#040 – Medicinal


Life apparently begins at 40, and the guest mix machine at OHOD is marking the number with a mix and interview from MEDICINAL. We chat about music, politics, Ikea, and mixing before he whisks us through a delightful journey through his DnB collection. Enjoy!

Hello mate, many thanks for taking the time to chat to us and for putting together your mix. How are things?

Yo guys, cheers for having me. Really glad to be a part of the mix series and I hope you enjoy it. Everything’s OK with me thanks :)

Let’s begin by following the usual OHOD interview format and asking something completely and utterly random to kick off. If we gave you a hundred quid at let you loose in Ikea, what would you emerge with when you came out?

I’d probably have to get some fancy lights to liven up my bedroom and a Cable trunking device for all the wires lying around! Maybe even a new Computer desk. Not really letting loose but that’s most likely what I’d emerge with!

With that out the way, let’s get started proper. Can you please introduce yourself, tell us a bit about who you are and what sort of music you’re into?

My name is John i.e. Medicinal. I live around the Newcastle area and have been well into drum and bass and mixing for a few years now. I tend to listen to and mix the darker side of DnB, anything that’s rolling and eerie really.

Drum and bass has changed hugely since the early maelstrom of creativity in the mid 90s. What was your first exposure to it; and are there any defining moments you can remember where you thought ‘fuck me, that’s the sort of music that’s going to take over my life’?

My first exposure to DnB was when I was about 15 years old. I was hanging round with a mate who listened to DnB and it was kind of just on constantly in the background when I’d go over to his. I remember Lenzman – ‘Bittersweet Part 2’ ft. Riya and also Culture Shock – ‘Troglodyte’ being songs that massively influenced my love for DnB. I also heard the likes of Dom & Roland, Jubei and Calibre in my early days.

What made you want to get round the other side of the decks and start mixing drum and bass instead of just dancing to it?

When I started getting a bit older I got introduced to my good mate Murray. I started tagging along with my other pal round to Murray’s to hear Murray and his other friend DJ. The more I went the more I was keen on getting involved. It used to really baffle me how difficult it looked turning all those dials and trying to keep in time with everything. I watched for a few months before deciding to get myself a DJ programme (Traktor) and have a go. For me, it was a keyboard and mouse job back then and I was dreadful when I started, but you have to start somewhere and I’m very glad I did!

We’ve been tuning into your live-streams for a fair while now, and have as a result got to know both the smoother side of your DnB collection as well as the harsher, tougher end of the spectrum you spin from time to time. For you, is there something about the diversity and sheer span of sounds you get in DnB that makes it so enjoyable?

Yeah definitely. I find myself going through phases of what style of DnB I listen to. I always play music with regards to how I’m feeling. I may wake up one day and the sun is shining so I’ll stick on some positive liquid vibes, or I may have had a few drinks and be in the mood for some heavier darker stuff, or maybe even a bit jump up. The great thing about DnB for me is that no matter how I’m feeling or what mood I’m in, there’s always a tune to match my vibe.

What’s the set up you use at the moment: are you still on Traktor? And are there any DJs who you frequently listen to, or look up to, to get inspiration or ideas for mixing?

I use a Pioneer DDJ Ergo controller with Traktor and also use my mates Pioneer XDJ-R1 CDJ’s. I don’t really listen to specific DJs that frequently, I seem to find a lot of inspiration from my own friends mixing styles as well as checking out mixes from not well known DJs. I’ve never been one to follow an artist, and couldn’t put my finger on a DJ I sound similar to. I just try to be experimental and see what happens.

As you know, we’ve seen you many a time frequenting drum and bass nights across Newcastle, whether it’s the local parties at the likes of Bar Loco or at WHQ or Digital. What do you feel like the scene is like up here at the moment?

I have been enjoying the scene lately. Dilate is the most popular night and I’ve been enjoying attending those events. I haven’t seen much from Soundclash in the last year, so it’s nice that they’ve been throwing a couple of banging nights over the past few months. Motion Sickness and Lab have been throwing some class nights as well recently and it’s really good to see more events popping up from them. I think a lot of people are in the mindset that since Turbulence has stopped the local scene has been a bit dry. I do agree to some extent because Turbulence always used to get great bookings, artists I would have loved to see. Since its end there hasn’t been as many in the Toon…I heard someone say this the other day and I’ll quote ‘What Newcastle needs, is a World HQ that isn’t World HQ’…

One of the purposes of this mix series has from the beginning been to showcase some of the perhaps less well known DJ talent that the region has to offer. However, we’ve got a feeling there seem to be less and less opportunities, particularly in Newcastle, for new DJs to break into playing out. Do you have any thoughts on this?

