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Paradox - The Breakbeat Pioneer

After our last interview we did with Paradox in 2001 (german language) we are proud that we catched the master of the beats, the breakbeat pioneer once again to talk with him about the development from Breakbeat to Drum'n'Bass, travelling, his labels, producing and the future. Here we go...

How did you get into that Breakbeat & Jungle thing years ago?

When I was around 17 myself and DJ Trax were making extremely fast hiphop and believe me.. this really was a strange mix of styles as hiphop wasn’t supposed to be 170+ bpm. Under the name ‘Mixrace’ we released four or five hardcore / early jungle releases on Moving Shadow 18 years ago in 1991.. wow, 18 years - time flies...

That was the beginning for us in the music business really. We we’re listening to early Suburban Base / Reinforce d /XL and Shadow of course, so the label came along at the right time for us as the early 90’s was the start of ‘Drum'n'Bass’ as we now know it. It was a magical time to be there and contributing to the birth of Drum'n'Bass.

How do you see the general development within Drum'n'Bass these days?

Well I’m concerned, and everyone knows I’m passionate about the scene, but I think if you look at it as a whole everything comes around in cycles as styles come in, fade out and return when people get bored of the current trends, I see today’s split in Drum'n'Bass like the Happy Hardcore bastard child of the Jungle days. The "wobble". If I may call it that to me is like today’s Happy Hardcore of Drum'n'Bass. I’m quiet curious to see what the 3rd stage will be. Having said that, there was a time where breaks were non-existent around 2002 but that’s not the case anymore so I’m pretty pleased about that.

What do you know about the german scene? Any artists, DJs... ?

I’ve performed Live PA’s in Germany a lot over the last 10 years or so and always like coming back as I also made a lot of friends there. On my travels to Leipzig I signed the producer ‘Con.struct’ to my label Outsider so yeah, I’m quiet pleased about adding a german artist to the roster, I’m actually still waiting for him to get some new things together so Bjorn get back in the studio please if you happen to read this.

Are you playing a lot in the UK or more in the rest of the world?

It’s always been an international show to be honest, and I rarely perform in the UK. Having said that... I am actually going back to England next month to perform live for the Launch party of my new album with Breakage on the 13th, so I’ll get a chance to stock up my suitcase with English tea bags and my cats favorite treats that I can’t buy in the ex-USSR.

You're traveling a lot, Dev. Can you say in which country the people are most open minded for your sound?

I’d say Japan and Russia really, well in Russia they seem to me more breakbeat friendly to me, but a lot of eastern European countries are also more clued-up and devoid of the bontempi-lead stuff, but in truth every country has its own nights that cater for breakbeat Drum'n'Bass.

In September 2008 you have been the first time to SUNANDBASS on Sardinia where you performed two times live. How did you like the week?

Yeh it was amazing! I loved every second of it. It was great to see people actually making the effort to go to a Drum'n'Bass-only festival from all over Europe and I’m very glad I had the opportunity to perform live there. I’ll definitely be back there in 2009, it’s only January right now but I’m already planning for September’s Sunandbass.

You are running different labels like Paradox, Esoteric, Artic or Outsider. Why so many and what are the differences?

Well each label has it’s own identity and ethos. Arctic Music is my 100% ambient label for my Alaska creations. Arctic Music has its own ‘white’ identity where every vinyl release is on white wax and all the artwork is of a cold nature, even the track titles themselves always reflect the ethos. Arctic is actually the only 100% ambient Drum'n'Bass label left in existence. Of course there are others releasing ambient Drum'n'Bass, but Arctic is solely for this almost forgotten style just like Good Looking was.

Paradox music is the flagship label for Paradox solo works and guest musicians. The artwork is expensive, un-necessary and costs the same amount as a gold bullion but it’s the image of the label. Vinyl and artwork that has true shelf life.

Esoteric is a collaboration label between myself and Nucleus for our occult esoteric work and will only ever be collaborations. We started Esoteric to continue our music we were releasing on Reinforced Records and we’re really proud of the catalogue. In april we’re releasing an Esoteric CD showcasing the 10 releases so everyone can experience the depth and linear weirdness of each Esoteric chapter. Esoteric isn’t available in MP3 format so the CD will allow the label to spread to those who don’t buy vinyl (and those who upload illegal torrents).

Outsider Music is a label I founded to discover new talent in Drum'n'Bass purely as I was receiving so many good tracks on my travels that I knew maybe wouldn’t see a vinyl release. That was the plan from the beginning in 2002 and I seriously didn’t think that the label would hit 21 vinyl releases but we’ve just reached the magic #21 in 2009 and also about to release an amazing second CD album in March

At what age did you start producing? How did you started and with what kind of equipment or computer?

Well, actually I had a Casio SK-8 as my first experience with sampling and I used to loop the Funky Drummer and Lyn Collins Think breaks on it, but It was around about the time Mixrace was formed were using 8-bit samplers to sample crunchy beats from vinyl breakbeat albums looping them with 5 seconds of sampling time. We were using the old amigas, the old A500 I think to write stuff on, a few people were at the time including ourselves, Bizzy B, Equinox and Urban Shakedown.

For many years you used a video cam in your live performances? What is or was this for? Are you still doing this today?

