Leeds based Ronin Ordinance is an imprint that repeatedly delivers in the experimental DnB stakes. I got hold of boss Ben Pearson (a.k.a. Chimera) to find out about his plans and the label’s past.
What’s the next release on Ronin Ordinance?
Straight in there, I like it! The next installment from us will be from North West artist Polarity coming at you with 2 contrasting amen driven tunes. I picked this up about 5 months ago after stumbling across his SoundCloud and really feeling the projects he puts up. “Trick of the Mind” was a no-brainer, once I heard those vintage rave stabs I was sold!
“Started Again” is another one he banged up randomly and I had to take it as it pairs perfectly with the intensity of the main track. I try my best to find balance between tracks on projects as I like the listener to explore different sounds.
And where can we get hold of this release?
The usual spots, Bandcamp for full support is always best, Juno, Beatport or the outlet of your choice
Can I just confirm, this artist is not Robert Agthe, correct?
100% not a photographer, just a guy who loves writing Jungle. After getting to know Tom for a bit now he just loves to create music and a big collector of vinyl. He’s humble when it comes to his music. He sees it as an escape from everyday life, so he really isn’t focusing on “making it big”. Although, already having music pressed to vinyl and had a handful of releases around the scene just shows the quality of what he is making. It’s a great addition to the clan we have here. There’s even been an established label showing interest in him at the moment, which is well deserved.
This release is part of your Genso series. How do these releases differ from the rest of the Ronin Ordinance catalogue?
“Genso”, meaning Element in Japanese, it’s basically just that, taking elements from all spectrums that I love and having them in one place. Because, if there is one thing I can’t stand, it’s being put into a pigeon hole.
Originally it was formed out of the fact that I get sent a lot of great music which, unfortunately, I can’t put on the main catalogue, due to already having dates locked. That’s when I thought to myself, why not put out a various artists album to kick it off and get a feel for it. We did and it was greatly received.
It’s also a good way to introduce artists who are always welcome to release with us. Vol. 2 is simmering on the stove as we speak (some really dope artists joining us on that one). GNO003 will be someone from Cosmic Bridge that submitted out of the blue, which is very encouraging. It just goes to show that you never know who is listening or wanting to work with you.
Genso is now a series for artists and music we love that have a more upfront presentation to it; I guess what I mean by that is it’s more “dancefloor”, rather than releases with RNO catalogue numbers, which are your more the dark, deep halftime stuff which we are known for. Again, it all comes back to balance.
DNB at the end of the day comes in all shapes and sizes. We all love and have loved various styles throughout its healthy life. Ronin Ordinance is a full spectrum label, nothing is off limits to me. I follow my own etiquette and put out styles I love from artists I respect and feel need more appreciation for what they do. My favourite thing to do is invite artists to release something they are not known for. Those are the kind of projects I love putting out as it breathes something new into our community.
Genso will be packed full of surprises so keep your eyes ‘n’ ears open.
I had the pleasure of attending your Noise Test Takeover at the end of last year, which was tremendous fun. Any word of the next Ronin Ordinance event?
Wow, what a special event that was, the music that evening was just perfect. The whole journey of the creation of that beast was long! But we got there in the end I want to say a very special thank you to Milena for making it happen, letting me do what I wanted and bringing us together. She works her arse off on so many different projects while still bringing you the finest quality lineups each time.
Also, a thank you to Shiken Hanzo for taking the time to come down and teach us a lesson in his rupturing low end style. Every set was true to each artist. Noise Test resident Eusebeia for instance, Seb has so much talent he is on another planet right now with his music. Sicknote on the close down power hour was a highlight for me! Itti had a very inspiring experience in Bristol flying over all the way from Tokyo, he killed it!.
The lineup focused on some of our key artists as well as people appearing on the label throughout the year (some of which will be appearing on our first solo artist LP project).
The feedback the event received was awesome so it makes me think there is some weight there to work on events. For those that weren’t there, here is an example of what Noise Test is all about (100% your own unreleased music)
As to future events for RO, who knows? It’s something I have been trying to focus on, but in all honestly it’s hard to collaborate with certain events in the North as the sound we represent can be, how can you say?, not “normal”. But, having said that, DJ sets from artists within our community are always varied and never ‘’just halftime’’. This is a common assumption that gets brought up, even though it’s not an accurate one. There has been international interest which is still in early developments.
Any hints as to the release schedule?
I don’t mind giving you guys a peek.
GNO002 – Polarity – 3rd May
RNO020 – Sl8r – 7th June
RNO021 – Out Of Fuel Pt.1
RNO022 – Istota
Artists returning will be Fortune, NoRules & Fuj
Genso Vol.2 is also 70% there
Think that is enough for now, there’s plenty more but that’s a look into the Summer/Autumn
When did the Ronin Ordinance story begin? And what was the motivation for starting the label?
How it all came about? I guess it begins late 2014, maybe early 2015. Having been in Leeds a few years already, I had the pleasure of meeting so many creatives through playing events, parties and jams with friends.
I met a guy called Sam, who was looking for someone to do a ‘’sister label’’ for his already existing labels (Terabyte being one of them). We were introduced through my housemate at the time a producer named Imprint (check him out, he’s dope). We connected pretty quickly and he fell in love with the deep dark sounds after I showed him a few beats when we were having a mix. He was in total awe of it all and felt I would be a good addition to things.
I’ve always been a tech/deep 170 and jungle sort of guy so naturally my approach and vision helped me attain the knowledge and relationships I have now. It was a great learning curve and really got me feeling there was a purpose for what I was doing. Mainly, my whole premise was fresh up ‘n’ coming talent at the time… very under the radar names such as Mystic State, Hidden Life (you now know him as Eusebeia), Jaydrop, Jazzatron & more.
