Image: Stanton Warriors
At the turn of the century dance music was a regimented place. The superclubs had the strict proviso of trance and progressive musical manifestos, with the UK scenes for UK Garage, D&B and what was then called funky house all closed off and different - each with their own tribal acolytes who rarely liked other forms of music.
That rule book of segregation was torn up by a number of forces, as a disenfranchised dancefloor led by a number of DJs and producers stuck two fingers up to the idea of sticking to one sound. Erol Alkan, 2ManyDJs and the rest of the electroclash jet set tend to get most of the credit, but equally as important was the role of the Stanton Warriors.
They first came to prominence with their remix of DJ Skribble and the Flipmode Squad's 'Everybody Come On' in 1999, an Essential Selection favourite for Pete Tong that year, but it was the release of 'Da Virus' in 2000 (above), sampling the electro riff from old school hip hop mainstays Whodini's 'Magic Wand', that would make them dancefloor darlings.
They then followed that up with The Stanton Sessions mix compilation in 2001, with it's rough around the edges but utterly beguiling blend of hip hop, garage, house and even one of the front runners for the minimal techno explosion in Isolee's 'Beau Mot Plage' - quickly marking them out as kings of the more eclectic groove.
Over the course of the decade they developed a reputation for master remixers par excellence and spearheads for the nu skool breaks sound, before settling in their current role as ambassadors of bass - long before it became the buzzword umbrella term for exciting music that eschewed a four four beat.
Ahead of their time and still massively on the money musically (check this year's Basement Beats mix below for evidence of that), we spoke with one half of the duo Dom prior to them hitting Lowdown in Manchester on Saturday 6th December at Sound Control, about the evolution of mix CDs, their record label Punks and their records to play to alien invaders.
Hi Dom, thanks for speaking to us. You’re off to Manchester at the start of December to play Sound Control. Having been a part of the fabric of the city’s club scene over the past ten to fifteen years, how do you feel about the health of the club scene in the city, and are you looking forward to playing there?
We always love playing Manchester and it's been like that for 15 years! Mancs love underground music, so you can fully push the fresh innovative tracks as the crowd really respond to them. I'm not sure we have ever played Lowdown without it being sold out and jumping till the very end!
Your juxtaposition of genres at the beginning of your career, with garage, hip hop, electro and more focusing around the breaks sound, to our ears works as a precursor for the modern bass music scene, everywhere from the more underground aspects to the way it’s attacked the charts. With that in mind do you feel that you were maybe ahead of the times?
We've always done our own thing and stuck to our own evolving sound. To us that's what makes music exciting. We also have never been afraid to take influences and sounds from wherever we like. Whether we were the precursor for the modern bass scene we will leave for others to decide.
Your career was helped along significantly by the release of the first volume of the Stanton Sessions, which managed to encapsulate your sound brilliantly across a mix back in 2001.
Around the same time the likes of 2ManyDJs, and even Eddie Halliwell with a free Mixmag CD, managed to showcase their talent and style in a similar way. Do you think we will ever be in a musical climate where singular mixes can have such an impact, or has the proliferation of DJ sets on the internet made such a gateway for artists impossible?
There is so much music floating around the Internet that it's hard for DJs who make ground-breaking or innovative dj sets to really shine through. Also, the quality of actual master mixing and putting together memorable sets is in our opinion something that lacks from a lot of current big name DJs.
Having a radio show or being in with the right fashionable crew seems to take precedent these days. But there is still inspiring talent out there - you just have to dig more to hear it.
On the topic of the way music has developed, how have you managed to stay relevant as artists for so long?
We have never jumped on bandwagons and always just worked on our own sound. By doing this I think we built up loyalty through consistency and staying the course.
Basically we make and play music we love and want to hear. We are just lucky that others so far want to hear it to!
Dovetailing slightly, how has the record label Punks been doing, and where are you taking it in the near future? Is there any new artists we should look out for?
Recently we have stepped up the output from the Punks Music label. We have been signing music that fits in with what we like and play. We have forthcoming releases from Evil Nine ('Solar Black Rays' EP below), Marten Horger, Mafia Kiss, Pirate Jams, Skapes and a load more peeps. It's an exciting time for the imprint.
As a duo you have always had an infamous reputation for your ability to remix, in some cases even elevating awful tracks to legendary status, your rework of the Apollo 440 and Beatnuts track ‘Dude Descending a Staircase’ is a particular favourite of Skiddles.
What producers and/or individual remixes inspired you before you started producing yourselves?
Armand van Helden always had the ability to flip the script on his own terms. But generally speaking it was more random acts and tunes. We always approached a remix from the angle of 'how can we make this go off in our sets', and then we would keep testing it out until it did its job.
We’re coming up to the end of 2014, how has the year been for you on a artistic level; you pleased with the way it’s progressed?
We have a new album finished on top of a load of other releases. We've worked on collaborations with everyone from Cause N Affect and AC Slater through to Hostage and Tony Quattro; it's been very productive for us in the studio.
We have also been touring non stop across every continent of the world. We've built up our Stanton Sessions pod casts to 800000 subscribers. The label is putting out tracks every two weeks our Facebook page is nuts and we even managed to get some sleep! So all in all a good year!
What producers and DJs have you been into this year, and who would you pinpoint as artists to watch in 2015?
There's some great artists coming out of America like Wuki and Tony Quattro and in the UK a lot of bass artists like Woz, My Nu Leng, Chris Lorenzo, Mafia kiss, and more, who are doing broken beat style tunes which have their own distinct new sound.
Last question… an alien race has made contact and you've got three tracks to send them to showcase the human race. What would you go for and why?
Hmmm, well we'd definitely take Massive Attack 'Unfinished Sympathy' to show our soul. Then Ganja Kru 'Super Sharp Shooter', just in case they are bad aliens so they know we have balls and not to mess!
And our remix of the sound emitted from the recent comet we landed on to show that we love alien music as well (below).
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