#039 – ReWorx


It’s the end of the month that confusing has that extra day every four years, which means it’s time for another guest mix. This time, we partly drop back down into 140 territory with an interview and mix from REWORX, one half of both Exit and Happy Slappaz and, as he himself tells us, something of a bass music enthusiast. We chat about vinyl culture, a giant bowl of red hot chicken wings, and precisely why one of his mates had his shoes signed by Kahn and Neek, before ReWorx takes us into a mix that begins with throbbing dubstep before ascending into a chaotic climax with some crazy drum and bass capitulations. Enjoy!

Monsieur O’Neill. Yo! Great to have you joining our little family of mixes. How’s everything going?

All good on my end mate, glad to finally get around to doing a mix for you guys!

Right, straight in with the random. We love a massive plate of food here at OHOD. So tell us, if you were given the task of designing a Man v Food challenge, what would you create? Would you go hot, size, even both?! Go wild…

That’s a tough one, I would probably say a giant bowl of red hot chicken wings, four sides of fries and a mighty stack of onion rings. Or maybe a burger the size of my head, I’m not too sure…

Now the important question is out the way, lets talk music. First off, can you please introduce yourself to our readers, tell us a bit about what sort of music you’re into, and how you got into it in the first place?

Sure! I’m Joe, and would consider myself somewhat of a bass music enthusiast. I used to DJ under the name JO’Neill (not very original I know) for about four years, but have recently taken a more refined direction with my production and my style of mixing and am currently playing sets as either ReWorx, or back to back with Knosure as Happy Slappaz. I love all things reggae, and all of its derivatives like dub, jungle and so on, but my main joy is mixing dubstep, grime, footwork and drum and bass. I got into underground music after hearing Skream & Benga playing together on Radio 1 in 2008/09, and my love for the grotty wobbles and dark bass grooves was only reinforced after hearing the infamous ’26 Basslines’ dropped by Benga at a festival the same year.

How long have you been making music for, and what made you want to start producing?

I can’t quite remember when I started producing cause I didn’t really make anything worth putting out there for quite some time, probably around 4 or 5 years now but I have only really found my stride with it over the last two. I wanted to start producing to add an extra element to my DJ sets, instead of just playing tunes that other people had made. I wanted to get a crowd hyped up with something I had made if you get what I mean.

Of course, 2015 seen the release of your first solo EP on Everything Bass Records, a really diverse three tunes crossing the spectrum from dubstep into dub reggae and then back again. How much of special moment was it to finally have these tracks released after work you’ve put in slaving away in front of the computer?

It was such a buzz, I never expected any of my tracks to make it out there onto any form of distribution, but for someone to take a genuine interest in what I was making really made it all feel worth the time and effort.

The three tracks – ‘Dubmatic’, ‘Retaliate’, and ‘Retort’. Could you briefly walk us through each tune as you see them, and tell us a bit about how they were made?

‘Dubmatic’ was actually the first track I wrote and didn’t hate by the time I’d finished it. Actually, I accidentally made it when I was messing about making a house-y bassline and realised that if I changed the sound it actually started to sound more like a reggae bassline, so a few tweaks here and there and I ended up with the finished version.

I made ‘Retaliate’ after a few days of listening to nothing but Distance and the Crucial Recordings lot, and I feel like it rings through in the track if you were to listen to it off the back of most of Distance’s tunes. I sort of made ‘Retort’ to just beef out the EP to four tracks, including the Knosure remix of ‘Dubmatic’, but I didn’t want it to be as aggressive as ‘Retaliate’ or as chilled as ‘Dubmatic’, so I ended up making something quite dark and wobbly, and the bass notes are actually originally made from the horrible buzzing sound you get when you don’t plug your aux into your speakers properly!

Do you have any other tunes in the pipeline you can tell us about, either forthcoming or just stuff you’ve been playing in your sets recently?

Well, I’m actually currently working on an LP with 10 tracks finished and a few still in the early stages of production, all of which are needing a good proper mastering, alongside a string of refixes, mashups and remixes. The two that generally seem to get the most hype about them is my VIP of ‘Fever Skank’ by Six Sunsets, and my mashup/DJ tool of Marka by Dubphizix and Skeptical with Megalodon’s remix of ‘Too late’ by Truth and Datsik.

