Throwback Therapy – An Interview With Fixate

There’s an interesting resurgence happening in Drum & Bass right now. Nineties rave culture is being channelled prominently through the aesthetics of fashion and sonically across current UK dance music, with Jungle and Hardcore sensibilities transforming the experimental fringes of Drum & Bass and culminating in somewhat of a movement for the genre. One label renowned for its reputation for pushing the cutting edge is dBridge’s Exit Records. Their latest, EXIT056, is Fixate’s Throwback Therapy EP. This scorching release exhibits real flair from the exciting newcomer; with hardcore x jungle fusion of the title track and digital exclusive Sueno, to the tribal polyrhythms of Percussive Aggressive; the dancehall inflection of N20 and the dubbed-out half-time vibe of Alive, Fixate has proven himself as potently versatile.

We chatted to Fixate to get a little introduction and gain some insight into where he’s coming from…

Hey Fixate. Your debut EP has just dropped. That must feel pretty good! You’re just onto your second release with Throwback Therapy EP, following up from Pum Pum / System Malfunction 12″ on Diffrent Music in 2014, and your music has already been picked up by prestige label, Exit Records. What’s your musical background? Have you produced before?

Ez! It feels great to have it out there and I’m really happy with all the support and feedback I’ve had with it, bit of a surreal one to be honest as its a big step up for me! As for getting into producing I started messing around trying to make hiphop beats when I was about 16, so 8 years ago, after getting into DJ Premier’s productions I had to find out how to make tunes and just took it from there really. After a while I moved on to Dubstep/140 stuff until I started experimenting with 170 about 3 years ago or so which just felt more natural and I’ve had a lot of fun with it since whilst taking it much more seriously.

How did the Exit thing come about and how is it going?

Basically I was talking to Chimpo for a while then we just got on a collab and made ‘Dumb’ and ‘Bun It’ which ended up on his ‘Out an Bad’ EP released last October on Exit. Chimpo got me in touch with Dub Phizix who’s been supporting me since and helped me alot he got me in contact with more people. Sent a few more tunes to dBridge after he signed the Chimpo collabs and he asked me to do an EP not long after – which I obviously wasn’t gonna say no to!

Things are going really good with Exit though. I’ve learnt loads this year just from being around the those lot. They’ve all been proper supportive as well, even when I ask annoying questions they’ve probably heard before all the time haha. Musically, you’re left to do things completely your own way as well which is cool, even with the video for ‘Throwback Therapy’; I was just left to have it completely how I wanted to have and it was a laugh coming up with the ideas for it.

I caught you at an Exit event in Brighton beside Stray and boss man dBridge recently. Your hour in the booth was refreshingly diverse. What genres, labels and artists do you cite as influential to the sets you play?

Nice one, that was a good night! I like to play a mixture of different music, I love the darker eyes down kinda stuff from guys like Thing, Loxy, Clarity, Skeptical, Samurai/Cylon etc as well as the more half-time/breaky/hip-hop/jungle/whatever you wanna call it from Om Unit, Sam Binga, Hyroglifics, Coleco, Moresounds, Stray – the whole Ivy Lab 20/20 thing is awesome and obviously there’s tonnes of good music coming from the Exit camp. Oh and Hidden Hawaii is a cool label if you like you dub techno-esque stuff.

Diffrent is a label releasing some very interesting music too, they’ve signed a guy called Chills who has some wicked stuff which I play every set. Although I don’t really produce them often, I do play a fair few rollers – Calibre’s forthcoming EP is so good! But yeah, there’s way too many to mention though I could go on for ages. If you hear me play out you’ll hear a variety of different styles that i’m into.

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Your productions sound progressively arranged with perhaps less attention paid to the finer details but emphasising an over-arching idea that makes each tune on this EP unpredictable, fun and fresh. What’s been your approach during studio time and where do you draw your inspiration from?

I wouldn’t say I have a particular approach but I do often end up having an idea for a tune as a whole and sticking to that theme throughout. I often try to find a weird sample to see what ideas come of it then build around that idea. Having said that, sometimes I have the idea for a tune already which is what happened with Throwback Therapy and N2O.

There’s a lot of different music that influences me some artists in particular outside of dnb are Nightmares on Wax, Mr Dibbs, Digital Mystikz to name a few. I also listen to a lot of dub techno, can listen to those chords all day!

Within dnb, I’d say Sam Binga, Om Unit, Dbridge, Perez, Phizix (and loads of others of course) mainly because it showed me when I started out making 170 based music you can do your own thing that may not include elements of ‘traditional’ drum and bass if you wanna call it that and people are still accepting with an open mind to it. I reckon this gave me (and I’m sure many other newer producers) the confidence to not worry so much about what people are going to think about the music you’re making and just make it.

Sound-checking nineties hardcore and jungle within the title track and Sueno, there’s a definite nod to the formative genres of drum and bass as the title of the EP suggests. Noting for example the revivalist element of Fracture and Chimpo’s ’Hard Food’ recently on ‘Headz, what do you make of this acute resurgence and where do you see it going?

I think using those old skool elements is a lot of fun, even though I never experienced hardcore/jungle when it came through it’s cool to pay homage to a sound that has influenced our music so much whilst adding a new twist to it.‘Hard Food’ is a perfect example of that, but there’s loads of others too e.g. Om’s ‘Inversions’ EP. As to where it’s going, I’m not sure but people have always used those kind of elements. Moresounds is a guy who uses them really well; old skool elements but has his own sound with it. He’s on Fracture’s Astrophonica label too which makes perfect sense.

What’s striking of Throwback Therapy lies in its diversity. How did the EP come together this way?

It kind of came together naturally as I made a few of the tunes before I got asked to do the EP. I enjoy making different styles so it made sense to show people that. I don’t think it would of made sense to make something else too similar to Throwback or anything.

What’s on the horizon for you at the moment?

Been making new music and working with other people more; been working with Hyroglifics a lot. I’m involved with some projects with Exit too, can’t say anything more on those though. Also been DJing a lot more which is great, playing Outlook this year which I’m ridiculously hyped for! Overall though just making new music, having fun with it and seeing where I can take it really.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us!

Thanks for having me!

Throwback Therapy EP is out now on Exit Records. Grab your copy from from the online store at exitrecords.co.uk and all good records stores.

Exit Records: Facebook / Soundcloud

Fixate: Facebook / Soundloud

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