Origin Unknown

Posted on August 1st, by Unknown in 20, Interviews, Jungle. No Comments

Hornchurch’s Ram Records has managed to remain one step ahead of it’s contemporaries since it’s inception in 1992. Their seminal “Valley Of The Shadows,” though over four years old, is in such demand it has recently been repressed and reissued. The record signaled Ram’s departure from the darkside into something much harder to define. Their sound steps beyond the technical, conjuring extreme sound from the equipment while retaining a sense of space by allowing bass frequencies to provoke a response from the atmospherics. Though traditionally the label has avoided press attention, preferring the tracks to speak for themselves, we talked to Andy C about Ram’s success and the recent “Sound In Motion” long player.

Although drum & bass has a tendency to move on very rapidly, Ram has remained at the forefront of the music for over four years allowing your back catalogue to maintain steady sales, what do you think this is a result of?
“First and foremost we do something that we like and believe in. That need to be up-to-date has always been in my nature, from DJing really. I think that the fact that I’m out there every weekend and have access to the most upfront music from acetates keeps me in touch with what’s happening. I think its very hard to not go out and still make the tunes, though Ant for example has this ability where you can just play him something and he’s totally on the ball. There are people who can do that and I feel that’s an unbelievable talent to have.”

You’ve enjoyed phenomenal success over the last couple of years, what do you distinguishes your music from other established labels?
“We tend not to try to describe our music, in that we’d prefer to leave it up to the listener to find out. I wouldn’t say that our sound is consciously different, what you hear is just how we go about making tunes. Everyone’s got their own approach to writing music and the way they use the equipment and I think the Ram sound relates to how we’ve grown up with the gear and the music giving us our own twist on it.”

You’ve said in the past that you want your music to have a science fiction feel, something which has been echoed by a number of other producers. Why do you think drum & bass has this fascination with the future?
“I personally grew up with the sci-fi films, there seemed to be an untold amount of films coming out in the mid-eighties and I think they influenced a lot of people.  We’ve always liked that idea of the future at Ram. Not in the character, but more of the landscape – the feeling that some of those films gave you about that future is what inspires us. I think the other link is the fact that a lot of the people within this music are at the cutting edge of technology and production right now and that association of ‘what is to come’ it kind of ties itself in. ”

“That technical aspect is the main part of the music, people try these new techniques through a love of what can be achieved with the equipment. I’d say it makes everything more interesting, as producers within this genre get off on the fact that you can totally mutate sounds unique to the individual rather than having to regenerate the same sounds again and again. While this has been happening, producers have become more involved within the musical side as well, so you’re starting to see highly technical programming with hybrid sounds being built into arrangements and structures that flow really well.”

“I’d say that is one of the reasons that this music is so innovative, more or less everyone who is making drum & bass now has been listening to the music or DJed. These people felt that they had something to contribute so went out and bought the equipment then, by learning they are creating new techniques.”

The remixes blew up your profile, particularly abroad, how did Wooh Hah come about?
“We’ve always done a lot of remixes although most of those had been within the scene itself, and obviously they weren’t gaining the exposure that that one did. What happened was someone at Elektra had approached our PR company looking for someone to remix a hip hop track. Our name had been mentioned and we got the call asking if we wanted to do it.  We thought we’d wait until we heard it before making a decision but when we got the track through the post I couldn’t believe it. I knew the track already and although It doesn’t sound clever it was quite difficult to get all the sounds sounding natural while still working together at that tempo. I have to say it was just pure fun working on that mix.”

There’s been considerable talk of major deals, particularly after the success of the Busta Rhymes remix, what is the current state of play?
“We’ve had a lot of talks with majors right from the beginning but we’ve held out for something that we’re completely comfortable with. We’ve worked out a deal with BMG, where Origin Unknown will be doing an album for them, while allowing Ram to continue exactly as it is.”

Finally, how would you describe the new LP?
“Last year the album was seen to be about Andy C and Ant Miles. I’d say that “Sound in Motion” is a representation of where Ram is right now, building the profile of Ram Records with releases from a strong roster of acts.”