Heist Interview – ‘Platinum Breakz 4’

On the 28th April, after a 13-year gap, the iconic and eagerly awaited ‘Platinum Breakz’ series returned!

‘Platinum Breakz 4’ undeniably continues the timeless legacy of Metalheadz. It’s an album that perfectly represents all things brilliant in drum and bass, and it is a distinct embodiment of all the things we love about this music.

Featuring a diverse array of tunes by some of the genres most talented artists, one such artist, Jim Muir, otherwise known as Heist, stopped by and had a chat with us….

Metalheadz is a label credited with helping turn drum and bass into what it is today. The labels highly influential ‘Platinum Breakz’ series has without a doubt contributed to this. Heist gave us an insight to what he feels the series represents.

“I was in my teenage years when ‘Platinum Breakz 1’ came out, I knew a little bit about Metalheadz but I was still quite young. I saw the album in a record shop and I just thought, “I’m going to buy this, I don’t even need to listen to it to know that it’s going to be good” – and it was, it was amazing. The variety of different sounds on the ‘Platinum Breakz 1’ LP was just not being done by anybody else, as much of the Metalheadz stuff at the time wasn’t, they were leading the way, they had the artists and they had the sound. It was very shaping for me because quite a few of the tunes on there are still today some of my favourite drum and bass tunes. ‘The Unofficial Ghost’ by Doc Scott for example, it sent shivers down my spine when I heard it, and it always will. So the album really was quite integral to shaping the person I am today.”

“As time went on ‘Platinum Breakz 2’ and ‘Platinum Breakz 3’ came out, and again, they were just really good compilations of music that covered all spectrums, so to speak. This is something that’s still being emulated today with ‘Platinum Breakz 4’, there’s a wide range of artists on there and it’s a good representation of the genre. It’s an album series that’s integral to the scene.”

How did Heist’s contribution to ‘Platinum Breakz 4’ – ‘Great White’ – come about? 

“‘Great White’, the track that features on the album was conceived in South Africa, it was started there and it was brought home. I worked on it for many months, not everyday, but it was something that grew and developed as time went on. It’s not the sort of thing I’d usually do, I’m known for my club bangers and my more weekend tunes, but it’s the kind of thing Goldie picks up on from me and I’m really happy and incredibly proud of it being on a Metalheadz ‘Platinum Breakz’ album.”

Heist is currently working on his second EP to release on the label, he gave us a bit more detail about what we should be expecting.

“I’ve previously done an EP for Metalheadz, it was a while ago, and it was something that I really enjoyed doing because, as I said, I’m known more for my weekend party music as opposed to my longevity music. This is something I want to change, I’m getting older now and labels like Metalheadz can give you the opportunity and the scope to go wherever you want.”

“With the forthcoming EP I’m aiming to get 4-6 tracks done, and I’m aiming to work with some original vocalists and to put some original vocal tracks together. I wanted to do a soul track, and that’s something I think I’ve now captured. I’ve given it to Goldie and Ant, and they’re both really happy with it.”

“With this EP I’m trying to mix the rough with the smooth, I’m having some vocalists on there, but there’s also going to be darker elements. ‘In Pursuit’ is a finished track for the EP, it has an almost electric guitar intro then it comes in with Photek and Optical type influences. I really want to have that contrast, I’m the sort of artist that can make those styles so putting it together for Metalheadz gives me the opportunity to do that without people questioning it. There are not many labels that I could put together a package of music where it has both darker styles and lighter styles, it really needs to be one or the other with the majority of labels, and I love Metalheadz for that.”

As mentioned, Heist is principally known for his dance floor music. Whilst releasing on Metalheadz, he also releases on labels at totally opposite ends of the spectrum such as Hype’s ‘Playaz’. Producing music of this kind of subgenre diversity seems to be quite a rare occurrence in the drum and bass…

“I see in my genre of jump-up that hardly anybody seems to deviate from that kind of sound, and I think they should. I’m not pointing fingers and saying that this is something that’s wrong, but to some extent, I do find it a bit sad. They’re talented guys and I’m sure they could get together pieces of music that weren’t jump-up. Perhaps it’s just not in their target sights though, and there’s nothing wrong with that, if you’re on your road and you’re happy with the direction you’re going then why stray from it?”

“Maybe some people fear they’re going to alienate an audience by putting out a certain kind of music and it not being what their audience is used to. In my opinion, I kind of like that… I like the fact I might surprise them. Maybe some people won’t like it, but you’ll pick up different fans and you’ll get the attention of DJs that might not necessarily, usually, be listening to you. Everybody has his or her own opinion though and ultimately that’s a personal thing, music’s a personal thing, but it’s just that, it’s an opinion, not the be-all and end-all.

Heist is Goldie’s engineer, speaking of this, he affectionately put it that: “we’re in our eighth year which is an amazing feat because the guy is absolutely crazy… I love him to bits, but he really does push me to the limits beyond I even push myself”.

