Chain D.L.K.: Hi Luca! Since we are an Italian magazine, first off I’d like to ask: have you Italian relatives? Do know something about the Italian underground scene that you dig?
Drop The Lime: Yes, my father’s side is all italian, our last name is Venezia but were from Sciacca Sicily. I grew up going to Italy every summer, and went to kindergarten and 8th grade in this really small town, Trevi, in Umbria. So I can speak it pretty fluently… preeettty fluently.
Chain D.L.K.: “We never sleep” is the second Drop The Lime full length and as far as I can hear its sound is less fragmented compared to your previous release “This means forever”. Songs like “Coal oven fevers”, the following “Butterscotch” or “Full moon rising” have a song structure and on this album you sung a lot of tracks. What brought you to this and what influenced you mostly? I also hear some soul or funky flavor within the grime rawness.
Drop The Lime: I have always been making music with song structure, I began singing in bands and playing guitar before producing electronic music influenced by a lot of 50’s doo-wop and 60’s Soul. Artists like Richie Valenz and Jackie Wilson. When I was 9, I used to record my own songs with a drum machine and guitar for girls I had crushes on in school. I still wonder what they sound like… I would love to hear those today haha if any kept them. It just happened to be that my more experimental stuff was what I put out into the world first. I hit a point where I was afraid to sing and make songs versus instrumental sound collages. “We Never Sleep” is the first time I tapped into all of my influences and made an album that meant something emotional to me. After these past 2 years of touring Europe and Japan, I realized that I was avoiding making music that came naturally. There were times when I would make a song and re-edit it to make it more un-danceable thinking it was too mainstream or something. How fucking ridiculous.. over analyzing my own work. I improvised with vocals on tour until I became comfortable in front of big crowds. I recorded myself improvising in Ableton Live with samplers and synths, then take the best parts of the sessions and turn them into songs by adding vocals. “We Never Sleep” is what came out.
Chain D.L.K.: Has your live performance changed since you have songs you can sing?
Drop The Lime: Yes, it’s now way more interactive with the audience and I tend to have guest artists performing with me on stage. It feels good to see people singing along to your songs now… before they would just wave their hands around like drums in a blender ha, no but so many laptop artists appear as if they’re hiding behind their screen, now that I am singing and sampling my vocals more, it has definitely heightened the live show and people get into it. I get a lot of girls jumping on stage and dancing behind me now when I play, sometimes it’s pretty funny, but I don’t complain. It’s better than some pony-tailed metal dudes moshing in the front row and clearing the floor to break-core.
Chain D.L.K.: I saw your video of “E-lock” and I must say that is really amusing. It has a sort of humor that you don’t feel when only listening to the music. Has humor a relevant place into the process of making music or when you do your sets?
Drop The Lime: Ha ha thanks. It’s really important to lighten the pretentiousness that electronic music can invoke on a listener… especially to people who aren’t familiar with club music. The United States is still stuck in a Rock & Roll mentality, almost like they’re afraid to shake a leg to electronic music still. The E Lock video captures a major part of how I behave live, in fact even how I act when recording… jumping around, being goofy… just thrown into the complete opposite of the digital sound – organic land, wild animals. We actually shot that in Italy. Castelluccio Di Norcia.
Chain D.L.K.: I read that some “We never sleep” tracks have been influenced by your German trip. Can you tell us something about that experience?
Drop The Lime: A lot of my friends in music live in or are from Berlin, so I moved there for a year. I needed a change from New York City music wise. The electro house and minimal techno scene really inspired me the way raves inspired me when I was a teenager in New York. It’s cheesy to say, but I felt reborn when I went to clubs like Weekend, Panorama Bar, Rio, and WMF in Berlin. Everyone was dancing through to sunrise to underground music that you rarely hear in New York.
Chain D.L.K.: You have been the first in the US to use the grime sound but on this new album we have grime sounds and hard drum sounds along with particular arrangements (see the piano of “Coal oven fevers” or the jazzy atmospheres of “Full moon rising”). Was it a part of a natural writing process or do you feel that being part of a certain scene is limiting for your music?
Drop The Lime: I definitely like to dip into genres, especially when something is exciting to me, since I DJ. But yeah, I don’t like to be labeled as part of any scene or genre. That can limit an artist and I prefer to be constantly stimulated by new inspirations. There are elements of everything I DJ in my music, especially on WNS, even the non-electronic stuff like old Northern Soul and Doo Wop. It’s more interesting to mix things together and get something new. Team Shadetek and I started to bring artists over to play our monthly party, “Bangers & Mash,” and we’d mix all bass music sounds together – crunk, dancehall, house, ghetto-tech etc.. it really got people excited to the new sounds coming from UK integrated with a US sound.
