UKF recently interview Punks head-honchos for their ‘Bosses’ series. Check the full article here and some excerpts of the interview below.
If you want a job done properly, do it yourself…
This is what our Bosses series is all about: Artists who have made the decision to develop their own independent brand from the ground up. Artists like Bristol-born, London-based beats/bass unit Stanton Warriors.
17 years deep into their game – and it is very much their own game as you’ll soon see – they continue to forge their own path. Not just as artists, but also as owners of their label Punks, an imprint which has experienced a wealth of activity in the past month with hyped bass artists such as Mafia Kiss and Nixon, alongside classic bass legends such as Evil Nine, all releasing premium gear in recent weeks.
We called up one half of the duo Dominic B and find exactly how they do it…
We’ve always had our own sound. That’s so important to us. We’re not any genre; we fit in between lots of genres. We’ve always called it beats and bass but to be honest good music is good music, right?
It’s all about roots…
“Growing up in Bristol there was a really distinctive attitude… Roni Size, Massive Attack, all of these acts who are now total legends, did their own thing. They all had crews who played different roles; their mates designed their logos, they did their own parties with their own soundsystems. It was real and you could see that in everything they did. Being a kid and watching it all unfold it was like ‘this is the real shit, this is what we do, come and say hi.’ They’re direct, there’s no queue of publicists between the DJ and the fans – we’re all together, we’re all into this. That, to me, is the original acid house spirit; it’s about the music.”
Major labels? Been there, done that…
“Back in 2002 we had a big label deal with 679 and were signed at the same time as The Streets. The problem with big record labels is that you don’t get the attention and focus unless you’re making top 10 bangers. We’re not rappers or singers, we don’t make top 10 tracks. We’ve worked with big labels who’ve had the attitude like ‘well why not sound more like this?’ Or ‘have you thought about sounding more like this particular big artist?’.
We’re not comfortable with that at all. We’ve always made tunes we want to hear – we’ve been inspired by different sounds in different genres and thrown it all into our own melting pot.”
And that melting pot goes a little something like this…
“We’ve always had our own sound. That’s so important to us. We’re not any genre; we fit in between lots of genres. We’ve always called it beats and bass but to be honest good music is good music, right?
I think if we’d jumped on a particular genre – like dubstep or electro – then we’d have faded with the genre itself. It’s testament to having your own sound and our releases are getting played by such a wide variety of people; from Monki to Annie Mac to Claude VonStoke to Yoda to My Nu Leng. That’s always the aim; just to make urban-edged underground music that resonates with all styles of DJs.
It’s helped with our longevity; we get booked at so many amazing festivals and play with so many different acts. Had we filed ourselves under one bracket then we’d get a bit lost. It’s the Stanton sound… And because of that we’ve played at big D&B raves, big techno festivals, EDM shows, garage nights, breaks nights, alongside bands… We work in all sorts of environments.”
Attention to detail!
“We put a lot of effort in our drums. I’ve seen producers just lay down the same kicks and go ‘there – drums are done.’ We spend a week on our drums! Tweaking all the nuances and make sure all those swings and rolls are there. If you’ve got a good drum beat you can listen to it on its own and love it. That’s the rule. We’re not making drum & bass but we pay the same amount of attention on our drums as the best in D&B do.”
Attention to D&B…
“We were really inspired by the drum & bass scene growing up. Labels like Ram or V didn’t care what other labels were doing or what was happening in the charts or what the press thought about them; they had their own thing going on, they created their own culture, their own stamp, their own artwork. That is true underground music. You don’t have to worry about what others are doing – stick with what you’re doing and people who get you and understand you will stick with you.”
The same attitude applies to Punks…
“We set up Punks when we were on a major label that didn’t want to release the tracks when we wanted. This allowed us to get our own beats out there… We just made sure our name wasn’t on it.
That’s how it started. It’s taken us a while, but now we’re treating it like a proper label and we’ve been lucky to get a lot of attention from some amazingly talented artists who understand the vibe we have and have sent us music that really works… For the label and our DJ sets. We don’t release anything we don’t play, so the two come hand in hand.
It’s about working with like-minded people and creating a vibe between us. We’re not trying to be the next big thing – we’re just doing what we do on our own terms with our own friends. It’s the D&B idea again: build up your own world.”
It’s easier to do things ourselves… Knock a video up and put it out. Make a podcast and put it out. Make music and release it ourselves. We might not always get it right but we’re doing it for the right reasons and people respect that.
Finally, that world is centred around the most important people…
“85 people have Stanton Warriors tattoos on their bodies. How cool is that? Without our fans we are nothing, so we want to be as direct with them as possible on every level. The easiest level to do that is social media. We’ve had some great interaction on Facebook because people can tell we’re doing it ourselves and having fun with it… It’s mad, even Buzzfeed has pinched stuff off our Facebook page.
Whatever we do – whether it’s release music, perform at a club or festival, or talk to our fans online, our main mission is to entertain. So we’ll never just promote shows and releases, we’re sharing shit we know a lot of people like us will enjoy. A lot of artists are getting their PR companies to do their social media, which is all a bit sterile and boring. We just want to put some character into it. Plus it’s easier to do things ourselves… Knock a video up and put it out. Make a podcast and put it out. Make music and release it ourselves. We might not always get it right but we’re doing it for the right reasons and people respect that.”