All those who follow my d’n’b-related posts should know that one of the producers I like to follow is Bristol-based Stephen “Mako” Redmore, mainly due to his awesome style, which manages to combine atmospheric sonorities and brain-n-body-teasing rolling beats. His very first steps in the d’n’b scene were inspired by a worthy act of charity as he gave life to the Utopia club night in Bristol back in 2007 in order to raise funds for the hospice which was looking after his friend’s terminally ill mother. Such higher spirit has spilled over into his label, which was given the same name of Mako’s club nights. Even if Utopia Music and Mako are releasing properly groundbreaking d’n’b masterpieces, this guy seems to keep his wise head screwed on his young shoulders: “We are just people making music, making records. Everything else is imagined”, he says about Utopia. Let’s get to know him better.
Chain D.L.K.: Hi Mako. How are you?
Mako: Very well thanks. Just finished a gym session, it was hardcore leg day. Feeling mashed.
Chain D.L.K.: My compliments on your overflowing musical incontinence! Let’s speak about your label before focusing on your last drops… in the last years, you intensified the production activity at Utopia Music… any remorse about last year?
Mako: Well I think last year was a stepping stone in where we are now. And where we are now is a label with a lot of music to release and unleash on you guys! No real remorse. I’m cold like that. I just move on and get on with the missions.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the conceptual framework of Utopia Music? Are you going to develop it towards other previously unexplored d’n’b sub-genres in the future?
Mako: I’ve always had a fascination with any production, whether that be dub, house, techno or hip hop. I settled on d’n’b as it was where my main influences were. I’m making a few ‘underwater dub’ sounding things, the first one coming on Metalheadz with DLR called ‘Meditation Sessions’ with Rider Shafiq on vocals.
Chain D.L.K.: Your viewpoint about state of health of d’n’b cannot but be interesting…
Mako: Well I see the game as the same game that was back 20 years ago even. You have the underground, you have the cheese balls and then you have people who want to consume the music. Nothing has really changed that much. The way music is presented has changed, but I think the main thread of the music remains, with slightly better production and louder mix downs. As for the health of d’n’b, it’s varied, it’s popular, there is a LOT of music out there, but I don’t know if this is healthy or not.
Chain D.L.K.: You operate in the vibrant Bristol… does Bristol’s city life and clubs have an influence on your music?
Mako: I’ve been a hermit for about 3 years brother, the nightlife doesn’t really have an effect on me. The sound of the trees in the wind outside my studio windows and the green beautiful pastures of Bristol influence me a lot more.
Chain D.L.K.: There are so many d’n’b parties in that lovely city… the last I took part in was in Lakota, but if you had to make a guide of current d’n’b parties for followers of the genre what would you put in there?
Mako: Check out Intrigue, they have a long running d’n’b night in Bristol. They put on some good names. I’ll always have love for the [DISSIDENT] parties which no longer run but were famous. There are rumours that a bunch of us are going to start a d’n’b night in Bristol too, a small intimate thing, so watch out for that…
Chain D.L.K.: Fucking hell!!! Thumbs up for that great head banging track you dropped “A Break From Ritual”!!! How did you calibrate the kicks on it?
Mako: That tune has some vibes. If I remember rightly I ended up layering and layering until I got the fatness I needed.
Chain D.L.K.: There’s a strong connection with some previous stuff by a d’n’b legend you already celebrated (Photek), but there’s a sneaking presence of junglism in it… first of all, what’s the contribution to the scene by Photek in your own perspective?
Mako: Photek brought something slightly different to d’n’b at the time, his breaks, paranoid vibes and jazz influences combined into something that captivated a lot of junglists.
Chain D.L.K.: …and how do you remember the jungle ages? In your opinion, why does it seem to be massively resurfacing from within the current dnb releases?
Mako: Things come back around, I don’t think it ever went away, but it seems a little more popular now, possibly. I’m not even sure if it has resurfaced.
Chain D.L.K.: Another great time trip comes from “What A Little Moonlight Can Do”, where you inserted a line from Billie Holiday as well… how come?
Mako: It seemed to fit, it gave the track its title and an interesting second drop. I love using vocals as much as I can.
Chain D.L.K.: That track could somehow evoke the ’30es… besides cosmogony about amen breaks, is there any vintage stuff which includes the seeds of d’n’b according to your ears?
Mako: I love Miles Davis and some other classic jazz legends. Gil Scott Heron was a ridiculous bad man too. I think the rhythms and chord changes invoked in their works have had an influence on me.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the future of d’n’b and music in general in your opinion?
Mako: Well I know my future as I have so much music to come out, including an album on my own label and an album on Metalheadz with DLR. As for drum and bass’s future? Well we’ll have to wait and see. I see people getting very bored of the brash mid range sound though and coming back around to music which affects the soul rather than the mind.
Chain D.L.K.: What about your collaboration with Mute boys? Are we going to come up with some new stuff from this prolific connection?
Mako: Mute are Villem and Fields. I’ve always had a project or 3 on the go with either of them at any one time. Fields and I have something coming on Headz, Villem is featured on my Dispatch EP and there are a load more unfinished vibes that are coming along nicely.
Chain D.L.K.: Is there something which particularly fosters your creativity?
Mako: Love, obsession, pain, contentment, a feeling of deep connectivity with the consciousness of the world. Anger plays a part too. And lots of exercise.
Chain D.L.K.: Besides Bristol, there’s an interesting musical ferment in Manchester… what are the main differences between the Mancunian and Bristolian scenes in your experience?
Mako: I know a couple of guys from Manchester but not enough to answer your question adequately I’m afraid.
Chain D.L.K.: …and what about more “exotic” scenes like the plenty of talented d’n’b musicians from Eastern Europe and Russia? Do you have any connections or collaborative plans with producers, DJ’s or bedroom musicians from that part of the planet?
Mako: Yeah, I’m working with a few Eastern European crew, namely Sunchase and Detail who I think are both very talented and have supported me the last couple of years.
visit Utopia Music on the web at: www.utopiamusic.org