Chain D.L.K.: What is your way of working at a track of your own respect a remix?
Drop The Lime: I usually begin by sampling vinyl, whether its a melody or drums, skipping the needle around scratching the record, and then sampling it directly into the computer. Then I cut parts I like and map each hit into a drum kit. Then record myself improvising with those samples. Coming up with a good bassline takes me forever. I use a CZ-1000, shitty Casio keyboard or audio units like the Novation bass station and just compress and distort the hell out of it. I’ll bounce a finished loop and run it through a compressor too then re-record it and chop it up in a patch I made in an application, MaxMSP. When it comes to a remix I tend to follow the same process, and in the end I always layer drums underneath, drum machines, simple textured sounds to give a good bump, 909, DMX etc.. It’s always important to then listen to early mixes of the tune on as many different speakers and environments possible… cars, friends houses, clubs, bars… allows you to understand its flaws and strengths.
Chain D.L.K.: What about Trouble & Bass Records? There were several delays for the release of your first record. What happened?
Drop The Lime: Trouble & Bass 001 is out! We have copies here in New York, but I guess there was a shipping problem to the distributors, so everything got pushed way back. 001 has tunes from Mathhead and I, and Adaadat in London helped press it up. The side A, “Bricks,” has been getting a good rinse worldwide – Joe Nice, Mary Anne Hobbs form BBC, Dave Q, the Ruffnek Diskotek crew in Bristol… We put it out really last minute though, right before we toured last June in Europe. We’re focusing more on parties and DJ mixes at the moment.
Chain D.L.K.: What kind of programs do you have for the label?
Drop The Lime: So far were sticking to focusing on it as a collective. We’re throwing a lot of parties in New York City, all things bass heavy, and still putting up free dj mixes from east coast US DJ’s. Mathhead, Zack Shadetek, Starkey and Star Eyes are the main players of the game at the moment, but for our next release were thinking about getting some remixes from artists in scenes outside of Grime, Dubstep or Breaks… like House and Electro and still keep it pretty fucked up.
Chain D.L.K.: In Europe we see many acts that are beginning to mix different genres together, so after years of pure acid techno, minimal or whatever we have inspired records like the latest Ellen Allien & Apparat. Do you think that in N.Y. and in the U.S. it’s happening the same?
Drop The Lime: Yes definitely. Naturally, I mixed up a lot of genres on “We Never Sleep”, and I’m not alone in doing that. Right now New York and Philadelphia are really brewing something special. People are starting to mix disco with grime and hip hop… its disgusting and I love it. I throw a party with the Cut NYC boys, called MAD SUSPECT in Brooklyn, and we play crunk, baltimore club, grime, electro house, and freestyle… you name it… we mix it all up and people get rowdy to all of it. That’s how new genres start, and it’s about time for something fresh to pop out of New York City that’s urban and bangin’, but not hip hop or rock. I’m big excited on what’s coming around the bend, because nobody really knows but we feel something is about to blow up.
Chain D.L.K.: What are the acts that excite you most?
Drop The Lime: I’m really feeling a lot of the house coming out of France right now, like on Ed Banger Records. Justice, Mr. Oizo, and Surkin are all producing dirty dirty tunes. TTC’s para one is on fire as well. Starkey, SPank Rock, and all Hollertronix connected artists are doing some big things right now… loving the b-more kickback. I am also into bands like Klaxon, Infants… using old rave samples. Bringing rave back is always good in my book haha … I’ve dipped into hardcore again, like REAL hardcore, classic hardcore – 2 Bad Mice, Sonz of a Loop Da Loop Era, Hyper on Experience… the energy and attitude of those early rave tunes is coming back again.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s next for Drop The Lime?
Drop The Lime: I’ve got a lot of new 12″ singles and EP’s dropping in the fall. All bass heavy stuff. A baltimore/grime 12″ on Flamin Hotz, A Party Crashers United 12″ on Tigerbass, a 12″ on Death, and a real dancefloor banger, “Bad Girlz” EP, dropping September on London’s Rag & Bone Records. I’ve got a tour in Australia coming up in October with kid606, and a European tour in February with Knifehandchop. Ah! and Trouble & Bass has a new monthly in Brooklyn… we’re bringing DJ’s and bands doing anything bass heavy… dubstep, electro… whatever! I’m going to ride WNS for a good while. Let people know that I am not making breakcore anymore, you probably won’t see another full length for a couple years. But, don’t mark my words, I tend to act spontaneously.
Visit Drop The Lime on the web at:
[interviewed by Maurizio Pustianaz] [proofreading by John Gore]