The Story Of ROOT 97

The label founded by a neuro fanatic...

The neurofunk scene is seeing a resurgence in recent times, especially in the UK. Labels such as Virus and the legendary Renegade Hardware championed a golden era of neurofunk and techstep and the scene has since struggled to reach those heights.

The reincarnation of neuro in recent years is down to a number of new startup labels making steady traction and introducing the new generation to the sound. Labels such as Neuroheadz, Expedite and STONX Music to name a few have grabbed the scene by the scruff of the neck and ensured headphones, Bluetooth speakers and dancefloors across the nation are pumped full of power.

David Almeida aka BaSys, a bastion of neuro in every sense of the word, formed a label to reignite the classic sounds of golden era neuro while keeping with the times and experimenting. ROOT 97 was inspired by a lack of classic neurofunk and techstep on the airwaves, coupled with BaSys previously making that sound, the label began.

Since it’s birth, ROOT 97 has seen a number of artists such as HighThere, The Fi5th, Aye Rights and Scout 22 releasing with the label. Their recent Leaving Reality VA provides multiple neuro sounds from BaSys himself alongside Nemean, Aye Rights and MOMENTUM.

In this chat we find out all about the inspirations of ROOT 97, David’s thoughts on D&B in general, the neurofunk community and so much more. So let’s dive into the mind of ROOT 97’s creator, buckle up those seatbelts and read on to find out all about ROOT 97

What inspired ROOT 97 to launch?

When I was much younger, around 21 years old, I was producing D&B and was regularly visiting Renegade Hardware HQ in London, as my production partner at the time had links with them. This was at the time early neuro was blowing up, and I was Virus Recordings number one fan. We did get manage to get a release on Renegade Records which was Hardware’s sister label. Me and my production partner at the time went on separate paths and I moved away from D&B, I was producing other music. I had friends doing damage on the UK tech/minimal scene who were a big inspiration when I came back to drum & bass. Some years later, I found that almost no labels were catering for that golden era sound, yet I saw posts in groups about how people missed that vibe. This coupled with the fact that I was making golden era style music inspired me to start the label.

Tell us about some of the artists you’ve got on the roster?

Some of the core artists we have worked with are Outrage, Nurve, ESKR, Nemean, The Fi5th, Aye Rights, HighThere, Tollgate Shindigs, Akuma, Scout 22, Nurve, MOMENTUM, Bache and many more talented, awesome producers.

Do you have a ROOT 97 team or is this a solo venture?

Although it’s just me running the label, I wouldn’t say it’s a solo venture. I have always been quite collaborative, and any artist who as releasing on the label, especially in the early days had a big input into the label. I’d say Bryn Bache was maybe the biggest contributor and was at one point considering doing the label with me, also Matt aka Tollgate Shindigs also helped with stuff in the early days. All the artists on the first release had some input of varying degrees.

What are some of the labels highlights so far?

The two that come to mind are our second release making the top 10 of the Beatport chart, we were all over the moon, it was a Various Artists release. Also running the label social media competition where the prize was a production lesson with Optical. He is one of my D&B heroes, probably number one, so chatting to him to organise that as well as chatting about music and life was definitely a label highlight.

Tell us about the latest Leaving Reality VA EP?

In my opinion this is one of, if not the best quality release the label has put out. We aimed to create something that had all styles of neuro on it, including classic golden era style tracks. Aye Rights did the golden era style track and in my opinion is the best around right now doing that style. We also have Nemean doing a track, an Australian producer who is hot right now. He has EPs coming on some of the biggest neuro labels and Jade called him his favourite newcomer producer. We also have myself putting two tracks on there. To me these tracks represent my growth as an artist, the tracks were done over several months, and they both required me to level up my production in different areas in order to finished them to the standard I was happy with. One track is very epic in nature while other one is full on dark side vibes. MOMENTUM’s track is different again and is influenced by golden era hip-hop and melodic neuro. Overall we achieved a great piece of work.

What are your thoughts about the neurofunk community?

The neurofunk community is special. Other producers are happy to share and exchange knowledge and don’t keep guarded production ‘secrets’, and I’ve found the neuro scene to be much more of a meritocracy, if you can produce to the extremely high level that is required for this sub-genre, your music will be accepted to a certain degree. Also the fans are really dedicated. In UK neuro it’s a very niche but the fans we do have are willing to travel a long way to support an event. Neuroheadz for example had groups of fans travelling up and down the country to attend shows, and if they weren’t as dedicated, a lot of shows wouldn’t work as no one location, other than London or Bristol, has enough fans to pack out a show as they are scattered all around the UK.

Will neuro become even more prominent in 2024?

I think so because we have a lot of UK labels are making moves. Neuroheadz won best new label at the DrumandbassArena Awards so that alone will put more eyes on the scene. Also artists like Screamarts are not just releasing on big neuro labels but also big UK tech labels like Dispatch which opens up other D&B fans to neuro artists. A lot of UK tech fans have a really bad image of what they call Euro Neuro, but I’m convinced if they heard some of the epic musical masterpieces coming from many neuro artists they would change their opinion.

Have you faced any challenges with the label?

The challenge that comes to mind first is making sure you are growing through all avenues. It’s easy to put more work into the platforms that are the doing best, but actually you need to work more on the ones that aren’t doing as well. Spotify, Beatport, Soundcloud, Facebook, Instagram etc. all need separate strategies to make sure the label has a strong presence on all of them.

What are your views on D&B in general at the moment?

D&B seems in a really good place now. Relatively new jump up artists are doing sold out arena tours, which is amazing really. Neuro also is growing rapidly, and I think more multi subgenre events will help more people be exposed and then become fans of Neuro and Neuro artists. It also seems to be getting more traction in the US with people like basketball legend Shaq playing D&B and exposing a new audience to it.

Do you have anything planned for the near future?

The next release we have is an exciting one. A collab banger from the prolific Transforma and The Fi5th. It will have a B Side with one of my tracks, watch this space.

ROOT 97: Facebook > Instagram


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