Reflection is necessary. A momentary point in time to pause and look back at where you’ve come from. Be it personally, socially, professionally or creatively; understanding your path helps you understand yourself and build even stronger routes into the unknown future. For Matt Jones AKA Scout 22, this is the sound of him doing just that…
Three hours and twenty-one minutes of pure Detroitian, electroid, booty bass and breakbeat reflection, it’s a sound you might not expect from an artist currently whipping up neuro blinders and underground rollers on the likes of Eatbrain, Dispatch, Program, Abducted, Root 97, Dirtbox or BrainRave. But without these records, most of them made in the 90s and early 2000s, his current sound wouldn’t exist.
This is where Scout 22 came from. Long before his current wave of high energy, galvanized tech-ridden D&B. Long before his time as a dubstep producer Jetpack Assassin. These are his roots and this is the sound of a DJ going back through their old records and remembering why they got into this fine mess in the first place.
He sent it to 1 More Thing more as a curio or discussion point than a prospective artist mix, but due to its unique nature, the passion behind it and because it’s so unapologetically long, raw and bumping, we had his hands off (then stitched them back on quick sharp because he’s a very impressive DJ) Press play, dive deep and get to know more of Scout 22’s roots and scroll right down to the bottom where you’ll catch the full track PLUS a free track from the man himself.
This feels, and sounds, like a DJ reconnecting with their old records!
Yeah it is really. I was looking for a bit of new inspiration and thought I’d go back to what I originally started with. I dug into my old collection, pulled a bunch of records out and the idea grew from there. I was pulling out more and more, they were all bringing back so many memories. It got quite emotional.
Music is so powerful for those emotions and memories!
I look at it like your record collection being your ID. Any collection of music is as unique as a fingerprint. And you’ve got something for every mood. All aspects of your personality is reflected in your collection isn’t it?
I think so!
It was just really nice to dig into some old tunes and think about where I’d come from. It had been a long time coming. I’d been inspired by my mate Lee Digits McPhee who runs the Shuddervision Soundsystem. He sowed the seeds years ago backstage at Blissfields. I’d closed the Hidden Hedge dance area and was in this caravan out the back getting away from the after show intensity. He started DJing in the van and playing tunes I had not heard in years and we instantly hit it off so me going back to my old records kinda started with that .
I listen to so much music anyway, pretty much every single genre, so it’s been fun and I’ve found it’s helped me creatively. I recently went up to Birmingham to see the Shuddervision crew and spent a few days listening to dub records in a field. I was so inspired that when I got back, I went straight to my records.
It’s made me appreciate the benefits of coming away from my main genre to get inspiration. I think you need to take breaks away from anything you have been focusing hard on for long periods of time to look at it from as different perspective and gain more insight. I find it can be difficult to view things from the outside once heavily invested, don’t you?
Definitely! It’s important for creativity and your own health to take time out of that or it gets a bit much. Did the mix just flow very naturally or did it take a while to get back into that groove?
I pressed record and went for it! I think around an hour and a half or more I stopped and then did a whole second half with tunes I kept finding and thinking ‘this has to go in!’ That’s how it ended up being the size it is. I did the mix for myself really but then decided to send it to you and purposely steered away from any D&B or Aphex / Squarepusher type stuff.
Go on. Can you remember the first record you bought?
I can. I went to my first free party when I was 14 and I went up and just asked the DJ if I could play! He said I could but only if I had some records of my own. So the very first one I got was Two Lone Swordsmen. Andrew Weatherall and Keith Tenniswood AKA Radioactive Man. Stay Down. That had a big influence on me. Then I went on a school trip to London, chipped off and went round London buying records. I wish I could remember which shop but I bought a whole bunch of Underground Resistance especially the Code Red record which is nearly as fast as D&B with huge bass dynamics.
