XL Rated: Murdock goes big with new AV show and album X-Ray

Catching some rays with the Rampage bossman

Murdock doesn’t do things by half measures. The evidence is all around you.

Take his DJ sets… A veritable subgenre inferno, he burns through through the flavours at an Andy C-like temperature. In fact he once told me in an interview that he can easily fire through 60-70 tunes in an hour’s set!

His debut album Stronger was another example of his sense of scale. Such an important and personal body of work to him, it didn’t land until 2018, a good 20 years into his career. Years in the making, he took great measures to make sure it matched the high bar he’d set himself and it featured iconic figures like Jenna G and Roni Size. (I learnt that in an interview, too)



The festivals he and the Rampage team run are the most vivid example of the Belgian artist’s love for the XXXL. Renowned as some of the biggest and most lively bass festivals on the planet, their famous annual 15,000-strong weekender at the Antwerp Sportspaleis takes place next weekend.

So then, it should come as no surprise that his sophomore album X-Ray and its A/V show is equally mega.

The album – released two weeks ago on Rampage Recordings – is another full spectrum slap to the senses. Featuring the likes of Ayah Marar and Ruth Royall, it stretches and flexes from soft, emotional dreaminess (Living In The Moment) and star-gazing euphoria (Fight The Light) to heavyweight rave tension (Call This Love) to timeless breakbeat hardcore jungle mischief (Juno Redrum)

Sonically it’s as widescreen and XL as you’d expect. He tells us the behind the scenes was equally full strength, too. A deeply personal project, he describes the process as ‘fulfilling but exhausting’ as he took on every aspect from art direction to lyric writing.

And that’s before we even get to the accompanying A/V show. Now on tour across Europe and North America, the performance is a total flip on his incendiary DJ sets and comprises 90% of his own productions and a whole a visual feast to match. Naturally there’s not a half measure in sight. We caught up with him to find out more… 



We spoke around the time of your debut album in 2019, which landed quite late in your career as you’ve focused on your other roles as a promoter and DJ. In relative comparison, X-Ray has landed quite quickly after. Have you got the album bug?

X-Ray is primarily a product of the covid lockdown. I found myself making a lot of music and certainly quite a bit that wasn’t specifically designed for the dancefloor. Rather quickly it started to feel like a varied body of work that would make perfect sense as an album. And because of the different vibes to these tracks, the name X-Ray very quickly came to mind as well.

Any type of ‘difficult second album’ moments and challenges along the way? 

No. I’ve heard and read about artists having issues getting that second album done but I can’t relate. I approached it in a different way than I did my first one and ended up with a fair few tracks that didn’t even make the project. I still have a bunch of left over tracks that don’t need more than some extra polishing or a vocal or something, so I did not have a shortage of inspiration or ideas at all.

Once again we cover the entire D&B spectrum from the brightest vocal moments to the heaviest, ravey moments. That’s your signature isn’t it, really? In everything you do – as a producer, as a DJ, as a promoter and label owner. The full range!

It’s one of the things I love the most about drum & bass. I always use the example that a hard techno DJ can’t play deep house and a tech house DJ can’t play funky house, but a drum & bass DJ can easily touch on different vibes and sounds within one set: playing rage bits next to jazzy bits, or have neuro, liquid and dance floor sit comfortably next to one another. It makes the genre so varied and keeps it so interesting. Aside from that, I embody three decades of drum & bass and I’ve enjoyed all of it – from the early days of jungle and jump-up, to the neuro drum & bass, the pop era, the jazz influenced rollers, the rave throwbacks, the UK rollers, the liquid… The list goes on! I wanted to album to reflect that.



How about the concept? What does X-Ray mean in the musical world of Murdock?

I felt it was a good way to put a title to a project where I try to dissect myself as an artist and a drum & bass lover. Combining all these different flavours that drum & bass allows for, but also exploring all the outside influences from other types of music… I love hip-hop, should dancehall, rave, house music, disco… Getting little bits and bops of all of those vibes in there felt very natural.

How does this translate into your A/V show?

The A/V show has a bunch of moments where we play around with actual MRI footage as it allows from some sick effects and show moments, but I’ve also taken the opportunity to design borderline full videos for certain songs, take things into Matrix-type vibes and generally throw in a few of my favourite movie moments. Vocals have been reproduced by avatars, we play around with song lyrics, fine-tuned a shitton of bits where we use screens to add effects to mimic what’s going on in the music, and so much more.

That’s quite different to a Murdock DJ set, then…

I usually play a selection of current tracks alongside some of my own music or at least my current favourites from my back catalogue in my DJ set. This time around, 90% of the music is mine. All of the album tracks, including the CD and vinyl exclusives get a spin, I’ve reworked a bunch of my older tracks and added teases and doubles to some others of my back catalogue. It’s been very exciting building a set of all Murdock music, and it’s been quite scary performing them, now I’m not relying on bangers from any of the big guns of the scene. But the reactions so far have been above and beyond what I could have hoped for, with many people saying they feel it’s the best set they’ve seen me do.


What have you learnt during this whole experience?

That I never want to do it again! I stepped away from releasing on other labels about two years ago and decided to fully concentrate on my own label and release all my music on Rampage Recordings. I found that I was putting in most of  the work anyway: next to making all the music, I was the one finding singers, thinking of marketing strategies, artwork ideas, even down to distribution and having physical product created. So this time around it was all me, with the backing of the N.E.W.S. team, who handle the label management and provide backup for whatever I’m doing.

I’ve A&R’d the entire album myself, found and linked up with all the singers, even wrote some of the lyrics, I art directed the cover art – all the writing on there is actually my own writing, including the big X-Ray on the front cover, so it’s been a very personal project, which has proven to be rewarding and exhausting.

I shouldn’t say the project has cost me blood, sweat and tears, but it was definitely close at times! But you know, at the same time I feel like how I felt about struggling through the baby months of my first child (“I’m never doing this again”) but then I did and I can’t imagine life without my youngest daughter, so who knows, I might be starting my third album project soon anyway!

Haha. I know that vibe! So you’re about to take X-Ray on tour… What five essential items does a Murdock have to have while on tour? 

All I need is an open-minded, receptive crowd, a good DJ setup and a good sound system, really. To bring the full X-Ray show to life, we need some screens and the tech to operate it but I’ve done it without visual backup and it still went down a treat. If you want to get me in the best possible spirits, then get me a bottle of high end bubbles like Franciacorta or Champagne or a good Cremant, but honestly it’s a distant second to the three things I mentioned first off. Even after three decades behind the decks, nothing charges me up as playing that opening track.

Murdock – X-Ray is out now on Rampage Recordings

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