TiD&B Interview & Mix: Vapour

Posted by on Thursday, February 17th, 2011

With only days to go until Vapour releases his highly anticipated debut album Legacy on Monday 21st February, we chatted with the 36 Hertz label boss, to find out more about the LP which he describes as ‘the end of an era’

TiD&B: You have achieved so much as an artist over the last 5 years; from producing big tunes such as ‘Paper Cuts’ and ‘Mr. Mingus’, collaborating with the crème de la crème of D&B such as Randall and running your own label 36 Hertz Recordings – why have you chosen to release your debut album now?

Vapour: The reason for the LP was down to me wanting to do something with a bit more substance, rather than yet more dancefloor 12″ singles.  With an album, you kind of have to tell a bit more of a story but with singles you have just 5 – 6 minutes to create as much mayhem as possible.  I also felt that I’ve taken the sound which I’ve been putting out under the DJ Vapour name for the past 3 years on 36 Hertz as far as I wanted, so I guess the Legacy LP will be a end of an era of sorts.  Since completing it, I’ve been busy rebuilding my studio and getting ready for a new sound and the next chapter of my career as a producer.


TiD&B: What was your inspiration behind the album?

Vapour: Inspiration for my music comes mostly from old-skool hardcore and jungle as it’s what I listen to the most.  Followers of both mine and the 36 Hertz sound will know that I love big basslines and that I’m constantly trying to get as much bass in the tunes I make as possible, as this is something that I feel has been missing from 90% of D&B for some time now.  Everyone is using these piss poor soft synths for basslines which lack any kind of low end warmth –  so the album definitely features a lot of sub-lo frequencies.

With Legacy I wanted to achieve a kind of snap-shot of myself as a producer up to this point, showing what I can do across the board, so that if I dropped down dead tomorrow then people would be able to listen to the album and gain an insight into what I was musically about.


TiD&B: Legacy perfectly showcases your ability to make a variety of D&B very well, such as the sexy jazz influenced ‘Blue Notes’ and the rolling collaboration with Soul Intent ‘Crazy Life’ – but did your flexibility in producing different sounds become a problem when trying to narrow down which tracks to use for the album, or did the process work out organically?

Vapour: It was a very organic process as the album kind of took its own shape over the 14 months I worked on it.  Obviously I knew I was writing an album and I had an idea in my head of what I wanted on there but the tracks kind of came into their own space.  Some tracks were planned but some such as ‘Crazy Life’ and ‘Ignition’ were just made and I felt that they slotted in with what had already been done for the LP.  I didn’t kill myself off working some crazy 8 hours per day in the studio – in fact, there was a space of about 4 months when I did no work on it at all,  then one day I sat down, went through everything and realised it was finished, apart from the beginning and end (‘Generic Pointless Intro Track’ and ‘Blind Man Playing Cricket in a Lighthouse’) so once I knew that, I made the last 2 tracks and put it to bed.

DJ Vapour ‘Blue Notes’

DJ Vapour & Soul Intent ‘Crazy Life’

TiD&B: Producers often comment on the difficulty of finding a balance between making dancefloor hits and tracks more suitable for an LP release – is this something you also experienced when producing the album?

Vapour: Not really as I didn’t really care too much about dancefloor tracks on the LP, it wasn’t my intention to make it for a club audience.  For the first time, I just made what I wanted to – as I’ve already had quite a few big dancefloor tunes under my belt and I don’t really worry too much about sales. To be honest, I’ve never played out most of the tracks on the LP more than once, mostly because by the time I had finished writing them, I was sick of hearing them!  Although since giving the album out to other DJs, tracks have been getting a fair bit of play in the clubs now.



TiD&B: Can you tell us more about your studio set-up?  Did any of the tracks on Legacy require a change in direction to your usual production techniques?

Vapour: I mostly use hardware in the studio and have done so for pretty much all of my production life as I prefer the sound and I’m not a fan of software synths.  The entire LP was made using the same set-up I have used for the past 3 years and I didn’t change it too much.  The areas I had to look at more were of course the vocals as I had never worked with a vocalist before so I had to buy a mic and a preamp set-up for it, but apart from that, it was as normal.  I used the following equipment:

3.6G Dual-core PC

2GB Ram

SX3

M-Audio Delta 10/10 sound card

Spirit 16 channel mixing desk

Behringer Ultragain mic preamp

Some cheap Behringer mic

Roland JV10 – 4x expansion card

Roland U220

Rack Mount Spectrum Analyzer

SCOM Compressor

AB International Graphic equalizer

TASCAM CD recorder

Behringer Truth monitors

But this has all been pulled apart now, with quite a lot of the gear gotten rid of.  More analog goodness is being installed at the moment, ready for the next chapter!


TiD&B: What’s your favourite track on the album and why?

Vapour: ‘Ignition’ as the bass cuts through just how I wanted it to – Hades and I spent ages getting the compression right on the tracks so that the bass pulled the beats back perfectly when it drops. That track always makes people go “fucking hell” when they hear it on a decent rig hahahaha!


TiD&B: ‘Blind Mind Playing Cricket In A Lighthouse’ not only instantly draws the listener in with its eerie and hypnotic vibe, but also has a brilliant name! How much attention do you give to titling tracks – is it easy to do?

Vapour: ‘Blind Man Playing Cricket’ was actually done as a piss take track as a good mate of mine, Chef and I were talking about this new minimal D&B craze, which I think sounds like a blind man playing cricket in a lighthouse with all the tip tap light-weight breaks.  Chef thought that would be a great name for a track and when I had to think of a way to end the album I remembered that conversation, so made the track in a couple of hours to close the album off.

Most of my tracks normally start off just being named after the month they are made and the track number – NOV2010 TR1, but once I’m happy with a track and I know I want to do something with it, then I’ll name it.  Most of my tracks’ names have meanings behind them in one way or another but I’m normally the only person who knows what they are.


TiD&B: Accompanying the LP release will also be a live tour, can you tell us more?

Vapour: The live tour came about from the legendary Jungle drummer signing to 36 Hertz for an album deal (forthcoming in February 2012), he was around for the last 4 months I spent writing Legacy. He features on the album and was really into the whole project so suggested we looked at doing a live show of some sort to promote it.  After a few conversations, we worked out that we both wanted to do the first 100% LIVE D&B/Jungle show using no playback, click tracks or triggers, we wanted every single note and drum break to be played individually by human hands.  The show is the first of its kind.  We kicked off the tour a few weeks ago in Reading and it went down really well with great feedback, so there is a lot of interest in it right now.  We had a film crew there too and there will be a showcase video coming soon with more information and clips from the show.  We’re really happy with how the first show went, the crowd were really into it, so we are going to be pushing it out accross the world over the next 12 months.

Here’s a sneak peak of our performance in Reading:

TiD&B: How can we get our hands on ‘Legacy’, will it be released in a variety of different formats? Vapour: Legacy will be available to buy on the 21st of February on my label 36 Hertz Recordings which is managed and distributed by Keynote Music Management.   It will be released as 2 x 12″ singles and as a digital download (unmixed).


Check out Vapour’s exclusive mix for TiD&B featuring several tracks from his forthcoming album and a lot of bass-heaviness:

Posted on: 17/02/11 Categories: Interviews Mixes TiD&B Features

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