Life-long jungle D&B connoisseur lays down an epic ID-riddled set and reflects on his successful late entry into the game
Swaggering up to our 1 More Mix series brandishing an amen in one hand and a big old warpy bassline in the other, oozing low end frequencies from every possible pore; it’s the one and only Conrad Subs.
Since making his release debut in 2017, the Ipswich producer has been positively unavoidable, proffering his party-ready tear-ups and rave-tuned rinse-outs on the hyper-regular.
In the last few months we’ve enjoyed three walloping editions from the south east junglist: Ravers EP on Liondub International in November, Nexus EP on Deep In The Jungle in December and now, to wrap up January, the epic Don’t Blame The DJ on Nuusic which lands today. And that’s before we get to any cameo roles he’s played on VAs or with remixes.
For us mere jungle loving mortals, it’s a veritable feast. For Conrad it’s business as usual as he balances regular life with an ever-growing profile and a never-ending creative thirst for the craft of drum & bass that is so strong that it brought him out of DJ retirement!
And a good thing, too, as this mix kindly reinforces. Listen up and read on…
Oh loads of dubs. A lot of my own tunes. Some are slated for release. Some I got no plans for. Also lots of tunes from mates who I tapped up ahead of the mix. I guess I need to do a tracklist don’t I?
Nah. I did try and impose that rule but most mixes ended up being IDb2bID. I love mixes full of exclusives. Keeps the mystery.
It keeps things old school when you had to wait for years to find out what a tune was!
You keep things old school yourself mate.
That’s because I am old. I haven’t got a choice!
Haha! You’ve put your own twist on that classic sound.
Thanks. I listen to a lot of drum & bass, old and new. And I still love all those sounds I loved when I came into this as a kid. Quite often I’ll think of a track and realise, ‘Hang on, no one is making this type of sound right now!’
I’ve been trying to get on that Micky Finn, Aphrodite, Urban Takeover style. No one else seemed to be doing it, they’re fun to make, they’re great to play. I’ve made a lot of tunes like that because no one else seemed to be on that sound at the time.
Danny Byrd maybe?
Yeah that track with D Double E had elements of that didn’t it.
Massively. It must come natural to you because you’re incredibly prolific.
During lockdown I was really going for it because I was home all the time. I did have a time when I tried to chill out on the releases but I ended up with this huge stack of tracks again so started sending them out again and we seem to be back at a pretty hectic release schedule.
You must have a good internal quality control system and don’t labour over stuff too much…
I like to get a track finished as much as I can in that first session. I don’t like going back and listening to something thinking, ‘Fucking hell I’ve still got loads to do.’ I like getting a track to a point where I can listen a bunch of times and identify exactly what I need to change or tweak and then it’s done. You have to know when to call it quits so you can finish it and move onto the next idea. Otherwise you get stuck in a rut and lose that inspiration.
Definitely. A lot of it is psychological isn’t it? You think it’s shit and leave it but then come back months and months later and it’s like ‘oh wow, that’s alright!’
Oh yeah I’ve had that many times! I’ve had a bit of block so gone back over old projects to try and revive inspiration and I’ll hear something and think, ‘Wow, why did I never finish this?’ You go through the waves of what you’re feeling at the time.
Yeah. What wave are you feeling right now?
I’ve spent the last few weeks making V, Philly Blunt and Dope Dragon tunes. Simple two or three note basslines, lots of messing around with the breaks. So they’ll probably filter into the mix towards the end of the year. I’m not hearing that sound much right now so I need to make it. I do think D&B moves too quickly sometimes. We focus on the next thing too much and could benefit from slowing down and appreciating what we have because it’s still got loads of life in it.
I hear that. What would you like to see more of?
I’d like to see more slower tunes. Just take the tempo down a few BPM. Nothing major.
Haha yeah it’s getting to near 180…
Mate, any time I DJ it’s over 180! I always drop it down to 174. I don’t care if I kill the vibe a bit, I don’t think my tunes sound as good at a faster tempo. Slowing things down a bit gives you a bit more of a groove and space in the mix. I know it’s easy for me to say because I’m older and I came through on slower stuff, and I do fully respect everything about the younger producers who are coming in now and making this their own, I love that. But I also love to slow it down just a bit.
