DJ Code is a long time veteran of the modern day jungle scene... Edits, Choppage, amens, whatever you call it, this guy is always at the forefront both through his label Subtle Audio and his new imprint Bustle Beats...
Bustle Beats absolutely reeks of nostalgia laced jungle vibes, with a clear revival aesthetic and unapologetic mission statement. How does the label differ from Subtle Audio and how and when was the label conceived?
Well, I originally got into the whole Jungle / Drum & Bass sound in the early nineties and it was a special time, not just because it was the birth of this style of music, but personally because I think Jungle / Hardcore (whatever you want to call it) really shaped things for me. I was only 14 or so at the time and it really caught my imagination. Not just the music but the attitude, the cheeky nature of the artwork, the vibe of the events captured on tape, everything! I still see the music of the that time as being the blueprint for modern Drum & Bass / Jungle.
With Subtle Audio that influence can be more tenuous sometimes, even though the breakbeats and basslines are very much to the forefront, the output tends to be quite experimental and even the heavier tracks aren't necessarily dancefloor (or "normal" dancefloor!) Bustle Beats is basically an indulgence on my part - as you say, there is a revival aesthetic and, as you can see from the artwork, that tongue n cheek element from the oldskool days is there. It was probably at least 3 - 4 years ago when I first really began to think about the idea of doing a 2nd label.
Subtle Audio had been established to a reasonable point and I was hearing quite alot of music that didn't really fit on Subtle Audio but that I really liked. To that end, Bustle Beats is a home for the more robust, rugged and raw material, embracing the demented and derranged sound style of the oldskool, while also taking influence from the more uplifting vibes that were so integral to the scene then. Though the label will be highly influenced by the old days, it will still have an identifiably contemporary sound. It's similar to Subtle Audio in that way, the main difference is in the stylistic emphasis. As ever, the best way to understand a label is to listen to the music.
Both Nebula's remix of Equinox's "The Phantoms" and Nebula's own "Sound Barriers" draw on a collage of sound that were synonymous during the 90's jungle days and the choppage boom of the middle(ish) noughties. The sound is obviously one which is very close to your heart, why was Nebula the right artist to launch the label?
I guess its important to launch any label with an artist and music that really capture the idea behind that label. Nebula, though relatively young, makes music that is very much influenced by the oldskool, so it was a good fit. Seeing as original mix of "The Phantoms" was released on Subtle Audio, it made sense to launch Bustle Beats with the remix, almost as a way of explaining the difference between the two imprints. It was just as important to have Equinox involved on the first release. He's the embodiment of the oldskool ethos in modern Drum & Bass. He was around in those early days (not much older than I was at the time!) working in record distribution in London and collaborating with Bizzy B and others and he's still making the music now. He's a major reason why people like Nebula do what they do. His label Scientific Wax is doing alot to promote the oldskool vibe and Bustle Beats will be an ally to that end.
The artwork for Bustle Beats is awesome, stirring memories of comic book style record sleeves on old Suburban Base 12"s. What's the deal?! Who is the artwork by and how does the story unfold?
Glad you like it! The artwork is by my long-time girlfriend, Louisa, who just happens to be a graphic designer / painter and illustrator ! Just happens to be, or was that the whole reason I started going out with her, seeing as I was just about to kick off Subtle Audio around the time.... I'm not sure...
Annnnyway - once I had decided to get this 2nd label off the ground, I began to discuss artwork possibilities with her. I really liked some of her cartoon style sketches, they reminded me of alot of old artwork I knew from early Jungle records. So we began to collaborate and Louisa put down some sketches and eventually we had a whole story that was quite long, so we decided to spread it over the lifetime of the label. It can often feel like Jungle, and music influenced by it, is in danger of dying out as the community worldwide is quite small, so we decided the comic strip should detail an imaginary battle for its survival on plant earth. The sketches feature the Bustle Beats artists, Jungle loving aliens, and of course the customary evil dictator. Parts 1 & 2 are covered on the first two 10"s and the story will continue on future releases, hopefully making the Bustle Beats series a collectors set.
Originally basing your Subtle audio label in Ireland, you have now moved to Quebec, how the hell did that happen? How has this effected the day to day running of the labels?
Did I mention Louisa ? Well, it's all her fault. She wanted to move here. So now I'm here Haha - well, I didn't mind moving, it was a chance to see somewhere new and also with Ireland going through some difficult times economically it made sense from an employment point of view. As for the running of Subtle Audio these days, it's split between Limerick, Ireland and Montreal, Quebec (Canada) at the moment. I've been in Montreal for over a year now and I've been doing all the A&R and promotion etc from here, but the back stock vinyl / merchandise for the website shop is still in Limerick. My family has been good enough to do alot of mailing of orders on my behalf. Special mention to the oldest Junglist worldwide - my Mam ! Of course, ST Holdings still distribute at least half of the stock of each release, so it's not all down to my family. But with 4 new releases between Subtle Audio and Bustle Beats in the early part of this year, things are about to get pretty busy in Limerick !
What can we expect from the label moving forward?
Well, most of the tracks for vinyls 3 & 4 are signed already, so those will be out later in 2012. Expect more from Nebula, Enjoy and D-Fect. There will also be some digital only tracks. After that, I have plans but nothing is confirmed track wise just yet. Expect more cartoons obviously and more funny pictures of the producers and Dj's - haha. There's an exhibition of the cover art for releases 1 & 2 in the Atom Heart Record Shop in Montreal at the moment, it's running till the end of March and then on March 30th I'll be playing a showcase set there at the end of the day - it's part of the label launch. The other part will be a gig in the CFC club, Montreal on Thursday April 5th. I'll be hooking up with fellow Montreal dwellers, Jason oS, ESB and Corey K for a Bustle Beats style night.I know Jason as he was good enough to let me release some of his music on Subtle Audio and ESB and I both Dj on Jungletrain.net. I just met Corey K recently, he runs one of the main D&B nights in Montreal called 'The Session' and he's down for pulling out some oldskool beats for this one.
I'd love to release something from some of my favourite oldskool producers or something ... who knows, maybe Neil Trix from FBD Project will be searching for coins down the back of his couch someday but finds an old DAT with "BANGIN OLDSKOOL" scrawled across it instead and after reading this Organic Blog, sends it my way... Hang on, maybe that's the next cartoon strip?!
Bustle Beats 001 & 002 10"s are due in stock at the Subtle Audio Shop by March 21st, pre-orders are available right now. Limited quantities.
BUSTLE001 available through ST Holdings, March 26th BUSTLE002 available through ST Holdings, April 9th