Friday, 6 May 2011
MindStep Music and the man behind it, Rinse FM's DJ Crises, are playing an important part in the ever-developing world of underground UK bass music. Having represented the deeper, more soulful dubstep sound for almost a year at the bi-monthly MindStep events, the launch of a new label serves to continue this positive movement into a new arena. With a focus on progression and the promotion of new talent alongside the more established pioneers of the sound, MindStep takes on a collective image which is pushing fresh music not only through events and radio, but now also through its format as a label. We spoke to Crises to get his take on the mission of MindStep and what it represents, as well as to find out what plans there are for the future; and he in turn contributed a new exclusive mix to add to our series, which features forthcoming material alongside a choice selection of released tunes which form the 'Sunshine in his Bag'.
Hedmuk: As an introduction, what's your name, where are you from and what is MindStep all about?
Crises / Mindstep: Easy Hedmuk crew, happy today to you (laughs). I go by the name of Crises and was born in the early eighties, raised in London, UK and grew up listening to Oldskool Garage and Reggae Dub.
As a DJ, Radio Presenter, Promoter, Producer and Label Owner I’m now proud to be involved in the underground Dubstep scene. I've been hosting my own show, “Sunshine ina Bag”, on Rinse FM 106.8 http://www.rinse.fm/crises for almost four years and have found great pleasure in interacting with like-minded listeners.
Over two years ago I started MindStep as an event in order to create a night that focuses solely on the deeper, more thoughtful spectrums of our electronic sound. The main objective is to push fresh and up-and-coming artists as well as the more established DJs, who I respect and look up to.
MindStep residents include: Wonder, G Double, Syte, J:Kenzo, Sun Of Selah, Fused Forces, Terrafonix (Potentz & Cessman), Pressa, Legend4ry, Be-1ne, D-Cult, Thelem, Mileage (We Are Dubist) and Crisp; all of whom I regard as important players in the progression of MindStep.
The development of the label, MindStep Music, came about organically as we realized there was a growing international interest in our activities. As most of the residents are producers and dominate the 'Sunshine in my Bag', the label’s music policy reflects that of the night as well as my weekly show on Rinse FM.
The label enables the MindStep sounds, and its artists, to be more accessible to the keen listener.
The debut release, a collection of 17 tracks entitled ‘The Compilation’, is out now from all good online digital retailers, including iTunes, Digital-Tunes, Juno Download, Beatport, plus many more: thanks to the crew at Cygnus Music.
For now we are concentrating on this year’s run of digital releases from fresh and exciting artists, who we are very proud to be pushing.
VA - MindStep Music Compilation (PROMO CLIPS) by MindStep_Music
H: MindStep seems to have a collective/community aspect to it aswell as being a label, is this something that you consider important in the running of a label?
C / M: Well, I would say MindStep Music represents a movement of individual, creative m.i.n.d.s that come from similar perspectives and share the same bass-values. This is why there is a natural, un-meditated, collective feel about the label. The community aspect has forever existed within the underground, which in my opinion has always shown a feisty attitude towards the mainstream. To me this seems to be one of many driving forces behind the creation of new and exciting sounds/genres.
As MindStep mainly focuses on fresh talent, I feel the raw passion and drive from artists and the mutual appreciation for deep sounds, has un-consciously drawn everyone together. As well as the community aspect, I strongly believe that it is important to acknowledge the individual contributions, which spur on and inspire MindStep activities.
H: The tracks you selected for the label's first release, 'The Compilation', struck a careful balance between tunes made to be played in a dance and tunes made for listening at home; is this a conscious part of choosing which beats you want to release?
Like all things in life, I feel it’s important to always seek a balance. I don’t think the choice of tunes on ‘The Compilation’ was necessarily a direct, conscious decision, but we did want to take the listener on a journey of some sort. In turn reflecting our and many others' listening experiences and pleasures. Valuing the opinions of people whom I work with closely, as well as the listeners of my “Sunshine ina Bag” show, I am able to get honest feedback on tunes/dubs which both influences and confirm our label’s decisions.
All the tracks on ‘The Compilation’ are ideal for live DJ sets and are also perfect for the easy, casual-listener as I have recorded a bonus mixed version for the Walkman, erm, I mean the iPod...(laughs).
H: Are there plans for physical releases to follow the digital compilation? How important do you think it is that labels continue to release on vinyl?
C / M: Having grown up collecting and spending every bit of ‘pocket money’ on vinyl throughout the Oldskool UK Garage era, I fully overstand and appreciate the deep, emotional and collectable dimensions we have with a vinyl release, as well as the technical benefits. So there are definitely plans for vinyl releases from MindStep Music in the future.
Once a label releases a vinyl, I think it is crucial for that label to continue doing so, just as it is important for DJs to receive physical promo to represent that vinyl when playing out. There may be many reasons why record labels stop producing vinyl. So as a start up label, I think it’s essential to consider the financial costs: their benefits and implications on the growing potential of not only the label but also the health of the underground scene. With regards to sales, I think it’s unfair to expect consumers to always purchase physical releases if the DJ is constantly playing from CD when in direct interface with them.
In relation to MindStep Music, we aim to obtain a balance between the possible formats we produce: we maintain a practical and creative approach to dynamically cater for the needs and demands of our important listeners and artists alike.
H: The label launch party boasted an impressive line-up of both new and established talent, do you plan to continue running events in the future?
C / M: Without out a doubt MindStep nights have had, and will continue to create, line-ups that help bridge a gap between the new and more established pioneering artists.
