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Raiden [Offkey, UK]
 Raiden [Offkey, UK]

interview [ua]

Interview with Paradox

by backpacker
January 19, 2007
Kyiv, Ukraine

Part 1:

I was a doing a search on the Internet and must admit that there are not many interviews with you available…

I do a lot of interviews, but they are very rare or they have to be screened smile.gif. Im telling the truth and I dont always say good things about the scene. When you read interviews, everyone just goes ”This is brilliant, this is brilliant, this is brilliant…”, noone wants to say ”The problem with this is this…”, so I kinda tell the real truth and some journalists dont like that, they dont want to take the risk.

We are not like that smile.gif.
So, to start with, how do you like Ukraine so far? Because you said you prefer to come beforehand in order to handle setup and get around.

Yeah, its cool. I arrived yesterday, had a kind of welcome party, and had welcome drinks last night which is good. Its kind of you get your mind around the time because you are in a different place. Its good to wake up in the morning at the place rather than just turning up, taking your money and going. Its good to wake up in the morning, remember that you are in the different place and youve got the job to do. So Ive done that last night, knowing that there will be tourism today which was good. Ive got some pictures, saw a bit of Kyiv and also went in a cave which scared the f**kin shit out of me!!! Loads of dead people in there – what the hell is that all about?! That was really weird, but Im glad I went. I wouldnt do like other DJs: they get the flight 2 hours before, they get to the hotel, they turn up a minute before, they play and they go. You know, its something I can tell my children ”When daddy was in Ukraine back in 2007 he saw this”. Thats the chance to take all these things and use that also as a life experience. Yes, its good. Yeah, I enjoyed it.

How did you come up with your aliases Paradox and Alaska?

The Paradox thing came around when I was working with a producer at that time called DJ Trax. And I had no plans to start a new alias. But he was getting annoyed with state of drum&bass back into mid-90s and he started personally to make slower d&b which now people have called dubstep. You know, he was making this stuff 10 years ago. Because he was doing that, when he had gone on his own, I found myself with nothing to do, so I started working on my own stuff. Thats why I thought of a new name and started Paradox.

And then I was always talking to LTJ Bukem. At that time in about 1994 he was asking me ”Dev, do a track for Good Looking Records, cmon Dev!” and I was like ”Yeah, true”. Then I put up something for Good Looking, but it turned up to be something that didnt really fit Good Looking Records, but it still had a different sound to it.

And at that time when I was making it my cat would go in through. My cat Alaska would be sitting there and always annoying me when I was doing some certain thing: ”f**k off, will you?” And then this just hit me: Alaska! Fantastic! And as she was sitting there with her ear twitching I was like ”Cheers, darling”, so the second Alaska was born smile.gif.

When I first recorded on Good Looking, my first 12” was by Alaska & Paradox, so it was me and her. And we both collided. And even when I mastered that track she was in the studio and I turned around (obviously she cant speak – Im not mad) and said ”What do you think of that?” So yeah, she didnt program, but she was consulted. And I said: ”Nod if you dont like it” and she stood totally still, so she agreed smile.gif. So she added to the discussion as we mixed it down.

Nice story! smile.gif

Yes, its the planet 3, with the first by me and my female friend smile.gif. So yeah, thats how it started.

With so many releases (100+) and the fact that you are considered to be the godfather of drumfunk, how does it feel like to be in such a high status?

It feels nice. On one side it feels nice; on the other side it makes me feel older. It makes me feel that Im older in a sense where Im too old. Im ”pasted” as they say in England. You know, I now have to sit down, puff my pipe and watch all the little kids trying to copy me - that kind of thing. But you know thats just my mind playing tricks on me.

As I always said before, my thoughts of doing this were that it will be nice to leave something behind, to influence other people, to do that the world wouldnt die in some happy-hardcore trenched rotten apple of drum&bass. So when other producers, other kids from around the world started emailing me with ”Oh, Im starting to make drumfunk, can I send you a track”, I may have replied to everyone: ”Look, thanks for the email, keep doing what you do, Im sorry if you sent the track and I dont get back to you or it took me 5 months, Im extremely busy, I acknowledge what you are doing here, good luck and respect”.

So I just kind of started to think progressing from it. But now I got to the stage where I dont really need to do it – there are so many people making it. Some of them are making it really really good and Im signing them now to my label Outsider. Yeah, it feels good, but like I said, it feels good and it feels old. And Im really paranoid about getting old, but I think thats just personal thing makes me feel getting old. But its nice, I like attention.

Running four labels as a control freak – how do you manage that?

I really dont know. I do forget things because theres so much to do. Even last month in America I was sitting at the airport, logging on to the Internet in the departure gate, looking at the clock (think I got 10 minutes to my next plane), people are in the queue to show their boarding cards and to board the plane and Im sitting at my laptop typing something like ”Yeah, cut OUTSIDER016 next week” and theyre like ”Last call for Chicago for BA922” and Im going like ”One minute!”, finish typing and click ”Send”.

