Some time way back in 2011, two good friends with a shared vision combined forces to form a record label dedicated to releasing only the finest music the underground drum and bass scene has to offer. Five years and one incredible back catalogue later their vision has become a reality as their latest output Taelimb & Conscience – ‘A Clean Cut’ EP has been marked as Flexout Audio’s 50th release, cause to celebrate!
It’s no secret that co-founder, label owner and all round nice guy Tom Retraflex has gained something of a reputation over the years for being the A&R guy of all A&R guys. What I mean by that is, if you want to see who will be heading the big labels next year, ask Retraflex because the chances are he’ll have already signed them to Flexout. This can be said for Hyroglifics, Philth, Amoss and Arkaik and without a shadow of a doubt I’m sure the same can be said for the creators of Flexout’s landmark 50th release – Taelimb and Conscience.
No strangers to the limelight themselves, Taelimb and Conscience have been an integral part of London’s drum and bas scene for many years. After an array of successful releases such as Taelimb’s ‘The Wookie Song/Wasteman’ and Conscience’s most recent release ‘Without Sleep/U Make Me Feel’ (a personal favourite of mine) all on Flexout Audio, anticipation has been high for their collaborative ‘A Clean Cut ‘ EP. What better way to celebrate such a milestone release for London’s finest label than to catch up with two of London’s most promising producers, here’s what went down . . .
Easy guys, thanks for joining us on In-Reach today! First and foremost I’d like to give you a huge big ups for your hot off the press ‘A Clean Cut’ EP on Flexout Audio, you’ve both killed it!
C: Massive thanks for the feedback InReach – really appreciated.
I imagine you must be really pleased with the outcome?
C: Yeah. I’m one of those people who would probably keep tinkering with productions forever and am never fully satisfied with the result – I think that keeps you focussed and progressive as your constantly striving for improvement. I think that when you are working on a project you can become so absorbed in the process and lose objectivity but once you said enough is enough, its done and leave it while and then listen back to it you hear it again from a fresh perspective and can appreciate in a different way and as a whole composition, rather than as a collection of sounds and frequencies. When you get to that point its cool and it just becomes a tune you play and enjoy.
T: Yeah i think we are both pleased now, there is always that point were you’ve heard the tune so much making it that you start to doubt whether it was any good to begin with, but now its finally coming out and I haven’t heard them for a while I actually quite like them!
Let’s start by talking a little bit about you both as a duo, what was it about each other’s production styles that made you want to write this EP together?
C: I’ve know Taelimb coming on 15 years now and we’ve been producing together on and off for a while but I think it was a few years ago when we made a conscious decision to collaborate – I think we reached that decision quite naturally as we are both into DnB in a big way and appreciated each others production styles and knowledge. We live round the corner from each other too so that helps.
T: Yeah we make a good team, John’s one of the few people I can give a track to and completely trust that what ever he does to it, I will like it! I think it helps that we’ve know each other so long and we both seem to like a lot of the same music. I think its been like that pretty much from when we first started making tracks together!
C: Our first collab was a tune called ‘Oxygen’ (free DL via our Facebook pages). We then did ‘Public Eye’ for Flexout which came out last year. Both these tracks had a similar sound which wasn’t intentional – it just naturally came out that way so we wanted to build on that with this EP. I think on ‘Tied Down’ we consciously went for a kind of sequel to Public Eye.
Has the EP been a work in progress for a long time now or did the tracks come together relatively easily?
C: A bit of both for each track . . . some took a looooonnng time. I think we started ‘Chasing Pads’ well over a year ago and went through 7 different versions before settling on what is being released.
T: And I’m still not happy with this version! Haha!
C: I made the first version of ‘Close’ in a day with all of the elements coming together real quickly and I think we worked on it together for another day and then tweaked it here and there – I think overall that was the easiest to come together. Part of it is finding time to work together – we seem to prefer being in the studio at the same time rather then bouncing ideas back and forth – I think we build up a vibe that way. We also have a rule that if one of us doesn’t agree on something then we don’t include it in the tune so making those decisions there and then is probably more conducive to the production process.
So which track would you say had you both vibezzzin’ out in the studio the most?
C: TIED DOWN (hands down smile emoticon).
T: Yeah blatantly, I think that has to be my favourite too, its the perfect balance of both our styles
When listening to your EP for the first time I was (obviously, pleasantly) surprised at the switch up of styles with ‘Fight Scene’. What inspired you to step away from the rollers and make a real break heavy track?
