#025 – Minus


After more than two years of featuring the best DJs that our region has to offer, we’ve finally hit that milestone of a quarter century of mixes. When we first cobbled together this site in October 2011, we never thought that we would get the response and love that we’ve had. Thank you to you all for listening, commenting, sharing, and generally supporting us. It means a lot.

But that’s enough of the sentimental bullshit. We’re proud to present our 25th guest mix, signed sealed and delivered by local DJ and bass enthusiast Steven Horsburgh, aka MINUS. A staple at nights such as Turbulence and Curves over the past half decade or so, Minus’ style epitomises everything that is deep and subterranean about the world of drum and bass. His mix oozes with that uncompromising darkness of the tech underworld, but there are moments of soulful relief in there too to balance the books. It is quite easily one of the best mixes we’ve ever featured. What’s more, in our interview, we chat origins, tastes, and opinions, as well as finding out precisely how dead Sonic the Hedgehog would be if he ever tried to jump on Super Mario. Enjoy.

File it under: Subterranean drum and bass with sprinkles of soul

Hello Steve sir. How are you doing: good Christmas and New Year?

It was indeed – it was nice to have some time off and stuff my face with food and booze. Yourselves?

Very well thanks bud. You’ve got the honour of doing the mix that takes us to a quarter century of guest mixes. How does it feel to join such illustrious company?

Honoured! Some of the best local DJs have recorded mixes for you guys in the past, so it means a lot to be asked.

You’ve become known amongst the DnB community in Newcastle for dishing up healthy portions of deep, rolling tech. How would you describe what your sound is?

You’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head; deep and rolling. Good drums, good bass. It doesn’t necessarily have to be techy (as the mix will demonstrate) although I can’t help but lean towards that style.

What first perked your interest in drum and bass, and what made you decide to start mixing it? Walk us through your origins…

Well, I got turntables at 15, as did a lot of other people in my year at school who were all mixing Makina, but I quickly progressed to playing UK Hardcore – artists like Scott Brown, Brisk, Gammer, Sy & Unknown etc. I guess around a similar time, a mate from school gave me an Andy C tape from One Nation. It had ‘Bring It On’ by Hive and Keaton which I used to rewind and play over and over. I think I then went into HMV and bought Nightlife 1 and Andy C’s first Drum and Bass Arena CD. Tunes like ‘Foreigner’ by Fresh (there was an excellent double drop with ‘Bring It On’ on one of those CDs) and ‘Vault’ by Pendulum stuck out, and I thought, “this is what I want to be playing”. ‘Hold Your Colour’ by Pendulum just cemented this love, and hearing them play at Turbulence (maybe the 2nd or 3rd show at Digital) blew my mind at the time!

Was it a tough progression from starting out to getting sets in places like Turbulence?

It took me about 5/6 years from first getting decks to playing in clubs as I was very conscious about being good enough to do so, but after my 1st set playing for Dave Shocon at his night at King’s Manor, it all progressed very quickly – my 2nd set was playing the Turbulence NYE party at The Other Rooms. As is standard, I felt like I had a bit of a nightmare as it’s such a different experience from playing at home or pubs. I have to thank Phobia, Si Turner and Mike Jones (from Deviate) for giving me these opportunities.

Was there ever a moment where you went from ‘messing about’ mixing to feeling that it was something you’d slowly become accomplished at? Any landmark sets or moments that you look back on?

After my aforementioned nightmare at the Turbs NYE party (it probably wasn’t THAT bad… I hope), I played after Zero T at Deviate a couple of months later. The dance floor was pretty sparse, so I had started to fear the worst as my set approached. I started with the Break remix of Spectrasoul’s ‘Alibi’, swiftly followed by Noisia’s ‘Façade’, and it all just seemed to fall into place; the mixes were smooth and the dance floor filled up. It was probably at this point that I thought, “yeah, I actually can do this”.

You’ve played at Turbulence a few times: sticking out in our memory is the frankly brilliant two hours you spun out before London Elektricity last year. Do you have any sets that you look back on as being particularly special?

Thanks for that, I definitely think it’s up there with the best sets I’ve played – the crowd went nuts that night! Being asked to play back to back with Codename:Tyrone from Chroma was pretty good too, if the Chroma lads think I’m good enough to play alongside them, then that’s high praise indeed. I’m also very proud of the fact that Si Turner was a big supporter of myself as a DJ, allowing me to play Curves a number of times, and playing my mixes on the NCLbeats show on NE1fm.

In the past few months we’ve seen drum and bass deflate somewhat up here, for a few reasons. What do you think of drum and bass in Newcastle and the North East at the moment?

It’s a shame that the numbers aren’t quite there for a lot of the nights at the moment. Evidently drum and bass isn’t ‘in’ anymore, especially compared to a couple of years ago when the ‘Hospitality sound’ was huge, especially amongst the student crowd. I think there’s a very close, passionate core scene in Newcastle, which is great, I just hope that the promoters don’t sack off putting DnB nights on altogether.

Do you dabble in any other kinds of music? Either to mix with or just to listen to?

