I was surprised to find that Dylan Blythin, a.k.a. Artilect, has never previously featured in a published interview, which makes this article something of an exclusive. More important than any such hyperbole, though, is his upcoming appearance at Noise Test and significant track record within the Manchester scene. But, before we discuss any of that, there’s the not inconsequential matter of…
…the latest releases:
I’m currently part of a unique 3 part series on Samurai Music called the Hannya series based on the mythical masks of a Noh drama (a form of traditional Japanese theatre) which is out now!! I have a track called The Message which is on the Hannya Red release alongside Homemade Weapons, Presha, Roho and Torana. Geoff – Presha has done an amazing job with this series. The artwork is brilliant and the vinyl is Ltd edition Snake Marbled but it’s the music that stands out. Across the board it’s a cracking set, all Samurais are on top form, and I’m proud to be part of this collection.
I also have a track that’s recently come out on UVB-76’s sister label Droogs which is called Echoes, the flip to a wicked Holsten track entitled Carrier Wave. Droogs is shaping up to be a great new stable and compliments what Nick is doing with UVB-76.
And I believe this release is part of an ongoing relationship you have with Samurai…
Yeah, I’ve had 3 single releases as part of their compilations as well as my first solo 4 track EP – ‘Blurring The Line’, which came out last year and did well. Label boss Geoff Presha has been great for supporting my music. I really value his feedback and massively appreciate the platform he’s given me to work alongside and with the talented artists on the roster. He’s been in this game a long time so he knows what he’s doing.
I’ll be playing at the Noise Test – UK Samurai takeover, this September, 13th, at the Island, Bristol, alongside Presha, Homemade Weapons, Clarity, Medika and Torana.
This isn’t your first Noise Test, is it?
No, I played last September and what a night that was! I played alongside Homemade Weapons, Fuj and the Untouchables and the set was an hour of my own productions. That was the first time I’ve done that and it was a daunting prospect, to be honest. Ultimately, it went down well and I really enjoyed it. I was a big fan of the concept Milena has in place for the Noise Test events. I was really into the whole theme of every artist playing exclusively their own, preferably unsigned, music, so when Milena got in contact I was excited at the prospect.
Are you excited about the upcoming show and any hints as to what it will contain?
Ohh yes!! Last one was a riot, next morning wasn’t so good though, a long ass train journey back to Manc with a banging head haha. Catching Andre – HMW’s set will be a treat as he’s based in America, so it’s not as if he’s playing too regular in the UK. I’m looking forward to catching him and Presha going back to back. I think Milena is really onto something special. She knows how to put on a cracking event as well as being a very talented videographer, so there are wicked visuals. Oh, and the rig was pumping! I’ll be looking forward to testing out some new beats and pulling out some archives, bring it on!
I have a second EP signed off for Samurai just this last week entitled Rhythm Seeker which I’ll be looking to road test and I’ve more project’s brewing so next year will bring a lot more music.
Well, you’re clearly a busy fellow. I’d like to rewind a little and get an idea of when this all started…
My two elder sisters Sadie and Johanna were responsible for getting me into rave culture. My eldest sister Jo went to Leeds Uni in 91 when it was still all kicking off and jumped right in to it all. I was a lot younger but obviously being little brother I was destined to tread a similar path.
When I was around 14 I’d met a lad called Stuart Wilson – DJ Mr Wilson, who was a mate of my sister Sadie and became one of my best friends. He was a proper bboy scratch DJ extraordinaire and would sort me out with mix tapes. He’d been into this from pretty much the start and so had been through the hardcore period and had an extensive record collection. This was my initial exposure to the music. He went on to hold an event in Manchester called Beatific from around 96-99 and had music out on Moving Shadow as part of a group called Hex so yeah he was a massive influence.
How did you make the leap from that beginning to actual involvement inthe scene?
It all began properly when I started a HND in Manchester – New Media & Music Management in 1998 which happened to have Marcus Intalex, Jenna G and Jeff McDonald (Jamac) all on the same course and all very involved within Drum & Bass.
Jamac, alongside Marcus, was the resident and promoter of ‘Guidance’. It was, I guess, the North’s version of the Blue Note Metalheadz events; a melting pot of musical brilliance when Drum ‘n’ Bass was blowing up big. All the big players were making ground breaking waves within the genre at that time and really pushing it forward. I was an absolute fan boy of Guidance and helped out where I could. Flyering, you know, the usual shit. It was a very special few years I feel lucky to have been part of.
