Lessons in scatimal from the Phase Records head honcho!
With roots that began as a place to support emerging DJ talent during lockdown, Phase Records has matured into an impressive new-gen D&B monster in recent years.
Founded and fired up by London-based artist Gabby Gifta, first came the Phase events, then came the free downloads before the brand levelled up to a fully-paid label last September. We reported on it at the time and Gifta described Phase as a “strong positive family”. With a collective of rising talents such as Artillery, Inertia, Premonition, R31DY, Ominous and Beskar releasing on the platform, the strengths came in all directions.
10 months later, things are even stronger. The label is now seven full releases deep. The latest landed last week courtesy of Xyde who previously featured on 1 More Thing as an Artist Of The Week. Gifta joins him on the lead track Blink State. It goes like this:
Better still, hear it in the way Gifta and Xyde intended: deep in the mix as Gifta tears up an hour of future-focused dark drum & bass funk. Flipping between minimal, neuro and jump-up at a rate of knots, Gifta describes the high energy fusion as ‘scatimal’. We described it as vibes.
Press play and feel free to tell us how you’d describe it. First, read on and find out where Gifta is at half way through 2023…
Thanks. I love your platform and the amount of audience you get to reach with it is so broad so I thought I’d do a mix with a little bit of everything I like; music from my own brand and my productions but also music I genuinely love and I think sounds good together even though you might assume they wouldn’t go together.
Fusing up those subgenres!
I call it scatimal… Really scatty, grotty basslines and minimal, heavier techier neuro sounds. I like merging them together and I felt 1 More Thing would be the best place for it.
100% it is! It was the mix with Veteran that had me locked from early…
That Perez remix is one of the most versatile tunes around at the moment and I hope I showed that. I smashed it with a big jump-up tune which I like to think is surprising and fun. D&B is supposed to be fun, right?
YES! Is this a fair reflection of a Gifta in the club?
Definitely. It’s taken me a while to get here. When you’re into all the styles of drum & bass it can be hard to find your sound. I used to mix Born On Road style jungly rollers. Then I mixed real deep minimal for a bit. Then I flipped it and went into neuro and now I’ve found a blend of everything I love that I feel flows really nicely.
It’s how you bring it together is the style. When you look at the greats like Marky, like Andy, like Hype – they all play across the board but it’s how they do it.
Yeah I agree. They know their music intricately and they know how to please themselves as DJs as much as the crowd. You watch someone like Marky play and you see he’s having the best time. It makes you love it more as a raver; you’re buzzing off the tunes, the mix and his enjoyment.
Totally! Speaking of finding a sound, I can hear a sound developing in your productions. A lot of them are in the mix. Like What If and Squelch.
Okay! Well first of all I’d say DJing and production are very very different kettles of fish. Production is a lot harder and takes longer, it’s a never ending learning journey. I appreciate you saying that. I think I know what drums I like and I’m getting better a programming them but I’m still exploring my basses. Of course I’d love to be the next person who Kasra signs for Critical but it’s far too early for all that. I feel I can contribute to collabs like Blink State, and there’s another one coming in October with Kevala, but I don’t feel my solo productions are quite there yet. I can drop a free download but a Gifta EP isn’t ready yet because I don’t know how Gifta sounds as a producer.
Like you say, you never stop learning!
I had some lessons off some big people in the industry who said I was over-complicating things. But that’s the joy of being the beginner. There’s no pressure. I’m happy making rubbish bass sounds as long as the next one is better. There are many tunes of mine that won’t touch my USB or Soundcloud.
Who’ve you had advice from? You’re doing the Hospital mentorship aren’t you?
Yeah. They were really kind to hook me up for a lesson with Whiney. It was really good. I had a very specific question for him. I have a problem getting things as loud as possible while maintaining the dynamics and not losing too much of the character of the sound. He was really helpful. But also the team at Education & Bass I have to shout out. Outrage, Nurve and False Relation are clear, dedicated, passionate and I don’t think I’d feel comfortable on my journey in production if it wasn’t for them. And my Phase producers too man. Premonition, Artillery, R3IDY. They’ve been so patient and helpful.
Wide range. Surround yourself with people who inspire you, right?
