Ill Truth have only been releasing under their current name for about a year, after having gained decent success as their past moniker, Despicable Youth. Now, having honed their sound a bit more in the Bristol scene, this duo comprised of Jay Gatehouse and Haden White are releasing tracks left and right and focusing on Bristol Sub bass. With a track on Critical’s “Summer 2017” compilation and now their new In Your Soul
EP on Symmetry, the boys from Bristol hope to start producing more and more with their new honed sound. Your EDM spoke to them about this new sound, as well as the Bristol scene, their newfound love of collaborations and how they’d love to break America.
Note: this interview was conducted the day after Marcus Intalex passed away sadly, so the first part is about the legendary DJ.
So first of all, let’s address the elephant in the room: how are you guys feeling after the Marcus Intalex thing this weekend?
Haden: It’s actually the most shocking news I’ve heard in ages. I was out yesterday with a few friends and my girlfriend is one of his biggest fans…and we couldn’t believe it. It’s just awful. It’s just a massive loss to music in general, not just drum and bass. He was an incredible artist.
Jay: In drum and bass especially, it’s just a sad day for the scene, really.
Haden: I was going to come home last night and do some Uni work, but it was just so shocking I ended up sitting in my room and not doing much.
Jay: I was able to work a bit on some music and it helped me clear my head and sort out what was going on, but it’s just a sad vibe all around. There wasn’t anyone in the scene who doesn’t know about Marcus Intalex because he was so OG. We’ve already been booked for a charity fundraiser for the (his) family.
Haden: Yeah I think there’s going to be a few popping up over the next weeks, but there’s one being planned in Bristol at the minute so we put ourselves forward for that. It’s just a shame because he was just such a massive contributor to the scene with Soul:R (throughout the years) and even his last EP, there’s tracks on there and you can play and it’s timeless, so again just a huge loss.
It really is terrible and we’re all recovering, so I just wanted to make sure we addressed that before we got into the album stuff. So the release, In Your Soul EP is on Symmetry, and even within the four tracks there’s a lot of different styles. How did you decide on what was going to be on the EP?
Jay: To be honest, it wasn’t like we planned to do the EP like that, we basically just write music generally, like a lot of guys write music specifically for labels and stuff, but we just basically make sketches – we just have a shared folder of sketches that we just work on between us – so we work on them when we want either individually or at the same time. So whenever a label comes around saying they want music, we basically just send them what we have in whatever state they are. So we just sent like 20 of those to Charlie Break, and he came back with five (he wanted), and then we whittled it down to four.
So you had rough sketches before Break chose them and then he chose those five and you finished them after?
Jay: Yeah and there was lots of stuff there (in what we sent him), like even some downtempo actually and he decided that those would be a nice varied EP.
Haden: I think actually if we had had a say in it and done it all on our own, we probably would have done it in a similar way because we produce a lot of different styles and this is our first four-track EP, so you just want to showcase the different styles that we can do and just make it a bit more accessible for everyone. So if you’re not into the liquidy style, there’s something else there as well.
Talk us through the tracks. There are some, as you said, are more liquidy, and then some are much more dark and sort of neuro and also highly technical, but there was a definite style throughout the tracks. So how do characterize your style?
Haden: We get asked this a lot, and to be honest we don’t know. (both laugh) We like to approach it in different ways: the main thing is we try to keep it simple and not complicate it with different sounds all at once within a certain 8-bar of 16-bar loop.
Jay: I think rather than styles, it’s more based on every track that give each track its continuity. It seems cliché but the whole Bristol sound thing; it’s all around that as well. Everything that comes out of Bristol is really sub low and sub heavy, so we take that on board quite a lot.
Haden: Yeah I think our biggest thing is we like sub bass, but in a controlled way. Not over the top. That’s definitely a theme we’ve noticed over the years we’ve been producing together.
Jay: Even in the liquid tunes we’ll try and get as much sub bass as possible so they’re still heavy on the soundsystem.