From there you went on to participate in a storied Manchester Drum ‘n’ Bass night…
I’d promoted pretty consistently myself with mates and had done a number of events: Liquirdum, Connect and, eventually, Audiosalad. It all clicked when we became friends with Nick Sinna who seemed to know everyone that we’d need in order to put on a decent event In Manc. He was into the same sound and introduced me to a lot of new music within the genre that I was previously unaware of, and he’s a top DJ, which obviously mattered. This was part of a collective with three other mates who’ve individually gone on to do great things.
I’ll come back to those individuals in a moment, but first can you tell us why you started Audiosalad?
These were the years of Pendulum’s roaring success and a lot of the events in Manchester at that time were very Jump Up orientated which just wasn’t our bag. So we felt like we had nowhere to go out to hear the music we wanted to hear. We were all very inspired by what Chris Inperspective was doing with Technicality in London, catering for the more purist sounds, straight up beats and vibes. We wanted to showcase cutting edge forms of the genre and bring some intensity back and invite artists who hadn’t played Manchester before.
Audiosalad was the first event in Manchester to bring Paradox and our maiden night saw him tear up ‘Band on The Wall’ at a very special event. Sold out, reached capacity and the walls were literally crumbling with the bass during the sound check; a great way to kick it all off. Anyway, Audiosalad went on to be a great success and we had many wicked nights featuring the likes of Loxy, Double O, DJ Lee, Fracture & Neptune, Breakage, Equinox, Rohan, Doc Scott, Marcus etc. Crazy times over a fair few years. I miss those times, but, like all good things…
Apart from the music, has Audiosalad had any other legacy for you personally?
I owe a lot to that event in terms of networking and building relationships within the scene which was what I needed if there was any chance of getting music out there. When we were doing all this the whole scene was in transition; the norm being picking up tunes at record shops, flyers, speaking to promoters before it all went AOL, AIM and digital. The culture suffered as a consequence, but in other ways it improved, i.e., communication/networking. I was now able to hit people up very easily and directly. My first release was all down to hooking up with Dev Paradox at our first event. If that hadn’t of happened then they’d be no first vinyl release.
OK, I think we should give a bit of space to the individuals that made the Audiosalad story…
There’s Nicky ‘Response’ Owen who has done a lot with Digital and recently released an album, with Pliskin, on Western Lore, which is immense. Go buy!!
Nick Sinna now runs the Marcus Intalex Foundation as well as putting out a lot of wicked techno releases.
DJ Esetek, who I grew up with isn’t really in the game these days but smashed it every time we had an event and was instrumental in the night being a success.
Magnus Buda was my early producing partner, as Deeperheightz and we saw our first release on vinyl together on Paradox’s Outsider label which was a very special moment for us. He’s still making wicked tunes and we plan on getting in the lab soon. His last release was a 160 Jungle number on Ruff Cuts which came out a year or two ago.
And that brings us to music production, how did you get started in
When I was starting out, Jeff McDonald was instrumental in helping me and influencing me in a positive manner with all things music tech related. He became a really good friend and to this day I owe him a lot. He’s one of those cats that makes you think ‘how will I ever know as much as this guy?’ Marcus was obviously a big influence too, but it was Jeff (Jamac) that took me under his wing, so to speak, and got me my first computer (My Mum & Dad paid for it though, haha).
I’d also gone back to Uni in 2006 to study Music Technology and Sound Engineering. This was really important as it made me realise I knew nothing!
So was that machine the same one that you sold to Atlas and K Super?
Noooo, hahah, this was much earlier. I doubt you’d be able to load a web page on that kind of spec never mind run music software.
So those events are quite some time ago. It’s noticeable that your musical output has increased in recent years. Did anything in particular prompt this burst of activity?
I’d been chatting to Double O – David online a fair bit and passing music back and forth. I was a big fan of what he and Indi were doing with Rupture so we’d got them to play Audiosalad. They’ve been very inspiring to me with what they’ve done and they’re great people who truly love the music and make great beats themselves. Like I say we’d regularly pass music back and forth and were into the same sound which eventually lead to them signing, in 2015, my track, as Deeperheightz, ‘Broken In Pieces’. This kicked off a bit of momentum. Things had changed here in Manchester, peeps moved away, people calmed down a bit, haha, myself included.
This made way for me being more creative and getting back to what I loved doing. All of which got a bit blurred during the peak of the party years, but, like all true passions, you eventually come back to it and find focus. To be fair, I’ve been obsessed with this music for the last 25 years and I’m still just as obsessed. I’ll always make music regardless if people like, listen to or whatever.
And this momentum led to…
After this I had a string of releases on UVB-76, Rupture, Lossless Music, Samurai, Skeleton, Droogs, Repertoire, Horizons; I’m extremely grateful to all. Gigs have picked up over the last few years too and I’ve played in Amsterdam, Germany and a host of wicked events in the UK like Formless, Noise Test and Licence to Jungle.
Could you name a couple of favourite tunes that you play out?
