Stephen Carr aka Digital aka the King of Basslines is one of the oldest and most renown Drum&Bass and Jungle pioneers from the early 90s. The label owner of Function Records and longtime companion of the recently deceased Spirit (R.I.P), has already been featured on almost every big Drum&Bass and Jungle label, and has been heard in the clubs of the world for twenty-four years.
He has taken the time to answer our questions and has a lot to say. Read it yourself (while listening to this awesome mix by Digital and Blackeye MC):
the interview with Digital
TuB: First of all thank you very much for taking your time to talk to us. How are you today?
Digital: Tired. I’m writing this at 4.30 am!
TuB: Let’s start with your early years, I read that the Ashanti Sound System from Ipswich gave you the name “Digital” at only fourteen years of age. How did this come up?
“I could operate a sound system when I was young so they used to say, ‘Man you’re digital’ as a compliment.”
Digital: In the mid 80’s the term “Digital” came about when there was a shift in technology. Music was widely being made on computers and digital tapes instead of a big reel to reel tape machine. Oh and digital watches were cool too! Anyway, I could operate a sound system when I was young so they used to say, “Man you’re digital” as a compliment. The name stuck and here I am!
TuB: The reggae Sound system to Jungle is not so very far fetched in itself, but when, and with what motivation did you start DJing and producing?
I started djing around eleven years old.
Digital: My dad was a DJ so music and dancing was a big part of family life. I started DJing around eleven years old. Forward ten years or so to the early 90’s raves—this is when DJing got serious because I wanted to be up there on the turntables! After a while I realized a small town boy like me would have to start producing to get noticed and booked for gigs.
TuB: What were, or are, at least musically seen, your greatest idols and influences?
Digital: The first big musical influences I remember are Bob Marley and Micheal Jackson for their music and the fact there was someone who looked liked me in a video on the television!
TuB: How did you come to find your own label?
Digital: Having your own label enables you to relax and release music you want. This means I can experiment and I don’t have to follow someone’s agenda. Function Records has been important for me to progress as an artist.
TuB: How has the scene changed worldwide and specifically in England, through the whole splitting of genres into Sub-Sub-Sub-Sub-Sub…
Digital: Yes it has. I feel people love to associate themselves to a sub genre—maybe it’s age related. Youngsters will talk about Jump Up, If you’re a bit older and a bit more chilled when you party you’ll go for Half Time or Liquid and the older lot may talk about Jungle. Some producers go on about sub genres so they can say they originated it or they’re the masters of it.
TuB: I heard you were in jail once, may I ask why?
Digital: I was a juvenile delinquent but I’m a good boy now;-) A number of offenses you’d relate to a boy from the age of fifteen to twenty-one led me to jail. We’ll leave it at that! However, I was one of the lucky ones in jail because I potentially had a music career to come out to so I didn’t have to act like a juvenile idiot anymore.
TuB: For me, you’re definitely the producer who creates the sickest bass lines. Is there a secret on how to do that?
Digital: I don’t think there’s a secret. Anyone who had an upringing around sound systems, listened to Soul, Reggae, Dub, Hip-Hop, Blues, Techno and Electro would probably produce or write bass like me. On the other hand, if we’re talking technically… When I write a bass line I remove unwanted frequencies for that particular bass line. It’s hardly ever the same EQ for a bass track.
TuB: And how do you actually produce your music?
Digital: I write with Logic X but I’m learning other DAW’s at the moment. I like the look of Pro Tools…
TuB: Unfortunately Spirit has passed away recently (R.I.P), did you know each other even before you made music together? As far as I know, you and Spirit had planned an album together. Will this album still be released?
Digital: I’ve known Spirit around twenty-five years because he worked at the local record shop. We started making music together around 1996. I think the first track was called, “Crash” which was released on Renegade Hardware’s Armageddon EP. We were thinking of making an album but we didn’t get that far although, there’s one or two tracks hanging around for Function 50.
TuB: Were there times when you didn’t want to be in the scene anymore?
Digital: Yes. It’s been twenty-four years so there has been many ups and downs I won’t go into!
TuB: What does Digital do when he’s not producing or out and about in the world?
Digital: Eat a lot, cycle, eat some more, watch Netflix, eat Revels, watch more Netflix!
TuB: What has been the most impressive place you‘ve ever played and is there still a place on your “To-do list” where you would like to play?
Digital: I would love to play in Africa or India. The most impressive place I’ve played is New Zealand. I’ve been going there since 2000 and the place just gets better.
TuB: What can we expect in the next few months and in 2019?
Digital: Look out for the next release on Function Records by Kiljoy, Bad Man / Air Raid (Func 46). Func 47 is by myself with collabs from German artist, Keygenlog, Canada’s, Gremlinz and Sight Unseen from U.S.A.
TuB: Last question: Drum or bass?
Digital: Both of course!
TuB: Thank you very much for taking the time!
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