Whether you’re an original junglist or a newcomer to Drum n Bass, you will have stumbled upon Blu Mar Ten. The trio (now down to 2) have been active contributors in DnB productions since the early 90s. With the recent release of their new album- ‘Love Is The Devil‘ we decided it was time to learn more about the supergroup.
First off let’s talk about the album. ‘Love Is The Devil’ was released a month ago. What are your thoughts about its reception and success?
Really, really pleased! As you probably know the music scene is pretty hard at the moment so it was great to see the album shoot up the charts. I think it just goes to show that when you have a close relationship with your fans they’re happy to back you up when the time comes. To be honest I don’t really think of our listeners as ‘fans’, they’re more like an extended circle of friends who understand what we’re doing and get something out of it.
We spent a lot of time trying to put together packages so that when someone actually does pay good money for the music they get the best value we can give them. I think there has to be give and take these days. You can’t just stick out music and hope people will buy it; if people are going to support you, you have to try and look after them in return.
I think the people who buy our music know that the money they spend goes straight back into the studio to make the next thing, and they understand that they’re taking part in the process and they’re an important part of it.
The album features some unbelievable vocalists. What is the process of choosing a singer? Do you write with a particular artist in mind? <
It’s actually really hard to find singers to work with. Most of the time it just happens by chance. For example, we stumbled across Jenni Potts recording herself on a youtube video and just loved everything about her. So we got in touch and got things moving.
‘Whisper’ really stands out for us. It seems that Kirsty Hawkshaw and that epic instrumental were meant for each other. Can you tell us about its development?
We’ve known KIrsty for a long time and we’d been talking about making something together for ages but never got round to it. The vocal for Whisper was from another old track she’d done about ten years ago and we loved it and thought we could breathe some new life into it, so she got us the parts and we built a track around it
We have to ask about the album title. What was the inspiration behind ‘Love Is The Devil’ and how did this influence the music?
‘Love is the Devil’ is the name of a film about the painter Francis Bacon.
When you hear Bacon talk about his work there are many parallels with the way we make music, especially with regard to the way he’ll use chance and accident to reveal certain truths about things. There’s a bleakness about his work but also great beauty.
There’s also a great understanding of the absurdity of life that is also very strong with us; the impulse to create something even though you know it’s meaningless, ultimately.
If anyone wants to read more into it there’s a great collection of interviews Bacon did with David Sylvester called The Brutality of Fact.
Also, more prosaically, he was connected to Camden Town (where our studio is) and I met him just a few weeks before he died.
Your first ever released track – ‘The Fountain’ in 1996 was a huge success. According to reliable sources (Wikipedia) It even garnered the attention of Fabio who named it his ‘Tune Of The Year’. Can you tell us about the inception of ‘Blu Mar Ten’ and how things have evolved over your 15+ year career?
I met a guy called Leo way back in 1995 and we hit it off and started making music. It was an amazing time. We just went to clubs all the time and wrote music constantly. We made ‘The Fountain’ and it was a really big hit…loads of DJs caned that. Then as time went on an old friend of mine (Michael) joined the outfit, Leo had two kids and now it’s just me, (Chris), and Michael.
We are curious about the dynamics of the group. Going from the studio to touring to family time, how do you guys get along and do those worlds collide?
Yeah it’s really hard. Like I said, Leo had two kids and that pretty much takes you out of the game. Michael and I just spend all our time trying to make new music inbetween gigs. Luckily we’re really close friends so it’s never hard to spend so much time locked up together. But I’d be lying if I said it was easy to make things work, it’s really difficult and getting more so as time goes on.
You guys have gone through your fair share of labels including Way Out Records, Good Looking Records, Hospital Music, Exceptional Records (to name a few) and now onto your self titled label. What makes a good label and tell us about running Blu Mar Ten Records?
Yeah we’ve been around the block, that’s for sure. I think we reached the point where there wasn’t a huge amount another label could offer us. Like I said above we have a good connection with our listeners, we can keep in touch with them on the internet, we have a distribution deal so really it made sense to just do it ourselves so we can control things like artwork and formats.
A good label is one that can develop an artist over time, rather than just releasing one 12” and then moving on to the next hot thing. We’re begninngin to think about moving into that ourselves.
Your production style and setup have probably changed quite a bit since 96’. What do you guys use in terms of software and hardware(if any)?
We just use Cubase. Nothing very sophisticated. A handful of plugins.
Not really big gear sluts, it’s more about ideas and trying to make something that resonates with people using just a few things. More gear doesn’t equal good music, that’s for sure.
When talking about drum n bass its difficult not to bring up the Electronic music ‘scene’ as a whole. With the recent splurge of dubstep in North America do you see DnB and breaks following suit? What are your thoughts on the future of Drum and Bass?
Is it bad to say I don’t care? I don’t really have any thoughts about scenes in that way. I just like music, don’t really think of it in those ‘scene-y’ terms.
If you make good music that touches people then that’s enough. I don’t care whether this or that scene survives or changes, whatever that might mean.
What’s next for you guys? Touring? Collaborations? Releases?
We have a set of remixes of the album coming up in the new year from a couple of big names and a couple of newer ones. We also have a remix for someone coming up and another track on a compilation, (sorry for being a bit unspecific about all this, it’s not my place to announce these things before they happen).
We have a few gigs round and about in the UK and across Europe.
We also have a nice little something coming up for fellow producers which should be good.
We would like to say thanks to everyone who enjoys the music and helps us to make new stuff!