Pioneering the new jazz, the label Creative Source has blueprinted a style of its own. From the gentle rolling heights of Carlito’s “Heaven” through to the latest material from Primary Motive, two years has made no impression on these records – a testament to the select A&R from label-founder Fabio. A legend in drum & bass circles, from DJ’ing at Rage to his slots on Kiss and more recently Radio One, he has nurtured the drum & bass sound, motivating many producers to look beyond drum & bass into the far reaches of soul and funk for inspiration. He has played a significant part of legendary club nights Speed, Tempo and now Swerve in the West End of London and left the critics floundering by resolutely remaining with the new jazz throughout 1995’s storm of rumbling techstep. After two years and over 15 releases, Massive’s Kingsley Marshall catches up with a few of the artists which make up Creative Source in Ninety Eight!
Newcastle’s finest, brothers Jason and Mark Goodings emerged from the shadows in 1994 with the stunning “Is It Love” for the Metalheadz label. Sourcing rare groove for the samples and Neptune for the inspiration, over the last four years their unique blend of funk and drum & bass has followed a steady path from critical acclaim to financial stability. “The Sun” -caned on plate for over six months last year- finally reached Creative Source in December. More recently their mix of “Dark Jazzor” from the Future Talk label is enjoying play on the more cutting-edge dancefloors, while they have releases scheduled for Metalheadz (“Channel EP”) and Reinforced (“Fish Eggs/Transmission”) where they have collaborated with another Newcastle based artist- Seven.
How did you first become involved in drum & bass?
“We’ve always been into breakbeat — as we went through college we learned how to use the equipment a bit more. We were hearing a lot of things where there were just rare groove samples thrown over the top of breaks and we thought that we could create something of our own, still constructed from samples but a little bit more original. A mate of ours heard what we were doing and it was through his encouragement and him playing us records that we decided that was what we wanted to do.”
“At first there wasn’t a lot of interest, we were working on our tunes and then taking them down to London. We’d sent out a lot of DAT’s and weren’t too sure where they’d all got to. There wasn’t that much interest at first but one day we were sitting around at home and Fabio rang us up out of the blue. He’d been playing our early material at Speed and when he got the label started he wanted something on there. It was absolutely amazing to be picked up by someone like that – it just made our year. I think what makes the label special is Fabio’s vibe, what he’s about musically and that whole Speed and now Swerve vibe.”
What do you feel makes your music so individual?
“I don’t know how to put it into words, that’s part of the beauty of music for me – that it hasn’t got those words and that it is more of a vibe. Musically we’re from all over the shop as coming from the Northeast [UK] there is nothing straight in front of you and you have to hunt for any kind of music. Being in Newcastle has definitely had an effect on what we do, the distance from London means we are different whether we like it or not and our way of coping with that is to do something on our own. It seems like every region in the country has some sort of history but ours is indistinct. We’ve had good times here but clubs tend to fade very quickly. Saying that, this last few months has seen something of a revival which I think is a perhaps a reaction to last summer, which was pretty grim. We want to make something that will last and the way we do that is to step away from the genre a little.”
Where do you see drum & bass progressing?
“The beauty of this music is that you just can’t say. I think that it will continue moving out in all directions. Basically that’s why we’re in it – I think if it stopped surprising us we would just start doing something else. We’ll just keep going on as we are – the longer things take the better it works out as we’re establishing ourselves with a firmer foundation. We feel the time’s right for an album so we’re going to get on with that as well as projects that we are doing under pseudonym and trying to keep quiet.”
James Mitton came through from the burgeoning Midlands music scene in the early 1990’s. As one third of seminal breakbeat act Essence of Aura he recorded a number of releases for Moving Shadow. On the splitting up of that project he created a new solo project — Carlito, which became Fabio’s first signing for Creative Source back in 1994. He continues to record for Moving Shadow under the Guardians of Dalliance pseudonym. Kingsley Marshall caught up with James at his home in Leamington. James served his musical apprenticeship working within a band in the late eighties, though quite successful he discounts it!
”I’d cut a couple of records but it was a totally different direction.” I first started going out around 1988 and 89. Someone took me to a club called Conspiracy over in Manchester and that underground vibe really turned my head. The whole philosophy around club music at the time really appealed to me in that it was a lot more intriguing than what I was doing and that basically is what drew me into what I’m doing now.”
What was the attraction of Creative Source for your solo material?
“Initially I saw it as a different direction, in that Creative Source gave me the opportunity to do something that I wanted to do with a different way of expressing myself. With Speed hitting off it was an exciting time, and I was so pleased to be part of something new. For me what the label represents and what I am writing as Carlito side by side.”
What do you think differentiates the sound of Creative Source from other labels?
“At the end of the day I’d say that it is an individual sound. Although the releases have been freestyle, I think that everyone who is writing material for Fabio are putting a certain style in there, an interpretation of what they think is the Creative Source flavour. I know that when I’m writing a track for the label, I’m always considering how it will sound in Fabio’s set, both on the radio and dance floor-wise. I think that to an extent that provides a framework.”
Though very musical, his tracks retain a certain D&B edge. H puts this mentality down to his time with Essence of Aura;
“The driving force behind my music will always be the combination of beats and b-line. I feel that what you layer on top shows people the different flavours that you’ve sucked in over the years but without the beats you have nothing.”
How do you feel Fabio’s new role is at Radio 1 will alter the music?
“I think that this forum will enable both Fabio & Grooverider to play another side of drum & bass – those tracks that you probably wouldn’t hear on the dancefloor but are right from a listening point of view. They are the ambassadors for this music now, in a position to let the rest of the country know what’s going on. No offense to the people behind “One In the Jungle,” but to me I felt it misrepresented the music on a level where I felt it wasn’t what I personally was about.”
