Anyone who can boast an EP release on a label curated by one of the most respected artists in the industry has got to be one to watch.
Consistently delivering weighty releases since their inception, and attracting attention from the right heads along the way, we thought it was time catch up with Bristol-based duo Ill Truth and talk about their highlights of 2017, their upcoming collaborative album & what we can expect from 2018.
So 2017 was a pretty great year for you guys, what were some of your highlights?
(H) I guess the biggest highlight would be the Symmetry EP, in terms of releases, it kind of propelled a few things for us. I think without it, we wouldn’t have the releases we have coming out.
(J) Yeah, that and the start of our international bookings, that kind of came last year.That and kind of stepping onto the scene I guess.
(H) Gig wise, we played some really crazy intimate shows last year, one in Hereford that was actually insane (laughs) big up the Twisted Sounds guys on that one.
(J) It was this mad little underground venue, quite dark in there and we were playing to an absolutely jammed out room, the atmosphere was just proper vibes.
Yeah, it was a pretty huge release! What was it like working with Break?
(H) Really, really cool. The turn around between us sending him tracks and getting them finished was quite short. He was really good to work with. He gave us some brutally honest feedback and gave us pretty much complete control over it too which was nice.
Did he have much of a say in the creative process or did he take more of a back seat?
(J) He’d mainly comment on the mixdown and stuff really. The main one was ‘After Hours’. The original tune was kind of different and he basically chopped a bit out of the tune, and looped it over and was like ‘that’s what it needs to sound like’. So we were like ok we’ll go with that then and to be fair it turned out way better (laughs)
(H) Yeah, it was mainly on the mixes, he was really good with the creative stuff, he kind of left us to our own devices.
(J) He just picked a few things like ‘don’t change these things, these are my favourite parts’ and then we just cracked on with it, job done.
Have you got plans to do anything more with Symmetry?
(H) Yeah, we haven’t confirmed anything yet, we did chat with him quite recently…
(J) I think he wants to do another thing for this year, like another four-track probably.
(H) Yeah, it’s not gonna be until late this year I don’t think…
(J) Yeah cos we’ve got releases sorted now til probably August time
(H) Yeah, we’ve got too much stuff to finish! (laughs)
(H) Not in any particular order but we’ve got one track coming out on the Intrigue album; a collab with Audiomission. We’ve got a two-track single coming out on Lifestyle music, big up Felix & Pete on that one and a track that’s part of a compilation on CIA.
(J) Then there’s four tracks & a remix on Flexout Audio, one of which you’re doing the vocal for…
Oi oi, yes I’m excited about that..
(J) And then a remix for Context Audio, and a remix for CIA.
(H) And a five-track EP for CIA as well.
So not too busy then…
(H) (Laughs) I don’t know if they will all be released this year but yeah, that’s just stuff that’s in the pipeline.
Would you say your work rate has increased from last year off the back of the success of the Symmetry release?
(H) I don’t think it has. There are more deadlines, so we’ve got to try and get stuff finished quicker but in terms of our work rate, it’s slowed down if anything from last year. We were at uni last year, we had a lot more free time.
(J) I think our workflow has increased so things are getting done faster, but there’s less time to get stuff done in. We’ve started making tunes specifically with labels in mind and are a bit more organised, but that’s it really.
With 2017 out of the way, your first big project of the year is your Ill Truth Presents album, talk me through it…
(J) It was an idea that I just came up with. I said to Haden wouldn’t it be cool to have an album where we can release some of our tunes that didn’t maybe fit on a specific label, and then involve established and up and coming artists either with no releases or very little, and kind of just get stuff out there while pushing the Ill Truth name.
(H) We had an idea initially to do a night, and we did a few Ill Truth Present’s takeovers at Motion last year which were really fun because it would just be us and like, friends of ours who we really loved and respected as DJ’s and producers. With the album, it was a similar story. Some people can be a bit put off by the whole big label thing so we were like, ‘we like your tunes, you’re our mates, there are no big labels bosses so yeah… give us your tunes!’ (Laughs)
(H) The ease of doing it all definitely stems from Lockdown Recordings, the label we’re releasing on. We’ve got a really, really good relationship with Ben who runs the label, he was our Tutor in college, he producers under the name Cybin and has done for quite a while. He gave us our first ever releases when we were under a different name and he’s the sort of guy you can just go to and say ‘here’s our EP’ and he’ll go, ‘Ok’. He’s got full creative trust in you. So with the album, we said it’s only fitting that it goes on Lockdown. I think Ben’s is one of the only labels that we would always release on, no matter what.
