Ever seen the clock say 11:11? Nurve sees it all the time…
Identifying it as a signal of a new beginning, the long-standing bass artist has named his new label after the digits. Launching August 12 with a two track release by himself – Seneca / Fabrication – it marks the start of a new beginning for Nurve… But he’s definitely not new to running imprints.
For many years fans of dubstep, grime and 140 music will be well aware of his work as Demon and his label Macabre Unit Digital. More recently he’s run his own self-release platform Nurve Music.
But Eleven One One (or EOOM for short) has a much deeper note and sense of significance to it. In his introduction to the label he explains how his love for philosophy – especially stoicism – plays a role in the label’s inspirations and influences. Sonically meanwhile, there’s a strong nod to the sounds that completely changed drum & bass over 20 years ago.
With the launch single hitting hard and ruthlessly, and more promised on a monthly basis, 1 More Thing called up Nurve, real name Raff Di Renzo, for a philosophical catch-up…
This is a real labour of love for you isn’t it? In a way this is what you’ve been building up to over these years, right? 11 One One represents what makes you tick musically, creatively and perhaps philosophically too?
It truly is a labour of love. I recently turned 40 and that means that it has been 24 years since I first played in a club at the age of 16. I actually started DJing at the age of 13 so I have pretty much given two thirds of my life to the music game in some shape or form and it’s part of my DNA.
Eleven One One is basically the product of the last four years of work. For those who don’t know me I have had quite the non-linear music career when it comes to genres and I have pretty much come full circle with it all so to quickly flash through that for you – I started as a jungle/D&B DJ, I then went onto making grime as part of Macabre Unit which then led me to spend 10 years writing dubstep as Demon with my label MUD (Macabre Unit Digital), I then went back to my first love which is drum & bass.
That’s quite a journey.
Yeah. And the reason I say that this is four years in the making is because four years ago is when I made the conscious decision to put all of my eggs in the D&B basket (so to speak) and that resulted in me essentially having to start from the ground up both creatively and technically which was tough but it was necessary. I spent those four years finding my feet, experimenting with different types of D&B styles which led me to having releases on Function Records (big up Digital) and Backlash Records (big up Outrage) and I also had a string of self-releases on my own self-titled label Nurve Music. Most recently I had a release on a newer label called Root 97. I still plan on writing music that fits with those labels but now I have another outlet too… Eleven One One Music.
Tell us about it man!
Eleven One One Music is my stake in the drum & bass scene. My solid contribution. The sound I am shooting for is a techy, nostalgic early 00s vibe with a fresh lick of paint. The stuff I write for it feels very natural and effortless for me. The name Eleven One One is in fact a slight play on the numerical sign of 11:11 which is known as a sign of spiritual presence but also the signalling of a new beginning and being on the right path in life. I see 11:11 a lot on digital clocks or my phone and although some just say it’s coincidence and nothing more, my spiritual side feels a little differently about it all and here we are.
I see it all the time too! You mention stoicism in the press release and how it’s a big part of your life – and how the track Seneca is named after a Greek philosopher. You’ll have to excuse my ignorance of stoicism but, skimming the surface of it, it seems really practical and positive. What is it about stoicism that appeals to you?
Seneca was a Roman Stoic Philosopher (amongst other things) and he is one of three stoics of whom I read a lot of teachings by, the other two being Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. One of the most significant teachings that I always get from Seneca is that we, as humans, squander our time on this earth, only to regret it.
The world is a fast paced, hectic place, and we need as much guidance through it as we can possibly get. We need only to live in the moment because tomorrow is out of our control and never promised, and the past is gone and cannot be changed. To live with that mindset is easier said than done but much like a lot of the music we write as artists, they are a work in progress so why as humans would we be anything different? I would love to give you a philosophical answer as to why the track Seneca is named after the Stoic philosopher but if truth be told, his name was the one that sounded most like it could work as a song name whereas the others, not so much, lol. Stoicism is a very simple and empowering practice and it just resonates with me. I am very grateful to have been introduced to it on my journey through life.
I need more stoicism in my life! So sonically this is very clearly a love letter to the formative era of technical drum & bass really isn’t it? Virus, Konflict, Renegade Hardware. Tell me about this…
I grew up on pirate radio station jungle and, although the material I most enjoy writing is more techstep and early 00s sounding, I still have a strong love for the early jungle days. My track Retro on Function Records is testament to that.
But yeah, there is something about the early Virus recordings, Optical, Matrix, Konflict, Tech Itch sounds – to name but a few! – that really did take my soul and it imprinted on me. No matter how much I experiment with other styles of D&B, I always end up back here so now I have just resigned to the fact that this is who I am creatively so I am just running with it and since deciding that I feel like I have truly found my lane. Every time I get in the studio now I just feel like I am living out my creative fantasy and drawing on all of the vibes and sounds that I immersed myself in during that era.
I love that. We’ve touched on Seneca, how about Fabrication?
Fabrication, to me, is a very different track to Seneca. It has a much more dancefloor appeal to it and this track, like most of my recent tracks, was created on one of my fly-on-the-wall studio sessions which I do online via Zoom.
Basically every two weeks on a Friday I let people join me via Zoom during my studio sessions for a couple of hours but these sessions are completely unplanned and unscripted and because Fridays are a concentrated studio day for me I would have already been working on music a good 3-4 hours prior to starting the online part of the session so I could literally be working on anything, it could be the drums, bass, mixing, mastering or I could be fighting with my overloaded CPU, who knows, that’s the beauty of it all.
Fabrication was started on one of these sessions and I vividly remember really liking the tune after I spent a few weeks on it but then all of a sudden I told myself – because I speak to myself a lot in the studio – these drums are crap!
So I completely changed the rhythm section and it all just clicked. It was actually meant to be the lead track but, for some reason, my gut told me that Seneca should be the A track and I never go against my intuition because I always regret it.
I hear you there. And I also speak to myself a lot when I’m working! Can anyone catch your Zoom sessions?
Yeah! My bi-weekly studio sessions are 1-3PM BST every other Friday and they are a free ticketed event where everyone is welcomed. You can find info and tickets for those online events on my socials.
What comes next? And will you be looking to sign artists and develop an 11 One One family?
I will be releasing every month on EOOM with 002 already in the tank. I can exclusively tell you that it’s going to be a three track EP. My aim for EOOM is to eventually introduce other artists into the mix both established and those more under the radar with original material and remixes of already released EOOM tracks. Eleven One One is a brand and the music side of it will always be at the forefront but I also have plans to create merchandise and explore other ways to grow the brand so if anyone reading this has any business ideas to pitch to me please hit me up because I am all about pushing things forward and exploring opportunities.
Brilliant. What else does the world need to know about Nurve and 11 One One right about now?
For those who may not know I work for an online music education platform called Education & Bass. We specialise in teaching and mentoring people in making electronic music from drum & bass, dubstep, grime, house and other genres along with sharing music business knowledge too. We have a variety of programs and courses for people to enrol in and I am lead mentor and instructor for all of the available programs so if anyone reading this wants more info please hit me up. Between Education & Bass and Eleven One One Music I am kept very busy so right now, that’s what I am all about.