I don’t film them anymore but I took mini-DV cams with me on tours to film my shows for Reinforced. The 2000 ‘Musician as Outsider’ album had a CDROM with tour footage even with the Vinyl package, that was pretty cool, to take home your vinyl album and find a video CD inside the package. The 2002 ‘What they don’t Know’ album featured a DVD with the CD, again showcasing the album tour. I’m so pleased I did this as I have those early memories forever.

Where do you source your breaks from? Did you ever use a Drum'n'Bass sample CD?

The Paradox/Nucleus & Paradox sound will always be a crate-digging format as the backbone of our beats is from the 1970’s. Overall we has a vast library of funk breaks as we’ve been collecting them since the early hiphop days.

Literally every break on a Sample CD I can safetly say we have the original break on vinyl so we haven’t needed to go down the Sample CD route. Source wise like I said before we’re breakbeat junkie collectors. Nucleus is also a vinyl car-boot sale predator too, a proper wax scavenger, he puts in the legwork.

You still use your Amiga today... How many machines have you gone through since you started?

I’m currently on number 7 I think. The last one had been toured to death and had to be buried, actually there is a funny picture of the old one in an old issue of Knowledge magazine as the main contents page when It was still working, its quiet amusing.

What advantages does the Amiga have compared to the more modern computer systems and software for you? Or is it simply down to what you are used to working with?

From a modern perspective it has no advantage whatsoever, quiet the opposite.. it’s a real disadvantage. However, for the attention to detail obsessive programmer its right up my street. There is no pc or mac programme that allows me to in real-time to work through, edit, create and feel the proper ‘funk’ of programming my beats better than my commodore, and that’s a fact.

Is there a chance that we gonna see "DJ Paradox" in the future? You only had to take a recordcase, CDs or a notebook with you and not a bunch of equipment ... ;)

I get asked this question all the time and as the years pass I sometimes do wonder If I would hang up the PA gloves, but the DJ route still doesn’t interest me and it never has to be honest. You can never say never though and if anything, I think the only thing that would force me into DJing would be the sudden emergence of triple mini Paradox’s running around demanding feeding every 5 minutes.

Ok. Dev, what is your favourite Jungle / Drum'n'Bass tune of all time and why?

Extremely difficult question that and one I would take ages to answer, but for now I’d choose one that was pivotal to me and my career direction which was DJ Crystl’s ‘Warpdrive / Meditation’ release on Deejay Recordings. That 12” kind of opened up my eyes to the idea of splitting into two artists namely Alaska and Paradox.

Yeah! I really like that one too. What can we expect in the next months from you?

The new Alaska & Paradox Isolationist LP is released late february / early march. The triple vinyl comes is 3 x clear-transparent 12”s and the 10 track CD contains bonus tracks and ‘Sample Me’ drums from producers to sample. The MP3 download version also contains a free Sample Me in Wav format too so more to sample and play around with.

Some of the tracks are premiered in the new Paradox Vol.3 podcast going live for ESP International which is downloadable from their website so check that out.

Test press’s of Esoteric 11’s "L.S.D Jazz / Rocksteady" by Nucleus and Paradox has just arrived so expect Blue-transparent 12” wax also in febuary, and of course there is the Esoteric CD to follow.

Outsider 21 is on test press at the moment so Solar’s "North to Future / Step Two" will surface later this month. Both of the tracks are also in the new Paradox podcast.

Something I’m really proud of is the new on the "Paradox Presents The Age of Outsiders Vol.2" CD that’s dropping in March. The CD contains 11 exclusive tracks from my Outsider artists demonstrating deep, long shelf-life music, and also what makes the CD totally unique is the artwork.

I commissioned a painter to create Oil’s for the artwork making it truly original, organic and collectable. I’m really glad I done this as its so unusual for a Drum'n'Bass album to go down this route and the end results are stunning, It’s wonderful to get an painters interpretation of the Age of Outsiders and the whole project has met my expectations and a lot more.

My ambient-only jungle label Arctic Music will also see the 5th release in March. "Ataciara / Araicata" by Alaska & Nucleus is a totally committed ambient release and you’ll see why when it surfaces.

The next solo Paradox 12” on Paradox Music (PM19) is scheduled for may and is so eery and unsettling I cant wait to unleash it. I do miss haunting score-style Drum'n'Bass, you know.. Drum'n'Bass that isn’t evil for the sake of it, but dark as in mystical.

Finally, I'd like to hear a statment from you about all the subgenres of Drum'n'Bass nowadays. Is this all true "Drum and Bass", especially the tech- styles with all the synths sounds? What's your opinion about that?

Well people say they don’t like Drum'n'Bass being split up in genre’s etc., but this music has so many forms, more than any other I’d say that it really is needed as not all the music can be tainted with the same brush.

I can’t stand all the kiddy Drum'n'Bass for 10 year olds but I do appreciate other strands of Drum'n'Bass, and some synth led styles as you say, It’s nice to hear glimpse’s of the past Ed and Optical sound in today’s music if it’s done well.

Okay, thank you Dev! Any last words to our readers?

Respects to all future-music.net readers, the Future Forum Crew and those keeping vinyl alive!

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24.09.2021, 22:48 h | 5 Junglists online