Haden: Yeah that’s true, because at events people are looking for that heavier sound. So (for us) it means that even if we play a tune that’s a bit more melodic, it’s got that bassline that still has the impact on the dancefloor. As long as it sounds right and it’s go enough sub, we’re happy with it.
So it’s not really a style that you’re looking for on each track, but there’s certain things that you do that you feel are distinguishing elements for your own sound. Have you pinpointed that at all aside from Bristol sub bass?
Jay: Yeah, there’s a few bits that we do…we try to get back to like in the 90s when there were a lot of funk breaks being used and the bass was all analog, so when you processed stuff you brought up this noise within it. So in a lot of our tracks we try to incorporate that sort of noisy bass and drum vibes, so that kind of analog style. And then back to the breaks, we use a lot of live drums. They’re processed to sound more techy but they’re actually live quite often.
Haden: Me personally I think the big element is our choice of sampling. Even if it’s a little vocal, that comes across (as a common element). Our background is hip hop so I think that plays a big part in it.
Jay: Yeah so I think those are the three things. In every tune we try and incorporate those three things in some way or another: the live drum vibe, the sort of analog sub feel and the sampling.
Have you guys toured in the U.S. as Ill Truth yet?
Haden: We’ve not toured anywhere really…I mean not as a number of set dates all over. We’ve done shows all over the UK and a few in Europe, but not like six of eight in a row.
Jay: We’ve played all over the place, in Amsterdam and in Manchester, but we wouldn’t call it a tour. I wouldn’t say we’ve really broken Europe or the U.S.
So building from that, that you are from Bristol which is a drum and bass Mecca and Manchester and Amsterdam, do you feel insulated in a way from a culture like the U.S. scene which is so different?
Haden: I’d love to go out to the U.S. I think how the UK sees American drum and bass is that they have such a different sound so I’d love to go and really showcase what’s happening in the UK, especially in Bristol and I think over there, you only get a certain type of artists and there’s just so many here.
Jay: Also in the U.S. there’s so many festivals, and we don’t know much about the underground scene in the U.S. For me it would be interesting to see in the most pop festival scene how our type of sound would play out.
I think the underground scene in the U.S. does really respond to you sound and the Bristol sub bass sound in general, but it would be interesting to see what the EDM crowd thinks of it. You might find that you’ve already bridged the gap there. You could tune down any one of the tracks on this EP to dubstep or trap tempo and you might find the EDM crowd would really like it. It may be more a cultural or bookings issue. Have you come up against that at all with promoters?
Haden: Not really. The UK festival scene is really sparse. We have a lot of low-key festivals and the only big ones really are Glastonbury (which covers all genres) and Creamfields, which is more EDM. I think the festivals here though cover more of the underground music so we haven’t been booked much for either thing. We’ve played Glastonbury a few times, but it’s hard to figure out how we would play to festivals because we haven’t played a lot.
Jay: Yeah, since we changed our name to Ill Truth, we’ve sort of had to start over with bookings.
Haden: Our first release as Ill Truth was last year, so we haven’t built up that speed as Ill Truth yet, but we understand that. It takes time.
So how do you think you can build up that momentum?
Jay: I think I’d personally just rather sit back and work on music and just kind of let it unfold naturally.
Haden: (laughs) yeah. You know, I think this year will be kind of a turning point because we have a lot of stuff coming up. Like Technique Recordings has quite a bit U.S. following and we have a track coming out on Technique in June on their summer LP. So for us we are doing things to reach out a bit. We were happy to get that into Bassline Smith’s hands.
Going back to the name change, what was the reason you did that? Did you change styles suddenly?