You know what I mean. So it is a hard work. It is work and I dont want anyone else involved. Because the way that I found it is, if you involve other people and they f**k up, theres nothing you can do about it and you wish you had done it yourself. So when I do it myself and I f**k up, thats my fault and Ive got no one else to blame.

Thats why you are keeping it all to yourself.

Yeah, theres no staff on any of my labels. I do a record label with Nucleus, but he actually doesnt do anything because I dont trust him to do that. Id just say ”Turn up at the recording studio and well make the music and then Ill do the rest”. And he would go like: ”Well, Ill mail some records out…” and Im thinking ”No, because that needs to be done by certain time”.

And I know that in my recording studio I have 4 whiteboards: one for Outsider, one for Esoteric, one for Paradox Music and one for Arctic. So Id know at what stage each catalogue item is. If I get lost I just look at my wall where I can instantly read it. And its the only way to keep track. Because each label is distributed by someone else, when a distribution company calls me, sometimes Im like ”Yeah, ARCTIC002” and they go like ”Arctic?! We do Esoteric”. Then Im like ”Oh, shit, sorry, yeah…” So I make those mistakes. Yeah, it is hard work, but I kind of make it my own problem by not taking the staff.

What about names that you sign to your own labels? Sometimes it seems like a closed club: you, you & Seba, you & Nucleous etc. Only these artists can be signed or you are open to signing new talent as well?

Really open. But as for the flagship label, the really top label Paradox Music: all the established people will get instant releases on that label. And for Ousider Im signing unknown people to give them kind of first step. They are relatively unknown and the tracks really are not at the standart I want for Paradox Music, to be honest. The aim of Outsider is to give a step and then nurture them.

Macc, for instance, was signed in 2004 and has done 4 releases now and he has one forthcoming in March on Outsider. But only now has he submitted a track which I said I gonna put up on Paradox Music. So it has taken him a long time. And hes a favourite of mine aswell, so its taken him 5 releases. And he was like ”Paradox Music? Wow! OK, fine”. So he was happy with Outsider, but you know, the tracks sound matured over the years to the point where even Seba agreed. I gathered Seba & Nucleus and asked whether it would be fit for Paradox Music. Seba was like ”It has the elements, 7/10”, Nucleus was like ”I like it, 8/10”. So Ive generally just discussed it with others and said ”Yeah, this is right for Paradox Music”. Paradox Music definitely gives him more recognition.

Then again Ive just signed someone from Lithuania. And the track was brilliant, really good. I can see he can release on Paradox Music down the line. Now its his first one so I need to see how he progresses.

Whats his name?

His name is Spotless. Yeah, he has never made a record in his life. When I performed in Lithuania he gave me the CD. Ive got a big pile of CDs brought from different countries. So on one studio day I went in, made like 3 cups of tea and while I was going through all these CDs one track made me go like ”Uhm, interesting”. So then I got back to him and he was like ”No, I never made music before”, so that was interesting in it.

Again Ive done the same thing to what seemed wrong with the track, so I said ”Trust me on this, do this, trust me on this, just do it and see what the outcome is” and he was like ”OK” and when he has done it he was like ”Youre right!” – Of course Im right smile.gif. And now it was ready for Outsider. Its good that the artists rooster of the Outsider is spreading this far – the eastern and middle-eastern side, because most artists are based in America and England and Germany. So hes the first one to join Outsider family from that side of the world. So yeah, hes a good producer.

What about other new names to watch out for?

Well, theres the guy who has been releasing music for quite a while called ASC and he submitted something. To be honest, Ive never been a big fan of his stuff. And he sent me many tracks before and I just havent liked them. And then he sent me one and I think he knew Id like it. And it was like LTJ Bukem musical thing and I was like ”Yeah, definitely” – he has just done something else. Theres another guy called Insight from England, hes got something coming out on Klutes Commercial Suicide.

Klute mentioned him in the interview as well.

Yeah, so hes got stuff coming out on Commercial Suicide and Outsider. And the guy from Lithuania. Hes got to do another track with the guy called Solar who is just up to be signed – again no records out ever, no records out at all. Another guy that sent me an email the other day with this crappy-crappy clip (30 seconds clip!) and it had something, so I said to him ”Work on it more and send it back to me. Dont send me 30 seconds, send me a track”. That might be something, but that might turn out nothing.

So my labels aside Ive got this teaching thing: they hit me up on AIM or MSN and go like ”I cant do this! How do you do that?” and Im going ”Do this, do that…” and they send me a little clip and I say ”Thats wrong” etc. But its like a schooling side of it. That can take up hour in a day. When I should be at my computer making music, I find myself kind of teaching on another screen and I go like ”Grrr” but Im doing this. You know, I have to do it.