When considering booking a headliner, so to speak, as I mentioned earlier I am keen to book the more established DJs who I respect and look up to. With the likes of Cyrus, Tunnidge, J:Kenzo and Quest, as well as hosts LX One, Rod Azlan and Crazy D making guest appearances and showing their support, I am confident that the night will continue to attract the like-minded, and provide the deep and positive vibes.
We have been running as a bi-monthly event for the good part of a year now. We are currently considering a new venue in order to get the right sound system that compliments the lower level frequencies we push. Look out for more information on our summer events on our website at www.mindstepmusic.com.
H: You also have a show on Rinse FM and, alongside Youngsta and Distance for instance, are one of the few people on the station still pushing the deeper, more minimal end of the 140BPM spectrum: what's your take on the rise of 'jump-up' styles and the more recent resurgent of what's been referred to as the 'dungeon sound'?
C / M: Music is art and art is perspective. I am fully aware that my opinions on music are opinions and are not facts. I believe it is vital for all sounds to exist in order to appreciate a difference in their styles. However, I 100% prefer the deep bass-driven, more minimal end of not only the 140BPM, but other spectrums as well.
With regards to the rise of ‘jump-up’ styles, I personally think it is inevitable for such trends to exist, especially when considering the fact that it is essentially ‘dance music’. People naturally want to go out and party, let their hair down and so forth...and when trends reach the attention of mainstream bosses, it’s time for the devout underground artists to retreat and develop new sounds, and/or retain the original styles they prefer. I hear a lot of people complaining about this ‘jump up’ style but I think that instead of focusing on what we don’t like, we should channel our attention and energies on what we do like; get me? It would be extremely selfish to think only the styles you prefer should exist.
So to touch upon the recent resurgence of what’s now referred to as the 'dungeon sound': I love it! 'Nuff said.
H: Can it be difficult balancing commitments as a DJ, promoter, producer and label owner? Which do you view yourself most strongly as?
C / M: Maintaining my musical commitment is the easy part but yes, dividing my time between each specific aspect can be difficult. Due to the time required in maintaining my DJ sets, the MindStep events, my production and the MindStep Music label, there are many sleepless nights in order to complete the tasks at hand. Having said this, there is a lot of input from the MindStep crew, who help lighten the load. For example, I work closely with Syte & Boilerman Dean when selecting and finalizing tracks for release.
Considering I have been mixing for over 10 years now, with my first pair of decks being belt-driven SoundLab 1600’s, it's fair to say I feel a lot more at ease when on the ones and twos.
I would say I am in the formative stages of my production and feel confident with my progression as a producer. My passion for making music is as strong as the passion and excitement I had for mixing throughout my teens. I am not ignorant to the fact that I have a lot to learn in building tunes, hence my openness and willingness to receive objective criticism. Having the ability to incorporate Serato into most of my radio shows I am able to instantly put my production to the test, allowing opportunities to get direct feedback. This also permits me to effectively prepare my club sets with dubs and promos I receive.
Promotion underpins all aspects of what I do, not just the MindStep events, but also the DJing, radio shows and label work. It plays a vital role in raising awareness of MindStep artists, our affiliations and other respectable artists.
Digital World (WIP) on Rinse Fm by djcrises
H: Tell us a bit about the mix you've put together for us.
C / M: I will not reveal too much about the mix, as you will soon hear what it's all about. Hopefully it’s a clear reflection of the MindStep sound, as well as the sounds I am drawn towards, represented on my weekly show "Sunshine ina Bag".
The mix is about 40 minutes long and consists of 14 tracks; it also includes three tracks forthcoming on MindStep Music, plus a track from Thelem & Delta Labs entitled ‘Constrained’ that appears on ‘The Compilation’.
H: Finally, is there anything forthcoming or in the pipeline that you want to put the word out about?
C / M: We at MindStep Music are proud to present our debut release [MSC001] ‘The Compilation’, and are looking forward to dropping our next release [MSS001] in June 2011: a digital single-track from Mr. Boogie, straight out of Germany. This single will be followed by our first EP release [MS001] from an interesting, up-and-coming Japanese producer know as Dubtro.
After that, there are more EP releases from homegrown talent such as Killawatt, Bandicoot and My Nu Leng. Plus we will be giving away a MindStep 320 promo, courtesy of Killawatt. If you are reading this and would like to send dubs or demos for future MindStep Music consideration, please send respectable links to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for taking the time to read this feature and I hope you enjoy the mix.
Download: Crises / MindStep - Hedmuk Exclusive Mix
Dubtro – Forgot Past Storage [Forthcoming MindStep Music]
Cyrus – Looking Back [Forthcoming Chestplate]
J:Kenzo - Protected [Tempa]
Zero 7 – Destiny (Crises Remix) [Dub]
Kryptic Minds – Myth [Black Box]
Killawatt & Ipman – Xibalba [Forthcoming MindStep Music]
Thelem & Delta Labs – Constrained [MindStep Music]
J:Kenzo – The Roteks [Tempa]
Bandicoot – Left Behind [Forthcoming MindStep Music]
LX One – Give It Up [Wheel & Deal]
Kryptic Minds – Can’t Sleep (feat. Alys Be) [Black Box]
Substep Infrabass – The Entity [Echodub]
James Blake – Limit To Your Love [Atlas]
Hatti Vatti - You (feat. Cian Finn) [Forthcoming New Moon]