“To tell the story of how it came about, I was getting supported by Bailey on 1xtra, he was playing a couple of my tunes one night, and Goldie and Chris happened to be listening in. Chris was Goldie’s manager at the time and he gave me a call pretty soon after enquiring about the track. Chris and Goldie both really liked it, I thought “is this some kind of joke, is somebody winding me up”, I couldn’t believe this could be happening!”

“After that call, Goldie started getting in touch and that was incredibly special for me. He invited me over to his house, and I mean this is moment I’d always dreamed of, he’s somebody I’ve always looked up to, so I felt I needed to take some music to offer him. I’m not sure if he was expecting me to, but I went over there with a CD, played it to him, and I’ve never seen anybody react to my music like Goldie did, he must have shook my hand about a dozen times, he was so thankful that I’d bought some tunes and that I was up for being involved… For me it wasn’t even a question, of course I wanted to be involved.”

“He took all of the music, signed it to Metalheadz and I was just getting over this massive experience when he was like “you know, you’re a really talented guy, how would you feel about engineering some music for me?”.  Now, I’d previously engineered for Peshay but I’ve never really seen myself as an audio engineer. I told Goldie “to be honest, I don’t really see myself as good enough to deliver just yet”, but Goldie was very adamant that he wanted it to happen and a few weeks later I started engineering for him.”

“We’ve been at it pretty much ever since; we’ve produced 2 Rufige Kru albums, and many remixes of massive artists who I could have never dreamt of being involved with. It’s been an amazing experience and I wouldn’t change it.”

Has engineering for other artists inspired Heist in any ways?

“When someone’s at the controls, they’re telling you what to do so you don’t have to think about that… To some degree that vision from the person, it can be so much bigger than you on your own. I mean I’m capable of doing whatever I need to do to make whatever I need to make, but sometimes having that knowledge clouds you.”

“The vision is integral and Goldie has that, he has it more than anyone I’ve ever worked with. I’ve taken a lot from Goldie, he’s a very inspirational guy and as you know he’s much more than just a music artist, he’s a bit of everything. Working with him over the years has definitely influenced me in my music and also in the way I live my life, to not say that would be a lie.”

In recent times, drum and bass has been doing particularly well at a commercial level. It seems there’s an on-going debate surrounding underground and overground forms of the genre, Heist gave us an insight to his thoughts on this.

“The underground is incredibly important because it’s where everybody starts. I get quite irritated when I see people getting annoyed that artists have gone ‘commercial’. Fresh was underground for years and he paid his dues, he made so much music towards the underground he deserves to be doing whatever he feels is right. Artists like Fresh, and Chase & Status, they started underground so it’s up to them where they go next as they worked hard for it. Look at Sigma, they’ve just got a number 1 in the charts and they’ve come from the underground, the underground spurned them, it was a starting benchmark and it propelled them to where they are today. This idea of people selling out and making commercial music is nonsense because we all want to be as successful as we can… does it mean that once you get thousands and thousands of fans you’re no longer successful? Of course it doesn’t, the purest will hate you but that’s a bit of a sad attitude if you ask me.”

“I’m quite happy being the artist I am, I never thought I’d be where I am so I count every day as a blessing. I believe that one day I could perhaps make a track that crosses over, and I’ve been close a few times. I think it’s something that has to come naturally though, you can’t look at those commercially successful artists and try to replicate what they’ve done, it has to happen on a progression, I don’t think you can go off on a little voyage or mission to be the next Subfocus for example, I think the underground has to let you go, you have to ‘graduate’, so to speak.”

“It’s like I said earlier, music is such a personal thing and we hold on tight to what we love, but this doesn’t mean that what we don’t like isn’t good. A lot of people don’t like jump-up, that’s fine, but I love jump-up, I find there’s something about playing jump-up in a rave that I don’t get from any other type of drum and bass. Some people frown on me for it, and that’s cool, but it’s just opinions.”

What should we be looking out for from Heist in the coming months?

“Out right now is my first EP on my platinum label, Sumo Beatz. ‘Pest Control EP’ is a 6 track EP of literally dance floor fodder, dance floor bangers that are made for the big raves.”

“Next up is a 6 track EP with DJ Pleasure on Hype’s label, Playaz. I’ve got a collaboration on there with MC Fats which is a real deep tune, almost Metalheadz like in style, but there’s some jump up on there as well.”

“I’ve got ‘Deep in the Lab’ Vol 1 which is on my label Co-Lab coming up. That’s going to be a continuation of various artists series’ and it’s aimed more at the deeper styles of drum and bass. I’m really looking forward to that, and it’s already getting support by the likes of Fabio and Calibre which is great.”

“Then in the summer we’ve got the ’10 years of Co-Lab’ LP coming out. Again, it’s going to be on my label Co-Lab and it’s a celebration of the time we’ve been in the game. It’s going to be various artists and it’s going to be across the board, from tech to liquid to jump-up.”

“The Metalheadz EP will be in the second/ third part of the year and it’s something I’m really excited about. There’s no musical boundaries at Metalheadz, it’s the best platform to put out open minded music!”

Metalheadz ‘Platinum Breakz 4’ is available to buy in digital format, as a CD, or as 4x 12″ over at the Metalheadz store

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