Monday, May 27, 2013

18 Years Of Aquasky

Eighteen years is a mighty long time in everyones life and when it comes to the music industry this timespan nearly equals eternity. There ain't many artists, labels or projects out there that've been able to withstand the ups and downs of such a long period so it's defo something special that the bass triumvirate consisting of Brent Newitt, Dave Wallace and Kieron Bailey is still up and running, providing their bass vision to the world. The three of them - better known as Aquasky to all clubbers and trueskool headz - have come a long way from HipHop to TripHop to Drum'n'Bass, Breaks, Full-On Filth and whatever bass-related you can make your mind up on so it was about time to team up with Brent Newitt for a little email interview session...

Being 18 years in the business now – can you give us a brief excerpt on what Aquasky was about when you started back in 1995 and what the project has evolved into when you look at where you're at in 2013?

Aquasky to us back in the day was an amalgamation of different genres. I use to make hip hop/trip hop and collect jazz. Dave was into Art Of Noise and use to make old school rave. Kieron liked rock and made early jungle and used to be in a punk band. But we all loved the deeper sound of d&b and thats where we placed ourselves and thats where we got our first fan base. Intelligent, liquid, jazzy jungle, call it what you like (a mate of mine recently told me he called the scene back then romantic jungle as a pisstake lol!) We never thought we would still be here now making music. We use to make it in daves bedroom and use to get pissed on cheap cider!

With your first record released in the early PostJungle-era when Drum'n'Bass emerged on the Breakbeat horizon and being present in the 'ardcore continuum ever since, albeit serving a different style range from Drum'n'Bass to NuSkoolBreaks, even HipHop / TripHop back in the days and more Filthy Bass recently, it's pretty obvious that you've got a thing for classic Amen breaks and kinda oldskool'ish rave stabs and / or piano licks that appear in many of your productions. How influential are the old days for your productions nowadays and can Aquasky be referred to as the saviour of what's been called UK Hardcore – not necessarily soundwise but more like in keeping that high octane feel alive?

You hit the nail on the head when you said HIGH OCTANE. Thats what we decided to try and obtain back in 98 I think when we wrote the track Sonix. People use to think we were all about lush melodies and dreamy vibes and it use to bug us out as we were original 80’s ravers. We just flowed with the scene and the liquid sound was a progression. We then were introduced to Nu Skool Breaks by Adam Freeland who persuaded us to make some. But what he sent us was too ploddy, lowbrow and not really our thing. We listened to more and realised that no one was making the serious jungle fused breaks. Thats when we decided that we would focus on that vibe. The music we make is a reflection of the scene and the music that we grew up listening to. Our music continues the vibe of old school rave where you could sample anything, make music at any tempo and mash it up. The energy, the memory, the synergy... we are the link between the old and the new. 

Talking energy and feel there's no chance to not talk about the dancefloor. Is there things that have obviously changed when you go out to play a DJ show? What's the difference between a 95 raver and a 2013 kid out in a rave or at a club – do you see any when it comes to attitude and expectation when people enter a party?

Yes, its not as violent as it use to be. The raves were illegal and the drug dealers were running the show. There was always a little tension between black and white kids, perhaps not as much as I use to experience at hip hop jams in the 80’s and early 90’s but there was defo some bad vibes still. The rave scene brought people together, made people happy. The commercial club scene we have today will never have the feelings and emotions of the old parties. Its too sterile, too structured and too much about money. I can't bring myself to listen to the radio these days as its full of dance music. That scene is precious to me and I dont like to share it lol! I suppose I am from a generation when we had to search out things, we had to put the effort in. We had to take risks and chances and experiment. These days you have the internet, mobile phones, radio 1 playing d&b during the day. Its not as mysterious as it was and thats what attracted me to it. But thats just age for you, things were always better back in the day lol... thats what grandparents say isnt it!!!

Following you on twitter I've learnt that you, Brent, have recently re-discovered a lot of classic Jungle stuff and really dig that style again – how did that came about?

It never went! Those records a precious to me and I go thru phases of what I listen to. I am lucky that I can connect the dots from the 60’s to the present day with my record collection. My record collection is like youtube. Ask me for a tune and I more than likely will have it or know someone who does!

What does the near future bring for Aquasky? There's a new album to come – tell us a bit about that...

Well, not sure when the next album will be done. Sometime next year I expect. Its finding the time now we are dads and have grownup things to do! But the future will always be there and we will always be apart of it.

Finally - three records that have been influential for Aquasky as a project?

For me: 
Peshay - The Piano Tune. 
Mark Murphy – Red Clay. 
Main Source – Looking At The Front Door

Thx a lot for your time, Brent. 


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