Having amassed a hugely expansive discography throughout their musical careers, New Zealand’s Tristan Roake and Andre Fernandez are now all set to free the Undeniable Truth. 2014 has already seen them make their first appearance in three years on Mala’s Deep Medi Musik, produce their fourth release on the seminal Tempa Records, as well as rolling out their newest album ‘Hollow World’ on Datsik’s Firepower Records.
Now they’re all set to bring forward their sound under their own name and on their very own imprint; Deep, Dark & Dangerous. However, despite this EP being the new outfit’s début release, DD&D is much more than just a record label.
After relocating to San Francisco (US) from Christchurch (NZ), Truth launched DD&D as a soundsystem night which has already seen blessings in appearances from the likes of Youngsta, Kahn, Commodo, Unicorn Fukr, J:Kenzo, Vivek and Leon Switch to name a few. It’s also a platform which Truth use for promotion of upcoming gigs and relases, together with their radio show which is now featured on UK station Fokus FM.
A number of the tracks featured on this EP have been floating about as dubplates for at least a year now, featuring prominently on Youngsta’s Rinse FM shows as well as on Truth’s recently resumed Chronicles series. Now the wait is almost over and the Undeniable is set to be unleashed. Before the full review (below), here’s what went down when I had catch up with Tristan…
What encouraged you to release this EP by yourselves, on your own imprint?
T: We love releasing our music with other labels, and are lucky to have been able to do so, on some of our personal favourites. But with this release we just wanted to get it out ourselves. It’s a selection of tracks which we are both really proud of and we want to kick the label off with a bang. Running a label is going to be a different kind of challenge, but one we are excited to take on!
Will we still be seeing as many Truth releases on other labels as you look to develop DD&D?
T: Our plan is to continue releasing with other labels as we build DDD. We consider labels like Deep Medi, Tempa and now Firepower as family, and of course will continue working with these guys. We already have some plans in the works! Having said that, the plan with DDD is to release a steady stream of Truth releases, whilst equally showcasing other artists who we love!
What happened with Defy Recordings, and is DD&D a continuation of that project?
T: They are separate entities. We set up Defy at a point where a lot was going on and changing in the Truth camp (such as moving to the USA from NZ). We put out Love’s Shadow under the Defy banner, but that’s as far as it went with the label, we were just too busy with too many things. Now, okay yes we are probably even busier, but we’re in a better place to run a label, we’ve developed our sound and our tastes a little further, with the night and radio show to back it up, we have a good foundation for the Deep, Dark & Dangerous identity as a whole.
After such a busy year of releases, gigs and radio shows, what can you reveal that you have in store for 2015?
T: We can’t reveal a hell of a lot yet! Obviously we will be pushing forward with the new label starting with it’s second release in early 2015. At this point we plan for that to be a compilation of the artists who we intend to feature on the label. We have pencilled in January for Studio time in New Zealand where we will be creating a bunch of new material as well as working on a live show, which will be debuting on Feb 6th at Electric Avenue festival in our home town Christchurch. If that goes well, well think about touring it. We have a tour booked in up and down the west coast of Noth America in March with Datsik playing on a 100,000watt PK soundsystem. So we’re obviously stoked about that, and really looking forward to it!
Can you tell us a little about your studio workflow as a duo, and if it is affected by your often seperate bases? (NZ/SF)
T: Currently one of us is based in New Zealand and the other is in the USA. It’s taken us a while, but we have worked out a good system. We both jam on ideas individually and come up with short clips which we upload to a shared folder we both have access to. We usually discuss the ideas, decide what we like and what should be worked on further. After that, since it’s in the folder, either of us can work on the track and just keep bouncing back the latest version. It works really well for us. Being in 2 seperate locations, and often touring individually, means that one person can be in the studio working on and finishing tracks while the other is on the road.
We also aim to spend a couple of months per year together. So this January, Dre is coming to NZ. We’ll play some shows, but the focus will be on the studio vibe and starting as much new music as possible. For us it’s all about starting as many new ideas as possible, and then finishinig off the tracks which really speak to us.
Many have uttered negative bile about the health of dubstep of late, what can you tell us about the dubstep scene on a more global scale?
T: We have never felt it’s healthy to focus too much on a genre or subgere of music. That’s usually something constructed by media to label something which up to a point, never had a label.
It’s the word “dubstep” that has got a negative rap recently. As a genre dubstep has always been very diverse, but people seem to focus on the heaver / brosteppy element of the sound as “dubstep”, as this is what really blew up for a couple of years. To be honest, that part of the sound was always there, and was pretty cool and interesting when it was a small element of a bigger sound. The problem was when a huge number of people jumped on board and started producing a lot of music that sounded very similar in that style. If it’s not evolving, then it’s gonna die back, which is exactly what has happened. There wasn’t enough diversity to keep people interested, and a lot of those kids just moved on to trap or other sounds as the next evolution.
