Stateside Drum & Bass: A conversation with Quadrant, Iris & Kid Hops

So if you don’t know about the “206” LP sampler that recently came out on commercial suicide, you’ve slept on this one. But not to worry, as of next week the LP “206” will be out on Commercial Suicide, any serious drum and bass head really needs to go check it out! We thought it would be good to have a general chit chat with the Seattle based producers that are Quadrant, Iris and Kid Hops about the album….

Firstly, I have to say wow! What an album. How did the three of you come to meet, and how did the collaboration come together?

Quadrant: I met Karen at a Drum and Bass show here in Seattle. We hit it off and then got married. I think I might have skipped over some stuff but those are the broad strokes. I’ve known of Kyle for years but we didn’t really start talking until I moved back to Seattle from Philadelphia in 2006. We’d been talking about getting into the studio for a couple of years, and in 2012 we finally made it happen. Since then, we’ve had regular sessions one night a week, which has allowed us to consistently churn out material and nurture our working relationship.

Iris: I think you *definitely* skipped over some stuff. Leigh and I actually didn’t even start working together on tunes until about a year after we were married. It had always been something that I was interested in and he spent some time encouraging me to come join him in the studio before I finally decided to give it a go.

Kid Hops: Cool! Thanks for your kind words regarding the album. I’m thrilled you enjoyed it! Leigh and Karen and I originally met in the clubs. I had known of Karen for ages as a very talented D&B DJ playing out in Seattle. I always really enjoyed her sets & selections. I met Leigh when he moved back to Seattle from Philly and I had enjoyed his tunes and his DJ sets. After Leigh & Karen got married, we had discussed all getting together in the studio….and because of all our busy schedules, it took years to come together. We eventually made it happen, and quickly discovered we had a number of shared interests in production, and shared sonic references. We got on really well in the studio, and so we made our studio sessions a recurring priority. In short, we like hanging out, and a recurring studio “appointment” is a great excuse to see each other weekly.

There are so many styles of tracks on there how long did it take to make the LP, and with such a varied assortment of beats where did you find the inspiration for it all?

Quadrant: We were working on the album project in earnest for about a year and a half, though some of the tunes were started earlier (one of them as early as 2005!). I think the varied styles reflect our individual tastes– we like a wide variety of music both outside Drum & Bass and within the genre, so we couldn’t just stick to one type of tune.

Iris: A lot of our inspiration also came from our hometown of Seattle itself. We pulled a lot of sounds and ideas from the city, from the rain storms to the the public transit system.

Kid Hops: Inspiration is all around us; it’s endless. And making the time to create a final, presentable product from the inspiration is the ongoing aspiration. The “206” album is a very accurate representation of our individual tastes, how they overlap, and where they diverge.

Where did the commercial suicide link come from? I’m a huge fan of the label must be like being like a kid a Christmas when you found out the news.

Iris: Leigh and I linked up with Tom awhile back during a show we’d played together in Portland, Oregon. Not too much later he stuck our tune, Depth Sounder on his mix for Sun and Bass. Since the tune was still unsigned at the time we took the opportunity to guilt/see if he might be interested in it for Commercial Suicide. I think that was really kind of the point we got to talking to Tom a lot more and discovering we had a great rapport with him. I think it was during a conversation with Leigh about artist albums that he ended up floating the idea of seeing if we were interested in creating an album for him. The obvious answer was yes of course! It’s such a fantastic label to be a part of and we love working with Tom. Since there’s so much diversity and boundary pushing already in the Commercial Suicide label it really made it the perfect fit for an
album project for us. Tom provided us with invaluable feedback on the direction while also being open about letting us do our own thing.

Kid Hops: I have known Klute for over a decade. We originally met when I supported him on a DJ lineup in Seattle, and we have always stayed in touch. I have been listening to Klute’s music since 1996. I have always respected him for his unique take on drum & bass both as a talented artist, and as an onpoint A&R scout with Commercial Suicide. To have his enthusiastic support for our music is inspiring and very, very humbling. To have the creative latitude to write an album for Commercial Suicide is a dream come true.

So what can we expect from you in the future, is there anymore projects in the pipeline planned?

Quadrant: We’re always working on new stuff– we’ve some got collabs with each other and other friends from here and abroad that need to be finished. I’ve got a couple tracks done with NC17 that are ready to go out on Dispatch in the near future, and Karen and I are finishing up a release for Vandal Records which will hopefully be ready by early next year. There are some other exciting projects percolating as well, but we’d rather talk about those when they’re ready to go– we’re focused right now on exposing as many people to the Commercial Suicide album as possible!