C: Taelimb should really answer this…
T: Hahaha well we love it all! Its nice to have something tear out on the EP! I have always been into an amen and had this track sitting around for a while. When we decided to do the EP together it seemed like a good idea to try and have a range of styles on it so we thought we should include it.
It recently came to my attention that your ‘A Clean Cut EP’ has been given the honourable title of “Flexout Audio’s 50th release”, that a touch! Did you guys feel the pressure start to rain down on you when you found out?
C: No pressure at all, just totally hyped about it! It really does mean a great deal to me – it shows faith in us and appreciation for the music. I’ve spoken to Tom Flexout Bassi about it and he was like “you two totally deserve it” which is Tom all over. I always feel like its a privilege to be part of a scene which has given me so much over the many years I have been into it, so to have what I feel is a milestone release is quite humbling, especially when you consider the artists that have been involved with Flexout over the years, making it what it is today which, there is no doubt, is a reliable and consistent label offering quality and often forward thinking DnB.
T: Yeah totally, over the moon that Tom thought it was strong enough to be the 50th release! Made my day! Proud to be part of the flex out family!
Neither of you are strangers to Flexout Audio now, Taelimb, you’ve had many successful releases such as ‘Wasteman’ and ‘Wookie song’ and Conscience you’ve obviously just recently stormed your way through with ‘U Make Me Feel’ and ‘Without Sleep’. What is it about Flexout as a label that appeals to you both so much?
C: Passion and quality. I have gotten to know a lot of the other artists and people behind Flexout and when we talk the passion just oozes out. Flexout put out my debut single which again shows real appreciation – to have a first release on an established label was again very humbling – and to have it come out on my birthday was just next level. Flexout are on big tings right now!
T: yeah everyone involved is so passionate about what they do and the label always comes through with strong releases! Its a wicked little family!
After demonstrating what a perfect collaboration can do I want to put a bit of an odd question to you. If you were to manufacture a 5 piece “drum and bass boy band” constructed solely on production talent, who would you choose and why?
T: Conduct, Xanadu, Fearful, Fre4knc and Minor Rain – all sick producers nice diverse range of styles would make for an interesting mix.
C: Arkaik, Taelimb, Doc Scott, Skeptical, Optical – ‘Cos they are all sick producers who have influenced me massively and whose music doesn’t date and is still in my (digital) bag! Nuff said
I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that after hearing the ‘A Clean Cut EP’ we’re all dying to know what else you’ve got in the pipeline. Any more releases lined up or is it back to the studio for you both?
T: I’ve got another EP coming out in March with a girl called Tiffani Juno, on Fatback Records, its not drum and bass but this girl is definitely worth checking out!! She’s really good and John’s (Conscience) also got a track on there! Im also working on a couple of bits with Facing Jinx so watch out for that, and a couple of tracks with the Ragga Twins!
C: I’ve done a remix of Falling Down by Shiver and MTWN which is due out on Flexout at some point plus I’ve got a solo EP planned for early 2016 again on Flexout. Plus me and Taelimb have at least 5 unfinished bits on the go, and there may be a remix of Without Sleep courtesy of ??????
Watch this space.!
And lastly, who’s smashing it for you at the moment? Who should we be watching out for?
C: Tephra and Arkoze – boi – they’re killing it for me right now – proper old skool influenced steppas! BAD. Mr Arkaik never disappoints, PRTCL, Cid Poitier (fffreesshnesss), Mystic State, Survey, Amoss and Fearful whose excursions into techno terror-tary is game changing if you ask me – SICK, Bredren, Phith . . . I could go on!
Thank you guys! Just before we go, any shoutouts?
C: To you and InReach for taking the time out to chat with us, Tom, Joe and all the Flexout crew (u know who u are) – mahoosive big up, anyone and everyone who has supported – thank you! And always to my missus Rachel who is the only person (other than me and Taelimb) I know who can handle the sound of a loud snare drum being looped for hours without going insane (or walking out!) – all the love in the world x!
T: Ogre,Runone, Janset and the rest of the Fatback Records family! All the flex out crew and anyone who has helped to support the music scene, big up!
If this is the first you’ve heard of Taelim & Conscience’s ‘A Clean Cut’ EP then don’t delay, head over to the Flexout Audio bandcamp page to bag your copy now!