This is rock the dub's first interview of 2007, and round 2 of my Evol Intent interviews (check out my piece with The Enemy... Gigantor, I'm coming for you next!). In this installment, we continue on, delving a bit deeper into the triumverate of the EI crew. Knick has been on the grind for some time, and has risen through the ranks with Evol Intent to become one of the premier production outfits in the current DnB scene. From dark, techstep nastiness to the now prominent 'glitch'-y madness that many fans have come to love and fear, Knick has helped shape heavy, dark DnB in this day and age. Standing on the cusp of both the first EP and first album for their Evol Intent label, Knick is managing to fufill his DnB destiny, all the while creating exciting music with a few side projects, inside and outside of the DnB world. The funny thing is, he does it all on a cool, calm and collected tip. I seriously think, if I lived down in the A, Knick and I'd be chatting it up every day or so over shots of clear alcohol and bouts of whatever game was new on the 360. In any case, peep our conversation, covering what was, what is, what is going to be, and some other fine points in between...
khal: EZ Knick. These days, Evol Intent is seen as one of the groups to watch, making any release you are featured on “buy on sight”. There must have been days when you guys weren’t getting as much shine, however. Do you ever sit back and think on how quickly you guys have gotten cred, and is there anything you’d like to change about that progression?
Knick: There are most definitely times when I sit back and think about how far we’ve come. Right before my set the other night at a New Year's Eve gig in Los Angeles, I was looking out in to the audience and all I could see was an ocean of bodies. For as far as I could even see, it was all hands in the air and people screaming. It's hard to describe how good that felt. Thinking back to when we were playing 5-6 am slots for 2 people or driving over a thousand miles to play a gig for no money, it really hits home sometimes. We feel like we stuck it out, paid our dues and now, as a result, we have something truly special to share with the world.
khal: For a moment, take us back to where this all started. How did you go from some dude who digs music to fucking around with your own beats to now co-heading a label and getting your tracks signed to some of the premier labels in our scene?
Knick: Well, I was always more than just “some dude that just digs music.” ;) I picked up a guitar when I was about ten years old and taught myself how to play. Also, before Drum and Bass, I played in numerous bands that were mostly on the punk side of the musical spectrum. I played drums in high school as well and I’ve been playing them on and off ever since, after a brief hiatus when I started DJ’ing. As far as Drum and Bass production and DJ’ing in general, I started both because I moved to a new city where I didn’t know anybody. I found myself starving for some sort of creative outlet and as cliché as it sounds, I went to a rave and heard some Drum and Bass. It matched the intensity level of the punk and hardcore stuff I was into before that, so it felt natural. I didn’t have to push it and things just sort of clicked together really easily for me.
khal: To satisfy the beast, I want to get through some of this Evol Intent info that has been surfacing. I know over at Lifted Music, you dropped info on a new EP from the one like Ewun. Can you shed any more light on this one – how soon we might be able to hear tracks from this, what we should expect from it, and why you guys chose to give the first EP on EI to Ewun?
Knick: Well, honestly Jake has become one of my best friends over the last few years and he’s a great friend to Evol Intent in general. If drum and bass were to end tomorrow, we would all still be great friends, and that alone gives me a lot of faith in him as a person and how I know his personality is as an artist. Jake puts so much of himself into his tunes and honestly, it keeps us inspired. We love working with him in any capacity so when it came time for him to do an EP, we offered to release it and give him complete artistic control over every aspect of the release. I can definitely tell you that he will show his diversity with this release, and you can expect some seriously forward thinking ideas. Not just with the music, but with the artwork and possibly video and visual aspects to coincide with the release. And on a slightly related note… shit, I don’t even feel comfortable bringing this up right now, but I feel like it should be addressed. Over the last few years, a lot of people have pigeon holed Jake as being an Evol Intent clone or something, and this could not be any further from the truth. Jake's style is in a league of its own. I think people just tend to draw comparisons because we were the first ones to really start working with him, and we took him in and treated him as our equal, instead of trying to mold an artist like so many labels do these days. What we saw in Jake was a true artist who had the potential to do some great things musically, and we wanted to be a part of that, just as much as he wanted to be a part of what we were doing. My point of saying all of this is not to big him up, but to shed some light on where he is as an artist and what he means to our label. Stop with the comparisons!
khal: As stated in that post, the Evol Intent long player is also on the list of “things to do in 2007”. How is that collection shaping up? We spoke of some special non-DnB collabos that you have on there, are you able to speak to the masses about this or what? Give us more info!
