B.L.I.M / Emotif Recordings
Following the success of East London’s Sound of the Underground in the early nineties, the label established the Emotif imprint to specialize in more experimental drum & bass. Although early releases enjoyed mild success, it wasn’t until May of 1996 when the label received widespread attention following the “Techsteppin’” compilation.
The album pioneered a whole new sound based on Trace’s seminal take on T*Power & MK Ultra’s ‘Mutant Jazz’, and featured a number of exclusive tracks from artists as diverse as Ed Rush, Doc Scott & Grooverider. Although SOUR has since closed down, Emotif has continued to expand. Two years on from “Techsteppin” the label is on the verge of releasing its third album “The Method” – bringing Shy FX and Ray Keith to the fold as well as taking the opportunity to showcase a number of new artists. Massive’s Kingsley Marshall speaks to BLIM, Emotif’s original protegé about music, movement and the ever-changing face of the UK drum & bass scene….
“It was the techno of Sheffield and Detroit in the late Eighties which first pulled me into dance music, those dark and deep sounds rather than the happier house side of things. The beats came when I started hearing breakbeat stuff like “Mr Kirk’s Nightmare” and even some of the hip-house stuff. From first hearing those tracks, I’ve been trying to marry those two worlds rather than coming from the more digital end of it. Although I didn’t differentiate it at the time I would say now that I was never really into the whole ‘jungle’ thing, but more the techno side – what people would call drum and bass now.”
Although his first records for SOUR and Emotif were very much synth-orientated, his early releases of 1997 had turned to the harder material before moving on to his own unique blend of edgy, sonic insolence. This move away from the more musical side was prompted by his involvement in a small tour of Eastern Europe with No U Turn veteran DJ Trace, though it was his own DJ’ing which really brought it home. BLIM explains: “Because I’d come from making music in the bedroom and didn’t start DJ’ing until much later, it took me a while to appreciate dancefloor dynamics and realize that the more musical side didn’t really work in the clubs. As a result my music has gone more and more that way. When it comes down to it, drum & bass is dance music. While I’m going to explore the genre for a more listening angle, at the moment I’m more focused on making tunes that will make people dance.”
Having said that however, after four years of making music BLIM feels the time has come for an album: “I think that once you have been recording music for a while, an album becomes something that has got to be done. We all listen to a lot of other music and you get to level and an age where it just doesn’t do for you to be sitting around your house listening to thumping party music all the time. That is something that has got to come out in your own expression. At the moment the album looks as though there will be an awful lot of different stuff and probably not a great deal of dancefloor tracks, though I’ll probably pull a few versions from singles, primarily it will be an album to listen to.”
The last couple of years have seen BLIM’s DJ’ing schedules get steadily busier. His residency at Movement, the Emotif/V collaborative night at Bar Rhumba is constantly critically appraised for its approach to drum and bass. BLIM explains his perception of its appeal: “For me Movement has found a middle ground between darkness and jump up, a line that V have always trodden to a certain extent. While previously a lot of the dark music tended to remain at a very deep level while the jump up always had that full on party rewind thing, Movement brought jump up down from the slightly ravey elements and gave dancefloor dynamics to the dark stuff.”
He continues: “I’d say its down to the three of us playing there, Tonic is still hard into his deep stuff, I’ll play the Emotif music that we’ve been putting down while Bryan just brings the madness!”
Both BLIM and Tonic have made the opening couple of hours their own; playing released material and older tracks in addition to the freshest dubs. While most DJ’s shy away from doing this, BLIM opening encourages it: “When I used to buy records it would be for the a-sides that I’d heard in the clubs, but I always used to make a point of spending some time listening through the b-sides. Although 75% of them were tracks the artists had thrown on to the back of their killer club tune, the other 25% would contain something a bit different and usually more timeless. I’ve always been aware of that and tried to bring that element both to my own records and my DJ’ing.”
As well as being involved with the internet radio broadcast, Interface, BLIM has made a point of DJ’ing outside of the UK, a firm believer in “spreading the word.”
“I believe in this music and want people to be into it as I am. It’s good fun to go out and break these new frontiers, where people haven’t really heard drum and bass. Although the first time you go anywhere new you don’t go with great expectations. Perhaps you get a club that is only two thirds full with half of those people still not getting it, but you have to keep in mind the third that do.”
“We played in Israel a couple of years ago, when we first went out there the two gigs that we played weren’t too well received but by the time we returned seven or eight months later we were playing to 800 people. As it transpired around 100 of those people had been at the earlier gig and brought along the other 700.”
As to the future? “I’ve been concentrating on the production but I’m still progressing with my sound, I want to explore using techno riffs a bit more. Essentially I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been trying to do from the start, using the techno elements and trying to get more and more warmth.”
BLIM remains one of the music’s most established yet underrated artists. He can be caught at Movement, Bar Rhumba on Thursdays, with his next single “Moraine/Filterzon” due on Emotif in July with an album to follow later in the year. Watch also for breakbeat excursions under the Caterpillar and High Prime pseudonyms on Kickin’ and Marine Parade respectively, scheduled for release in the summer. “The Method” is on general release from June.