How do you feel about the state of play within drum & bass at the moment?
“The musical side has been given a big lift recently thanks to a few dj’s and artists who have been pushing it and I think that the jazz side will continue to develop, particularly in light of the recent experimentation from people like Peshay.”
And with regards the heavier side?
“I think that we’ll see the beats concentrated on a lot more over the next few months, although the current thing is to have a two step feel at the moment, I feel that the breaks will come back.”
What other projects do you have lined up for this year?
“I’ve a single coming up for Creative Source as well as the Guardians Of Dalliance long player which I’m working on for Moving Shadow.”
It’s been a long road for Danny Curtis; his early studio outings brought him to the seminal Certificate 18 label in 1994 (home of debut records from Photek & Source Direct), generating interest from LTJ Bukem amongst others. Hooking up with Mike Pears shortly afterwards they released two more records with the Ipswich imprint, before a long association with Fabio brought their Primary Motive project to Creative Source. Their records are a futuristic blend of vaporous atmospheres and sci-fi melodics, their epic “Dreamworld”, released last year, was arguably one of the finest drifting synth pieces of modern times. Last year their Motive One project signed with Good Looking. Surprising then that they remain two of the most overlooked producers within the music.
Your music has a very distinct sound, how have you achieved that?
“Mike and I listen to a lot of things and are always trying and do something a little different to everybody else. If you listen to Fabio he often describes us as a little left of centre and that’s the way we try to keep. Sometimes that works for us and sometimes it doesn’t but that’s how we have come to build such a good relationship with Fabio – he’s always believed in what we’ve done and pushed it out there for us.”
What first brought you to Creative Source?
“It was just through Fabio really. I’ve known him for about eight years now and started giving him a lot of my new stuff when I worked on my own and it just progressed from there. When he started the label I just kept pumping the music through to him on DAT and he just suddenly come forward and asked us to do something for Creative Source.”
What impression do you feel Creative Source has made on drum & bass?
“It seems as though there are four or five running labels in the frontline, but it is has been Creative Source who’ve let a lot of the leftfield material filter through. I think a lot of that is down to Fabio, he has such a broad minded view of the music that people send him and I’d say that’s reflected in what the label releases. He’s been there since the start, and people know that he’s not going to take on any shit that they sent him. On top of that he’s built up this relation ship with his artists where he lets them get on with what they need to do, nothing is made to order.”
You’ve often been overlooked as artists, despite for recording for two of the main music-orientated d&b labels – does that bother you?
“That has been the one thing that’s really frustrated us. It really does get to us to a level that when we first started off and the tunes started to roll we were still quite nervous, thinking perhaps that we weren’t quite good enough. I think now though that a lot of it is not what you know but who you know – we’ve got top people playing our music now so we’re obviously doing something right. I think that perhaps some of it is because of where we live we are not really in a position to get involved as much as we’d like to and not getting into the right channels to pick up media coverage.”
“It seems to me that it’s the same people who you are hearing about week after week and that if you’re are with certain people or labels you’ll receive that coverage. I think overall it’s detrimental to the music, as a lot of people are being left behind.”
“We’ve never really let it get to us. We’ve never been in it for the money, we’ve both got jobs during the day, but the only reason Mike and I go to work now is to buy more studio equipment to make more music. The only reason we are here is that we love to make music and still get a buzz from creating a new sound. When this music first started off it wasn’t all about that it was about creating new music from mad samples which is what we’re still into.”
Why do you feel the media has overlooked the musical side over the last year or so?
“I’d say that the reason for that is people think that if they’re going to release the harder material, everyone will be on it, the dj’s will play it and they’ll make a lot of money out of it. Whereas they feel that if they keep to the more musical side of things its going to bracketed to a certain type of person to buy it and there’s not going to be those types of sales made on it. So much so that we are left in a position now where there are really only a couple of labels you can make that sort of music for. I’d like to see an increase in that type of music again, as I feel that drum & bass is getting very samey. I think that Fabio being at Radio One is probably one of the greatest things that could have happened to drum & bass this year. Firstly as it opens it up to a much wider range of people and secondly as he is in a position now where I really think he can push this music forward.”
What does the Ninety-Eight hold for Primary Motive?
We’re doing some really musical stuff for Bukem with live vocals and we’ve just signed “Blueprint” to Fabio which is a little bit different again.”
Creative Source Discography
“Heaven/Carlito’s Way” – Carlito (Creative Source 01)
“Temptation/Fantasy” – Big Bud (Creative Source 02)
“Breathless/Streams Of Thought” – Intense (Creative Source 03)
“Oceans/Morning After” – Subject 13 (Creative Source 04)
“Grapevine/Diffusion Room” – Carlito (Creative Source 05)
“Electric Blue/True Voice” – Primary Motive (Creative Source 06)
“Millennium/Futures Live” – Big Bud (Creative Source 07)
“Rogue Soul/The Slide” – Hidden Agenda (Creative Source 08)
“Only You/Natural Progression – Intense (Creative Source 09)
“Planet Vibe/Second Look” – Funky Technicians (Creative Source 10)
“Brace Yourself/Mental Relaxation” – Origination (Creative Source 11)
“Jazz Style/Loose Flutes” – Subject 13 (Creative Source 12)
“Serve Chilled/Dreamworld” – Primary Motive (Creative Source 13)
“Fall Down/Introspective” – Carlito (Creative Source 14)
“Rafiki/Memories” – Big Bud (Creative Source 15)
“The Sun/12 Seconds” – Hidden Agenda (Creative Source 16)
“Venom/S” – Primary Motive (Creative Source 17)
“Future Elements/I Want You” – DJ Addiction/Carlito (Creative Source 18)