Knick: YES! Our first LP is almost complete. We’re just tying up the loose ends and making sure everything is in its right place. You can expect an eight-song vinyl pack with a CD to go along with it. The vinyl will mainly be Drum and Bass, with 2 remixes, 2 collaborations and four original tracks. We’re aiming to make every song stand out in its own way, so hopefully we’ve been successful with it so far. There are some straight forward rollers, some glitched out amen madness, dirty tech step beats and some vocal tunes as well. For the CD version, we’re aiming to flex our boundaries a little bit by delving in to some new genres. So far we’re mostly interested in integrating some live instruments into the mix as well as doing some IDM, breakbeat and downtempo songs. If you can’t tell, we’re starting to move towards seeking cross-over potential. Which should be a good thing.
khal: You guys have also been featured on one of the most anticipated EPs of 2006, the #1 release on Lifted Music. I’ve spoke to quite a few people who have given “Glock Party” nothing but praise. Do you feel as though this track is any more special than your others? Do you have anything dropping for Lifted in the future that you can speak on?
Knick: I love :Glock Party". It’s stripped down, danceable and fun, but still retains that dark and gritty vibe that keeps me drawn to Drum and Bass. Honestly, I’m really proud of that tune and I couldn’t be happier that it was part of the first Lifted release. I really believe in Lifted. We’re all great friends and we all share the same vision. We will most definitely be doing more music for Lifted, but there’s nothing concrete yet. Everyone in the crew understands that we have to finish our LP and tour to support it before we can start any other projects, but now that all of that is shaping up, it shouldn’t be too long before we’re back at it.
khal: Many may not know, but Mayhem and yourself have a side project going on, as described on your MySpace page as a “Breakbeat / Crunk / Experimental” outfit that goes by the name Hostage. You have some things going on with that collabo, no? Please let the people know what is going on with that project and where you plan on taking it in the future.
Knick: I started dabbling in breaks a few years ago. I did a few tunes here and there and I had a few solo releases drop, but nothing too serious. Then I started going under the name Hostage and had a release come out that apparently got some attention. I’ll be honest, I don’t really listen to breaks at all and I felt like it would be a shame to let any potential for a decent project to go to waste. So rather than beat myself up over it I figured that I would ask someone else to join Hostage and turn it into a collaborative effort. The first person I could even think of was Anthony. We’re great friends and I really enjoy working with him (see “Broken Sword” and “Assimilation”). He’s such a talented producer and I know he likes to vibe off other people in the studio, so when we got together to do some breaks, we clicked really well. The tunes came easily and now we’ve got a nice little arsenal of songs building up. We have plans to launch our own label to push our own music in the near future and we’ve also developed a live show. We’ve only played 1 gig so far, but it went great. Ableton live, a mixing desk, a CDJ and some extra gear for fun. If anything, the project is a great opportunity for us to try something different.
khal: You also have a project with Ewun dubbed “Minus Music”, right? What’s the motivation behind that, and do you have any serious plans for that outfit?
Knick: We have some very serious plans for this actually. I’m really excited about Minus Music. First of all, It is really nice to work one on one with Jake because as I stated before, we just click well musically. At first we wanted to just make downtempo beats with a weird twisted edge, but it has already evolved into something so much bigger than that. Right now, we’ve got about 8 songs in their final stages and I am in love with all of them. We have some songs that are slow and moody, but then some that are a bit more upbeat. I’ve been putting my guitar to use a lot with this stuff, and we have been creating a lot of our own samples by recording strange noises in our studios. Also, lately I have been picking up some random and exotic instruments which has been a lot of fun. My studio space right now is littered with guitars, dulcimers, pianos, thumb pianos, finger-board synthesizers, strange hammer driven stringed devices and I could keep going. These are the tools that we’re using right now and we’re really creating some exciting music I think. And you can all expect to hear my singing voice finally. I know you’ve all been waiting patiently. :P
khal: We spoke a few months back about the DnB scene as it is right now, with a load of producers coming out the woodworks who are just fans of the music; cats who draw their inspiration from other DnB artists, as opposed to old schoolers, who created jungle based on their love of other musical genres. Do you think DnB will ever shift out of this whole of regurgitation, and if it does not, do you see DnB declining because of it?
