At Beat Bar on January 18th, Central Beatz proudly hosted their long anticipated first session of 2014, providing Yorkshire with some of the biggest faces of d&b to date. The occasion was celebrated in spectacular fashion, presenting the incredibly prolific sounds of Amsterdam’s golden boy Nymfo beside Commercial Suicide’s founder and one of London’s most acclaimed producers Klute as headliners. Supported by Hanover, Beat Bar residents and a finale by Yorkshire’s own LD50 & Onset, it was a memorable night filled with progressive basslines, experimental beats and skillfully laced lyricism; undoubtedely the livest Saturday night on offer in Leeds that weekend.
From 11pm a soft pounding bass echoed through the centre of Leeds, pulsating from 66 Merion Street. Stepping into the underground venue, a rushing atmosphere had evidently invigorated the dancefloor as more and more silhouettes steadily became visible through the smoke. Near the back of the room, the seating area was filled with people who sat starry-eyed and mesmerised from the multicoloured lights that projected across the air. Hanover and the Beat Bar Residents grinned as they’d undoubtedly clicked with the crowds desire for rhythmic and grooving experimental tunes, enjoying the ladies closest to the stage dancing sensually in the dark red lighting that stained the air. As the night quickly gained momentum the music became dirtier. Stood close to the stage, the intimate vibes soothed you within a collective of joyous and friendly people, whereas at the centre of the stomping crowd you still had the space to bust moves to the beats. A heavy warm-up for what was to come.
When Klute took the stage, a roar of applause bellowed from an audience instantly hyped by the masterfully suspenseful breaks that dropped. MC Rafta soon joined him, spitting rapid syllables and only inspiring the crowds pacey movements. The fast bars over the furious tempo that ceaselessly blasted was incredulously matched by the audiences enthusiasm. Although the chemistry between DJ & MC seemed shaky at points, they’d certainly succeeded in getting the crowd into a restless state. It was somewhat surprising that Klute had gone for a dirtier mix in consideration of his most recent work from The Draft release, instead implementing dark & rolling sounds up until the very end. A memorable performance, although the haziest to recall.
By 2am it was only the more committed of the crowd that remained breaking down to every drop. In fairness to them, it was inevitable that whenever Nymfo would get behind the decks things would suddenly become more energetic. With an ever-underlying essence of funk, he brought his typically unnerving repertoire of d&b that is renowned for shaking audiences world-wide. A set that paused pulses and made hearts quiver, he delivered the thrill that was evidently intended. LD50 & Onset remained to entertain the livelier crowd until the events duration, which admittedly was depletive. Their growing experience was what really showed as they mixed and diversified their sounds into one that effectively rejuvenated their crowd up until the very early hours.
Amid enjoying one of Leeds most steadily prolific d&b nights, I managed to catch up with the headliners themselves, Klute and Nymfo, to see what they thought of the night.
Baring a modest smile and a can of imported lager, Nymfo was fully at ease before his set as I asked him what he was expecting from tonight’s Yorkshire crowd, and whether he thought there would be much differentiation from the crowd in comparison to the audiences he witnesses across mainland Europe?
I’ve been here for half an hour, and judging from the crowd it looks very similar to the other parties that I’ve played in Leeds. The Beat Bar’s a great venue though, and the sound system is big! The UK’s definitely different from the rest of Europe, I think you can play deeper tunes in the UK whereas in Mainland Europe it’s quite ravey, you know, neurofunk stuff. Some of the warm-up DJ’s tonight in Leeds played very experimental, and front row it was only girls… You won’t see that in Europe if you’re playing that experimental (laughs).
Would this mean that he perhaps tailors a different sound to each national audience that he comes across?
I always bring a lot of my tunes on CD with me. I always try to read the crowd but… no, not really. I always play the stuff I like but in some countries you can play a bit deeper – or you can play a bit harder – so I always try to read the crowd, which is only something you can do on the night. I can’t prepare that stuff. I think tonight will be both deep and dark.
A growing veteran in his own right, he performs on stages world-wide year after year and 2013 was no different. I wondered which shows stuck out for him as most memorable?
Last year I really enjoyed Outlook again, especially the Boat Party. The vibes and whole atmosphere was good, especially with the nice weather… Good music and good sound systems. I did a great tour with Klute in Australia and New Zealand. Touring with him together was especially fun because I’ve played a few times before but it was a solo thing, which was awesome, but doing the whole tour which was 8 or 9 shows together was great to do.
