Amoss & Fre4knc // Interview

The formidable combo of Amoss & Fre4knc return to Dispatch Recordings with a fresh EP Watermark which will see a number of juicy instalments. Individually superb, but when producing together, Amoss & Fre4knc are another beast altogether; an entity capable of untold chaos, with a proven track record. 

Today sees Amoss & Fre4knc’s latest offering drop exclusively on the Dispatch bandcamp page and it comes in the form of a 4 track EP titled Watermark Volume 1. The release boasts tracks that have been doing serious damage on the club circuit for some time but are now finally seeing the light of day.

We had a catch up with Bertran, James & Andy ahead of this release to chat about what’s been going on behind the scene’s, the idea behind Watermark, and briefly touch on *that* news dropped earlier this week . There may even be an exclusive In-Reach guest-mix from Amoss as well…

Amoss & Fre4kncNice one for taking some time to chat to us guys, how’s it going?

James – Ye all good, you’ve caught me just after finishing a massive bowl of carbonara so I’m in a food coma typing this.

Bertran – All good man, thanks for your time as well. Busy like always, but busy with good stuff, so I can’t complain. 🙂

You have all been very busy of late, releasing albums (finally!), EP’s and gigging across the globe… Tell us in your own words what’s been going on?

B – I just came back from an amazing Asia tour which was really inspiring. I especially loved Japan and playing at the Great Wall of China. Now I’m back working hard in the studio to finish a lot of projects. I really love playing out but it’s also great to be back in the studio again. I’m also still vibing on the response which I had after my release of “Chapter 4” on Invisible Recordings. It’s been amazing.

J – It’s been an amazing year so far and the wait and build up to releasing the album was as real for us as it was for you guys waiting for it haha, but it’s great to see it finally out there and I love seeing people’s reactions as I tease it in the mix. I toured across the UK, through Europe and also a debut visit to South Africa which I cannot wait to get back to, easily a highlight of the year so far. Other than that, I‘ve finally been able to work in the studio again now the heatwave has passed. It honestly hasn’t dropped below 28 degrees in that room.

Let’s chat about the concept behind the Watermark series, was there a particular vibe you wanted to nail with these releases?

B – We’ve done a lot of music together so first the plan was to make an album together as well after the Dispatch Dubplate release. Working with Amoss is going so smooth as we are on the same vibe and we love each others work. Later we decided to split the album into various EPs and Watermark Vol. 1 is here now. The particular vibe is our own sound actually, but still with some variation vibe-wise as well. But I think that is the case anyways in all our releases. Some are more oldskoolish / broken. Some are more tech step-ish. The next volumes will be like this as well. All in all I think every tune needs to stand out and have their own theme. That is my main goal for every bit actually.

It was pretty clear from the releases even before the Dispatch Dubplate EP that this combo worked extremely well so it’s great to see that Watermark will see further instalments. What made you decide to split the album into a series?

J – We were working on these track simultaneously with myself and Andy slogging through the final stages of the album, and going from experience and the sheer energy and time that goes into writing an album, we thought it best to break it down into sections giving us a bit more time and freedom to work on just four tracks at a time. We aim to leak out music here and there keeping people waiting and guessing what might come next rather than handing it to you on a platter.

How did the link up with MC Swift come about? Was the tune originally created with the idea of having lyrics on, or is that something that became apparent after making it?

J – Bertran had the connections when it came to including MC Swift on this track, he said he had a mate who can spit bars. That old chestnut haha. But it worked out really well on the track and his accent gives him a very unique style of delivery.

B – Yeah I have known Arshad for a long time and I consider him as a friend. He hosted quite a lot of my sets as well in the Netherlands which always worked out really well. We have a great connection. Once he visited my studio in Groningen, I recorded his vocals and instantly built a beat around it. The base of “Warning” was born and I sent the stems to James. James tweaked it really good and later I finished the whole tune.

Those eagle-eared of us will know you’ve been sitting on these tunes for a fair old while now, teasing fans in sets for months, (if not years) and now they are finally seeing the light of day. Do you feel the revival of the dubplate culture is reinvigorating the scene?

J – I’ve spoken to Bertran before about certain Soundcloud pages where they chop tracks from mixes and post them up, and ‘Warning’ was somehow correctly identified and posted up. Where they got this information is another question, but I love that people have the drive to scour through mixes and uploading tracks to spread the word of the tunes they love. This has to play a part in boosting dubplate culture in drum and bass and I can guarantee there are loads of groups out there sharing mixes, comparing notes on who they think wrote each track.

B – I love to play out some exclusive bits which no-one has. As a DJ that makes you a bit more special as well, especially when you are playing for a crowd which knows their tunes. It’s just another way to stand out, next to mixing skills IMO. For some tunes I even changed the track title to ‘LOOK AT YOUR OWN F*CKING SCREEN REMIX’ as too many people were checking my Pioneers when I’m playing the special bits, haha. When they read the title their faces are priceless.

What’s the studio atmosphere like when you make tracks? Is Bertran still “back seat driving” as James has described before?!