In our last guest mix with RED, we were chatting about visualising tunes, and it got me thinking about how some producers will sketch images and draw flow charts and things like that to help them visualising how they want a tune to be structured or what sort of feelings they want to get across. Do you do anything like this, and more generally what tends to be the main places you get inspiration or ideas for tunes from?

I would say my main inspiration comes from watching movies. I’ll sit and watch a film and if there are any parts that are worthy of sampling into a tune I make a mental note of it and come back to that part, loop it and work out a fitting melody and rhythm in my head, then lay it down onto my DAW. My workflow is incredibly messy so I think I could benefit from making a flowchart one day haha!

Vinyl culture. We’ve noticed in the past couple of years there’s been a group of local DJs who seem to be pushing the vinyl and dubplate culture a bit more stronger than usual. Six Sunsets, Buddsteppa, young Nathan Acetate, and of course you and Knosure too. It’s great to see, and got us thinking. What is the importance of vinyl and vinyl culture, both to your own production influences in dub and reggae and also in terms of the music that you buy and play out?

As clichéd as it sounds, we see it as the most satisfying way to own, play and mix music, as a physical form. There’s just something about it that is so personal, and the feel of using turntables is so much nicer than using digital decks, less distractions and more time to focus on your mixing. Also another bonus of playing records is that you really get an intricate knowledge of your collection and because of that you know when the right time is for each tune. I buy the records I buy based on what I already have in my collection, imagining all the different ways it could work into a set with what’s already there. In production terms there isn’t really much to say, apart from the fact that vinyl culture pushes me to produce to the best of my ability, I mean who wouldn’t want their tunes put out on wax?

Lastly for this main section, let’s talk briefly about Exit. As you know, we’ve got endless amounts of props and respect for you guys for the night, and for booking the artists you want to see play in the Toon over those who are what you could call an ‘instant crowd pull’. DJ Madd, Thelem, Biome, Kromestar…the list goes on and on and on. We’ve spoke to your partner in crime Knosure about it in the past, but for you personally, what does Exit mean to you and what drives you to keep on doing it?

Yeah we appreciate all the support from yourselves! Exit to me is the brainchild of a couple of bass heads, a shitty Numark mixtrack and the small handful of people who have been supporting us from before we even considered doing events. I see it as our platform to push the sound that nobody else seems to, and regardless of how big or how small the crowd it will always be an amazing time every time thanks to those who turn up purely out of love for the music.

The sheer enjoyment of deep and dark dubstep and just all round dirty dance music is what keeps us going, although we do plan on spacing out our bookings a bit more over this next year as we’re both coming to the end of our courses and need to find a proper grown up job. Fear not though as there is plenty in the pipeline involving us, Six Sunsets and the remnants of Tantrik so keep your eyes peeled…

Your next night is on the 12th of March with Nomine, the man who chants and wars and who also recently released his eclectic debut album on Tempa called ‘Inside Nomine’. What can we expect on the night and what drew you guys to book Nomine to come up here?

One word. BASS.

Nomine certainly knows his way round a good sub bass, and I can say I’m probably the most hyped for his set out of everyone we’ve had up over the last 6 months, due to the fact that his sets know no boundaries between tempos, genres and influences, but are always banging 100% of the time. Also Six Sunsets are sub-headlining so be sure to stay til the end and skank about to their dirty beats.

Nomine actually contacted us, he must have heard about us through Youngsta or a previous booking and inboxed me on facebook about sorting something out for his album tour, and since organising it he has also launched his own label so the event on the 12th will be a label showcase as well as his album launch – all squeezed into 2 hours!

Finally, we know you probably can’t reveal too much at this point, but any cheeky winks or sly hints as to who Exit might have coming up in the next few months? Or any other plans you might have?

We’ve just announced our second birthday party with Flowdan and DJ Karnage from Roll Deep on April 30th, but after that we haven’t actually got any bookings fully in place as of yet. As I said before we have something in the works with 6S and the Tantrik lads, so keep an eye out for them!

The questions we ask everyone…

What’s the most prized vinyl in your collection?

That has to be my copy of the ‘Gorgon Sound’ EP, which I got Kahn & Neek to kindly sign after we had them up in 2014.

What one tune would you have liked to be a fly on the wall when it was being made?

Hmmm, probably Noisia & The Upbeats – ‘Dead Limit’, those high-end stabs are something ridiculous!

What’s your food heaven and food hell?