Kid Hops: We three do not sleep enough, and we have an unquenchable appetite for creation, so there are always projects on the go! We’ve got some exciting things to announce after “206” is released on Commercial Suicide October 16.

Do you have a favourite plug in, or go to one that has to be used on every track?

Quadrant: This might not sound glamorous, but we have a preset in Ableton that includes a high pass filter for every track. We don’t necessarily use it on subs, but on everything else it saves us tons of time and helps ensure a clean mix further down the road.

Iris: You can’t really go wrong with anything from uhe. One of my personal favorites that we use almost constantly is Diva. Also ValhallaDSP, which has amazing reverb plugins at a very affordable price. Fun fact, the creator of Valhalla lives in Seattle!

Kid Hops: I cosign Karen’s excitement for Valhalla I simply cannot get enough of that
amazing little plugin… and the user interface is lovely, too. Fun, inspired, simple & effective. I love it!

What advice would you give for aspiring producers? 

Iris: Finish your tunes! There are so many amazingly talented aspiring producers out there and the biggest mistake I see them make is not finishing a tune! It doesn’t need to be perfect to call it done, but start learning when to call a tune finished and move on to something new. Getting a tune finished is one of the hardest things you’ll be learning how to do and it needs practice too, so get finishing! I also like to refer to this great monologue on creativity from This American Life radio producer and host, Ira Glass:

Quadrant: That’s great advice. Also to paraphrase Ira Glass from that video, this stuff is hard for everyone, it’s a struggle and it isn’t supposed to be easy. The victories can be few and far between sometimes, but when they happen there’s no feeling like it in the world.

Kid Hops: I absolutely echo Quadrant & Iris finish those cuts! In addition, remember that any creative effort can only be a snapshot in time are a reflection of what you know, and what you’re able to convey, at that moment.

I’ve not been to America yet, but I’m hoping to change all that soon. As this album is of such a high standard, it got me thinking about the Drum & Bass scene out there. And I was wondering how it is out there? With LP’s like this coming from across the pond things must be good, right?

Iris: Since America is so big and spread out it’s hard to characterize the scene as a whole. It really varies from place to place with some places having headliners every weekend, but other places maybe only having a small and dedicated scene of locals. There are definitely quite a few talented producers spread out across the states doing some great things in DnB right now. Homemade Weapons has been holding down the minimal vibes, Legion and Logam are now repping Ram, Bachelors of Science have been around forever, etc, etc. If I get to naming more this will go on forever!
Locally for us, Seattle has been super blessed to have a number of regular nights including a long running weekly, DnB Tuesdays (will turn 17 in November!), several monthlies (Onset, Soma, Deep N Bass) as well as the occasional one off. All nights bring through some really amazing talent and are not to be missed.

Kid Hops: Karen is spot on with her assessment of the US scene. There are steadfast footholds for D&B dotted across the US and it’s difficult to characterize the scene as a whole. I’m excited by the young talent that is emerging from the US right now: Chorux, Consouls, Black Lab, Ownglow, Justin Flite, Liminal. Similarly, long established US artists are really coming into their own, and having a creative renaissance: Random Movement, Submorphics, Flaco, Gridlok, Bachelors of Science, Sinistarr,
Legion & Logam, Demo, Cease and Homemade Weapons all seem especially inspired right now, and are really stepping forward with an evolved, individual sound that is all their own.


Is there anything else you’d like to mention. Any tours, dates or radio shows coming up?

Quadrant: We’re scheduled to do Stunna’s Green Room show on Bassdrive October 14th, which should be archived after the fact. There are some things in the works beyond that, but you’ll want to pop by our respective Facebook pages to keep up to date.
Iris: Leigh and I will also be playing Portland on November 7th for a group called Basscult!

Kid Hops: I co-host a weekly radio program named “Expansions” on KEXP 90.3fm Seattle / The show has been on the air for 21 years, and is one of the longest running electronic music mixshows on radio in the US. I rotate the duties as host with long time friends Riz and Masa. You can hear me host “Expansions” every first Sunday of the month, 9pm until Midnight, Pacific Time (GMT 8). It’s live on FM in Seattle, streams worldwide online, and is archived for streaming for 2 weeks every time. I am also an enormous Jamaican music fan I host a weekly reggae radio show named
“Positive Vibrations” every Saturday morning 9am ‘til Noon on KEXP 90.3fm, as well. We three are busy DJingtogether and individually all over the place. As Leigh mentioned, social media is the best way to keep tabs on us, and I always post my radio and club dates to and Facebook.

Massive thanks for taking the time to speak with us! 🙂

Words: Commotion

Quadrant: Big ups yourself!
Kid Hops: Thank you for your interest. Respect!
Iris: Cheers!