We sat down and had a conversation with Monarch's first release artists, D-Vide & Absence aka Ben & Alex! The boys are a serious duo, combining forces with their release "Passion" also on the release is the absolute weapon "Riot" from D-Vide on that solo ting.


MR
So firstly, welcome to Monarch, and thanks for releasing with us!

Alex
Thanks for having us

Ben
Very happy to, thanks for having us.

 

MR
A powerful first release in my opinion, thanks for that.
So, you guys have been through a few genres, what was your first electronic musical experience?


Ben
My first experience was back in 94' my cousin brought home a mixed tape from the legendary DJ Pee Wee. At first I was a bit confused and wasn't sure if I liked it or not but the more I listened to it the more it grew on me. The style was breakbeat hardcore with a little bit of 4/4. It changed my life forever as I wanted to hear more and my journey began.

Alex
I got into the hardcore scene back into 2001 going to my first party (Mystic 5). Got hooked on Dutch Hardcore then got into UK hardcore. I was a late bloomer for Drum n Bass which I have only been listening to for the last 5 years. A jump in genres I know, but the BPM is essentially the same.

Alex
I have always been open to all avenues of electronic music though.

Ben
In 1994' the split was becoming more and more evident with hardcore and jungle and I liked both so was difficult to choose. In fact, it's why I make and produce both to this day even though it has changed so much.

 

MR
That is interesting. I find it fascinating where people start and end up. I too started in the rave seen, in 2004 Transmission and Utopia when I was 18, bought turntables a couple of months after that.
So Ben, you started producing hardcore and jungle/DnB at the same time, how did dubstep come into the mix? And Alex, what was the first genre(s) you were producing?

Ben
So true, a lot of people in the Sydney DnB scene have had beginnings in the rave scene.

Alex
Yeh I got a set of Numarks at around 18 also and learnt to mix, taping to cassette etc lol.
I started making (or attempting to make) hardcore back in 08 on Cubase SX that was my driving passion musically wise for a while but then started experimenting with new genres from chill out to dub to DnB to house, just to broaden my learning curve.
When I get bored I dabble with new rhythms, sounds etc. this can be positive but also negative I guess.

Ben
I start producing in 2001/2002. So was a very slow beginning for me as I focused predominantly on DJing when I started in 1996. Dub Step was something I was attracted to as a lot of the oldskool producers were making cross mixes of oldskool breakbeat tracks and dubstep. I also loved the production so it felt natural to me to have a go at making it. I had some success with a couple of releases in the UK but I started loosing interest producing it in 2011. At the time I was also heavily involved running my hardcore label Executive Records and didn't have the time. Absence and I made a dub track during this time as well that didn't get released.

Alex
We have done a few tracks together over the years haha!

Ben
That is true Alex ;) few beers ;)

Ben
For me though I started writing and focusing on oldskool and hardcore and only felt my drum and bass production was good enough around 2011. I struggled early on to be honest as it always sounded hardcore. I remember the UK guys saying they liked my tracks but they could always tell I had a hardcore background. However I feel like the last few years I have got it sounding right, it's such a huge learning curve.

© Anastazi - Absence in his element.

© Anastazi - Absence in his element.

Alex
Yep drum n bass is a massive jump in production quality- and you really have to put in the effort to get it right, but what I love about the genre is the creative freedom you get as the only real formula is your drum patterns - but in saying that people are breaking the mould more and more.

MR
That is interesting, I only just realised that it lacks a formula.

Alex
It does lend itself to hybrid sounds haha.
 

MR
I could hear the uplifting hardcore/UK vibe in Passion, it suits it really well, especially with liquid, because the genres both happy, fun and uplifting. Riot is an absolute banger, I must admit, I was very impressed with the contrast and diversity of what was on your Soundcloud at the time we heard Riot.
How do you find transitioning between genres, are the scenes completely different?

Alex
I just kind of write what I’m feeling at the time or challenge myself to making something I’m keen to experiment with. There is a bit more of a regiment or intended sound when working with Ben as we always have a goal in mind when starting out. With passion we were aiming for a liquid tune from the beginning and had a few tracks we referenced along the way.

Ben
Passion had a lot of influence from the Moving Shadow label. :) We sampled sounds from an old 95' pack that producers like Omni Trio and Photek also used. I had a lot of fun writing that with Alex. Riot was something I was working on for a while. All the drum sounds etc were sampled from a real drum kit. I wanted it to feel as live as possible. I find transitioning a lot easier these days. Both are completely different in terms of processing the sounds, tricks of the trade etc. At first it was difficult as I would do something I would do in Hardcore and it just wouldn't work with D&B. So I studied a lot of tutorials and applied my own knowledge to get that different sound for Drum & Bass.

Ben
Spot on Alex.

Alex
Yep I have spent hours upon hours watching tutes on D&B production as it's so different in sound design than anything I had done before
It also helps to have a basic knowledge of synthesis etc.
Also a good sample library doesn't go a stray.

MR
I can't get enough of drum samples, I never seem to be satisfied! haha

Ben
Haha so true!

Alex
The possibilities are infinite
 

MR
You've collaborated before in the past, you mentioned that you had a vision in mind of Passion, but how did this collaboration come to be? Did you sit down to write a bunch of tunes and this one was the one that took off? Was the collaboration online or in the studio?