Food heaven – any amounts of fried chicken. Food hell – nothing but tomatoes for the rest of time

In a four way hell-in-a-cell battle to the death between Spyro the Dragon, Super Mario, Crash Bandicoot, and Sonic the Hedgehog, who would win and why?

Spyro obviously, dude’s got horns and fire breath.

What one piece of advice would you give to anyone who wants to start making music?

Do it! There is absolutely nothing that can stop you from trying your hand at it, I’ve never studied music academically but it didn’t stop me, just go out there, make shit tunes for however long it takes you to learn your production software and you’ll get there eventually if you keep slugging at it!

And finally…

In the years you guys have been doing Exit, tell us two things. Firstly, tell us what has been your favourite party and why, and secondly can you tell us what’s the maddest, craziest, wierdest thing that’s ever happened at Exit?

My favourite party probably had to be Kromestar, Sukh Knight and Squarewave, I didn’t even drink that much that night cause I had an assessment at Uni due the next day, but the fact that Squarewave pulled up ‘Quad Bikes VIP’ 3 times made my night.

The craziest thing would probably be Kahn and Neek smashing a set so loud in my living room that the police came and shut it down at 6 in the morning. Also my mate didn’t have anything to get signed so he gave them one of his shoes each to scribble on.

What are the plans for the year ahead, more tunes; more sets, and more sillyness as per usual?

Indeed man, a whole LP’s worth of tunes, I’ll be supporting InsideInfo at the start of April at WHQ and me and Sean have two Happy Slappaz sets lined up, one at our Second Birthday with Flowdan and the other at the next Six Sunsets and Friends event. And of course, it wouldn’t be Exit without that hint of silliness.

Very lastly. Your mix. Tell us, what was your thought process behind putting it together, and what sort of vibe you wanted to showcase with it?

I wanted to get all of the genres that I have been playing in my sets recently in my mix, trying to throw a couple of my newer productions in there as well as some tunes from the local talent around the Toon. It is mainly dubstep and drum and bass but with a twist of half-beat and grime, carefully selected for all you listeners!

That’s everything. Thanks again for speaking to us and delivering this mix, and all the very best for the year ahead. If you’d like to send any shouts and love to pals, DJs, pets, drugs, or anything like that, the time is now!

Awesome! Cheers for giving me the opportunity, I just want to say big ups to my girlfriend Abbie who puts up with me blasting tunes and stupid times and ignoring her when I’m producing a beat, shout outs to my musical other half Knosure and all the good ol’ rubstep crew (You know who you are). Shouts out to all the DJs and MCs we’ve booked over the course of our two years on the scene, and to everyone who gets in touch with their dubs and tunes for my sets. And of course a massive big ups to all the fans who are the very life and soul of Exit, we appreciate all of you turning out and supporting the Newcastle dubstep scene!

Tracklist:

ReWorx – Seek & Discover (DUB)
Benton – Wormholes
Kryptic Minds – The Talisman
Strong4Life – Animal
Praxia – The Vision (Knosure Remix)
Asa & Sorrow – Shook
Matt Deco/Subtle Mind/Homage – No More (Compa Dub Mix)
Mungo’s Hifi x – Rules of the Dance Remix (ZonaVerde Edit)
Kryptic Minds – Six Degrees
Six Sunsets – Fever Skank (ReWorx VIP)
Chase & Status – Eastern Jam (Knosure Refix)
Kahn – Abattoir
ReWorx – Marka DJ Tool
Transparent and C-Side – Oyimo VIP
Alix Perez – Rip N Dip
Mefjus – Continuous VIP
dBridge & Skeptikal – Move Way
Alix Perez – U
Mercedes – Full Tilt (Ulterior Motive’s Tear Up Mix)
Fourward – Exile
Icicle & Prolix – Duality
Kryptic Minds – The Truth (InsideInfo Remix)
Teddy Killerz & June Miller – Wildlife
June Miller – Robots & Romans (Audio Remix)
Mefjus – Suicide Bassline VIP
Optiv & BTK – Gamma Rays
Mindscape – Break Ya Neck (Ft. Kryptomedic)
Qo – The Evil Dead (A-Cray Remix)
Mefjus – Saturate
Noisia & The Upbeats – Dead Limit
Emperor – Begin (Ft. Georgia Yates)
Noisia – Exodus (Ft. KRS One)

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