I don’t really mix anything but DnB these days, but I listen to a lot of ambient stuff, artists like Helios, Tycho, Kiyoko, Brian Eno. I’ve only really started to notice what the likes of Machinedrum, Om Unit, Fracture and that lot are doing at the minute, but I’m liking the fusion of different styles that they bring together. Also, I’ve always been a big Foo Fighters fan. I could go on and on about other artists I like…

Ever had a bash at making your own music or are you happy with just the mixing side?

I started to dabble with production a few years ago, but I moved house and then went back to university to do my Masters not long after so never picked it up again. It’s something I would love to learn, but I’m realistic and I doubt I’d ever be able to commit enough time to it to get anywhere.

We know that feel too.

Next up, quickfire.

Jam or marmalade?

Jam.

Star Wars or Indiana Jones?

Star Wars.

Super Mario has just been jumped on by Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles. You want to help, but Greggs are offering unlimited free pasties at the same time. Do you save Mario or indulge in pastry heaven?

I’d BORST the Sonic lot. NEXT.

Would you rather be able to breathe underwater or fly like a bird?

I’ve always said I’d pick flying as a superpower…

You’re playing the final set of a night. Given the freedom to choose, what would you select as your ‘one more tune’ right at the end?

Phwoar, this is a tough one! ‘Mr Maverick’ by Calibre is a personal favourite of mine that everyone seems to respond to, but if the rest of the set has been pretty full on, at the minute I’d probably go for ‘Botfly’ by Audio.

And finally…

On the 7th of March you’re going b2b with our own Harmonyx to warm up for Total Science. Are you looking forward to this one?

I’ve already had loads of fun digging through the boxes to pick out some forgotten gems for the night, but to be playing immediately before Total Science is a pretty big thing for me. I’ve bought and played these guys’ records since I started buying drum and bass; Nosher, Squash, Defcon 69, Millenium Lady, Skinz, Redlines, Legion, Venus Prime (amongst many others I’m sure) have all been hammered by myself at one point or another.

Aside from the music, you’re a doctoral student at Northumbria University. Can you tell us a bit about what you do, and what the plans are for when you finish?

I’m studying epigenetics; how changes in gene activity occur independently of changes in the actual gene sequence. I’m looking at how exercise might affect this. I have no absolutely no idea where this is heading at the minute because it’s such a new area of study! Hopefully more research after the PhD is over.

Last but not least, tell us how you went about putting this mix together for us.

There were so many tunes I wanted to include in the mix as it’s been about 9 months since I last recorded a promo, so whittling down what I really wanted to play was the first priority. I always like to include brand new stuff as well as some slightly older tunes that still do it for me. Also, now that beatmatching is easier than ever, there is literally no excuse to not pick tunes that complement each other, so I work hard to make sure that each individual mix is good, with no obvious key clashes.

That’s it! Big up for speaking to us. Any final thoughts or shouts?

Thanks for having me! Shouts to anyone who’s given me a chance or just generally been supportive of me as a DJ – Jimmy Phobes, Mat Ruckuz, John Spectra, Benny Tyrone, Edd 10 Below, Graeme Enorme, Paul Loki, Mike Jones, Mike Shox, Dave Shocon, Aems, Dionysus and of course, the LEGENDARY Simon Turner, who we all miss dearly.

Tracklist:
Jubei – Block Code [Metalheadz]
>> Ed Rush & Optical – Medicine [Virus]
Fracture – Better Than Tomorrow [Metalheadz]
Villem, Linden, Mako & Fields – Saturate [Dispatch]
>> Foreign Concept – Mob Justice (Enei remix) [Critical]
Fierce, Break, dBridge & Nico – Galleon [Quarantine]
Ulterior Motive – Forgiven [Metalheadz]
Need for Mirrors – Grapefruit [Dispatch]
Marcus Intalex & ST Files – How You Make Me Feel [31]
Flowrian – Wait For Me [Good Looking]
Tokyo Prose – Good Bye Hands [Sun and Bass]
Calibre – Thoughtless [Digital Soundboy]
Breakage – 4me [Critical]
>> Critical Impact – Chinese Burns [Clear Skyz]
Ulterior Motive – Fragola Invisible [Sun and Bass]
DLR – Tugboat [Dispatch]
Cursa, Subliminal & Alxr – Camino (Mindmapper & Fre4knc Remix) [Demand]
>> SPY – Xenomorph [Metalheadz]
Hybris, Quadrant, D-Struct & Iris – Graphene [Dispatch]
Minor Rain – Duplex [Rise]
Break & DLR – We’ll See [Dispatch]
Stealth & Altair – You Do Me Wrong [ProgRAM]
Gerra & Stone – Back Hand [Dispatch]
Alix Perez feat. Metropolis – Blueprint [Shogun Audio]
>> InsideInfo & Mefjus – Mythos [Virus]
Break – End of Time [Subtitles]
A-Cray – Anonymous [Mindtech]
>> Spinline – Artificial [Dispatch]

#025 – Minus – DnB by Onehouronedj on Mixcloud

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