests it’s all about roots and the way tracks are selected for Natty Dub reflects owner Sam Malachai’s passion for big bass and beats, and no BS.
In an impressive move among a growing trend to release various artist compilations, Natty goes mental with Rise of the Soldiers, an album project marked with quality selections from some of the scene’s brightest dancefloor wizards. Boasting over 15 different drum and bass artists from around the globe, Rise of the Soldiers moves and shakes through both jungle and jump up influenced sounds leaving no room to take a breath. Malachai was kind enough to condense all of this information into a quick Q&A for DNB Vault.
What is the origin of Natty Dub Recordings?
Natty Dub was set up in 2012 by myself (Malachai) and former partner Voltage. At the time, we felt something was lacking in the scene and in our opinion everything had gone a little stale. We were thinking about what direction we wanted to head in musically and what steps we would take next. We had many conversations about raving, the style of music we listened to as teens, and how we loved the party jump up sound from the likes of Roni Size and Krust.
We agreed that our main focus would be to put that party jump-up retro sound and feel back into drum and bass and take away that clinical sound. We set our focus on tracks built purely on raw vibes. After a few years of hard work and some amazing achievements with the label myself and Voltage parted waves . I now run the label with my business partner Pat.
Tell us a little bit about the recent release of the samplers for the Rise of the Soldiers.
We choose tunes for the samplers that we felt would showcase the album but at the same time, not give away too much too soon. For sampler 1, we decided to pair up Serum and Supreme being; Serum’s track, One More Thing and Supreme Being’s track, No More. We felt both tracks set things off nicely and showed off the more current sound of the album.
For the 2nd sampler, we decided to show a different side to the album and showcase the more retro rollers. We paired up Bladerunner with Saxxon; The Bladerunner track , Into The Fire Featuring Mc DNA. and Sax xon track, Radio Raheem.
Tell us about the mastering process for Rise of the Soldiers?
I mentioned to Bladerunner about what I felt was needed on the tracks. He said he could do the necessary tweaks, no problem. So I basically left it in Bladerunner’s capable hands. The rest you can hear for yourself .
What do you feel is most important when selecting a group of tracks for an LP?
There were three main criteria with selecting the tracks: Does the tune fit the sound of the label? Does the tune have a vibe? Would I play it? At the time the album was conceived, we were lucky to be working with some amazing artist like Serum & Bladerunner and some of the best up and coming producers the scene has to offer.
DNB Vault is excited to see representation from America in the form of Hoogs and Jaybee both with a high penchant for great music. What are your thoughts on DnB production stateside?
At present, I definitely get some great music sent to me from the states. Lots of varied styles from lots of new producers, which is great for the American scene. One thing I have noticed over the last couple of years is, there are lots more American producers that make a more UK/European sounding drum & bass. In past years, I don’t think this has been the case, hence so little American producers blowing up in the UK. With this change, I think it has has really helped some of the new up and coming producers from the states to get more recognition over this side of the pond. I can only see this as being a good thing for the American scene as it will make people look further into the talent there is to offer stateside.
Being an artist yourself, what are some of your musical influences?
I could be here all day with this question! I have been influenced by so many style of music over the years. I’ve always been very open minded musically and listen to all sorts from blues, metal, classical, reggae, hip hop, the list goes on. If I really had to name a few, I guess it would be the likes of: Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Kraftwerk, Marilyn Manson, Prodigy and Roni Size, I love it all.
In terms of production, you must receive a lot of demos. Do you have any advice for producers who want to release music on Natty Dub Recordings?
I’m very picky when selecting tunes for Natty (Dub). I have lots of amazing music sent to me but unfortunately lots of it I have to turn down due to it not fitting the label sound. This does not mean I wouldn’t support them in my dj sets but the tunes we take really have to fit the identity of the label! With a lot of the artists that have featured on The Rise of the Soldiers album, I have passed on feedback and advice to get the tracks to where we feel they need to be for the sound we want.
If I hear something in a track I like and the producer is willing to work with us, then there is always the potential for a release. So, to any producers who think they have music that fits our label, don’t hesitate to send it.
Can you give us some insight on the label plans for the rest of the year?
The rest of the year is looking great and we have some amazing music to unleash which we can’t wait to drop. Lined up musically we have 3 solo EP’s from Saxxon, Coda and K-Jah and vocalist Regina Rae’s album, which is being worked on as we speak.
Regina’s album will feature producers from in and out of the camp as well as some amazing vocalists. On top of that, we have projects from T>I, Jaxx and P.A in the pipeline which may be released before the end of the year. Natty Dub are also branching out this year and venturing into merchandising, watch this space!
What are your top 5 tracks on Rise of the Soldiers?
Every track on the album is unique in its own right and each vibe deserves a mention, to separate the tracks wouldn’t be easy for me. I could reel off names like Serum & Bladerunner or the other bigger artists on the album, but they are all excellent tracks. It’s an honour to have these guys on the label, their music simply speaks for itself. Here are five tracks that people may not think would be receiving the support they are and from some of the biggest names out there.
- Coda – Wagon Wheel
- Hoogs – Bunga Ranch
- Version – Options
- Jaxx – Persepolis
- Cabin Fever – Regret It – K-Jah Remix
Both samplers are out to buy now and are available from all the major download stores . The full album is released on the 22nd of June exclusively to Juno and available webwide from the 29th of June.
I would like to say a special thank you to all the artists, the Natty dub team, Serum – Bladerunner – Saxxon – Supreme Being – Voltage – K Jah – Hoogs – Dna – T>I – Dawn Raid – Jinx – Jaxx – Jaybee – Regina – P.A – Jam Thieves – Version – Symptom – Pat – Sblendid Selection & Criz for their input, involvement and behind the scenes help with the album project. I would also like to thank Dan and the rest of the team at Cygnus for their help.