Jay: We were called Despicable Youth and we started that when we were like 16 or 17 and that was more the sort of dancefloor style we were talking about before. We had a few releases on that with Hospital Records and a few others and then we sort of stepped back for a second to decide if this was the route we really want to go down? We make a lot of styles now obviously, but back then the range was much more out there. And then the other thing is the name is “Despicable Youth”, and we realized once we got to be 20 or 21 and we realized we won’t always be youth. If this goes 20 years that would be wicked, but we definitely won’t be youth. (laughs)
Well that’s prudent! So would you say maybe also the honing in on styles had to do with wanting to focus more on the Bristol sound like you said earlier?
Jay: Yeah definitely. I think being in Bristol and being surrounded so much by this stuff, it definitely influences us and that definitely will be a theme.
Haden: The size of Bristol is actually really small, so in the drum and bass scene everyone knows everyone. You know, it’s not even once removed. It’s like “oh my friends Total Science, or my mate is best friends with DLR” or something. It’s weird how it works out. We have quite a village mentality there. And it’s just one sound like we’ve been saying. There’s also Om Unit and that type of style as well. The main thing is so many styles and collabs can come out of here and that’s why Bristol is so good.
Jay: It almost gets competitive in a way. It keeps the standard high because when someone puts out a really sick tune, everyone else is suddenly scrambling to create the next one. It’s not bad, it just breeds so much creativity.
That’s great. I haven’t heard the Bristol scene broken down like that before. The title track, “In Your Soul” is the one we’re premiering. You worked with Charli Brix and Satl, on that. How did that come about?
Haden: Satl is a Polish producer, he’s moved to Amsterdam now. I can’t remember how he connected with us –
Jay: He played one of our tracks in a mix, didn’t he?
Haden: Oh that’s right. We have a podcast on this thing called Liquify Collective, and we submitted one of our tracks there and then Satl hit us up asking for the track. Since then we’ve just been sending tracks back and forth and he’s an incredible producer. He does really well-constructed drum and bass. So we were talking about working together and he eventually send over an 8-bar loop. So we just sort of stripped it down and added an intro.
Jay: It did actually have a really big sample of a Whitney Houston song, that “I Will Always Love You” in it. When we sent it to Break, he told us of course that we couldn’t use it because it was one of the best-selling records of all time. (laughs) And so that’s why we got Charli Involved.
Haden: (laughs) wel we had spoken before with her about getting Charli on a track and we found out she’d just moved to Bristol and we actually go to the same University.
Jay: Yeah, she actually just lives like ten doors up the road (laughs) so it’s convenient.
On the other tracks, do either of you have a favorite?
Haden: I actually don’t. For this EP it’s something we’re really proud of. Every track really shows all the aspects we wanted to highlight, so I’m just happy with it in general.
Jay: The real test for me is in a month’s time if I still like it, then it’s a good tune to me. Otherwise I just sort of shrug it off.
Haden: Not because of the track itself really, but just because the process was so great (with Satl and Charli), my favorite was probably “In Your Soul”, just because we’ve never worked with a vocalist so that was a different experience, and then working with Satl, the process was really great and trying some new stuff. Just venturing out of our bedrooms, because we live in the same house.
Well that’s convenient since that’s the one we’re premiering! Anything else you want to say about the album or what you’ve got coming up next?
Haden: Yeah we’re always working on tunes. We have a track coming up on the Technique Summer Compilation, and in July we’ve got a track coming out on Hospital. In August we’ve got a mixtape coming out, sort of old school style.
Jay: We’ve also got the “Ill Truth Presents” album, and that’s coming out at the end of the year on Lockdown Recordings; a few tunes from us, a few remixes from us as well as from some guys who it’s their first release and then others who are up and coming artists. Lockdown was the first label we ever released on, so it’s kind of an in-house type of project.
Haden: Yeah we’re doing it to sort of push the more up and coming guys. The idea is to put some fresh guys along with established guys. Since it’s our own project it’s a bit more relaxed and there’s not as much pressure on the younger artists.
Anything else you want to say to fans or new producers out there?
Haden: Thanks and keep listening and book us in America! We’d love to come visit.
“In Your Soul” drops on Symmetry Recordings Friday, June 9.