After the night Nymfo is set to jet off for America for the first time in his career, performing a string of shows across the country to divulge his vigorous d&b upon his growing United States fan base. As his only English show before taking flight, I asked if he considered tonight as “practice” for what’s to come on his American tour, and also asked about his plans when he gets over there?
Not at all, it’s just another night in the UK. I’m really looking forward to going to US though. It’s my first time over there and I’ll be playing 8 shows in 11 days. It’s a whole other world for me over there and I’m looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to playing Fargo – a cold city up in North Dakota – the most because one of my favourite movies is Fargo, so it’s quite unique for me to be booked to play there. It’s quite a busy tour, but I’ve got 2 days off in San Francisco and I’ve spoken to a few friends over there who are going to be my tour guides. They’re going to show me around the sights.
In regards to his production, he has noticeably different traits that stem from his varied influences from classical music to early 90’s hip-hop. This has proven to manifest itself into performances and tracks that differentiate from traditional d&b. But what influences his creativity in 2014, and which labels will he be taking most notice of?
I listen to a lot of other d&b artists but also a lot of funk, soul, jazz, hip-hop, that kind of stuff… So my influences are very widely diverse. If I had to choose only 3 artists that I enjoy: in Austria last week I was driving with the promoter and we were listening to Gang Starr, and I said DJ Premier is up there as the finest calibre of hip-hop. I listen to Chopin and classical piano a lot, and today on my flight to Leeds I was listening to the Machinedrum album which is amazing- very old-school jungle orientated music that you should definitely check out. So you know, it’s quite diverse stuff I listen to.
As for d&b, Commercial Suicide of course… I was also nicely surprised the other day by a Various Artists album that I received in my inbox the other day from Chronic Recordings, but I’ve forgot the actual name of the album [Ed: I suspect this is Warehouse Music]. The few big labels in the scene all release great stuff, but I always like the little surprises that I receive in my inbox.
Thanks Nymfo! have a good show.
Introducing myself to Commercial Suicide’s founding artist Klute, I asked if he had any New Years resolutions.
“Yeah – to step up the game”, came his confident reply.
Very recently dropping his solo album The Draft in late 2013, the release of which he mentioned was the highlight, he talked on how although he appreciates the brilliant reception that the album received, he wasn’t ultimately happy with the album…
I was more then happy with the reception I got… I was very surprised with the reception that I got. Am I happy with the album? As an artist, I’m never happy. When I’m making music I feel that it could always be better. The album’s all I remember from 2013… So yeah, it probably was [the highlight of my 2013] because by running the label and producing much of the music, it felt 10x harder to do (not to take anything away from the other artists on the label).
All-knowing of every nut and bolt that shifts within the Commercial Suicide mechanism, I itched to ask him what the now prolific label has in store for the world in 2014, and whether he had any juicy collaborations in the works?
I’ve got far too much music to release that I know what to do with. I’ve got albums coming out my ears that I need to release, the game is getting stepped up. Next thing coming out is a Nymfo single, then a Klute single, and then a Dose single. There are albums coming later from Dose, Invaders, by the end of the year a Nymfo album and there’s a Minescape remix project coming… So there’s a lot of stuff in store for 2014! Personally, I’ve just done an album so I’m exploring. At the moment, I’m doing some non-d&b stuff with a fantastic singer. Very unusual female singing… Very good.
I was actually talking the other day about a collaboration project, but it’s just something that’s on my mind. With the Draft, it was something that I’d just wanted to do myself. It was a portrayal of ME, and now I’ve got that out the way I’ve been sort of left with this open plain of loads of possibilities. One of those possibilities is doing a collaboration project with friends. For me music is about an interaction with friends rather than being like “Oh, you’re famous so I want to work with you”. Some of my favourite people to work with are Calibre, Nymfo, Dom & Roland… there’s a lot of people that I know really well but actually haven’t worked with, and I’d like to try that.
I went on to question him about whether he was keen on any other artist’s recent productions, if there was any sounds out there currently inspiring his creative work?
That’s a difficult question to answer – it depends on what I’m doing and what I happen to come across. But no, there are no current d&b producers that influence me. I’ve been through massive periods where other d&b/jungle has massively influenced me but right now there are none. Today I was listening to Australian bar rock from 1973, so I listen to anything, but I don’t like country music. Fuck country music. I’m a serious record collector, so can flick through them when I want something to listen to.
Asked to describe his performance in three words, he replied: “Lots. Of. Amen”, before taking his leave to relax behind the stage with the other artists.