Have you ever thought about setting up your own label?
(Both) We’ve talked about it before but it’s too soon.
(J) If were a bit more established in a few years or something like that then yeah.
(H) I’d love to do it, but like Jay said you want to kind of push what we’re doing at the moment and build a name for ourselves before we do it. We would want to start a label that has the name to help push it for you. A prime example is like, Alix Perez with 1985 Music.
(J) And X-Trah with Cyberfunk.
(H) Spectrasoul with ish chat…it’s a good formula to do it and you’ve got an outlet for all your own music as well, so it’s a good way to keep your creative control. I think that’s the way forward in drum and bass at the moment and I also think it’s nice to have a project, kind of like your baby to nurture and stuff…
I guess this album is kind of like that to you guys?
(H) We’ll see what the response is first (both laugh)
(J) Yeah, we might have to put our baby up for adoption!
(J) It will be alright, I think it will do well we’ve put a lot of time and effort into it.
(H) I just hope people are feeling the tunes from the smaller guys as well as the bigger guys, because that was the main ethos behind the release, to give people a step on the ladder.
Do you have plans to make this album into a series?
(H) We’ve said we wanna do this once a year now.
(J) I think we’re gonna do maybe a remix EP later in the year, and a night in the year somewhere if we can find a venue, so that could be fun.
(H) Yeah, it will probably be like another Ill Truth Presents night, but Bristol is mad to lock down a venue!
Speaking of Bristol, is there anyone we should be keeping an eye on?
(H) Defraction, a really good friend of ours is in his really early days of producing but he’s got such a good ear for good music. The same with Defex. We live with him and he makes some really good stuff, the only thing we would say to him is just to get tunes finished! He smashes it out for like a month and ends up hating his tunes..
(J) Yeah, he’s got like mixdown disease… (laughs)
(H) Phaction is a good mate of ours, I think he’s definitely on the rise and he’s been making more sort of varied stuff, I think the next year he’s going to bring out some really good music. You’ve also got Hugh Hardie smashing it on Hospital…
(J) Huge Hardie (laughs)
(H) It’s just really nice seeing people we met when we moved here doing so well. Bristol is really strong. It’s strong as it is but the up and coming scene is amazing.
(J) I’ve got a theory about this. Because everyone around here is so good, and the standard is so high, you just sort of pick things up more naturally being around it all and naturally just grow towards it quicker.
And if you could pick anyone, who would be your ideal collaboration?
(J) (no hesitation) Break
Everyone says that!
(H) Rightly so, but mine would be Skeptical, so Ash if you’re reading this….lets fucking make a tune (laughs)
(J) It’s actually really funny because if you were to go through all the sketches I make and all the ones Haden makes, they gravitate towards Skeptical and Break basically (laughs)
(H) They’re the two producers where we’ll hear a track from them and instantly dissect it.
(J) I think that’s really what it’s about if you hear a tune and you’re like, how? Then that’s the inspiration
With another huge year on the cards, where can we expect to see you in 2018?
(H) We’ve got a few cool bookings coming up in Europe, we’re playing Munich in april, thats with Miso who’s on the album so looking forward to that.
(J) Then we’ve got Prague in March
(H) Belgium in June with the Lifestyle guys, um….other than that we’re just playing a bit more outside of Bristol which is good, that was the aim I think for this year.
(J) There’s also a couple of Fabric nights, we’ve just done one and we’ve got another towards the end of the year, other than that, we’re just sort of chilling…(laughs)
I’m not sure where you’re supposed to fit the time in to chill between all the plans you have for the year, but I’m sure you’ll work it out..
‘Ill Truth Presents’ is out now on Beatport, keep an eye out for their extended promo mix featuring an hour-long album mix hosted by Bristol’s Bluejay MC.