The diverse, interesting stuff is there still, bubbling away in the underground, as good as ever and now starting to reach out again. There’s a mini-renaissance happening right now in underground bass music. Some of the older heads are now coming back, it’s an exciting time.
As far as the actual scene globally, it’s going strong. Yes, there has been a noticeable dip, but having seen this sound rise from something pretty small, overall we think it’s stronger now than it was five years ago. Going to festivals like Outlook and Shambhala emphasised to us how strong the genre is.
You guys seem to be on tour permanently, how do you handle being on the road so much?
T: Good question. It can be pretty taxing! But playing music to hundreds, or thousands of people who are there to see you imparts a lot of amazing positive energy, especially when playing our own music, it’s a special feeling. That makes up for the lack of sleep, stupid travel times, cancelled flights, bad eating habits and everything else associated with touring.
Could you tell us about a really memorable gig?
T: That’s a really tough one, how to single any one out!?
In recent times, this year’s Outlook Festival has to be the one! For the first time in a couple of years, both of us were able to make it this year. First of all, we got to reconnect and hang out with a bunch of mates who we only get to see intermittently when our touring schedules overlap with theirs.
We played some pretty amazing sets at the festival. Playing in the Moat stage was an experience, so much bass. It’s literally the Moat of the fort, so it’s deep, long, relatively thin, and the bass just multiplies and reinforces as it travels down to the other end. The boat parties are just awesome. Of course the surroundings there are epic, set in an old abandoned stone fort/castle. Seeing some or our fellow artists playing to 5,000+ people, all going off to the type of music we are into was a real refresher. (It definitely put the whole “dubstep is dead” debate into perspective). Probably most of all, the number of people who came up to us and wanted to talk about Truth was unreal, it’s so inspiring to realise that the music we make has reached and affected so many people out there.
Who are your favoured current artists recently?
T: Gantz, Alix Perez, Kaiju, Commodo.
Name a few tracks you’re always going back to…
Breakage ft Newham Generals – Hard (Caspa & The Others remix)
J:Kenzo ft Rod Azlan – Ruffhouse
Gantz – Spry Sinister
TMSV – Haze VIP
Chase & Status – Eastern Jam
Kaiju – Creeper
Thanks a lot for your time guys!
Undeniable EP Review
Undeniable (featuring Ill Chill)
California-based wordsmith Ill Chill is no stranger to the 140bpm mainframe, with producers from around the world hooking up on an abundance of tracks with this masterly artist. Collaborations with TMSV, Mesck, Demon, Vaun, Content and Deceit to name only a few, has seen Ill Chill’s in-demand vocal talents being heavily sought after from all over, so Truth have once again called upon the MC after their album project with Lelijveld featuring on ‘Broken’.
Truth set the tone on ‘Undeniable’ with a playful riff prior to Ill Chill bursting out of the gates over a gritty soundscape, lecturing in double-time style. As heard on Vaun’s ‘Knowledge’, Ill Chill also takes to singing which goes hand-in-hand with his no-nonsense lyrical prowess.
Oozing emotion from the get-go, this track has been a long-time favourite in Youngsta’s sets. A slow-burning orchestral-tinged intro absorbs instantly, and the vocal sample which eases itself into the main section is equally as evoking of endearment. The warming sub-bass coupled with a punchy snare creates a powerful affair, similar to that of ‘Dreams’ and ‘I Belong’ where before Truth have excelled in their production delicacy.
Another track which saw early support from Youngsta on his Rinse FM show, this one’s a dark and deadly encounter. That spooky glockenspiel sound comes into play again as menacing mid-range basses make their way over the rumble of the sub. ‘Last Resort’ surmounts in creating a strong but withheld aggressive sound that can be appreciated from across the board of Truth’s diverse fanbase.
Without a doubt this one is a nod of gratitude to the Turkish Truthers who witnessed their début show in Istanbul last year. Coincidentally adopting the same sample as which Foreign Beggars and Alix Perez used recently in ‘Deng’, that being from Egyptian Empire’s ‘The Horn Track’, Truth have set out to spawn an apt crossover of their sound mixed with a tenacious Eastern vibe. The breaks which build up into the second section are used to masterful effect, as well as the colourful jazz-stroked chords which tease out towards the end.
An abstract and ominous beginning, amid with the foundations laid by a bounty of bass, congos and an enchanting vocal sample, ‘Forever’ is somewhat minimal yet uses all the necessary elements at its disposal exquisitely. Some rigorous reese basses are introduced and they do surface throughout, but are justly restrained under the eloquence of this charming number.
Furthering their heavy but dream-like crossover style, ‘Lonely’ is a precise converge of string arrangements and mid-range oscillators which make for a wonderfully rich atmosphere. The candid sample plays over the track fittingly, accomplishing a portrayal of deep desire amidst the soundsystem destined production.
The instrumental version of ‘Undeniable’ is also included on the Bandcamp release.
AC’s Pick of the Bunch: Love Someone
Follow the below embed to purchase the Undeniable EP now:
Originally written for Albion Collective.