Actually, I remember a guy coming down the stairs with a Metalheadz 50 test presses and putting one on the system. It was the Danny C remix of Terminator and it blew me away! That would have been one of the first times I heard D&B in that way. I asked for a copy but was told they were all spoken for. It took me years but I eventually tracked down a copy So yeah drum & bass has always been there, I was always developing a little stash when I could.
Unless you were minted you couldn’t buy music from every genre with vinyl
Yeah you’d have a big stack of 12”s that you’d want to buy but you’d have to whittle it down. My mate had a record shop where I used to live. We’d have a few drinks and then go to the shop after the pub closed to check all the new releases. Even if I couldn’t buy all the records I could hear them. The guy who ran it was friends with Andrew Weatherall and Dave Clarke. So I learnt a lot.
I compared elements of your mix to Dave Clarke when you first sent it over.
Yeah when you said that on the message I found that really interesting because there was a connection. The guy who taught me to mix was close with Dave Clarke to the point he has his name shouted in the Condition Red album cover. He was also close with Andrew Weatherall so the influence was really strong there.
I still check for Dave’s sets now because I know I’m going to hear something very different. Even if I don’t like all of it, I want to be exposed to that and hear new things!
Exactly that man. And also Andrew Weatherall. The things you’d hear in his set! I remember hearing Tube Jerk tunes in his set and Tim was with me by the bar saying ‘what? That’s my tune!’
This is Tim Wright, yeah? He’s quite the maverick. I had tunes of his back in the day on Mute.
Yeah. He used to live next door and we’d be blasting his tunes. He’d have to ask us to turn it down sometimes. Like ‘come on guys, I’ve heard that tune enough times mixing it down in the Studio.’ He’s a really big influence on me though. He was a big influence on all of us at the time. We had this mad shared house with decks up on the top floor. We had a mate in one room that loved his dub and reggae had all the original 45’s, my mates were techno but then got into drum & bass. All the good sounds. We had parties every week. Tim was there sometimes. He wasn’t a huge party head but living next door he’d be there on occasion. He made a track called Kick The Door In which I think was named after our parties because people would kick in a gate getting into our house. It would be banging every five minutes with the next person till the house was full every Friday and Saturday night!
Haha. Techno was a big influence too, right?
Definitely. Not so much the squat party, acid techno stuff. Detroit for sure, though. Underground Resistance were huge for me. I even have a tattoo of their logo. I remember getting my mate to hire a car as I wasn’t old enough to drive yet and driving up to SLAM Club in Glasgow to see them back in 1999. It was the longest journey but so worth it. Just the smoke billowing out of the doors and the two shadows for security. Getting in and hearing tracks like Condition Red live. I even had a chance to talk to Mad Mike. Got a signed poster and everything!
Go on. A proper pilgrimage. Detroit techno is that generation’s soul music
It really was! It’s the Motown label’s kids. Their mums and dads working in the factory on that same looping mechanical motion, screwing the same nuts into the same parts over and over. Like a techno track but then you have the person working that adds the soul. So I guess when synths and people like Juan Atkins came along it was the natural progression for that city and sound to move to machines like the Korg keyboards and Akai samplers. They have their classic tracks but get a new younger musician to play the lead say on sax or keys to blend the old with the new. That has a lot to do with Detroit’s aesthetic I think.
The Reese bass too.
Yeah! Kevin Saunderson! He’s such a pioneer behind so many elements that have been used in both techno and drum & bass. In the early 2000s especially there was a lot of crossover from techno into drum & bass. And I guess the other way, too like taking the Reese from D&B it fit so well with certain techno grooves. I’m really blessed I fell into that world of music. I remember my friend with the record shop properly introducing it to me. He was drawing for sounds I’d never heard before and I was like, ‘Wow what is this? How can I get tunes like that?’ He told me to sit down by the speaker and just listen. It was Kevin Saunderson, The Human Bond. I was like, ‘Wow this is what’s missing’.
That’s how you found your sound?
