Since bursting out into the drum and bass world nearly a decade ago, New Zealand based rudeboy TREi has produced smashers for top labels like Technique, Commercial Suicide, Shogun, and for the last year, exclusively with Viper Recordings. Most recently he has finished a mega single project for the label with fellow bad boys The Upbeats. We sit down with TREi at the DNB Vault and talk about this killer summer release and what makes an artist like him tick.
Growing up in New Zealand how influenced were you by acts such as Concord Dawn and Pendulum?
I’d been into Drum & Bass before these guys came along really, but they absolutely cemented it for me. Being from our end of the world and creating such a unique energy in their sound really blew the doors off I think. For me personally, they utilized the rock vibe to perfection which was a big influence in that respect, I think you can hear that in a lot of the Drum & Bass that comes from New Zealand & Australia actually. Tracks like Morning Light & Vault were absolutely seminal at the time and still relevant to this day.
When did you realize that drum and bass was your calling?
I think the appeal for me at the start, was the broad set of styles that I noticed being incorporated in Drum & Bass. I’ve always been a ‘rock guy’ essentially so the power and diversity you get within it really resonated with me. I got the bug and haven’t looked back since I still love it as much as I did back in the day.
What is your studio process like?
It varies really; I try to create a new sample bank every month or so so that generally ignites the creative spark a lot of times. Other times, though, it can come from anything, a drum idea, samples, mucking around with vst’s etc etc. I tend to set up a basic drum kit then get to work on the musical elements. From there it’s just a matter of building things up, I always tend to get as much into the tune as possible to harness the initial idea, then as the tune grows and evolves, I take things out that aren’t working. Then I spend a GAZILLION hours mixing down and nearly always working the drums back into the tune haha. So it’s definitely not an efficient process by any means, but still very focused on the creative process in the early stages without getting to bogged down on the technicalities, which of course are supremely important to, but for me,…. you can’t walk down the street whistling a snare drum can you.
What was the first tune you ever wrote?
Hmmmm, good question; the first thing that comes to mind is a tune called ‘Transposed’ sometime around 2002’ish, that would’ve been the first one I felt was “complete”. Very stripped back and primarily all outboard synths (Nord Lead, Supernova, Waldorf Pulse, JoMox Drum Synth, Akai CD3000 Sampler etc.), safe to see say that was quite some time ago now haha. I’ve been writing music since I was about 13, and of course spent a lot of time on things like Cakewalk, Fruity Loops, and just playing around with sample editing etc. before I really got into sequencing & piecing actual tracks together.
Have you ever gone back and listened to it? If yes, does it make you cringe a little because of how you’ve advanced since then?
Haha, I would HATE to hear it now haha. From memory when I think about it, it really had no sub’s what so ever so that in itself would wig me out a bit. Luckily, I don’t think I have a copy of it anymore, and there definitely won’t be a project for it so it’s definitely banished to the into the Ether now.
You now have a new release coming out on Viper with The Upbeats, is that right?
Indeed, that is correct. It came out a couple weeks ago, I’m SO glad they’re finally out, I’ve been playing Tonto in my sets for at least a year or so and it always gets a great reaction. We go back a long way, all coming up through the Wellington scene plus I played guitar in the Upbeats Live project so whenever we sit down and work on tunes together we always make sure there’s some sorta live instrumentation in the tunes, I think you can hear that in both Tonto & Shangri-La. Plus they’re just straight up champs
What is your process for collaborating on something like that? Do you guys’ all get together in one studio and knock this single out or are you bouncing parts of the tunes back and forth over the internet?
Yeh especially for the NZ guys. We always work things into a couple days of studio time; that way you can really catch the vibe I think. And the finishing can be done once that vibe is locked in, but getting that vibe together is the essence. I’ve recently done collabs with Borderline, NorthBase, and a couple of the guys from Insomniax which are sounding massive. Most of those were done remotely so it works both ways really. I do prefer getting in the studio together to get things started, though.
Do you have any plans to go out on tour this year?
As we speak, I’m somewhere in India on my way to the Czech Republic to kick off my European tour at BeatsForLove Festival, touring through …. And finishing up at Let It Roll alongside my Viper buddy’s, which I ABSOLUTELY can’t wait for! That one’s gonna be a rowdy one! Usually, I come through Europe in Spring or Autumn, so this is my first European summer, looking forward to getting some sun on these lily-white pins.
Are there any final words you’d like to say to the readers and fans out there?
Big Thanks to everyone for their support over years, we’ve got some very exciting things in the pipeline over the next 12months so keep yr eyes peeled.
For more information on TREi
TREi on Soundcloud
TREi on Facebook
TREi on Twitter