Diamond Eye is the latest young gun to pass through the Modern Urban Jazz Camp. Under the guidance of Tony Justice, Diamond Eye has put together his debut LP drawing on influences from electronic, classical and even singing in church... Lets find out more...
''Moments In Life'' is a large body of work, especially for a relatively young producer. Was the project conceived as an album project, or more a collection of works? What were the key moments and key progressions in the process of making the album?
The project is a big task, and i was shocked to be offered a chance to put an album together as I'm still developing as an artist, but with my work getting appreciation from various people from around the world, the time just seemed right. I've been writing music since 1998 and i've always done album projects for myself, so I am used to focusing on an idea and developing on that. The tracks are more than just a collection of works, as they all are individual from each other, but all have a subtle link; be it the key changes or the chord progression, the tracks all compliment each other. The key moment for me came when Justice asked me to think about putting an album together, with the tracks i had written from 2010; some were more recent for example 'Cold Start' with older ones being 'Experiment' and 'Rogue Dub'. Progressing to putting the actual tracks in an order they would work, took me the better part of a month. I studied my own tracks to really see what would grab people, i wanted it to show my influences since i started writing professionally in 2006; that being far eastern, jazz and dub elements. Once i had laid out the tracks as i wanted them it was just a matter of listening to it in it's entirety and then saying yes this is exactly how I've imagined it.
Listening to the album, it would be fair to say that this is your best work to date. You've now worked fairly extensively with Tony Justice and the MJazz label, how as your production aesthetic and attitude developed in this time?
I met Tony through Chris Inperspective via facebook at the end of 2008, he had heard my collaborations with Chris and wanted to hear what I was doing. I forwarded him a couple tracks and he offered me to remix his timeless classic, 'Aquisse' for the anniversary remix compilation he and Scott Metro were putting together. It was my chance now to prove to someone of his status that a newbie can really do a good job, and after hearing numerous do's and don'ts when remixing old school tunes, i decided to really study the original and then think about how i can put my twist on it that retains the vibe i was feeling. As time went on i did other remixes for Justice and learnt a lot about the label and it's ethos, which is 'do what you like, as long as it's good' which i think is very important, because i've always been interested in trying new ways and working with MJazz. It has enabled me to truly get stuck in to my sound and try new things. I can say looking back that my music has progressed steadily, under the guidance of Chris Inperspective and Justice, also my outlook on production has been opened. I now do what i'm feeling rather than what's the latest sound at the moment.
The seductive mix of crisp drum patterns and smooth pads in your work feels reminiscent of what was coming out of the Good Looking camp circa 1998 to 2000. What and who have been the key influences in your sound both in the build up to the album and for you as a musician in general?
A: I am a fan of the old Good Looking era, as i was buying their records just before they stopped in 2003. I started early listening to my mum's records, Marvin Gaye, Dennis Brown, The Christians, UB40 and so on. I was always keen on the non-vocal element to music and letting the actual music do the talking. I found that without words you can hear what the tune is putting across, with drum & bass, key artists such as Calibre, Naibu and a lesser known producer called SumOne, the way they write music, especially Calibre, it does what I expect a tune to do. I try to incorporate that ethos into my productions, if i have a nice pad the bassline has to match the tune, not always note for note but punch through and give weight to the music; drums i would go with SumOne, he wrote some really funky amen / drumfunk around 2003 to 2005 and the samples he'd use for spoken word or a pad would send anyone to another planet, and the bassline would catch you off guard. I also sing in my church choir, a little strange for some people in drum & bass, but classical works by Mozart and Beethoven with organ music by John Stainer, C. S. Stanford and Charles Wesley are really spiritual and that's one of the most important influences for me as a musician.
A lot of people know you not only as a producer but also as an FM radio DJ, what influence does the need of the DJ have on you as a producer when you are creating music? What are your thoughts on the restraints that a DJ led music form can have on the creative process?
As a producer, I would have to say I disconnect myself from that club setting and let my thoughts wander around in the sequencer, of course it's Drum and Bass and I'm not writing library music, but being creative and knowing what scene you're writing for, keeps me grounded, especially if you expect people to dance to your music but enjoy it musically at the same time. I think of three main things: The drums have to be expressive and also to make sense, the bassline compliments the tune and punches at around 40-50Hz. Finally, the tune in terms of melody, something catchy or if for a darker piece, something really out there and haunting, somebody is bound to move to it. From a DJ perspective, it doesn't necessarily have to roll out for 6 or 7 minutes with the same loop to make it dancefloor, i will play those tunes of course, but if there's thought behind your selection and you play tunes outside of the box as well, it shows diversity within the genre.
What's up next for Diamond Eye? What's up next for MJazz? What can we look out for?
The next project is my second album (hopefully!) which is already being planned, and some undercover projects with the MJAZZ camp.
TONY JUSTICE- Diamond Eye is our big summer release obv and will drop around June time, also we are just collating some really interesting remixes from the 839 LP by Metro and myself and also getting ready to have a digital bonanza and release Modernists 1 & 2 , aforementioned 839 remixes, Diamond LP and some classic Mjazz material.There are also plans afoot for an offshoot label focusing on some different vibes.