No matter which way you chop it, David Davies – more commonly known in the jungle / drum & bass world as DJ Trax – has been in it since the beginning. A musical prodigy, he was drumming by age 7 and practicing his scratching skills on belt drive decks by age 11. Cutting his teeth on rave culture in the late ‘80s with his friend Paradox , they collaborated together on tunes which by the dawn of the ‘90s were catching the attention of Rob Playford, curator of the legendary label Moving Shadow. The rest, as they say, is history…We caught up with DJ Trax to ask him a few questions about his music and outlook on the industry in 2017.

Freq: Hi David, thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Can you describe your sound a little bit for those who are unfamiliar with it?

DJ Trax: That is a very difficult question to answer. I write all different styles of music, hip-hop/ downbeat, break beat, jungle /drum & bass. I also write many styles of jungle and drum & bass. So it’s hard to put myself in a box. I tend to write music that provokes an emotional reaction with programmed breaks rather than two step patterns.

What were of some of your early musical influences and how did they impact the way you produced?

I grew up listening to electro and started DJing when I was 12. As electro evolved into hip-hop I became really interested in where the original breaks and samples came from. That encouraged me to start learning about (and buying) funk and jazz. I was also into soul, reggae and early house and techno. So like a lot of artists who started making music when the rave scene first started, our influences were really varied and that variety helped create a sound of its own.

After taking a bit of a step back from jungle / d’n’b in the late ‘90s, you’ve returned with a vengeance in the 2000s. You’ve had dozens of releases in the last ten years on labels like Omni Music, Subtle Audio, Tempo Records, Audio Buffet, IM:LTD and many more. What were some of the factors that re-ignited your passion for jungle / dnb?

Originally I stepped back because I was feeling less and less drum and bass in ‘97/’98. What excited me about it in the first place was that it was evolving at such a fast rate. Once things established and the progression slowed down a bit I looked at other genres that were emerging and really enjoyed slowing down the BPM for a few years and being free of the constraints of the tempo. Originally Mixrace was a hip-hop Crew with Dev and Leke (Areosoul) on the mic and me producing and scratching so returning to hip-hop and downtempo beats was also inevitable for me.

Dev Paradox and Nucleus have always been good friends of mine so I was still hearing d’n’b tunes through them. One day I was round Dev’s and he said you should write some d’n’b again. Why don`t you do something for Outsider? I was unsure … I went to Technicality with them and was amazed to see people really loving the heavily programmed breaks. This seemed strange to me as a lot of the stuff me and Dev had released from ‘94-‘96 was not played by many DJs as it was too hectic. So I started checking out more of the artists that were emerging and got right back into it. I ended up releasing about five 12’s on Outsider and Paradox Music and other labels from there.

As someone who has truly been in the rave scene its inception, what are your thoughts on the current state of affairs in the dance music world? What are some of the opportunities and challenges that an electronic music producer has today which they perhaps would not have had in the past?

I feel the scene is very healthy now. There are plenty of good events and labels. I love that a lot of labels have enough of an audience to release vinyl.

I guess the main difference is the internet. It is a double edge sword. It is MUCH easier to get in contact with people, to collaborate, to share ideas, to promote events and releases etc. Groups like Beautifully Crafted Jungle and Forums like Subvert Central have created a great community of like minded people.

On the flipside of the scene is saturated with artists/labels. It is also so easy to set up your own digital label these days; everyone is fighting to get their music heard.

This is coupled with the fact that you use to have to have thousands of pounds worth of equipment to produce music with any quality. This tended to mean that only the really committed were releasing music and with less labels the quality control was higher.

You can buy a computer music magazine with a free studio on these days and have all the tools to produce 24 bit music. Again on one hand that is amazing on the other hand so can thousands and thousands of other people…

With electronic music in general arguably becoming the new ‘mainstream’, and technology / the internet playing a massive role in its promotion, the amount of options available for online listening and live radio shows has exploded. Your show Catch A Groove on Jungletrain.net recently celebrated five years, and 100+ episodes. Do you feel this has helped shine some light on what you’ve been doing as an artist? How has the experience been in general?

I love Catch a Groove because it allows Nucleus and myself to dig out and enjoy playing underground oldschool from the depths of our collections. I also love it because as well as playing music from the past we play a lot of forthcoming music. It’s great to support some quality labels and artists. I have been the first person to play a lot of new artist’s tracks for the first time. This gives me a great deal of pleasure as it nice to help give up and coming artists some exposure.

As for shining light on what I do as an artist, it is a nice platform to drop your tunes for the first time and to instantly get some feedback in the chatroom but that is not my primary reason for doing the show.

The 100th show was really special. I got 15 minute mini guest mixes from 4 Hero, Bay B Kane, Digital, Nookie, FBD Project and Stretch. If you want to check it out or other shows from Catch a Groove go to www.soundcloud.com/djtrax

You’ve described yourself as an artist with a passion for sampling. If you had to generalize, what are some of the bodies of music or other audio that you’ve found to be particularly fertile ground for sample collection?

Hmmmm I guess I mainly sample library records, funk and jazz but I have over 10,000 records and a wide taste in music so I sample and take inspiration from many sources. If you listen to my first solo EP on Moving Shadow you will hear a lot of my musical influences.

How important is it to release vinyl? Do you feel it’s important to being taken seriously as an artist in a scene like drum & bass / jungle, with has such a love affair vinyl & dubplate culture?

I can only speak for myself. I have released a few digital releases both as an artist and a label but I was really underwhelmed by it. On release day nothing really changes the music is still sat on your hard drive with nothing physical to hold and keep. I totally understand labels who release both physical and digital as it allows you to release more consistently between the records coming out. I also appreciate that some labels go down the digital route (and there are some great ones), it’s just not for me.

What’s been your attitude towards using digital music services like Spotify, Apple Play, Tidal etc., as a method for distributing new music?

Tough one really. It’s nice that more people get to discover your music through these mediums but let`s be honest they do take the piss. Spotify for example claims to support the artists but they pay $0.0011 – 0.0015 per play. But make millions from advertising and subscriptions. They also do not request permission to add your music. A lot of casual users are blind (or don’t care) to this.

Tell me a little about your forthcoming release on Tempo Records 20,000 Beats Under The Sea? If you had to pick a favorite tune from the EP, what would it be?

I am very happy to be releasing on Tempo again. The label has released great quality music. The EP is quite varied but I feel it has that Trax sound (whatever that is ;))

My favorite is probably “Send Me Back”. It’s a deep rolling tune with Kool is Back programmed over the pads and samples.

DJ Trax_20000 Beats Under The Sea_Tempo1211_Poster_3000px

Check out DJ Trax’s new release ’20,000 Beats Under The Sea’ out now on Tempo Recordings!
http://t3mpo.com/product/dj-trax-20000-beats-under-the-sea-tempo-records-tempo1211-id1211/

More from DJ Trax
www.soundcloud.com/djTrax

Interview by Logan Knoll

 

 

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