Almost five years after our very first interview with him, we had the pleasure of catching up with Deepbass, whom we invited to create the 196th episode of Monument Podcast series. We chatted with the artist about how his sound has evolved in the last years, the future plans for his label Informa, his new live set, touring in China and collaborating with other known and upcoming names of the global techno scene. The picture that we got is that Deepbass (real name Darren Roberts) might have evolved and matured, as his own journey through music, but he has definitely not lost his unmistakable touch when it comes to a certain type of hypnotic techno.
Hello Darren and thanks for taking the time to answer a couple of questions for us. Last time we had a chat was in 2014 and a few things seem to have happened since then. Would you say that your sound has changed too?
Yes, for sure it has evolved since then, before it was more about tension and atmosphere for me, which is all quite serious. These days I take a more lighthearted approach to making music. I am trying to do something more blissful and uplifting, but still always rolling and hypnotic.
In a previous interview, you said “I want my live set to sound different each time”. Is this something that guides you as a producer too? I wonder how difficult is to evolve in the kind of hypnotic, deep and atmospheric techno that you make?
This is still true as ever now, I am actually working on a new spontaneous live act just now, I want to do something impromptu using a few synths, drum machines…on stage. I love the thought of doing something completely different at each performance.
Yes, it also guides me a producer: with each EP I am always trying to do something different than before, although I have quite a specific sound I am always trying different methods of making music and learning new things as much as possible. I feel it’s important to mix things up regularly or you can fall into a routine way of production and will never evolve.
I really loved your second LP, Contact with the Machine, out last June. When compared to Campello, it seems to show a more melodic and delicate approach, without losing your very own signature when it comes to creating unique deep atmospheres. Do you agree with this comparison?
Thanks! I think that it’s a good comparison: Campello for me is something really deep and reflective, I made it in Alicante over the space of a month with a beautiful view of the sea and it shows in the music.
Contact With The Machine on the other hand was recorded after moving to Barcelona from Glasgow and was a big change in my life. To be honest it was not planned like Campello was, I had a cool little studio together with Ness, a lot of crazy times we had in there as you can imagine (laughs). One day I decided to set up some machines, jam and record some stuff and Contact With The Machine came out very quickly and naturally. Certainly it is more melodic than what I had done in the past, perhaps that move into the sunshine had something to do with it.
2018 has also been a great year for your label Informa, where we saw releases from Giorgio Gigli and Bichord, Kas:st and a great various artists that we recently reviewed. You must be very happy, what are the plans for the label in 2019?
Very happy of what was achieved with Informa this year, I worked with artists that I respect a lot, all people who I feel really understand what I think of as the concept of Informa.
The special release from Giorgio Gigli & Bichord is something I am quite proud of, I had the Informa Introspections series in mind for a while. I want to release some more downtempo music also as until now the label has been very techno orientated. I was overjoyed when I received the demo from the guys, loved it from the first listen.
I think the Kas:st release is massive, the tracks have been the highlight of many sets over the last year. The latest which is the Formation 2 V/A where I compiled some tracks some of me friends and favourites in the scene. And of course my LP we just spoke of.
For 2019 I have plan to keep up the pace, I have some nice collaborations, I am searching for some cool releases from my comrades and for sure will have some new solo material also. Something I am excited about is the new Proxima series which has some focus on new and rising producers. The first being from upcoming talent Surt which was out in October and the second is coming from Bohdan, I have been playing some of his tracks out lately and they are awesome. I already have a few more in the making: I think it is important to give people a chance as it’s hard to get heard in such a saturated scene these days.
Collaborations with other artists seem to be a big part of your work as a producer. Are there any names that you haven’t worked with yet and would love to?
One of my favourite parts of making music is collaborating with other like minds. I have been collaborating a lot lately but not so much with well known names in the scene but friends and people I meet on my travels who I feel I connect with. Of course I have the CHPTR project with Reggy Van Oers, actually we have just released out debut LP which were really happy with and together with Ness we made some recent releases too.
Apart from these already long time collaborations, I will be making more music with my dudes Repart and Craft and also new collaborations with my good friend Massa, something quite special upcoming with !nertia and a beautiful moment captured in Hong Kong with Romi from Kizen Records. I plan to continue down this path as it is immensely inspiring.
Your long-lasting collaboration and friendship with Ness has given some of the best examples of the above in the past few years. Shall we expect something new from you two in the upcoming future?
Yes of course, unfortunately we do not have anything forthcoming but we need to get back in the studio together real soon. There is never a dull moment when working with Ness. Perhaps it might be time for an LP (laughs).
Last November, you went back to Asia, playing in South Korea. You also toured China, how would you describe the scene there?
I was very surprised to see how well the scene is doing in China, I played events in Beijing & Guangzhou and both were great. From what I hear, many parts of China are starting to have nice techno parties and I see more and more artists going over to play too. It seems to be growing and I think they have a nice future ahead.
Is there a place where you haven’t been yet (country, event or club) and where you would love to play?
I don’t actually have one in particular, but these days I really enjoy more unusual venues, outdoor events, etc. If this year I get to play in some nice gatherings in the nature or some strange and extraordinary venues, I will be a happy guy.
Any upcoming projects for 2019 that you want to share with us?
The project I am most enthusiastic about at the moment is my new live act I spoke a little about before, I have put a lot of work into it over the last months and finally is beginning to sound the way I want it to be. Before my live act was all about trying to recreate tracks that I have released over the years, but this one gives me the freedom to create something unique in the moment, it is very exciting and I am looking forward to testing it out in a live situation.
Tell us something about the mix that you have prepared for Monument. Did you have a certain concept in mind prior to making the mix?
I wanted to make the mix into a journey through the spectrum of the music that I like to play out. From ambient to deep, gradually growing in intensity and bringing it up to a climax which was Gravitational Collapse from the new CHPTR LP and, of course, I threw in some brand new Deepbass also.
I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I did putting it together.
Korridor & Acronym – Ascending
Unjin – Tail Of Us
A Sacred Geometry – Mira
9beats – Equilibrium
Alfred Czital – Nibu (Primal Code Remix)
Felix Fleer – Simulacra
Sqeef – Equilibrium Point
Foreign Material – Theia
Massa – Magma
Mekas – Neon Forest
CHPTR – A Bygone Era
Deepbass – Lucid
Ness – A Darkly Sunset In Barcelona
Massa – Binocular Disparity (Blazej Malinowski Remix)
CHPTR – Gravitational Collapse
Bohdan – Tungsten (Deepbass Remix)
Alfred Czital – Nibu