isolatedmix 114 – R.A.D.E
Our latest isolatedmix comes from R.A.D.E, an English artist who (at the time we first spoke) was living in my home of Los Angeles. We were introduced to each other after both he and Illuvia were included in a Bandcamp feature by Joe Muggs, and I thanked Joe for bringing R.A.D.E’s music to my attention, along with many other great releases in the article. It turned out both David (R.A.D.E) and I were both in LA, so had planned to meet up and talk all things music, but life got in the way and David unexpectedly moved to Barcelona earlier this year.
Mixing breaks, ambient, bass, and DnB elements, R.A.D.E’s music sits in that nostalgic territory for anyone who grew up listening to a wide variety of electronic music. Working anywhere between the dancefloor and the chill-out room, it’s a style that draws upon the best parts of each genre, sometimes across a single track, and is often caught varying in focus between each EP, making each of his releases so far, a lovely, varied listen.
As Joe Muggs, put it in the original Bandcamp article best; “The L.A.-based R.A.D.E. loves smooth textures and high production value in his outer-space inspired grooves. Occasionally, that can steer things towards the excesses of prog house (as on “Alta Vista” here); but more often, it works as an update of the warm ‘90s vibes of The Orb, Future Sound of London, and LTJ Bukem”.
With an obvious connection to a musical era and many heroes that I grew up listening to, I was keen to get to know what inspired the (so far) two lovely EP’s from the R.A.D.E camp.
ASIP: Your R.A.D.E catalog is still in the early stages with two mini-albums on Bandcamp – when did you start producing and what was the inspiration to begin R.A.D.E?
R.A.D.E: I’ve been making music for quite a while and put out a couple of releases under a different name on labels in the UK. This would have been mid 2000’s and I would say at that point I hadn’t really found “my sound” so there was a lot of exploration and experimentation but also a lot of procrastination which meant that not much got finished. When I moved to California in 2015 it felt like a new start and I had more of a creative urge than I had for a while, so I spent some time reflecting on the music that had shaped my taste over the years and tried to distill the common elements…The atmospheric nature of ambient music, the low end of dub and drum n bass, recycled breakbeats – these all seemed to be recurring motifs in a lot of the music that I loved, so I tried to weave them together with R.A.D.E into something that sounded contemporary and coherent.
Was it a surprise to be picked out and featured in the Bandcamp article?
Absolutely! Especially given the other artists that were featured – Illuvia, Special Request, Zed Bias, Distance – these are people whose music I really admire. I was very conscious of the fact that R.A.D.E is a new, self-released project and that I didn’t have any kind of profile or label support, so to find myself in that kind of company with my first release gave me a huge confidence boost and motivated me to get back in the studio. I should also shout out Joe Muggs at this point, who wrote the article for Bandcamp and introduced the two of us. His book “Bass, Mids, Tops” is a great window into the influence of UK soundsystem culture. Highly recommended.
Your music takes many sources of inspiration, can you tell us in your own words what influences your output?
In terms of musical genre, I already mentioned some of the reference points… I’m drawn to the more electronic end of the ambient spectrum, but breakbeats and bass have also been a constant musical thread for me whether via hip hop, breaks or D&B. A lot of the music that I love fuses those two things – the atmospheric, immersive aspects of ambient and the physicality of Soundsystem music.
I used to DJ chillout rooms and post-rave spaces and so R.A.D.E was partly inspired by that – I wanted to capture some of the communal energy and exhilaration of the rave and blend that with the more solitary, inner exploration that ambient music tends to encourage. There are a lot of interesting contrasts there I think – euphoria versus melancholy; introspection versus shared experience; listening versus dancing; headphone music versus Soundsystem music…
You recently moved to Barcelona, do you see this impacting your music in any way?
Difficult to say right now as I’ve only been here for a month or so. I think California definitely had a subliminal effect on the music. There’s a certain optimism, maybe idealism that is associated with the West Coast and I think that crept in there – albeit tempered with some good old British realism. One of the reasons that I’m drawn to the music of the 90’s is also that there was a lot of positivity and optimism about the future and technology’s role in it during that era. Obviously that’s become quite tainted in recent years, but it’s good to recapture some of that idealism at a time like this I think.