Rate that! I’m sure I told you in our previous interview a few years ago but before we ever spoke a I thought you were one of the young generation yourself!
You’re not alone there man, a lot of people think that.
You must be buzzing to have this second chance at this stage in your life!
A million percent mate! I gave up once I became a dad. It wasn’t happening for me and I thought, ‘Okay it’ll never happen, I’m happy as a fan’. But it became an itch I couldn’t stop scratching and I’m so glad I got back involved. I love it.
What drove you back?
I was always listening, but I think when you start producing, you never listen to music in the same way. There’s always something in your brain dissecting it saying, ‘How did they do that?’ Or, ‘That’s sick, I wish I could make something like that.’
So I thought, ‘Okay I’ll buy a computer and get the ideas out of my head.’ No plans for releases or any type of Conrad Subs thing, I’ll just make tunes for myself then after a while I thought, ‘Hold on, these are sounding alright! I’ll send a few to some labels.’ And there we go.
No defining moment then
No not really because I’ve never stopped listening to it. Drum & bass is pretty much all I listen to and has been since I was a kid. I have little spells of checking other things but it always comes back to D&B. It’s what I grew up on and has always been there. I still love it as much as I did as a kid too.
I love that. Same! Not always the way, though. I speak to a few jaded D&B creators, you know…
I think once it becomes your job then maybe some artists have to compromise because they have bills to pay. Whereas with me I’m just making it out of love. If it goes tits up then I’ll still make music for myself but I have my day job so it’s okay. The kids still eat.
Do you think you’ll always keep a day job because of that?
Mate I’d love for music to be my job! The balance is so hard to do. I’d love to make music all day. Sitting in the dark, chopping up amens round the clock. Every now and again popping my head out for some real life then getting back on the beats.
Love that! What do your kids make of Conrad Subs?
They kinda get it. They’re not massively into the music but they’ve both been sampled on tracks.
Ahhhh yes, there’s that sample ‘All jungle crew!’ Is that your son?
That’s my son yeah. When they were little they were both on a track. Hold It Down My Selector. Their voices are perfect for dropping in the rave. So yeah, they know about Conrad Subs. My son is always excited looking at my Spotify numbers too which is very sweet.
Yeah it’s really cool. The first track I did with them was years ago when I didn’t have any gigs but I sent it to some DJ mates who would send videos that I could play to the kids and go, ‘Listen! This is you and your voice!’
Love that! Are you playing out much now?
Yeah I’ve got a quite few gigs coming up. Hospitality In Bristol, Rum Riddims Run in Manchester, Rawdio in Oxford. Nice and busy.
And this mix is a reflection of where you’re at in the club!
Yeah. I’ve been a bit broader on this mix. In the club I’ve geared toward jungle and super high energy for the crowd. So on the mix I’ve taken things a bit broader but yeah, it’s the type of vibe you’re likely to hear from me.
What makes the perfect mix for you?
Hmmm… Well I’m not one for tracklists and would never pick a mix because it’s got certain tracks. I want to be surprised and hear shit I’ve not heard before. I love a DJ like Randall. He’ll do a mix and it’ll just have a certain sound to it. That dark rolling sound, you might know only one or two of the tracks and it’s just got that vibe. That’s what I love seeing and hearing. A sound and a mood. The Chase & Status RTRN 2 Fabric mix. With that mix a lot of the tracks were well known but it held together and had a vibe.
Man I’d love to have Randall in this mix series one day! Man can dream! What else do you have coming up?
I got the Nuusic EP coming end of the month. A few other releases on labels like Twisted Recordings, some big bits I can’t quite say yet… A big remix and an EP on a label I’ve loved for years. I’m working more with DJ Hybrid and pushing more stuff on my label Koba. I’ve been working on another album, too.
Don’t hold your breath. I’m taking my time with that and seeing it where it goes.
Sick! So please complete this sentence before we sign out. Don’t blame the DJ if…