Newcomers Daat, a duo out of Montreal, have just landed on the d&b scene with their debut 12″, a track called Orange Line with a Deep Blue (yes, the legendary Deep Blue you might remember from classics such as Helicopter Tune- check out the tribute mix to him by DJ Clever that Organic just released if you’re not familiar) on the flip. Released as a collaboration between New York experimental label Offshore Recordings and London’s quickly rising night/label Organic, it’s a serene slice of deep, stripped back d&b with a sullen bassline juxtaposed by more harmonious, thoughtful pads and sweeping drums.
It’s a top quality piece of d&b, that obviously draws on previous experience in d&b from one half of the duo, Jason Os, combined with the fresh outlook of his partner in crime Joe Mnemonic. Rather than simply a DJ tool, they’ve created a really nice piece of music in it’s own right that creates a distinct atmosphere of the night without becoming too down beat or melancholic which is a sound I’m really feeling. Deep Blue polishes off a top notch release with a more up beat reconstruction that utilizes the original atmospherics beautifully over a faster drum pattern with warmer hits and a multitude of layered atmospherics that ebb and flow throughout, peaking at all the right times.
We caught up with Daat to get the background scoop on them and find out a bit more about what went into the release. Head over to Surus to pick it up.
Easy lads. Can you explain who Daat is first? Where are you both from and how did you link up?
OS: Daat is myself (Jason oS) and Joe Mnemonic. I’m originally from New York (from 1978 to 2007), but I moved to Montreal to study Music Technology at McGill in Montreal. I think I was teaching a course in audio production, and Joe sat in on a Logic lecture.
MN: I lived in Ottawa, Canada until 2008 when I moved to Montreal to study Music Technology. I’ve always played a lot of music, especially jazz, but it wasn’t until recently that I got seriously into producing Drum & Bass instead of just listening to it; largely because of my friendship with Jason who coincidentally was studying in the same department.
What do you think it is that made you click together in the studio and enjoy producing with each other?
MN: We share a lot of interests and we usually have the same ear for what sounds good. Sometimes we spend a whole session discussing music and life in the context of what we’re trying to produce, and that’s almost as enjoyable as making the music itself! It’s really important to sort out the thoughts underneath the music because if you grind to a halt on a given track you have a way of stepping back into the abstract and finding direction again.
OS: I enjoy working with Joe. Before Daat, I’ve always worked alone. But I think since we get along outside of production it definitely helps. We tend to be very complementary in our workflow too, so there isn’t really ever a time that we get in each other’s way.
Why the name Daat?
MN: We were trying to find a name that combined a technological aesthetic with something philosophically meaningful, without being too specific a reference. Daat is a word that refers to enlightenment and knowledge. Daat is also an abstract character of ours whose story is represented in our sound, which is a way of making sure that the music all fits into a unifying concept.
How would you describe your sound?
OS: I’ve been into this minimal half-tempo thing since about 2002, and have an affinity for simple pure synthesizer tones and drum machines. I’m not really sure what to call it, as it’s always been Drum & Bass to me. I remember people used simply call it Minimal Drum & Bass. That seems to fit alright.
MN: To me it evokes a feeling of both fast- and slow-motion, like a split perspective, one part flying through tunnels of glass and light, one part night time city skyline panorama. In terms of genre I would go with “atmospheric half-time Drum & Bass”. I guess that’s the split perspective: the half-time feel versus the often intense drumlines associated with Drum & Bass. But always atmospheric.
Let’s get a little idea of your tastes and influences. What three albums couldn’t you live without?
OS: Ok, here goes:
(1) Digible Planets – Blowout Comb: Their first album was not my fav, but this second one brought in so many 70s inflences. I think this album introduced me to breaks too, as it contains a virtual who’s who of breakbeats. Some of the production is a bit rough, but musically its brilliant.
(2) Logical Progression- mixed by LTJ Bukem: I really got to know Drum & Bass through this album. I had heard several tracks before, but being from NY, and having a strong interest in Hip Hop before getting into Drum & Bass, I was relatively reluctant to go all in. Once I heard this album though, I knew I was a lifer.
(3) Autechre – Amber: Some of the best music ever made.
MN: I get inspiration from a lot of different sources, and I’ve gone through a lot of different periods in my life when I was listening to one artist for weeks straight. There are a few albums in particular that I’ve spent countless hours listening to, they are like close friends and I always come back to them:
(1) Photek – Form & Function
(2) Squarepusher – Go Plastic
(3) De La Soul – Buhloone Mind State
BONUS: Boards of Canada — Geogaddi
Good choices! So to mix up the quality a bit, what are some guilty pleasure tunes you just can’t help loving?
MN: I love video game music from the 8- and 16-bit era, it makes me giddy like a little kid when I listen to it. I’m a sucker for nasty cheesy digital sounds and sometimes I feel a little guilty about it because it makes me realize how much these video games affected my brain chemistry.
OS: Guilty pleasure huh? I suppose I dig early 90s Anime soundtracks. Kenji Kawai is big. But thats not really cheesy though. I’ll go with video game music as well.