All Of Them Witches by Overlook is something special and I’ve played that the last few outings although it’s been out for a while. It encompasses everything I like about the genre.
Anything from Andre HMW’s last EP Heiress on Samurai! They all bang!
There’s a track called Voodoo by a producer called ‘Highpro’ from Moscow Russia which I’ve also played the last couple of gigs. Andre had included it in one of his mixes online a while back and I’d hit him up to ask what it was and he then directed me to the guys page. We’ve spoken online a fair bit and he’s a talented guy who’s also supporting my music at his events in Russia which is great. That’s the beauty of Drum ‘n’ Bass/Jungle, it’s global now and the communication revolution has allowed instant conversation with anyone, anywhere.
In terms of a classic I always like to pull one or two bits from the past in most sets I play. I dropped this at License to Jungle earlier in the year – Peshay – The Nocturnal (Back On The Firm). A slice of the future from the past.
I’d like to mention Mike Antagonist as well. He’s a great guy and really has his own sound. We’ve worked on some stuff and our first session produced a pretty decent track that’s been floating about but still unsigned. His label Discipline is one to watch going forward and his second release got picked up and played by DJ Shadow on BBC radio and I know he was stoked about that one!
You sound quite positive about the current state of Drum ‘n’ Bass…
100% man. In my opinion it’s in a really good period and it’s managed to change again and there are interpretations of the genre being made and released now that haven’t happened before, it’s still being pushed forward and evolving. To me drum & bass, whatever you wanna call it is a fusion of many sounds that have gone before like hip-hop, funk, techno, dub etc It’s underground music and that’s the strand I’m into so no matter what stupid magazine articles you read state, it went nowhere and there’s consistently been good music. Like all music that manages to survive it evolves and new artists take the helm and push it along where others left off.
There are just so many great new artists, new labels popping up and old heads jumping back into the fold. It’s not as if it’s all pigeonholed either. If you turn up to the likes of a Rupture, Formless or License to Jungle event you’ll hear every strand of the underground, minimal, break driven, old school it’s all melting together under one roof. There’s a whole new wave of artists, labels and established labels all growing in the same direction and putting out consistently good music.
It’s time to wrap up and I’d like to address an individual who has been very much present in this interview, namely Marcus Intalex. In particular, can you give readers an idea of what the Marcus Intalex Foundation does?
I’ve spoken with Nick and I’d like to include some information straight from the Foundation website:
The Marcus Intalex Music Foundation is the deeply positive result of a truly sad event. The Foundation was established in late 2018 to continue the legacy left by the drum & bass pioneer, who passed away in May 2017.
“Many musicians in Manchester have developed careers from taking advantage of beneficial opportunities that were presented to them or created for them by people they knew, or someone within the industry who could offer a leg up in some way – including Marcus himself,” explains Nick Sinha, M.D. of the Foundation, he had been a close friend of Marcus since the early 90s.
“That might have been borrowing a friend’s equipment, using a studio space and learning to record, or going to local industry insiders such as Pete Waterman or Tony Wilson for support,” he continues. “It’s previously been a lot to do with being at the right place at the right time, something that is naturally getting a little harder for young musicians in the digital age. And as Manchester expands; this is the main motivation for what we intend to deliver now; to directly nurture and support the passion and desire to be creative.”
This is such a wonderful organization and keeps Marcus’s legacy very much alive along with all the great music he was part of.
Finally, I know there are a number of individuals that you’d like to give some credit to, go ahead…
As mentioned above, and previously on Sonic Nutrition, K-Super and Atlas. I owe them for kicking me up the arse and getting me DJing and making music again. There was some love wrapped up in the grief they’d give me! They’re killing it in Manchester with their night and radio show Certain Sounds and their Ruff Cuts family.
I owe a lot to the Repertoire guys, Ben and Rick, too; as it was my solo EP on Repertoire that allowed my path to cross with Andre Homemade Weapons on his remix of my track Something Else. They’ve always been very patient with me in finishing music, etc.
Andre’s debut album on Samurai, Negative Space, had a profound effect on me musically. In my opinion, he’s one of the most original artists out there and people are still catching up to his sound. He’s the tip of the spear amongst the D&B that’s being harnessed by some of the labels I’ve previously mentioned. He has also been really helpful and supportive in my own productions too.
Geoff Presha of Samurai has been top and a great mentor in some respect and has given me a platform for my music.
I need to give a mention to Elliot – Quartz too. He’s smashing things up on Metalheadz right now and the music I’ve heard he has forthcoming is amazing. We’ve worked on a few things together and this guy’s talent is off the wall and he’s also helped me a lot with production.
Basically anyone who has supported my music or given me an opportunity I am very grateful to 🙂