Ben
We have written around 3 or 4 tracks together before we made Passion. It was done in Alex's studio. But as Alex mentioned we had an idea in mind before we started. I was spending a lot of time listening to liquid and enjoying old Rhode tunes at the time and it just came together. We carefully picked out our sounds first and worked on it slowly bit by bit over 4 or 5 sessions.

Ben
Plus, Alex is a good mate of mine and I enjoy writing with him. So it was natural we do some songs together.

Alex
Yeh ditto.. we just write tunes for fun mainly regardless of genre or sub genre. Passion was to be a liquid tune from the get go and as I said before we referenced a few tracks and dug through our samples to get something going. It is always difficult writing a style that is new but I reckon it turned out pretty awesome, sort of our take on a liquid tune

Alex
We did it all at my place
 

MR
Passion certainly did turn out awesome! What kind of gear are you sporting ay your joint Alex?

Alex
Cubase 7.5
Komplete 9
KRK VXT 6 monitors
Focusrite 2i4 interface
Roland a500 keyboard
Access Virus TI
Plus a few other stand alone plugins

MR
nice! quite a collection
I might have to come around ;)

Alex
Thanks. Yeah a bit of $$ invested
Haha anytime man :)

MR
I've always wanted to get my hands on a virus, but always too busy or I'm too cheap to buy one haha

Ben
It's my old virus as well. I miss it! haha give it back Alex ;)

Alex
Yeah its a lot of fun to get hands on with sounds. Nah mate.
I paid for it fair and square

© Photos By Boaz - D-Vide cutting shapes at Riot.

© Photos By Boaz - D-Vide cutting shapes at Riot.

MR
haha!

Alex
haha
 

MR
So no doubt there will be future DnB collaborations between you guys?

Alex
Yeah we are planning on starting a new tune next week.

Ben
Yeah for sure. I am working on a few solo bits at the moment but we are going to work on something next week.

Alex
Don't know which direction we will go in, but the best part of writing a track is the blank canvas in front of you.
 

MR
Spicy, can't wait to hear them!
I have to ask, Riot, is there a story behind this one? Relation to Riot Club?

Ben
Indeed mate, so Riot was written for the Riot parties. I had an idea in my head for a while for doing a theme song for the party. Some of the samples in the song are actually taken from a live riot that was happening in America last year. I spoke to Tanner about the idea and he was pretty happy. It was played at one of the Riot parties this year that I played at and I also used it for the last producer comp that Fez organised. I wanted to bring awareness to the party and what he has been working on the last couple of years. His passion for drum and bass is huge and I felt a song was fitting.
The mixdown on it took forever, to get right. There are a lot of elements but I am happy with how it turned out.

 

MR
Tanner, top bloke. What are your thoughts on the Sydney DnB scene? Any favourite spots?

Ben
The Sydney D&B scene is always alive and kicking, it has dedicated followers and DJs. I find everyone has so much passion and the competition is huge but that makes everything quite healthy in my opinion.

Alex
I have seen it pick up massively in the last 2-3 years since I have been going to parties I think its going great. I’m usually at Riot, Elements of Tech and Bass put on by Thierry, also Afterlife when it was at its peak.

Ben
Gig wise I love The Elements of Tech & Bass. Thierry always puts on a good show.
Indeed Alex
 

MR
I'd have to agree, its definitely picked up in the past few years, through the rise and fall of other genres, DnB is still steadily growing.
Musical influences, what are you vibing at the moment, to listen to, to DJ, to source inspiration from?

Ben
At the moment I have been listening to heaps of old jungle. Been a bit nostalgic haha and going through discogs seeing if there are any rare dubs out there from Photek, Trace & Source Direct. Also, been listening to the new Noisia album. I love the diversity on the album and it has completely grown on me because at first only a handful of songs stood out. But now there isn't really any songs on there I don't like. The production is ridiculous as expected and inspirational.

Alex
I’m always digging stuff on Shogun, Dutty Audio, Dispatch to name a few, producer wise I really admire DLR - the way he fuses jazz/funk into his tunes amazes me plus his bass patterns are fuckin killer.
 

MR
I'm always curious to see what the other artists think of the other Monarch releases, any stand out releases for you guys, any favourites?

Ben
Great question, Severity Zero's release is fantastic and absolutely love the Xsetra release. In particular 'Ether'. The production is impressive. Although honestly I am really happy with all the forthcoming releases. I think it is a good time for Sydney to show the world what we have to offer.

Alex
I really like Ether by Xsetra. Right up my alley!!

Ben
Which reminds me you still have to send me some forthcoming releases Dan ;)

MR
haha fuck yeah, I gotta get my act to gather and get the mail list going

Ben
hehe all good mate. I do have to jet though. Thank you for your time and support of both mine and Alex's releases.

Alex
have you been writing at all Dan? since that one with Bionic?

MR
yeah the 6th release is due to be mine, got 2 tracks and a VIP, I've got a bunch of unfinished stuff that needs attention though! haha

Alex
Yeh man ditto.. It's an honour, your professionalism has been spectacular!

Ben
keen to hear those
Love your stuff Dan. Your set at the last riot was sick

Alex
Yeh flick a sample over
 

MR
Alright guys, I won't keep you any longer, thanks heaps for this, it has been fun and interesting!

Ben
Thanks champ. We both really appreciate your support.

Alex
All good man, it was a pleasure. 

Ben
Speak soon.

MR
cheers guys!

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