Wednesday, March 01, 2006

elements of bass


Michael Thomas ~ interview with Elements of Bass ~ photos by unknown ~  St Louis, MO - Taking up the web reigns and leading the Midwest DnB scene into greatness, Ryan Renfro (Source Code) and Randy Mars (MC Precision) are inking up coasts, promoters, booking agencies, and artists on a whole new level It was recently that I had an opportunity to speak with them. Here's what they had to say.



You both have been involved in the drum and bass scene for long time now. What first got you guys started with Electronic Dance Music and the drum and bass aspect of things?

Ryan: I was introduced to electronic music through Amiga MOD files back in about 1994. Basically MOD files were the mp3's of the old skool. Composers from around the world would come together with all these crazy acid and hardcore tracks. I had around 1300 MOD tunes in my prime, which was around 100 or more floppy disks of audio. From there I really got interested in breakbeat sounds around the US release of "Prodigy - The Prodigy Experience". Tunes like Jericho, Hyperspeed, Out of Space, and others really got into my head and drove my interest in electronic sounds. At the time most of my friends were into metal or hip-hop so I was really on my own. It wasn't till about 1997/1998 that my full interest in Drum and Bass really took off. It all really happened with a rather funny story, I had melted a crate of about 100 hip-hop, hardcore, techno, misc vinyl’s and decided from that day the only tunes I'd buy were dnb/jungle vinyls. From that day till this I only own dnb vinyls.

Randy: Well leaving the 80's there wasn't really too much on the plate yet, electronic wise. While listening to hip-hop and metal, rock and classic rock have always been and will always be enjoyable for me; I was ready for something new. I played acoustic drums and always had an ear for percussion, so as music started to slowly change more to electronic music, I was influenced. Ministry was a band that really influenced me to seek out and hear more. And by the time Prodigy was starting to surface, Drum and Bass was starting to leak out through rich new breaks, and then it was on. I remember going to raves in the early 90's, the techno got on my last nerve, but the trip hop/acid jazz kinda styles would always catch my ear. It still amazes me how much DnB has evolved over the past 10 years, all the different styles and forms

Have you always been into drum and bass or did you start off more involved in another genre?

Ryan: I've really always been into most anything breakbeat or unique sounding. My 3 loves now are drum and bass, hip-hop, and dancehall. So really anything with a fat bassline, rugged breaks, of ill rhythm gets my ear. I've never really been into any other electronic music genre besides acid techno way back when.
Randy: Like I said it started with acoustic drums. I schooled to learn jazz and blues, but later got more into rock, using the same funky beats. As years passed I started to get more into the vocal aspect of music, as I have been writing songs and poetry since practically a seed. I started rapping to old hip hop tracks, finding the instrumentals and freestyling. I wrote hip hop lyrics, but nothing mainstream. It wasn't until about 1996-1997 I started to write to DnB and realize how much more exciting and challenging it was. After a few years passed, and I had been in a hip-hop group, I decided it was about time to go for Drum and Bass. Seemingly hooked for life I still can’t get enough of it.

How did the both of you meet?

Ryan: I met Precision through a mutual friend, Gary aka Jinxx. We actually met during a party when everyone was just dj'n, mc'n, and chillin. From there another mutual friend from England, Q-Trax, really started working on music with Randy. Q-Trax and I were basically shadows of each other at the time, so the 3 of us really formed a unique bond. Since then Q has headed back to the UK so we are holding it down till he's back.

Randy: There was a party at Gary’s (Jinxx) house. I had just met Gary not long before, and so we were all kicking it there. That's the first time I had ever seen or met Ryan. There were three or four Dj's and a few MC's in the house so we were all getting musically acquainted fast. And like Ryan stated before.... then came Matt (Q-Trax) from England. I hooked him up with a cash job moving loads from trucks on the side. From then on Ryan and I became great friends

What first sparked your interest in forming a drum and bass website?

Ryan: Well most of St. Louis had been hanging out on a yahoo group/egroup like message board for a long time. It filled the need, but some of us felt that we needed to really expand outward and try and work with other people in the Midwest. At first the goal was small, have a place to post events/news and talk on a message board. After 3 years it quickly expanded into everything from an internet radio station, to club nights, to one off events, and tons of other wastes of internet time.

Randy: All there was at the time was puny little yahoo groups and other cheesy communities with very little music and info available. Ryan being the main man with computers mentioned it once and the rest of the crew (union crew at the time), stood fast to help in any possible way. We all contributed any way we could. www.mw-dnb.com was overwhelming with all the traffic, huge database and net radio. It brought so many together, and opened opportunity to meet and compose with many other artist's/DJ's/producers.

What were your expectations, if any, with the first website, mw-dnb.com? Also, did you think the first site would pick up as much as it did?

Ryan: We never really expected to have the thousands and thousands of members we made. In fact I originally imagined somewhere from 500-2500 people, that mile marker was passed the 4th month the site was up. 3 years later we had around 40,000 registered users and nearly 1 terabyte in bandwidth a month. To say the least the site really did max out and went beyond what any of us thought it would be. For the most part it really took its own direction and we followed the lead of the fans.

Randy: Expectations were very low. We wanted it up solely for the purpose of staying in touch with each other, sharing our produced tracks, and booking to play out. Mw-dnb took off and climbed faster than any site I have ever heard of. It was getting over a million hits a month in its prime. Went a lot further than any of us imagined! But then again, Ryan was the man behind the site, a fully knowledgeable braniac with computers and design and the right man for the job without a doubt.

When mw-dnb.com ended its 4 year run many people missed its presence and the support and connections throughout the Midwest defiantly fell. Since the return of the site under its new name elementsofbass.com that support is once again on the rise. Did ever think your site would have held the scene together as much as it did?