B – I’m only back seat driving when I’m in James’ studio, as James is working in Ableton which I’m totally not familiar with. James is the back seat driver when he’s in my studio as I’m working in Cubase. Working with different DAWs has its pros and cons.

J – I like to think I know what I’m doing when round at Bertrans on Cubase, clicking all over the place and ruining the project with Ableton shortcut commands. After a while of this Bertran normally calms me down with a stroopwaffel and I sit back in my chair for a while.

Mmmmm Stroopwaffel…

So it would be safe to say we would be doing everyone a massive injustice by ignoring the rather large elephant in the room… It was only a few days ago that Andy announced he is stepping away from production and DJ’ing. James, how do feel about steering the Amoss ship solo? Will you still be sending Andy premasters for the final nod of approval?

J – We’ve been discussing this topic for some time now and had time to adjust over these months and work out what I want to do next. I feel extremely excited to share new music I have been working on on my own and collaborations with others which will always keep that Amoss sound alive. I do still send Andy music to get hyped about and he will in no way be dropping away from helping me out behind the scenes. A few Cranium Session podcasts have been lined up so this isn’t the last you’ll hear from him.

So Andy, you aren’t completely stepping away from Drum and Bass (I mean no-one can ever really can they?), tell us more about this exciting new venture?

Andy – I definitely don’t think I ever could leave Drum and Bass fully and that was never my intention, it’s a genre I’ve been in love with for years. I’ve been working in the music industry outside of Drum and Bass for a good few years and have always loved being label side, working with artists to promote their music, I’d always thought about setting up a label myself but it was all a bit overwhelming, so when my good friend Tom at Flexout asked me if I wanted to work with him instead I couldn’t really say no to the opportunity, it’s a label I’ve always loved the output of and it feels like a perfect fit really. So that’s me now outside of my other jobs and interests, I’m a co-owner of Flexout Audio which I’m really excited to be involved in. It’s not actually too new to me now though, I’ve been working with Flexout Audio behind the scenes for over a year now actually! But that’s what it will be, very much behind the scenes which suits me fine at this stage haha.

Bertran, what’s it been liking working with these two? Any highlights you can share?

B – Well, it has been an absolute pleasure since day 1. Many years ago they asked me to do a collab and I was pretty stoked. Since then we didn’t stop to make tunes together actually. It’s going so smooth, mostly because of our visions in Drum & Bass are very similar, and because we like each other in person as well. When we are all together in the studio, sometimes it wasn’t really productive, as we were mostly laughing and drinking beer. I know I have my own way of explaining an idea what I have in mind. I just sing, beatbox or make the sounds with my voice, and when I’m finished they both laugh at me. I just keep going until it’s done though, haha.
When I heard Andy is leaving Amoss, I was a bit in shock. I totally understand his reasons, but it’s sad that a great colleague is leaving as a producer. Andy and I met thanks to Drum & Bass and because of this we are friends. I’m very thankful for that. James and I will do our best to keep his soul alive in our collabs. His last feedback was: make something else than rollers. Ok Andy, we will. Andy: Thanks for everything and see you soon.

 

The relationship with Dispatch grows ever deeper with this new series and it’s even got its own personalised catalogue number (fancy!). What’s it like working with Ant and the Dispatch crew?

 

J – Working with Ant is tiring, especially when I’m as stubborn as he is when it comes to having our say haha, but I think over the years i’ve grown on him and he was open ears with our concept for this series, right down to exactly how we wanted the design of each EP to look. He was the one who took it a step further with the marble vinyl which tops this off as an exclusive package. The rest of the Dispatch crew are alright i guess…

B – Dispatch has been one of my favourite labels since I started DJ’ing in 2000. It still feels unreal that Dispatch is releasing my music. Working with the Dispatch crew is great as they are so professional. Despite the fact that the vinyl market is decreasing, they still wanted to invest in this project. I’m really stoked about the fact they have trust in us.

So James, you have jumped into the mix for us as well, what we can expect to hear?

J – For this mix I wanted to keep it lively and recreate the kind of set I would play out live, so expect a lot of energy, a lot of Amoss & Fre4knc collabs along with some music from artists like War and Survey who are smashing it right now. Also some classics thrown in there that have never strayed too far from the collection, as well as a remix I’ve recently finished hiding in their too.

Before we go, what’s planned for the rest of 2018? Can we expect to hear further instalments of the Watermark series any time soon?

B- We’re finishing Volume 2 at the moment which is going quite well. I also recorded a new MC Swift vocal a couple of weeks ago, maybe that will be on there. Further I’m working on various remixes and solo EPs which I can’t tell anything about yet. If you want to hear some previews, come check me out when I’m playing. 😀

J – Ye we’re trying to wrap up Volume 2 at the moment which is sounding really nice and you may have heard a couple of them if you’ve seen me play live over the past year. I’ve got some collaborations with Survey which are in the final stages, a new remix will be airing in the coming months, and basically just writing with no end goal or label to try and stay at my best creatively. A few people have been calling for a redemption VIP so who knows, that may become reality at some point?

A VIP of Redemption…?! You heard it here first! Big ups guys.

Remember you can buy the first instalment of the Watermark series right now exclusively from the Dispatch Recordings bandcamp store.

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