D*Minds return this week with Kaos Reigns.
A strong-armed thumper laced with the grit and power they’ve been synonymous with since they emerged 20 years ago, and battered the 2000s with tracks such as T-10, Searching, Jump (with TC), Mr Happy (with Hazard) and many more, Kaos Reigns is the second single on the new RUN Music label they launched last year with Critical Impact’s Creeper.
It’s also their first single in over two years and third since 2012. In fact, compared to the onslaught of unabashed bangers they injected into the scene 10 years ago, Al and Jon’s studio output has relatively quiet since the mid-2010s. Or so it seems…
The last five years has seen Jon and Al – who also founded and run Bristol’s famous RUN raves – have hone a whole different side to their sonic craft and begin excel in a whole different field of music. Since 2014 they’ve been scoring trailers for movies, games and TV such as Interstellar, Westworld, Captain America, Terminator and Call Of Duty and their trailers for Blade Runner 2049 and Wonder Woman both won awards.
Never losing focus of their original craft, however, they’ve also never stopped writing drum & bass. They’ve just kept it persy for their sets. Until now. It starts with Kaos Reigns and more D*Minds freshness is expected before the end of the year… Just after they’ve dropped a very substantial release from Critical Impact.
Technically D*Minds never went away, but that doesn’t mean they’re not back…
D*Minds are back! Can we call this a comeback?
Jon: We’ve never gone away. We’ve just been in the shadows doing different things.
Al: Our work in drum & bass has never stopped, we just haven’t released any records.
It’s been all about RUN, right? Take us back to the start of that…
Jon: That started in 2006 as a weekly. It was a homage to Blue Note and the London weeklies we were inspired by. We wanted to go back to those old vibes and make a place where we could test new music regularly and a place where the drum & bass community could come down and appreciate it. It was a weekly Tuesday for four years. Insane and very intense.
I know you had a whole bunch of massive names as residents didn’t you?
Jon: Grooverider, Hazard, Clipz, Die, TC, Xample, Fierce, Pascal, Gerard, Dazee, The Force, Eddie K, Jakes, Skiba to name a few. And ourselves, of course. We also had regular guests come down like Chase & Status and Sub Focus. All those guys playing to packed 350 capacity club. It was a really special time.
I’ll never forget the story about the bouncer doing a rewind when you first dropped Mr Happy!
Al: That wasn’t a one-off, either. That would happen a few times a week.
Jon: It was very community-led. Everyone knew each other. It was a weekly thing and it became like church for a lot of people. The bouncer was cool enough, and knew everyone well enough, to do stuff like that. He was a drum & bass head like the rest of us.
What a time! So how about the move from something so small and intense to something as big as Motion…
Al: We did the Thekla and another spot for a few shows, and Sunday night thing with the Full Cycle guys, then we moved on to Motion. The first Motion was Chase & Status, Sub Focus, Groove, Hazard, us. Zinc and Redlight in another room, then Jakes had Hench in the other room with Plastician and N-Type. It was huge and blew our minds a bit. Just like you said, we’d gone from these small but very intense nights to these huge raves.
RUN’s always been known for the personal touch, so that must have been hard to retain when you’ve scaled up.
Al: I think you can tell when people are doing things for the right reasons. RUN has never been a money thing. It was never a money thing. We’d bring the Dirt Soundsystem to Native every single week. To our knowledge we were the only crew to do that in that club. All that extra effort and those details still exist now. We spent a lot of time on the artwork, for example and work with local artists to try and support people and stand out. We always want to look different and be as fresh and creative as we can be.
So at what point during all of this did you start scoring for movie trailers? That’s a pretty fresh and creative move…
Jon: We had the label, D-Style, and that had been going well for a long time. But when the whole vinyl thing changed, and the internet changed things, we wanted to explore different ways to create revenue streams. Syncing and licencing were obvious options and we got in there very early. We did some great syncs with some computer games and, off the back of that, we went to America and met some people involved in the trailer world and decided we’d really try for some opportunities in that world. It’s so inspiring and exciting – growing up and watching movies like Blade Runner and all these amazing films we’d been sampling, then to be invited into that world was an honour.
Trailers are a world within a world. They’re nothing to do with the film soundtrack, right? I found that quite mad when I first learnt that fact…
Al: Yeah it’s very rare you get in film music in the trailer. There’s a whole bunch of reasons but it’s down to the fact that one role is involved in the making of the movie, the other is to sell the movie. We don’t even see any images. We’re just given a brief.
You don’t even see photos? No visuals or storyline or anything?
Jon: You don’t get anything. They’re spending millions on these movies, they can’t be sending it out. If it was to leak it would be a problem. You might see some images or photos if you’re scoring an advert or a game but it’s very rare.
You’ve won awards for this work, right?
Jon: Yeah we won awards for the Blade Runner campaign. That was inspiring to work on.
Amazing. Do you find yourselves in Hollywood?
Al: We’re based in the UK. It’s all online. We do a lot of conference calls but the turn around on these things is very quick.
People need things yesterday!
Jon: It’s cool, though. It’s a challenge and it’s great. We had a lot of different businesses all juggling, labels, events, syncing and all that stuff. So we took a few steps back to really hone in on our skills.
Al: We were always going to take some time out to focus on it and develop it as a skill, but now we’re in a period of time where we can do both.
How have they influenced each other? Do you find you use techniques or approaches from one skill in another?
Jon: We’d actually like them to intertwine more. We’re still learning about how to put what we’re learning in the films into drum & bass. There’s a lot of stings and big musicality to it and that probably doesn’t shine though in our drum & bass.
So first up production-wise is Kaos Reigns. When you started writing drum & bass again was it like turning on a tap? And what’s next?
Al: While we’ve been doing the movie stuff we’ve been making drum & bass ideas but not done anything with them. We put a lot of time into creating artwork and physically make an object, physically make it, photograph it. It’s why we set up a label in the first place. Having that creative control.
Jon: Yeah, so we never stopped writing it. And every time we had a RUN on we wanted to make some new music to play but we kept it for ourselves. Then the time came when we decided to start putting them out…
Al: We’re sitting a load of stuff and have more things planned for the label. The label was set up last year and we released The Creeper with Crtical Impact, Skibadee and Break. Our second release is this one-off track then shortly after that Critical Impact.
Al: Yeah that’s coming soon. He has an album.
Jon: We’ve known Will for ages, the first RUN All Day he was playing the Creeper track and we both went ‘what is that?!’ We needed it, we wanted to create something for it. It grew and grew. He’s been around for a while, so that gave him a lot of confidence.
That was also a theme with D-Style. Championing new talent and building things up.
Jon: It’s our ethos. Creativity, positivity, moving forward, creating good things and leaving things in the best shape we can. That’s the priorities. So when we see people like Will and they’ve got something wicked going on it’s great to help. It’s great to be involved in good stuff bottom line.
There’s a strong culture of that in Bristol!
Al: It’s all we know, really. We just like doing cool stuff, we want to see everyone do well. That’s truly what it’s all about, right?
D*Minds – Kaos Reigns is out August 16 on RUN Music
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Author: Dave Jenkins