It probably isn’t easy to get a spot in a club. I suppose getting your slot takes time and effort and can also mean expensive equipment to practice on in order to be confident enough to step up. All that will come in time I can imagine. I am glad to see that the likes of Dilate are holding DJ competitions to showcase local talent at their events. I think that’s a great idea and very much hope they continue with holding these mini comps in the future.

Very lastly, let’s ask briefly about mixing style. We’ve long believed that there are different ways of approaching mixing DnB, whether you’re focusing more on smooth blends, sudden cuts, or anything in between, all of which work differently depending on the DJ. What’s your approach towards mixing in general, and how do you approach the task of constructing an hour long set like you’ve done for us today?

Usually if I’m having a mix off the bat, I’ll choose two tunes to mix and go from there. I try to blend a tune into the next track as best as I can to give it a smooth transition, although I do love a good switch! With me, my mixing depends on how I feel and what type of DnB I’m playing. The dark rolling side is what I’ll always prefer though. If I’m constructing a mix like this one I would usually sit down and have a good think about what mixes into what. That can take a few hours to a few weeks depending on how certain or uncertain I am on a specific part. Once I’m happy I’ll just hit record and go for it!

The questions we ask everyone

What’s the most prized tune in your collection?

Now this is a tricky one, I’m stuck between Spectrasoul – ‘Glimpse’ (ft. DBridge) and BluMarTen – ‘Hunter’ (Conduct remix). I think I’ll have to go for ‘Glimpse’ as it’s a song I’ve absolutely loved for a long time.

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

Just about anything from Calibre!

What’s your food heaven and food hell?

A homemade chicken curry with Biryani rice would probably have to be my food heaven. And food hell, that’s easy… McDonalds!

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

Aside the obvious ‘Mario boxing everyone with shrooms’ answer I’d probably have to say Sonic because that guy is rapid on foot. He’d probably just run rings around the rest while they fight each other!

What one piece of advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into mixing music?

Don’t rush to acquire expensive equipment when you start mixing. Take it easy and start small, have a mess around, try build up your confidence and don’t give up! Eventually you will be where you want to be.

And finally…

A more philosophical question than we usually ask, but in your opinion is there a connection between music and politics, whether perhaps music recreates, or resists, certain forms of politics in certain ways? I’m thinking of Brian Eno and other seminar figures from the history of electronic music getting involved in politics in recent months. Do you have any thoughts on the music/politics nexus?

Not many. I think if politics has an impact on the way we experience our lives, and our lives and experiences are the stimulus for the music we make, then music is essentially inseparable from politics. Music gives us the chance to freely express ourselves and the use of political influences in music has been an ongoing thing for thousands of years. There will always be a connection between the music written in a certain era and the impact politics has on people’s lives during that time. I’m thinking of times like the Beatles where diverse political statements in music were having a big influence on the youth. Of course that would upset anyone against those statements such as those trying to prevent a public shift in perception. I even heard that there were talks of the Beatles being banned in America in the early 60’s. So yeah, there seems to be an obvious resistant or rebellious connection between music and politics. Other than that I don’t really know what to say.

What’s the plans for the next few months or so? Do you hope to have a few sets under your belt before long?

Yeah man, it’d be great to start getting more involved and playing out. I’m just lacking that little bit of confidence at the minute. I’m hoping to have saved enough money for my own CDJs soon instead of borrowing my mates so I can consistently practice for a club environment, but I’m in no rush.

That’s everything mate. Thanks once again for chatting, and as always if you’ve any pals or pets to send a shout out to now is the time!

Massive shout out and props to my Nanna and Grandad for having to bare my music 24/7! Shouts to OHOD, Tuna Crew, Dog’s Den, Dickheads, the Crammy lot, Motion Sickness, Soundclash, Dilate, Lively up, and Lab! Cheers again for having me, and I look forward to hearing more fresh reviews and banging mixes on the site!

Tracklist

Philth – Your Love (SCAR Rmx)
Stealth & Altair – You Do Me Wrong
Survival & Silent Witness – Speedbag
Fre4knc – Rotor
Signal – String Theory
Kyrist – Ill Skill
Taelimb & Conscience – Public Eye
Logistics – Jungle Music
Mindmapper – A Crunched World
Gerra & Stone – Bus 54
Sintez – Elephant Track (A-Cray Rmx)
Peejay – New Species
Chromatic – Orchestral
SP:MC – We Run Dis
Chroma – Acetate
Fields – Colours
Ed:It – Flake
Nympho – Idemnity
Spectrasoul – The Tube VIP
Amit – You Look Better Dead
Philth – Addiction (I Can Feel You)
Jubei – Gateway
Need For Mirrors – Snubnose
Skeptical – Process Of Elimination
Survival & Ant TC1 – Locked (ft. Christina Nicola)
Glimpse – Spectrasoul (ft. DBridge)

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