“Alchemic Breaks” was born. We had a good run, but with Sam having more life commitments than musical commitments, it fizzled out pretty quickly. I became the driving force and the face while he had other focuses. I felt this was my time to break away as I needed to answer to nobody and do what I wanted to do. So, with my vision, I took the releases I had already had lined up. The producers got behind me so it appeared that it wasn’t much of a struggle to easily transition into something new… How wrong was I?
Having used a new distributor, I was messed about for nearly a year. So I lost out on my initial first 2 releases; those being an EP from Coma which featured Sense Mc & Arkaik (released on Flexout later on) and a 4 track from Kolectiv. I had to go back to the drawing board which took up another few months. Moving over to Cygnus for distribution made life easier. It also forced the name change from Ronin Audio (how lame does that sound?) to Ronin Ordinance. From there on we put out a killer 3 track from Blanca and not looked back since!
Then came music from Corrupted, Antagonist, Concealed Identity & many other amazing producers I had been connecting with already for years off the back of Facebook groups and
While we’re on the topic of origins, what, exactly, does the term Ronin Ordinance mean?
Honestly, I never gave it a thought, it just sounds nice together haha. There is a story behind it though, the “Ronin” part was based off my best friend and I toying about for names ‘n’ stuff. Him being a Japanese history enthusiast he chucked in “Why dont you just call it Ronin something as you are now without a master?” Boom, there it was, it made perfect sense. Think the film “47 Ronin” had something to do with it also.
Ordinance came about as I wanted the imprint name to have a ring to it and not just end with “Music” or “Records”. Much like what I did with Alchemic Breaks. The definition of Ordinance is “The law”, so I suppose Ronin Ordinance is a law without a law, which again reflects on our “no pigeon hole” policy.
What, in your mind, distinguishes the label from others?
Variety within the music and our fanbase.
What’s the biggest challenge in running a label? And the biggest Reward?
Biggest challenge? Wouldn’t say there are many but just being heard, really, as we now live in an age where you are seen way before you are heard. So, sometimes getting yourself out there can be, I guess a “challenge”, but, I just like to keep things organic and let the music do the talking.
Biggest reward has to always be the amazing people I get to connect, work & talk with on a daily basis and it’s great to see everybody I came up with many years ago now coming into their own as an artist/label. So much has changed in the past decade.
All your releases, to my eye at least, have a strong visual identity. How much thought goes into this aspect of the release?
I try to switch up styles every few releases to keep it feeling like a progression, much like the music.
Mark Kloud is one I’d point out as a favourite as he is a pro in the art game. It’s great to have artists create their own covers as it gives it that extra touch.
Are there any releases in the catalogue thus far that stand out as being especially significant for you, and why?
Thats a great question because they’re all so great and special to me, so it’s very tough to pick between them all. Concealed Identity is one I remember as wanting to make happen for a while. He popped up on SoundCloud with a free download of a track called “The Experience”. I fell in love with it as it is Jimi Hendrix at 170…what could be better!?.
I got in contact with him shortly after (this was years before the initial release) and from there we exchanged tunes and what not. He had already had some releases out which are serious, go check them out!. There were 2 tracks on my hard drive from him which were of the darker, harder-hitting variety. He was digging the look ‘n’ feel of what I was doing, so I had to make ’em happen.
He was already transitioning into his more jazz infused style at this time, having his first Narratives 12” out and the second one coming up. The soulfulness of Le Jardin D’hiver comes from this so that was a great way to open the release. Concealed Identity is a super cool guy and incredible artist.
Fortune’s release is also a great debut into the scene “Drammatica” is a beautiful tune and I still love playing it. When he submitted the 2 tracks to me it was on sight! I had to have them. With him having the connection to Antagonist it was only right to bring him on board, you can expect more from him soon.
Fuj is another release I love as that one was brewing for a while, he is special and you can hear it in all his projects.
Out of Fuel has probably my favourite incoming release to date so watch out for that!
Suppose you weren’t releasing abstract, electronic beats; is there any artist or style of music that would inspire you to release music?
Probably not as Drum & Bass is what I’ve been invested in for my entire adult life. It has a meaning to me that no other genre does, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t consider it. I’m a massive UK Garage collector as well as Hip-Hop, Techno and everything in between but I think I would like to keep it that way.
If we are simply talking artists and labels that inspire me, I’ve a few such as Cylon, Soul:r, Ingredients, Quarantine, Cosmic Bridge & Exit Records.
Artists I love are Forest Drive West, Jubei, Paradox, Tim Reaper, Photek, Gremlinz, Overlook & Spirit.
Who should we be looking out for on the Leeds scene?
Leeds has everything you need. From Licence to Jungle with their regular “invites”; takeovers bringing you the best heavy dnb & jungle from some amazing labels. Subdub which is a staple event of the city and always has varied lineups. Overflow is the main go to event if you want your tech/deep liquid. Finally gotta shout out the recently formed “West Yorkshire Jungle Collective”. They’re a group of break fueled vinyl junkies who have been stomping their mark. I need to get down to one asap!
Artists in Leeds, there are a few dope ones and ALOT of ones no-one will ever hear about, which is a shame, the place is filled with talent.
Solo is one that comes to mind, lots of creative bangers under his bonnet. Imprint, who I mentioned above, is another one to look out for. He has had releases here ‘n’ there on such labels as Lifestyle & Halogen Music.
Pixl is a name you will know from the jungle circuit, filthy beats every time.
And to finish off, any final messages from Ronin Ordinance to the readership?
Thank you for your time and continued support.