Tell us a bit about your work flow when making a track. Do you work together in person? Do you both have certain areas you excel in or do you work on everything together?
MN: We work a lot together, but it’s very important to have some solo time with tracks get your head right into the music and to explore in directions that you wouldn’t necessarily go otherwise. Each of us has strengths and weaknesses but overall we end up getting involved in all aspects together. Neither of us has a monopoly on a certain area or mode of thought.
OS: Since I’ve been working with Drum & Bass for a while, I tend to have a pretty good understanding of the synths we use and how things fit in a mix, though that can lead to things being stagnant, and Joe often will be there to bring a different perspective and new tools to the process. He also has retained his formal music training much more than I have, which is great for melody and harmonic progression.
MN: Jason knows a lot about Drum & Bass history (he studies it professionally) so he has a precise sense of how a given sound fits into the music as a whole.
What’s the studio setup like and what are essential comforts for a long session?
OS: The studio has grown in the last couple years, and the layout become optimized in the front room of my apartment.
Computer: Mac Pro running Logic 9 and Renoise, with various synthesis, sampling, and mastering software; in addition, Cecilia, Csound, occasionally some Matlab processing.
Soundcard: MOTU Ultralite mk3
Monitors: Dynaudio BM-5A mkII
Mixer: Mackie 1604 VLZ-Pro
Roland Juno 106
Ensoniq Mirage DSK
We frequently use Redmatica Autosampler to sample hardware in an organized and efficient way as well.
MN: It’s of prime importance to have plenty of water on hand. I have to keep reminding myself that I have to eat and to walk around and to generally give my mind and body a break. Otherwise it’s easy to burn out. And then Jason has to deal with my grumpiness.
What’s the d&b scene like out in Montreal? Are there any other local artists you’d recommend we check out?
MN: There isn’t much of a scene here. People in Montreal generally enjoy electronic music (we’re well received when we play live, even to people who don’t know d&b) but for the most part it’s minimal techno that sees the most representation. Still, we have a solid crew of friends who are involved in Drum & Bass: Code and Louisa (Subtle Audio/Bustle Beats), Dan ESB, and Alain Traffic.
OS: Ninja Tune’s office is here in Montreal, though to my knowledge they’ve not been pushing too much Drum & Bass these days. I know Conor (Code) has been producing a fair bit lately. If there are other Drum & Bass producers in Montreal, get at us!
MN: That’s a good point about Ninja Tune. Amon Tobin lives in Montreal and makes amazing tunes, so unique.
Your latest release, on Offshore/Organic, is a tune called Orange Line. Where did the inspiration for that come from and how did it all come together?
MN: Orange Line was one of the first tracks we started working on. Its loosely inspired by the concept of inter-dimensional travel and so it’s got this feeling of transportation. Jason lives right beside a metro station on Montreal’s orange line, which we were riding a lot (still do). The architecture of the metro system is really inspiring, it definitely had an effect on the sound.
The remix on the other side is by Deep Blue, am I right in thinking that’s the Deep Blue of Moving Shadow/Partisan Recordings? How did he end up on remix duties and what do you think of how he’s switched it up?
OS: Yes! The Legend. Sean’s (Deep Blue) produced some of the most influential tunes throughout the course of Hardcore, Jungle and Drum & Bass’ history (Bombscare, 2 Bad Mice Take You, Helicopter Tune, Metropolitan Chic). Its a huge honor, and not one we take lightly by any means. Sean and Brett (Clever from Offshore) have known each other for some time now, a relationship that has resulted in Deep Blue tracks on Offshore throughout the years. Brett had contacted us about the possibility of putting out Orange Line and a Deep Blue remix as OSRORG002 and we were thrilled. The remix is incredible, and has non-stop energy. In a club it’s even more intense, and filled with subtlety.
MN: Yeah, I love the remix! It’s got this killer outdoor atmosphere that rides under a 2-step groove whose timbres are constantly shifting. It has a great sense of simplicity in the overarching structure while being incredibly detailed in the sound design.
What else is planned for the near future?
OS: More tunes, and more a lot more developments with the Breakscience Project.
MN: We have a track in the works on Subtle Audio and plenty more in the pipeline; we tend to have a bunch on the go at any given time.
Lastly, what releases from other artists are you looking forward to at the minute?
OS: Oak. This guy is such a talent; such variation in his productions. He has a tune out called Escapist that is gorgeous. Godfather Sage has been around for some time now and has some tunes about right now with First Aid (Olive Skin and The Vision) that ride the line between Minimal Drum & Bass and Wonky. MJAZZ has a couple dubbed-out remixes of Diamond Eye (by LXC and Dubmonger) out now on 7”.
MN: I’m always anticipating upcoming releases from the Microfunk Crew, they have a dub called Fluctuations that I absolutely love, hoping to see that come out sometime.
Cheers for the time! Any last words or shout outs?
Big thanks to Brett @ Offshore and the Organic crew (Alexander, Rob, Dave, Kam, Nathan, Ollie, Jez, Ilpo, Temi, and Becca) for this excellent opportunity; Offshore and Organic have been amazing through the whole process. Massive respect to Deep Blue for the remix, and shouts to the Montreal crew!