Ryan: We were all sad to hear that the impact mw-dnb made when it left. Towards the end of the sites life things were actually picking up. However due to costs, time, and other personal reasons we knew the site needed to either change or go away. So it did both. After a 6 month breather, we returned with our new site based on our old ethics. We hope to reinvent ourselves and offer a stable platform from which talents from the Midwest and around the world can gather, communicate, exchange sounds, and make new connections.
Randy: At first no, not to the extent that it did. It wasn't till after the first 6 months or so when we were starting to see how valuable the site was for all us Midwest heads. Elementsofbass.com is not only a continuation of mw-dnb.com, but a fresh site dedicated to our 4 years and running internet radio show, "Elements Of Bass”.

What prompted you both to start the site back up? And why did you decide on the new name?

Ryan: Well after mw-dnb went down I ended up returning back to St. Louis from Memphis, TN. I had been living there for about a year and a half and developed a really kick ass piece of software.
To make a long story short, this software allowed us to quickly redevelop and expand on our own ideas and directions rather than the directions of a pre-developed content management package. We wanted to bring some of the newer popular technologies available widely on the internet to our site such as podcasts, news feeds, and other interesting features. We also knew that no one else was currently doing these things we wanted to do. We knew the site had to be called Elements of Bass simply because of the radio shows creators would be the staff of this new site. Elements of Bass is really a statement about the founders and drum and bass itself. This expansive sound covers almost every element of every other type of music from funk to punk - and our radio show and website reflect that. We registered the domain, figured out what we wanted to offer, in what order we wanted to offer it and from there it's history in the making.
Randy: Ryan’s new technology and constant elevation of software and web design knowledge brought the question "Why not put a site with a forum for archiving the past Elements Of Bass shows? It came out of Ryan's mouth after he was explaining this new software for developing websites. From there the site went up quicker than ever.

The new name is a no-brainer. For going on four years now our radio show has been known as Elements Of Bass. We had been putting that on flyers to parties we would play, and built a name. Even after mw-dnb closed I refused to let go of the weekly broadcast. I moved the show back to pfradio.com, which showed us nothing but support and respect, and later on to destroyer.net. The whole time still we had the same show name. So we simply "HAD TO" go with elementsofbass.com.

What are your expectations for the new site? And how have things being going so far?

Ryan: My expectations for the site are rather minimal. I feel after the massive mw-dnb site that even if EOB doesn't grow to that magnitude, that at least we have the more dedicated and interesting heads hanging out and contributing to our community. I know that we will all help new people gain interest and knowledge in these sounds.

We have actually had a great kick off with lots of old and fresh faces joining up daily. We have kept a consistent stream of mix sets and show archives each week to keep the audiophiles leeching. Like anything else the site is just starting to build its momentum, strength, fan base, and functionality.

Randy: Supplying support to all our friends, fans, and connections with Midwest drum and bass. Keeping the huge rotation of many different DnB Dj's on our show, locally and out of town, providing the freshest tunes and talent from all the most dedicated artists in the region.

Things have been set off as we planned. Everything is in place for one of the most successful and longest running DnB weekly broadcast's ever. With over 35 different guest Dj's a year, an experienced crew, and trustworthy site staff things can only get better.

What’s in store for elementsofbass.com in the future? And are you guys planning on doing events again?
Ryan: I really feel the future writes itself. I can tell you that some of the really cool things coming up will be aimed at producers. We plan on launching the sickest producer area to EVER touchdown on the net. Once it's launched we will be doing a massive campaign to promote it out to all the old and new producers alike.  We will also have various headliners touching down to perform live broadcasts for the weekly radio show and archived sets. The next upcoming talent is Robot Death Squad (Moving Shadow) on March 5th.

As far as events this has been talked about. I know for sure we won't be doing any weeklies. We have discussed one off events and a monthly night for a while now. If we did start another series of events I'd imagine they would be a call back to the old days of DnB/Hip-Hop in combination. We really felt that the presence of both of these breakbeat sounds made for a great atmosphere. We have also thought about another Midwest meet up that would be a outdoor weekend long gathering. Other than that you can always catch our founding crew performing around the Midwest.

Randy: Just know that elementsofbass.com has no planned future. Between us, the music, and the people that surround us will determine where we go. Be on the lookout for some bigger names to play on the show, and for the site to grow with time. There are many ideas floating through our minds now for this year and next. The site will only get bigger, this you can be sure of.

Weekly events I would have to say we are going to leave alone. We may set up more DnB bbq’s that has been talked about. I'm more for playing the events and not setting them up. We have some good contacts that set up events/club weeklies - in St. Louis, Columbia, Chicago, and Kansas City. We leave the events to the promoters for the most part.

As a member and moderator of the site I have to say things look great. I’m happy to see the family back together again and I know your presence is felt all over the USA. I thank the both of you for your hard work and taking the time to sit down with me and ask you some questions. Is there anything else either of you would like to add or anything we didn’t cover that you’d like to discuss?

Ryan: I just want to say to anyone reading this that if they haven't checked out drum and bass they really should. Drop all the stereotypes you've heard and embrace the widely expansive sounds of the genre. I know bottom line that it has something for everyone. If you are a drum and bass fan, you should really check out the site and join up, some of your friends are most likely already posting. Respect goes out to all the heads that strive everyday to live by their own rules and walk to the beat of their own drum. Big Up's to phocas.net!

Randy: To all the fans and supporters of Drum and Bass: Keep strong with your love of the music and contribute in any way you can to keep it alive. And to those who are new to DnB, take the time to expand your knowledge of new and old styles. Go out and see the big names when they come through, and find out more with elementsofbass.com and destroyer.net.
For more information, just visit ElementsofBass.com

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