What about your own releases: which one is the most prominent for you personally?

It is just impossible to tell, to be honest. Because even a few weeks ago some kid reached me and told me that I forgot a release in the discography on my Website. And I was like ”I didnt do that”, and he was like ”You did”, ”Look mate, I know what Ive done or I havent done”, and he said ”Ive got the proof – the cover with picture of you”. I forgot I made that record; it was really a picture of me. So I went like ”I do apologize, you are correct, Ill send you ”Beats me” CD, cheers”.

On Reinforced there was an album that Ive done in 2000 called ”Musician as outsider” RIVETCD17 and it was really pivotal in my attitude and my frame of mind. So that concept album is the most memorable. I coundnt choose a track – it was just a project. 4 Hero, my boss at that time, was kind of fooling me at Reinforced to do things in a certain way. So in a sense what Im doing with that after ”Outsider” is just a mirror image of what happened to Reinforced. So Outsider was like inspiration from Reinforced Records.

Getting down to production issues: you always mention that you dont like bass-oriented drum&bass; some people say that production-wise one has to put much more effort into that compared to drumfunk choppage and editing. Whats your opinion on that?

Well, because its so easy nowadays to make music on a PC: plugin after plugin after plugin. So much technology at the disposal, so when you are doing these kind of tracks, personally in my opinion you can always change things in real-time, change things by the ear as you are going and get that perfect sound and stuff. So then it has to be more of the technicality to the arrangement: spending time on little things, making little things count that other people might not think of as big things. It takes longer to do.

You know, when its like me and Seba come down to some track - not like this bass-driven music, but things where computer kind of take more shape - the computer really takes away the pain of sitting and doing more things. And then we might do another track where we think its got to sound not very edited at all, so we spend so much time and effort to make it flow in a way that it doesnt sound edited. And when we compare the time spent between the two tracks, the one that were trying to roll and make it sound as though its not very complicated is the one that weve spent so much time on the editing side to make it sound as if weve not been to geeky. So we both experienced it and we know. That might be the reason really: I tried both and I know. I know plenty people who go into the studio and when they come out a day later the track is nearly done. Fortunately Im not one of those people.

What about collaborations, especially the one with Seba: how did you hook up with him, how does collaboration look like, who is responsible for what?

Seba was on Good Looking at that time and they told him ”You can work with this Paradox guy, but you have to release on Good Looking Records”. Seba wasnt allowed to record anywhere else and I didnt wanna do that. I was at Reinforced at that time and I had the idea that we can send it to another label, any label, so my label would be annoyed, his label would be annoyed, and someone else would get it. My label was like ”Fine”, Good Looking were like ”No”.

Weve just decided to pull it off a bit and when he eventually left Good Looking we started to do some work. And because weve got the same interest it was extremely easy to do stuff because we have the same brains. So when we make music, we dont make it over the Internet: he flies to England and I fly to Sweden. Every other month Im at his place and every other month he is at mine.

So you are sitting right next to each other, right?

Yeah, every time. Weve done 20 tracks now and every track weve never done it apart ever. Not even sent one sample over the Internet and say ”Can you put that in it” – that never happened.

Do you have musical background? Have you played any instruments?

Yeah, I played the piano but its kind of self-taught. My mother played the flute although she hadnt any classic training or anything.

So you werent actually trained professionally?

No. Not at all. I think it had just happen so, because I started at such an early age making my professional record. When you are 16 and have a record in your hands that youve made when youre 16 – especially at that time it was unheard of.

Even my mother was like ”What do you mean you are making a record? Pop-stars make records and you are my son. Go to bed or clean behind your ears”, you know, or some other things mothers say when you are at home smile.gif. ”What do you mean you are gonna have a record? Have you been sneaking out past your bed time to do it?” – just crap like that.

So being 16 and having a record deal, I mean Internet wasnt big then, instead I was going to my local record shops to pick up a magazine and there would be News in the corner. ”What? Thats me?” That was like 1-2.5 weeks later and my name was in print. And I was like ”Wow!” But they spelled my name wrong so that was embarassing. My mother wasnt a big fan from the beginning, but years later she went like ”Oh shit, I think my son is serious about this!” and my mum would then buy magazines with pictures of me and would go like ”Oh my God!” And then Id tell her ”And by the way, mum, I cant come to dinner, Im performing live in Milan” and she was like ”What do you mean?! Oh, you arent doing your graphic design anymore. You are doing this music thing”.

So you were primarily into graphic design? Is that your profession?

Yeah, I studied it, went to colledge, got the diploma, got the grades, left and didnt do anything with it. But I did, because all my record sleeves on Reinforced were by me and the designer, I coordinated his work, we were discussing what to do. The art reflected the music. Still got involved that way, but the production side just took over too much. I was doing drugs back then so I cant really remember very well smile.gif.

