For the latest in our features series we're taking the tempo down by a few notches to focus on the garage-led sounds of a nineteen year old producer from Brighton: Etch. Coupling tight, swinging rhythms with dark, grimey basslines similar to those pioneered by the likes of Zed Bias, El-B, Horsepower Productions and Darqwan at the turn of the century, Etch provides an update to the sound by drawing in influences from the musical landscape which was to develop as a result of the experimental work of these proto-dubstep producers; he is undoubtedly a young talent to be keeping a close eye on. We caught up with him to get his take on this, and he's also contributed a fresh selection to our exclusive mix series.
Hedmuk: As an introduction for those who may not yet be familiar, what's your name, where do you come from and how would you describe your sound?
Etch: Yo, I'm Zak I'm from Brighton and I'm currently living in South London studying sound design at Ravensbourne University. I like to think of myself as a Brightoner forever though. I make 130-140bpm bass-forwarded, 2-step-vibed music' as much as I love dubstep and could easily just describe myself as a facet of dubstep, I try to keep away from the term because it's a bit of a two-edged sword: in one way it describes myself relatively easily and it will attract an audience, but then in another way the term dubstep has come to mean a lot of things that people look down on and that I personally don't really like. So 120-140 bass music does the job for me. And don't even get me started on the term 'future garage' (laughs).
H: Would you say that you've had a musical upbringing, or was it something that you picked up yourself? Had you been involved in making music in any other forms previously to Etch?
E: Primarily I've found music out for myself, such as dubstep and IDM etcetera, but initially I was drawn to music that was just...different to what was being fed to me everywhere else. I think the first things that turned my head were my uncle's old rave records, stuff like Altern8, Manix, Joey Beltram, 2 Bad Mice etcetera. He always used to be playing those when I was real young, but it kind of embedded in me; I still love those records and have them myself now, all that 1992-1996 borderline jungle/hardcore stuff is probably my favorite type of music despite my music sounding more like garage.
I went through a bit of a gothy phase too which eventually lead me to Nine Inch Nails and Joy Division, who I still love and take a lot of influence from. And then mainly the urge to start producing music came from drum & bass. I was put onto it by some mates when I was about 12-13: always the darker stuff like Technical Itch, Calyx, Limewax old Dieselboy mix CD's. It was the curiosity of how all that stuff was made that eventually got my to pick up a really early version of FL Studio when I was about 14 and that's where it all began, and I still use that software. From then 'til about the age of 17 all I made really was drum & bass.
H: You linked up with Vekta Records last year to put out the RGB EP and the RGB Remixes EP; how did this come about? Have you any plans for more releases like these?
E: The Vekta thing came about through a mate putting me onto David who runs Vekta. He wanted to put something out by me and I had already started work on something I was just going to put out myself, the idea around it was 3 tunes that kinda related to the colours of the track titles in my opinion: like Green, when I heard that synth I used for the first time it just made me thing of green, the same with Blue; and Red was just angry and dark.
I was proper happy with the remixes EP; Palace's remix of Green is just unreal, the same to my boy Ampersand's remix of Blue. It's amazing to hear other peoples take on something you originally created, it's really refreshing and it really influences you to go and make more music. I'll probably have more stuff coming up with Vekta in the future.
H: Tell us a bit about the mix you've laid down for us.
E: The mix is just collection of tunes I love, my own tunes and some stuff that people around me have been making that I really think deserves a heads up, such as stuff from my boys Niall Lancaster (Nausea) and Ollie Stallard (Atlas). Also bits from J-One, My Nu Leng and Wen, who are all huge. I also missed out a tune I was going to drop by a producer and wicked DJ who's been holding it down for years: Theo Bennett (Sepia/Brown Noise). I put in some of my old garage faves and some old halfsteppers I still love, finished it on a jungle vibe because that is pretty much all I've been listening to lately. So yeah, it's basically just an amalgamation of what I love and take most of my influence from.
H: Finally, are there any forthcomings, bookings or anything else in the pipeline that you'd like to put the word out about?
E: I have a forthcoming release on Nineteen89 Recordings, a label that's just starting up. It's got some wicked releases lined up from Rumah and J_Boa and it's got a really cool artistic direction, I can't really comment on the release dates and whatnot though, it's all very hush-hush at the moment, but follow them on Facebook/Twitter to keep updated. I'm also playing at the next Eyes Down night on March 31st in North London alongside Whistla and Blue Daisy, check them on Facebook for updates on that. I'm also working independently on a series of remixes of my favourite old Jungle and Hardcore tunes which I will release via bandcamp with a cool artistic direction, hopefully with some assistance from one of my housemate who does graphics and illustration. Other than that just keep your eyes out on my Twitter, Wordpress, Facebook and Soundcloud for upcoming releases and shows!
Download: Etch - Hedmuk Exclusive Mix
Etch - Miracle [Dub]
Photek - The Rain (Etch Reflected Refix) [Dub]
J-One - Droplets [Dub]
My Nu Leng - Clockwork [Free via Hedmuk]
Etch - Tek-9 [Dub]
Atlas - Level Feeling [Dub]
Nausea - Girl, Tonight I’m Gonna Have You On The Floor [Dub]
Ray Hurley - Vicious (Sovereign Dub Mix) [White]
Ghost - 2000 [Ghost]
El-B - El Brand (Dub Mix) [White]
Etch - Spaceman Riddim [Dub]
Loefah - Rufage [DMZ]
Dismantle - Time’s Up [Terrain]
Wen - Takin’ Over [Dub]
Digital Mystikz - Ancient Memories (Skream Remix) [DMZ]
J Sweet - Marxman Remix [White]
Jon E Cash - Hoods Up [Black Ops]
Wiley - Stormy Weather Instrumental [Southside Recordings]
Roni Size & Reprazent - New Forms (feat. Bahamadia) [Talkin' Loud]
Goldie - You & Me [FFRR]