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Accidents Happen: Silent Dust Dissects Their Latest, 'Listen to the Night'

When I sit back and think about how many artists from the drum & bass scene I've personally seen flourish, it makes me proud. One duo in particular went by the names Hobzee and Zyon Base. For a period from about 2007 to 2011 (give or take a few years), they saw their material end up on imprints like SGN:LTD, Fokuz, L Plates, Samurai Music and Inside Recordings, back when there were a litany of labels to drop tunes on. At some point, they realized that their respective sounds fit together (so much so that they needed a proper name, Silent Dust), and in 2011, they started their own imprint, none60, which not only highlighted their own work as a duo, but has featured gems from the likes of Sinistarr, Dexta, Sina., and many others.

It's been roughly seven years since they dropped their self-titled album, so it only made sense to link up with Andy (Hobzee) and Dan (Zyon Base) about their latest album, Listen to the Night, which features rockthedub alum like Zilla Rocca alongside DRS, Jon1st, SelfSays, and Illingsworth.

One of the biggest changes between when I first discovered these two and their roles as producers and label owners now is the evolution of their sound. Many might chalk that up to the overall collective shifting of definitions of what "genre" truly means, but to Dan, he says that it's more due to "having a label" itself, which he says "really changes the way you approach making music."

"Even subconsciously," Dan continued, "if you are always looking to impress someone else you will move your sound towards the accepted norms or whatever is currently in vogue. It's a lot harder to take risks and have them come off. It's just human nature when you are trying to get exposure for your music that you will create something that sounds marketable. I guess it's the alternative for us now, and that works for me, as I feel I could create tracks that 'work' with little effort these days—and that just doesn't provide much satisfaction. I try and set up situations whereby chance things happen—unexpected things in the studio—and use these to work off. It's generally the accidents or mistakes in tunes that are my favorite parts."

The idea of "happy accidents" in creativity fueling some of our favorite (and most memorable) moments is definitely not new, and has sparked innovations, like how Grand Wizard Theodore accidentally created the "scratch." When it comes to hip-hop, Silent Dust has always made sure that they included emcees in their productions. In my experience, I always figured it would've been harder to get rappers accustomed to their sounds, but Dan explained that these things came together rather easy. "I think the best hip-hop is pretty spontaneous and that's how we've approached these tracks. All the 'hip-hop' tunes on the album were pretty much completed in a couple of hours, and MCs just worked off those initial drafts."

It's also intriguing when you consider that aligning themselves with each artist came from their different dealings in the music scene. Andy says that they got their third track with MC DRS—one of which being a track on DRS' 2015 album Mid Mic Crisisthrough the late Marcus Intalex back when their first album was penciled in to be released via Soul:R. Self was an emcee they spotted on a Submorphics track and reached out independently. They credit their longstanding relationship with Philly's Zilla Rocca to Jeff Weiss. "Jeff was a fan of our first album and thought our styles would compliment each other," Andy says, and that turned into the magic they've made over the years, which has since bridged into remixing the likes of Curly Castro and Has-Lo.

They also worked with Detroit's Illingsworth, who dropped his "mostly-instrumental" album, You’re No Fun (with the Denmark Vessey-featured "DnD") on the same day as Listen to the Night.When Ill explains how he ended up on "Beat Fate" from Listen to the Night, it definitely sounds more casual than you might imagine, with SelfSays being the connection. "I think they might have contacted him about us both working on it. I don't remember if they sent a pack of beats or that specific one but, I really enjoyed the one we ended up using for the song. It's a slower beat, which presented the opportunity to potentially write a fast rhyme. It's something that I can do but, it's not my favorite way to rap so, I don't really do it super often."

This seems to be how Silent Dust approach working with emcees; " We didn't really direct them towards subject matter or style," Dan explained. "We wanted their input to stimulate and challenge us, so trying to micro-manage everything works against that idea. There wasn't a conceived concept to the songs on the album really, so the themes evolved pretty organically. The MCs we worked with are really talented guys, and we knew that before sending anything to them, so it's easy to be this relaxed about their input. It was just a pleasure to have them put some words to the music."

So, there you have it. Talented producers picking talented emcees to craft a truly forward-thinking project. It sounds simple, and if you're creative enough, it more than likely is.


Silent Dust's Listen to the Night is available for streaming and purchase via the none60. You can grab Illingsworth's You're No Fun via Mello Music Group.

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