Originally making their name in the mid 90's on labels like 720 and Good looking, Blu Mar Ten have gone on to be some of the most consistent and highly revered production outfits within drum & bass. Lets find out more...
1.Blu Mar Ten have often been ahead of the pack regarding the use of technologies and the world of social networking. Being some of the first in drum & bass to fully utilize blogging, twitter and even having your own Blu Mar Ten iphone application. What is the role of the modern electronic artist in music marketing today?
It's a really tricky one. For the last 30 years or so the music industry has been constructed in such a way that an artist hasn't had to dirty their hands with the business of actually getting out there and selling what they do, they've had massive teams of people to do it for them. Since the advent of the internet, file sharing, cheap software & PCs etc.. everything's changed. There's no longer enough money to support these huge marketing teams and there's so much music it's hard to stand out. The result is that the myth that so many musicians hold on to - that if you just write good music eventually you'll be discovered - is up there with winning the lottery in terms of achievability.
The reality is that all through history musicians, (and artists in general), have hustled, and it's only very recently that the idea of them hustling has become somehow ignoble. Personally I don't have a problem with musicians hustling for attention. It takes many thousands of hours to get good at writing music and the idea of spending all that time and then no one ever hearing it doesn't really appeal to me.
All this new technology is great for connecting with people who like your music, but I don't think it's for everyone. You have to be genuine about it. I wrote a short piece about this a couple of months back: http://www.blumarten.com/home/to-tweet-or-not-to-tweet
If you want people to hear your music then this new world of connecting tools is a great way to do it, but you can't just pump out constant messages telling people to buy your tunes. You need to actually find some common ground with people, especially in drum & bass which is such a small scene. It's easy to establish relationships with people and a nice by-product of that is that you also meet really nice characters who often become good friends. These are real people, not an army of drones who are just there to buy your records.
If you don't care whether people hear your music or not, or about establishing relationships with people who might like what you do then I guess it's fine to just ignore all the new technology. But in my opinion if people avoid it all because they think they're somehow above it and imagine that their innate genius will eventually shine through regardless, then they're shooting themselves in the foot with their own delusion.
Personally I enjoy it - it's like the best video game that was ever invented.
2.There has been a rebirth of deeper drum & bass in the last 5 years. Can this in part be attributed to the move towards digital downloads and culture. Cheapness of music and the ipod generations needs. Has the digital era reinvigorated the market for Blu Mar Ten?
I don't think it's to do with cheapness of music or anything like that, but I do think that the amount people listen to drum & bass outside of clubs has influenced it, which is to do with the reach the internet has had.
If you go back 10 or more years most drum & bass was listened to in clubs. These days, if you write a tune, the chances are that someone who listens to it 500 times will only hear it once or twice in a club and the other 498 times on an iPod, car stereo, PC or home stereo. So when you really think about it, even though drum & bass is technically 'dance music', the vast majority of times it's heard is not on a dancefloor, so it's 'dance' element is almost all theoretical. Once you start thinking like that you start saying "why *not* put this weird sound in this track? It would get lost on a club system but will sound great in headphones", and before you know it you've drifted miles from the mainstream and you're just doing what sounds good without compromising for the dancefloor.
Our music has always been quite complex, sonically, and stuff like that doesn't always sounds it's best in a club, so yes I'd say the sheer amount of personal listening that goes on now has been good for us. We'd rather write music that sounds a bit confused in a club but that still gets listened to ten years down the line than something that works as a clean and functional DJ tool but gets forgotten in 12 months from now.
3. Many artists have reverted at least in part to a mix of analogue and digital studio gear. Artists like dBridge, Fracture & Neptune, Instra:mental , Craggz & Parallel and Krust have been very vocal about their move back to hardware. What is Blu Mar Ten’s take on the place of analogue and digital equipment in the creative process?
Completely uninterested in discussions about kit. Some people make amazing things on the most basic of set-ups, and some people make utter trash on state-of-the-art equipment. It's all about ideas, not studio gear. If you have imagination you can do almost anything with anything, and if you don't then you're screwed and no amount of kit will save you. In my opinion there are too many people in drum & bass obsessing over which bit of kit they need to make this or that particular sound, when what they *should* be thinking about is how their music can speak to people, how it's going to change people's lives and how it fits into the world.
It can be depressing how narrow some people's vision is sometimes.
4. You have always been in demand as remixers, remixing for the likes of Erykah Badu, Jakatta, Annie Lennox, Blame and Doc Scott to name just a few. Can you tell us a little bit about the Natural History remixes by other artists of your own work?
We just wanted some reinterpretations from people who's work we like ourselves.
We've always liked Klute's music, ever since the early 90s Cert 18 stuff, and he's got a musical vision that goes beyond the normal drum & bass fish & chips approach. You always feel like he's trying to say something with his music which is pretty rare in our scene.
Seba is an old friend and we've wanted him to have a go at something of ours for years but never really had the chance. For a lot of our older fans it was a good combination as they like both of our music equally.
We thought it would be great to get Bop to have a go at taking 'Believe Me' apart, as it's a fairly solid track and his music is much more delicate. His final remix was exactly what we hoped it would be.
Badmammal is someone we've known for a few years and always really loved his stuff. He's a really competent musician, as opposed to an electronic producer, and so we wanted him to take one of the tracks and see if he could get hold of the essence of it and do an 'unplugged' version that survived without all our studio trickery around it. His excellent version of 'Above Words' rarely leaves my daily playlist.
Stray is another young up & comer who we've always really liked. Recently he's really started getting some amazing tunes together so having him reinterpret 'if i could tell you' was a no-brainer. He's definitely someone to watch. Some of his new music is amazing.
Kastle is an American dubstep producer who we were recently introduced to and really liked his stuff. We'd say his version of 'Nobody Here' is better than the original, and it currently seems to be one of the favourites among our listeners.
5. What’s coming up over the next 12 months for Blu Mar Ten? What can your fans expect?
We have a little surprise project coming up in the autumn which should be good. We have a remix for Tom Middleton surfacing at some point. And we're working on the next album so the first single from that should be appearing soon.
You can follow us in any of these places if you want updates..