What about now? Drugs? Injurious habits?

Im way too old for that smile.gif. The early 90s was the period where you would have done ecstasy all the time. And then all of a sudden in 1994-95 stopped doing it and I think in 1996 stopped doing it totally, so that was 11 years ago.

And now probably the most controversial and the wikkidest one: what do you think of the current state of drum&bass? smile.gif


With Klute we had a nice discussion about that…

The ongoing problem is because I have seen the scene, seen it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears at its pivotal point, its most creative, its most daring, its most fresh – Ive seen that, I witnessed it, I was there. So I can only explain my personal opinion on that.

Thats exactly what I want to hear.

That time it was 1996 and it started to go down in 1997. And the funny thing is that all this new technology is coming, the new generation of junglists (or what you call them) keeps buying and listening to music. They are the new breed and they are only influenced by sound that is going on – no influence by the old stuff… If you put d&b of 2007 in a box and you take d&b from 1996, 1996 is far superior in every form imaginable.

What about nowadays?

It looks the same, it takes every box, and this is absolute shit compared to that piece of gold. Trying to influence people, who like this new stuff, is difficult because they were playing plastic dolls and stuff when that music was made, they dont have that link, they werent exposed to it. And DJs nowadays dont want to do this; they want to keep the crowd happy.

The problem is: that is 90% of the scene in England and there are these 10% which is good. And that 10% actually consists of a lot of good musicians doing their own thing like Calibre and Marcus Intalex and other people who are making music which have a little bit of soul anyway, but its still only 10%. So people could still say ”What are you talking about, Dev? There all these… Calibre is making this and that…” Yeah, I agree, but that is 10%, they might go ”No, its 50%” – bollocks, its still only 10%.

But the thing is I cant really see any change. We brainwash somehow half of the nation, brainwashing kind of taking a pill that lets them understand and its just never gonna happen unfortunately…

So all the people who were making this music in 1996, when it started going sour they just started leaving and saying ”I cant be bothered” and started making slower music around 150-160 BPM unlike modern 170-180 BPM. Now these artists have children, they work on the market, they fix roofs, and they fit cable TV… And when I talk to them they go something like ”Great years, werent they! Whats it like now, Dev? Are you still doing it then?” and I say ”Yeah” and when they listen to my stuff they go ”Shit! Thats what we were doing then! Is everyone doing that? Amazing, Ill start making music then!” And Im like ”No, noones doing that actually” and they go ”Oh, f**k that then, I cant be bothered”.

What do you think of division of once monolithic drum&bass/jungle into the variety of subgenres?

It doesnt really matter because the word drum&bass is becoming embarassing to some people. You get some people that say they hate d&b [here Dev tries to reproduce typical bass-oriented dancefloor d&b sounds with his mouth - comment by backpacker] and I keep hearing it. So I like the art, I like the fat beats – its what drumfunk comes about. People that like funk music, for instance, they might look at that word and think ”does that have anything to do with James Brown?” And if someone picks Maccs record and puts it on, they will go ”You know what, that wasnt something I was expecting!” Whereas for Macc to be put in a pile of d&b that goes like [here Dev again tries to reproduce typical bass-oriented dancefloor d&b sounds with his mouth - comment by backpacker] – hes almost jazz!

You can look at the genre, read it and kind of conceive of the title. Liquid funk – you look at that and it doesnt really explain it. Liquid is just the matter: ”liquid funk” doesnt sound harsh, you look at it and it doesnt sound that this can be some heavy metal. But then the problem is with drum&bass now, because like you said there are so many subgenres, its good they are in different categories now, because theres so much shit and little good that if you put it all under one roof then everyones gonna think its shit.

Now the problem is that when you say ”drum&bass” people think of stuff like Pendulum etc…

Exactly! And its like people that make ambient drum&bass, they get put into that category as well. And if you listen to Pendulum and if you listen to something really old with strings and vocals – just really emotional – how can that be the same music?! My mum was asking me ”How? I dont understand!” and Im like ”Shit! Shes right, my mothers right”
You know, you get rock music and you can get ballad rock music: guys can do a track that still sounds as rock but its like ”Baby, you left me…” you know, but its still acceptable. With d&b people listen to this [here Dev again tries to reproduce typical bass-oriented dancefloor d&b sounds with his mouth - comment by backpacker] and theyre like ”What the hell was that? Whats that? Is it music?” When my mum hears that shes like ”Im sorry, Dev, but I dont understand”. And Ill play something, a melodic thing, and shes like ”Oh thats really nice! That reminds me of something from 1980s” and Im like ”Mum, they are both called drum&bass” and shes like ”Impossible!”

[to be continued]

Part 2.
- Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 17th February 2019 - 01:13
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