We previously spoke about how you used to DJ as well as produce, what came first and was the mix a nostalgic trip to your DJ days?
DJ’ing came first – just because of a love of discovering new music and sharing it with people. And I enjoyed the fact that in the spaces where I was playing, there was less pressure to make people dance and so you could experiment a bit more and play for people’s heads rather than their feet. Early on, I didn’t think that making music was an option for me since I don’t have any formal musical training, but once it dawned on me that Ableton Live was just another instrument, I dedicated myself to learning to play that and DJ’ing took a back seat. I rarely DJ at all these days, so the mix was an opportunity to dust off my record box and dig out some old favourites but I wanted it to look forwards as well as backwards, so there are quite a few recent tracks in there as well. I’m as excited about discovering new music as I ever was.
Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the mix and the tracks featured?
The mix is almost like a blueprint for the R.A.D.E sound really – it takes in quite a few of the influences that I mentioned earlier and transitions from spacey ambient dub into more breaks driven territory in the second half.
It’s book-ended by Carl Sagan – starting out with his famous “Pale Blue Dot” monologue and then the voice you hear in the final track “Touch Forever” is Sagan’s wife Annie Druyan. She’s talking about how they met and fell in love whilst working together on the Golden Record that accompanied NASA’s Voyager spacecraft. It’s like an interstellar love story – I loved the epic scale of that and the Pale Blue Dot speech. I return to that a lot when things get overwhelming and I need to regain perspective 😉
So the first two tracks (by Reagenz and A.P.L) are both perennial favourites of mine and then the Om Unit track that follows is taken from his “Acid Dub Studies” LP that came out earlier this year. Jim (Om Unit) is the type of producer that I really admire. He’s not confined by genre and is able to transition from one style to another in a really authentic way. Whether he’s making jungle, footwork, ambient or in this case electronic dub – the quality and consistency is never in question. There are a couple of pretty chill dubstep tracks on there from Ruckspin and Reso after that and then a bit of a lost classic (in my opinion). Jaguar’s “Odyssey” came out in 1998 I think on Rennie Pilgrem’s TCR label and is a great example of the kind of atmospheric breakbeat stuff that inspired R.A.D.E. That sort of sets the tone for the second half of the mix I suppose, although most of the tracks that follow came out in the last couple of years. MOY is from London and has been putting out some really emotive acid breakbeat records on Bandcamp. Long Island Sound are two lads from Dublin who have their own label called Signs of Space. The Will Silver track came out on LA’s Nice Age label and just seemed to be crying out to be mixed into Orbital’s “Belfast” (I’m sure I’m not the first to do this). Plus it was really nice to include Orbital because without them I never would have got into making electronic music in the first place. I remember reading an early interview with them and being struck by their punk DIY ethic – but instead of “buy a guitar and start a band” they applied it to computers, synths and samplers which I found much more relevant and inspiring. And then the last two tracks are both mine. “Witch U” is from my recent EP “Pacific” which was kind of a farewell ode to California and “Touch Forever” is from my debut EP which was called “The Overview”. If you want to know what R.A.D.E is all about I think the mix is a pretty good introduction – I hope you enjoy it.
01. Reagenz – Ä
02. Carl Sagan – The Pale Blue Dot
03. A Positive Life – The Calling (Loved ‘Ub Mix)
04. Om Unit – Rolling Stock
05. I:Cube – Le Dub
06. Ruckspin & Quark – Sunshine
07. Reso – Namida
08. Jaguar – Odyssey
09. Lone – How Can You Tell
10. MOY – Megatherium
11. Toke – Coast Line Thoughts
12. Long Island Sound – Shadows From Nowhere
13. Will Silver – We Can Talk|
14. Orbital – Belfast
15. Baile – Amae (Sasha Fabric 1999 Mix)
16. Barker – Paradise Engineering
17. R.A.D.E – Witch U
18. R.A.D.E – Touch Forever