For a man who has made his name in tense and uncompromising styles of bass music, Jindrich Brejcha seems to like looking on the positive side of things… Perhaps more than the name Forbidden Society might suggest. Over the course of the last 25 years the Czech artist has learnt to adapt, mutate and sometimes simply wait to keep himself inspired and creative.
“It took me years to realise that I can’t rush certain things,” he laughs over the screen one hot afternoon. He’s lazing in the shade of a tree of a local park in his hometown Ostrava. At nearly 40° it’s the only thing he can do. “I need to go into the studio when I’m in the right headspace and have an idea or have something I want to do. Or I’ll get frustrated and nothing good will come out…”
Jindrich learnt this the hard way. Both personally and musically. Having started his journey on the brutalist end of the hardcore spectrum in the late 90s, over time he’s been known for a whole spectrum of sonic savagery. Everything from crossbreed to breakcore and some of the most punishing ends of jungle techno and breakbeats have passed through his studio either solo or collaboratively with other extreme breakbeat luminaries such as DJ Hidden and Donny and Katharsys (as 3RDKND). But there came a point where inspiration and creativity hit an all-time low and frustration hit a record high.
“I was making hard stuff, which I still love and play it in my sets, but there was a line where it became like, ‘I have every Amen I possibly can, I have every Reese I possibly can.’ I seriously felt burnt out of ideas,” he explains. “I felt like, ‘What’s the point? I’ll go to a normal job. What am I supposed to do?’ Then I got promos from Critical Music and it was like, ‘Woah…’ A whole new world opened up to me. That was five years ago and I’m still right there man. You can say that Alix Perez saved my life!”
Looking on the positive side ever since, creative burn-out a dim and distant memory, prior to the timely arrival of the Critical promo Jindrich had even gone so far as to consider what he’d do for a living. “Probably marketing or PR, maybe for some festivals or events brands,” he admits. “But luckily it didn’t happen!”
An epiphany in how to keep burn-out at bay and a musical education, Jindrich was inspired by the deep, minimal sound that had been bubbling away since the early 2010s and was really taking hold of the scene. “I’d not heard much of it before, I was on a very different musical path at the time,” he explains. “It blew me away. It was deep but it was still heavy, it had all this space and tension and emotion. There was lots of room for experimentation.”
This was 2017. Barely two years after he’d released his unforgiving Thronecrusher album, the Czech artist was swimming in a whole new creative sea and found a new lease of life. “In a way it was like starting all over again.”
A new evolutionary step in his enduring career, the name Forbidden Society developed cache with key names on the technical end of the drum & bass spectrum; collabs with Audio and releases on Noisia’s Vision Recordings would eventually follow. But so too would the lockdowns… The pandemic broke out on the eve of him releasing his first full album under this sound; the impressive and wide-armed Liminal Point was released at the beginning of April 2020, just weeks after our world spun out of orbit for the best part of two years.
Unperturbed and remaining positive, Jindrich was the first DJ in Europe I knew of who got to DJ to an actual standing up crowd during the turbulent times and interviewed him on this very first 1 More Thing podcast that posed the question – When can we go raving again? He played at Beats For Love, summer 2020, but it was something of a false start as most nightlife culture re-ground to a halt for at least another year of lockdowns before things reached any type of semblance of normality. Still he remained as upbeat as possible and dived deep into projects such as developing his merch range Forbidden Wear, and maintaining his studio inspiration.
“We had all the time to stay in the studio and be creative and experiment, right?” he reflects. “So that’s what we did. I just started producing for myself and seeing what I could come up with…”
Ostensibly he came up with his latest album. Released in April 2022 – exactly two years on from soundtracking the start of the pandemic with Liminal Point – he soundtracks the seeming end of the pandemic with No Return.
A game of two halves, the album tells an interesting tale and maps out the recent flux we’ve all experienced. Musically and most notably, it flexes from drum & bass to dubstep, revealing another chapter in Jindrich’s evolution. “Lockdowns were when I got into 140 beats,” he explains. “I had a lot more space and time to experiment and do what I wanted to do. I love 140 man. Then clubs opened again and I wanted to make something I would play and DJs would play…”
Pivoting back to his signature menacing minimalism; the latter stage of 2021 saw him returning to the 174 tempo, but now with added pent-up post-lockdown grit and growl. Like the dubstep, the drum & bass tracks hint at another evolutionary step with more emotion and urgency in the textures of tracks. They also note the change of times. “If we’re playing, we’re playing club music, right?” he asks. “So I was back making things I could try out on dancefloors and test out on the people.”
Adapting and mutating, the waiting was over; No Return marks the start of Forbidden Society rebooting his banger mode. But the 140 experiments have left traces as permanent as his tattoos. “I love the BPM man,” grins Jindrich who lists the likes of Shades and Tsuruda as his inspirations. “You have plenty of time to play with distorted basslines and 808 subs. Now I would say I’m making it 50 percent of the time in the studio and 50 percent drum & bass.”
For a taste of Jindrich’s 140 designs look no further. Exclusive to 1 More Thing Patreons, Spiral is a gnarled shake-down of obese proportions. The bassline bulges out in all directions while a rainbow of textures, glitches and variations twist and blend around it. It’s a fat-limbed snapshot of where Forbidden Society is at in 2022. His take on 140 music is just as interesting, too.
“The thing is, I don’t have a dubstep background or really listen to a lot of it,” he admits. “I’ve got very few reference points. I just do my version of 140 BPM.”
Looking outside for inspiration rather than within the genre gives Jindrich the edge and makes his 140 stand out. But don’t go thinking this marks the start of a complete change. He has no plans for 140 beats to entirely take over from his drum & bass. In fact for his first releases after No Return, he’s about to push for personal higher levels once again.
“There’s always something going on man,” he grins. “I got collaborations with Arkaik and Jabba coming. And I’ve been asked to do something I’ve never dreamt of doing. I’ve reached a personal goal so I’m very proud of that. If I quit after this, I’d be very happy…”
Always looking on the positive side of things. With that Jindrich submits to the summer heat and signs off…