Knick: I have to be careful about how I respond to the last part of your question. Drum and Bass is thriving in many areas of the world, but it is most definitely falling off in other areas. Now, as long as the music exists, there will always be new blood getting into the scene and there will always be a crop of new producers popping up. We obviously embrace that. We sign new artists to Evol Intent Recordings all the time. I sometimes worry that there are too many producers out there just copying someone else’s style though, you’re right. It’s a shame, but everyone has to start somewhere I suppose. But, it also all depends on your definition of old school. For someone who is just now getting into Drum and Bass, they might look at 1997 era tech step as old school, but it’s not. It was just a great time period for Drum and Bass. And even then, that’s just one guy’s opinion. Did I skate around that topic sufficiently?
khal: Now, even though some might see DnB on a sharp decline, we both know there are some hot releases always coming out, or about to come out. Since 2006 just ended not too long ago, what were some of your favorite releases of 2006? Who do you see becoming bigger names in 2007?
Knick: My favorite tunes this year were by people like Spor, Ewun, Unknown Error, Noisia, Mayhem and people making sounds similar to these guys. Mayhem has already made a mark on the scene with his solo work and his collaborations with Noisia, but I think he’s really going to break out in 2007. He deserves it too. He works harder at this Drum and Bass thing than anyone I know. I’d also watch out for Infiltrata, Demo, Gein, Audio and this new guy Spektrum, he’s making some really sick beats.
khal: Now, seeing as though I have the right member of EI in an interview, I have to ask you about LOST, the show that has probably encompassed your psyche like it has mine since it first premiered. Many fans have their own ideas about what the hell is going on that island, and I’m interested in knowing what exactly do you think is going on there?
Knick: It’s hard for me to decide on a theory honestly. While the show has been on hiatus, I kind of let go of the obsession, but I’m sure it will return in February when the show comes back on the air. If anything, I think the show mainly is touching on the contrast of light and dark, you know, good and evil….. and a bit of fate thrown in for good measure. The show really is captivating though. The writing staff are so great at throwing curveballs at you or throwing a wrench in your theories. It keeps me hooked, that’s for sure.
khal: Aside from music and LOST, how do you unwind?
Knick: Music is the only thing I have found that truly relaxes me and calms me down these days. I tend to listen to an obscene amount of Radiohead, and lately the Thom Yorke solo record (AMAZING.) I also play my X Box 360 a good bit when I have nothing else to do. Friends are always a good remedy for me. I take pride in knowing I have such a great group of friends that have been there for me non stop the last few years. I tend to hang out with my buddies a lot.
khal: I know it’s hard to think about what’s going to go on after these next releases and projects finally come to fruition, but what do you have planned for the rest of 2007? Should we not even consider hearing product from you, or do you have any concrete ideas of where you will be by the end of ’07?
Knick: Well, if you mean me personally, then I can say that you can expect to hear me making a lot of noise about this Minus Music project with Ewun. But on top of that, Aj (The Enemy) and I started up a band. We’re still looking for a singer, but the music is great. It’s hard to describe, but I’d say it’s a bit of a cross between Cursive, Fugazi and maybe even a little Radiohead (sorry Aj!). Anyhow, the plan is to get a singer and record our first EP, so you can expect to see something come of that soon, hopefully. We’ve been going by the name “Jes Jou” pronounced “yes you.” As far as Evol Intent is concerned, we’re just taking it one project at a time. We’re going to continue to push the label as hard as possible as well as hopefully starting work on a full cross over album to follow up the one we’re working on now.
khal: I’d like to say thanks for the opportunity, and if you have any shout outs, or any plugs, please drop them now!
Knick: I want to thank you for doing the interview. It’s always a pleasure shooting the shit with you, khal. Also, If anything I’d just like to say thanks to all of my friends and family… my Evol Intent homies, Ewun, Mayhem, Dieselboy, Spor, Chris Renegade and the rest of the Lifted camp, 404audio, DOA and all the myspacers.. holla at me.