Absolutely. My Phase team do inspire me. It works both ways; I want to inspire them with my passion and drive and how much I believe in them. But equally how talented they are and what they can do in their DAWs inspires me. The company you keep will always be a reflection of you in some ways.
We reported on Phase when you went full-label mode eight months ago. What have you learnt over that time?
I’ve learnt you’ve got to let things breathe. Content is great, being visible is fantastic and you need to be consistent but you need to give people time to digest you. I’ve learnt I cannot take on the entire world in 24 hours as much as I’d like to. And that burnout is real. But you can avoid it if you spot the signs early and plan your breaks. I’ve learnt to trust my team and know when other people’s strengths should be used instead of your own. I’ve learnt patience. I learn something new every day. We all make mistakes and it’s accepting that ambitions and plans change and develop and it’s okay to not get it right the first time.
Yeah I can relate to so much of that! Strength in numbers is the most important thing. That’s when the cool stuff happens.
Absolutely. While Phase is a one woman show in terms of how I run it by myself and I look after the team they take care of me and look after me and keep me grounded and tell me when I’ve done wrong or done something I’m not doing or they come to me with ideas that I’ve not thought of. Honestly it’s so much better than I even imagined. It’s exciting, nerve wrecking but really cool.
You mentioned burnout just now, have you experienced that?
Yeah. It came from relentlessly working around the clock. I’d jokingly say I don’t have free time. I go to work, I get home and do Phase Records or produce. I’d have 5 hours sleep and an hour’s gym every day. It’s not sustainable! I was succeeding with things but wasn’t enjoying the successes. I was also starting to doubt myself and started to hate my place in this scene. Like I’m not good enough, what I’m doing isn’t innovative and I’m no good. But I thought, ‘This is not true. You love this music, you love what you bring, you have a team and you’re releasing people’s music, you need to relax!’ Luckily for me I already had a holiday planned but I made a rule – no Phase stuff. Unless it’s essential and someone needs you. So having breaks planned is really important.
You’re just back from a holiday so I guess this is very recent?
Yeah it is. It’s been a nonstop, relentless six months. But I’ve learnt from that. I’m giving myself breaks. If I don’t feel up for producing one night, I won’t. If work has been long and tiring, I’ll go to bed. If I want to have a dirty kebab instead of a salad then I will. Because if I’m not happy, Phase isn’t happy.
Sounds like you’ve got the balance in check
I’m trying. It’s an ongoing battle!
Haha, same! Tell us more about Blink State. Big up Xyde. We featured him early days of 1 More Thing
Yeah I read that. We’ve been speaking since February and he’s been giving me some production tips. I asked if he’d be up for doing bits for Phase and he’s a man in demand right now. His work rate is unbelievable and his sound is amazing. I had some drums I was happy with but wasn’t too sure what to do with them and I had some basslines I’d made and said I didn’t know what to do with them and he said put them in a project and send them to me, we’ll see what we do. I made a little bit of an arrangement and sent them his way. He gave me feedback on them which was a great learning opportunity. We kept a lot of my drums but he reprocessed the basses and there was a lot of back and forthing but we really enjoyed the process and we’re working on another track now. We have similar taste in sounds and know what we want to hear.
You both come from rock, right? He was in a metal band and I believe you played the drums, right?
Yeah! We’ve never actually discussed that but yeah that’s true, I did play the drums. I loved playing the drums and I think you can hear that in my drum work, I prefer the acoustic sounding snares.
Did you play in any bands?
No unfortunately. I started learning when I was 6. Pretty young. I did the violin for a bit but I carried on with the drums until I was 17. Then I went to uni and never really took the drumming into that because I was too busy raving with friends. I’ve still got drumsticks and occasionally I’ll go to a music shop and pretend I’m on the look-out to buy some drums and ask to have a try on them!
Haha. What comes up next?
Phase for summer we’ve got Blink State and Super Charged, the next one is from Artillery then we’re announcing a special rave in Bristol and we’ll be announcing a two room takeover in Bristol also. Other than that expect a lot cool content – mixes from the residents, mixes from guests and just continuing to do what we’re doing. And of course I’ll also continue with the Hospital mentorship for the year and see how much I can improve, how much I can learn and how far I can take things with everything I do.
Just like the mix, you’re back, you’re focused and you’re fully charged.