Yeah, from that I went down a very deep electro rabbit hole, too. Electro and Detroit go hand in hand and everything I’ve ever collected or played or made has come from those foundations. Obviously I’ve gone in lots of different directions but that’s where it started.
Yeah like the dubstep
That was fun. I wonder if I lived in LA things might have been different. My album was in the charts for three weeks, just behind Skrillex. Haha. I worked with We Bang and a few people that have come full circle and we are now all working again in the D&B scene like We Bang does mastering. I was on a dubstep compilation with Exile and Current Value I noticed on reflection the other day also had headlined a few gigs with people like Crux and Document One, all over 10 years ago. But like I was saying to Ollie from STONX whilst on chat about us remixing each other’s tracks for a future project on Abducted, the true core will always be about in one form or another.
Totally. Did the chart position behind Skrillex open doors at the time?
I wasn’t very businessy at the time so I didn’t capitalize on those situations but I did get booked for a show in Spain. They said, ‘We wanted to book Skrillex but we can’t, so we booked you instead’.
Nice. Skrillex substitute.
Haha. But yeah it took me around the UK gig-wise, too. I loved dubstep, even the crazy Skrillex electro version, and I’m glad I spent time getting into that and producing it. It was an exciting time. Actually that felt like a bit of a missing puzzle piece in a way. I remember years ago, long before dubstep came about, being in a record shop and saying to the owner, ‘House is 127, techno is a bit faster, D&B is very fast… Is there anything in between with filthy basslines?’ He told me no such music existed at the time. So it was something I was looking for all the time.
Love that. How has this inspired you as a contemporary D&B artist?
I guess catching the vibe and taking my head out the D&B loop. Just remembering why I fell in love with the culture and getting away from the usual every day hassle of what the world has become and stuff like social media. It’s toxic. It’s like a disease isn’t it? So getting my hands on the decks and physically mixing takes me out of that for a while and recalibrates things a bit. I’ve found it very liberating. My life so far has been a series of self-imposed distractions from the blatant disgraceful state of the world. Especially in recent times.
I hear you there! What’s coming up next?
I am revamping my record label with a view to doing sets under the label name. I have a better business model, some great new music from Stenchman, Knox and Akuma forthcoming. I also have a few more drum & bass mixes coming out, two collaborations with Impex and there’s a big remix of one of my biggest tracks coming soon that I can’t quite mention yet. I’ve been in the studio with Exposure, too. He’s a really inspiring guy. I love his energy. There’s a Stonx collaboration in the pipeline, a Delta 9 release and I’ve also linked with BrainRave, a crew coming out of Birmingham. They’re about to drop an EP called Cortex Chronicles and they’ve landed an NC17 remix, a Screamarts tune and quite a lot more. I’m happy to be part of that. I’ve found working with them really inspiring and hope to be working with them in the future. I also want to big up Shuddervision’s Greg , Lee and John, Root 97, Neuroheadz Lee UHF at Dirtbox and of course everyone at Program, Dispatch and Eatbrain.
So just in case anyone is worried you’re ditching D&B for techno, this should put their mind at ease!
Oh 100%! I love drum & bass and I’m really inspired about experimenting with these influences in future productions. It’s been a really interesting project to get a fresh perspective from the past.
For this song I imagined a girl standing in war zone silent with everything exploding around her in slow motion. To get this vibe, and also make the song playable live, I stripped it down to band instruments. I played the chords and asked my friend, Polly who’s a folk singer and extremely talented guitarist, if she would like to sing on the track. She doesn’t do D&B usually but has an exquisite voice. We wrote the lyrics for her to sing then I engineered all the bass and wrote the tune and added my friend Kai, MC Pride, to it from a vocal snap my other producer friends had in shared dropbox folder for hip hop.His vocals hit really well. It’s probably the best thing I’ve written to be fair. Then Polly emulated the main riffs on the guitar and there we have a piece designed to be played by a band. It’s a future project for a live performance. I hope you enjoy it.