Drumsound and Bassline Smith have been at the forefront of drum and bass for almost two decades. When the trio, consisting of Ben Wiggett and Andy Wright as Drumsound, and Simon Bassline Smith, released their single “Odyssey” in 2004, it rocked not only the drum and bass world but electronic music as a whole, reaching number 1 on the UK dance charts. Though the trio have their own label, Technique Recordings, they have worked very closely with Grooverider on his Prototype Recordings pretty much since its inception. Prototype are celebrating two big milestones this year: going back to active production as well as their 25th anniversary.
As close friends of Grooverider and Prototype, Drumsound and Bassline decided to re-vamp their most successful track on the label to a VIP and add a follow-up, unsurprisingly called “The Illiad.” “The Odyssey” has once again been blowing up the charts, as it sat on the Beatport top three for a number of weeks. “The Illiad” is a funkier track with a more jungle dub style which looks back to even earlier than the original release of “The Odyssey.” A fitting gift from one old school dnb outfit to another.
In the wake of this hugely successful track’s second coming, Drumsound and Bassline Smith sat down with Your EDM to talk about how “The Odyssey” was made, their feelings about Prototype and Grooverider, and whether there will be more Drumsound and Bassline tracks on the second coming of Prototype.
It’s really exciting to see this set of tracks as the first to come out on the Prototype relaunch. How did you come to the decision to re-release the VIP or “The Oddyssey” with Grooverider?
We’d been talking about bringing Odyssey back for a number of years but never really got around to doing it. Then In the Summer 2015 we were in the studio and we found all the samples from our debut Album “Nature of the Beast”. In this batch of samples were a few of the original Odyssey samples. That lead to us making the VIP. At first it wasn’t really aimed at being released just purely for us to play in our DJ sets but once we saw the response we sent it Grooverider, it tied in with him celebrating 25 Years of Fabio & Grooverider so it was like a gift, and something special for him to play at that landmark event and it really started the ball rolling.
Did he ask for the b side track to be made for the re-launch, or did you already have “The Illiad” ready?
We made the tune with Prototype in mind from its conception once we had a draft copy of odyssey. We dug out some of the samples we used to use back in the day from the Roland jv-1080 and it naturally started to sound like a record that would sit well with the prototype back catalogue.
Very interesting name choices on these tracks, and also a very interesting sound palette. How did you originally come decide on that name for the 2004 “The Odyssey”? Did you want the track to reflect the story line or concept of the classical epic?
We chose the name “Odyssey” initially as it summed up the tempestuous journey we both (Bassline and Partner Ben Drumsound) had taken, as artists, up to that point. The fact the tune was dark-ish, in tone and texture, like the storyline, also helped with our decision. We like to name our tunes to help the listener have an overall mental image of where we are coming from Sometimes we even name the tune before we even start as it helps us to set the scene so to speak.
It makes sense that you’d call the compliment to “The Odyssey” “The Illiad,” but again, did you feel it also was made to sound like a musical interpretation of the classic epic?
We aren’t exactly heavily into our literature and stuff but there’s something about Greek mythology which is quite captivating. The idea of gods, wars, sirens and mythical eight-headed monsters conjures vivid images in your mind which are brutal, mystical, and to a point, primal and we wanted that to come across in “The Illiad.”
“The Odyssey VIP” has definitely kept its old school deep bass vibes, but the beat now sounds cleaner and a bit more modern than the original. What were you going for on the new VIP versus the original.
We basically wanted to update it. It was 10+ years old and since it was made and we have learnt a hell of a lot more about synthesis and production in general and we wanted to see if we could recreate the original bass and bring it bang up to date but make it even bigger than before.
“The Illiad,” not surprisingly, sounds a little newer but it has some fun old school samples like the vocals and a ragga jungle-style high sample. How did you blend those styles together? Was it a conscious decision to do a tie-in with “The Odyssey VIP” and its more old school style?
Like we mentioned earlier, Prototype is one of, if not the most influential label for us in the 90’s and early 00’s and it had its own distinct timeless sound and character. These 2 tracks are our take on that sound. We wanted the tracks to be Modern but with a gracious nod to our jungle roots whilst still having enough soul and character to stand the test of time.
What are your favorite elements of each track? Of “The Odyssey”, both old and new?
The two tracks are virtually the same musically except the new version is much cleaner and steppy so its hard to choose between the two. The pads along with the vocal sample is what catches you first and really sets the scene, Going back to when we first made it in 1994, & hearing other DJ’s play it at parties, the distinctive Pads was what always seem to draw the attention before the drop. The James brown vocal sample/scream has a primal feel to it and that adds to the dark mood. The build ups on both tracks are pretty huge, the 2017 version has that little extra, we wanted to try and give it one of the biggest drops around right now. Once into the drop the bass comes at you from all sides, the 2nd drop, again goes that one step further and is a lot more brutal than the original.
You guys have been working together as writing and production partners for a really long time. When you work together on projects like this, who does what on each track? Does each of you have specific strengths that you play to, or is it a full collaboration where you both work on all aspects of the track?
Yes we work on all our musical projects together as a team which is great. We spend as much time throughout the process bouncing ideas off each other. We’ve learned so much about production techniques and sound design over all these years of working together so the operation is seamless.
Will we be seeing more tracks released from Drumsound & Bassline Smith on Prototype in the near future?
Watch this space We’ve always handed Grooverider exclusives over the years & will continue to do so. Let’s see what happens.
Releases on other labels?
We’ve just had a couple of tracks released on our own Technique Recordings 2017 Summer Album. We got a couple of collabs we’re working on with a couple of other producers and a couple of remixes we’ve just completed.
Any tours or other fun stuff coming up?
Festival season is here and we’re on the road here there and everywhere!
Anything you want to say to fans or upcoming producers who look to you for inspiration?
Big thanks to all the supporters buying & listening to our music & coming to see us at shows around the world, it really means a lot!
“The Odyssey VIP”/”The Illiad” are out now on Prototype Recordings and can be purchased on Beatport.