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The Austrian producer who's taking D&B by storm

2015 Dec 22     
2 Bit Thugs

Meet the man behind 'Emulation', which won the Best Album gong at the recent Drum & Bass Arena Awards 2015

Sound design from the bowels of Beelzebub himself, arrangements sprung with so much energy and suspense they could power a small hamlet until 2105, an abundance of fresh creative perspectives... the darker, techier, neuro frontier of drum & bass is enjoying one of its most fertile, creative chapters in years.

There are many factors to thank for this shift. Key labels such as Critical, Neosignal, Invisible, Blackout and Eatbrain have been supplying us with a consistent slew of uncompromising releases from key players and characters who haven’t so much as moved on from D&B’s moody cliche but deleted it from recent history. The phenomenon that is Noisia, the politically charged Phace & Misanthrop, the far-out sci-fi conceptualist Billain, the aggressive Yorkshireman Emperor. And the dystopian, nail-biting drama of one 25-year-old Austrian named Mefjus.

A man driven by creating and designing every single sound in his production, at points he sounds like he’s forescored the inevitable cyborg invasion, at others he distils the essence of paranoia in one detuned sheet-metal bass riff.

At all times, he’s unstoppable. And right now he’s the toast of the drum & bass community.

For example: the Drum & Bass Arena Awards 2012 scored him Best Newcomer Producer. This year's ceremony saw him nominated for an unprecedented six trophies: Best Producer, Best Video, Best Remix, Best DJ, Best Track and Best Album. On the night he walked away with Best Album for his debut Emulation which was actually released in 2014.

As the heat from his latest Neosignal EP Blitz gradually cools from lightning to lava, we called him up in his countryside studio in Linz to chat albums, samples and the importance of progress...

Six award nominations!

"It was weird! I thought ‘Okay, it’s probably the remix’, that’s been a big tune. But to win Best Album? Amazing! When you spent a year of your life working on something, it’s nice to have that recognition. Especially as the album summed up the years before that time: quitting my job, going professional and working very hard to get there. The record represented my life in drum & bass to that point. It was very personal."

What makes a perfect album for you?

"Something the Noisia guys said on their radio show really struck me. Nik was playing one of my album tracks and he said he enjoyed the record because it’s a balance between listening and playing on the dancefloor. That was important for me, to have the listening and DJing experience. So that, for me, is essential for any album. But it’s not always easy to execute. Especially in drum & bass. It’s all subjective: some people love listening to the balls-out hard stuff outside of the club, other people don’t."

I think it’s the human elements in your music that translate to non-club listening. Little cheeky end-of-track hip-hop samples and one-word spoken shots. They’re signatures of yours.

"Yeah, some people are good at writing beats that you can understand the title just from listening. I have to include literal links to make my point. Little Gangstarr, Guru, ODB samples... that’s what I grew up on. I’m paying homage to my heroes. I love the little vocal elements, too: the most common frequency we hear every day. Human speech is soothing to the ear so a vocal makes a track nice to listen to. It’s a kind psycho-acoustic thing." 

I love the absurdity of Bang Bang… it sounds like you and Phace were just having fun in the studio.

"Yeah, totally. When we get together we say ‘let’s make something weird’. We’ve both been making rollers on our own and don’t need to prove anything on that front. So our tunes together are usually a little weirder or far out. I’m glad you can hear us taking the piss. Having a serious relationship with music is important but we’re here to have fun!"

Drum & bass is developing more of a sense of humour, and the old cliché of moodiness is fading. Discuss.

"Definitely. Sonically, too… when I got into it, it was all very dark and serious. Now we’re all aware that if we play on similar line-ups we can’t all sound the same. Boring! So the weirder, stranger, funnier tunes are a great way of breaking up the set."

Wrapping up: has your recent win motivated you on the album front?

"I’m trying to find a new 'missing link'. I’m revisiting some production techniques and seeing how I can develop them. Emulate was Mefjus 1.0. The next album has to be Mefjus 2.0. I won’t even consider it until I’ve found the missing link. I have to have a proper idea in my head and for that I’m always learning... I need to update myself!" 

Mefjus's Blitz EP is out now on Neosignal

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