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Sonic Router

Sonic Router 019: The Altered States Of Altered Natives
Oli Marlow , April 11th, 2011 09:36

In the 19th installment of his monthly dubstep column, Oli Marlow talks to Danny Native

Independence is something everybody strives for, whether consciously or not. For me, building and developing a project organically - being involved in every word, tweak and decision – is more than just an obsession, it’s the only way to be 100% happy with something. So in the week that we launched our second version of Sonic Router I wanted to endorse someone who shares such a vision - in terms of control - for his music.

As a producer who’s been toiling hard over his production way longer than you realise, Danny Native achieved a lot of success over the last two years. His 2009 break out anthem ‘Rass Out’ helped define a breed of London based, house inspired roughness that was subsequently labelled as UK funky. Built around a protruding kick drum, snares that literally skip through the bars and child like riffs that hang around in your head long after they disappear from the mix, it held a torch to the broken beat era, coming correct with oodles of swing. In a similar way to an artist like 2562, whose enamour for that broken flutter is distilled carefully and transplanted into his own sub bass driven vision, Danny delves back through his past experiences, catching a hype as much from early acid and jungle as his bastard-house contemporaries.

“I originally started off as an MC”, he tells us, relaxing a little in to the memory of it all. “I made hip hop, but my aspirations to make dance music really started in the jungle days. As a teenager I watched all the big boys raving to all the acid and classic house tracks that influenced me as a kid, so that’s where my love of dance music’s history stems from. I fell in love with electronic music through electro when I was still in primary school when the whole breakdancing phenomenon blew up. My favourite childhood memory was listening to pirates with the radio under my pillow when I should have been asleep.”

His roughness and refusal to clean every sound up to a polish combined with his woeful disregard of any kind of musical guidelines is an essential component of his sound. Purposely aiming to push the envelope and do something completely him, tracks like the relentlessly inventive ‘Restless Native’ and ‘Boneyard’ positively benefit from their structural simplicity,; the untamed resonance of the punishing kick drum pushing ‘Boneyard’ up there amongst some of his best work to date. Across the two, self released, full length albums he put out last year, Tenement Yard Vol 1 and Serial Vendetta - the latter being a follow up to 2008’s A Thousand Days of Patience, Danny explored numerous ideas and styles with a freakishly commanding prowess.

“To be honest it was a mistake to release two albums so close together,” he confides when pressed upon last year’s prolific release schedule. “Tenement Yard was my loving offering to the world of 4x4 based house culture and I released Serial Vendetta more to appease my hardcore broken [beat] heads. It’s a piece of my career which I feel is overlooked, yet now in dance music I’m hearing more artists embrace that syncopated broken sound - whether it’s consciously or subconsciously - and I’m glad broken beat still kind of haunts shit.”

It might seem bullish or arrogant to attempt two full length albums each tackling a different groove, but that’s the reason Altered Natives has become so revered. Nailing each approach, he’s something of a dynamo when it comes to dancefloor material; check the groove and competition- burying basslines on ‘God Made Me’ or the 3024-released ‘Crop Duster’; for pure head-down, sweaty dancefloor soliloquies made with a singular driving intention: to move you.

“It’s just experience I guess,” Danny responds when asked about his defining sense of rawness in his rhythms. “I’ve learnt a lot in my own personal journey as a producer and artist. I like to find odd balances in sounds; I obviously love fucking with classic dance sounds. Drum wise, I love percussion. I guess it’s something that’s always been with me; generally all the music I have ever liked has all had killer beats or amazing grooves.”

As a character, as a musician, as a label head and as an all caps, walking tirade of a Facebook user, Altered Natives stands out. His execution of his own strong ideals and his commitment to the cause - to be “appreciated by anyone who appreciates electronic music” – has resulted in an astoundingly good compilation on his own EYE4EYE record label. Titled The Guild of Synchronists it’s a properly thought out collection of tracks that aligns Danny with 10 other producers, living up to the title and binding their individual takes on the artform into something wonderfully loud and distinct.

“I like the idea of a collective,” Danny offers. “I’ve already been involved in a piss poor crew situation so this is definitely not that situation reincarnated. With this project I want to propel, not postpone or hinder the artists involved. This project was more about the assemblage of a group of producers who I felt a particular affinity to in relation to my own levels of production output and passion for writing.”

In his own words, “a guild is an association of craftsmen skilled in their particular field,” and it’s incredibly apt given the array of styles he binds with the end output of the compilation. Slaughter Mob’s ‘The Heeby Jeebies’ is an embroiled look at house tempoed grime - sullen as it is with all those pressing bass swells – while Ceramic’s ‘The Message’ is a rolling rude boy stomp through clipped drums and open hi-hats and, Misery Peat’s ‘The Hyde’ is a slow jaunt propelled by an almighty swirling lead. Danny’s two contributions, meanwhile, highlight the breadth of the ground he’s trying to cover - both deep but decidedly different in their synthesized hue.

“What stood out for me most was that each artist identifies with messing with the set formulas despite being pretty adept in their own comfort zones,” he enthuses. “I set one artist on the comp a little challenge to write completely out of his territory and he managed it, no problem.”

“Some of the producers on this comp are good friends who I have known for a while and supported and for a few of the guys this is their first release. These are the guys who I’m most proud of releasing. I’m not saying there is any kind of favouritism but more a desire to see them heard and be succeeded by DJs worldwide. The response has been more than phenomenal to the newer artists featured, so I am pretty happy that people are feeling what I felt and the willingness to support these new producers.”

Words: Oli Marlow for Sonic Router

The Guild of Synchronists is out in April. Look out for Tenement Yard Vol 2 coming soon.