My favourite thing about Outlook Festival is that it allows the thriving scenes from across the globe to meet in one place and celebrate sound system music in a beautiful setting. Even though Europeans can take it for granted, I always find that artists and fans from across the pond are the ones who enjoy it the most. It’s a great chance for the crews to stick around, tour, and meet people known through the scene, usually limited to online friendships and support. I had a lucky opportunity to meet Headland and Akcept during their stay in Bristol, where we hung out at System, spoke about their travels, and their local scene in New Zealand. They also shared some tips for starting producers and uncovered what’s to be expected from them in the near future.
How has your trip to Europe been so far? I’m sure Outlook was one of them. I couldn’t make it to the Deep, Dark & Dangerous (DDD) party unfortunately, but I definitely heard a lot about it.
Headland: Yeah definitely Outlook and the boat party! It was crazy, people were going nuts. The DDD party in Koper was really fun too.
Where did you head from there?
Headland: We went to Notting Hill Carnival in London before we went to Outlook, and then we did a little trip to Bosnia and Serbia and came back to Zagreb for a couple of weeks before heading to Copenhagen, then on to Bristol.
Akcept: We played a gig at late notice in Zagreb in a club modelled like the inside of a submarine, that was pretty awesome!
That sounds really cool. I’m glad you’ve been having a good time in Europe. How is the music back home though? Tell me a bit about the scene in New Zealand. It seems like Christchurch is a real hub for the sub loaded sounds.
A: Yeah the city’s great, it’s got a little bit of everything really. Lot’s of people pushing different styles, not necessarily dubstep there’s guys making grime, techno, etc. It’s the main centre for bass music in NZ, in my opinion.
Any particular sound systems that you think deserve attention or are really pushing the scene?
H: Yeah, there several sound systems in Christchurch that are really pushing the sound. I would particularly name Eyesdown Sound, Subtle Soundsystem & Immersion. Akcept and I are part of the Eyesdown crew along with sound owner Brayden and our Friend Joey. We help Brayden out with the packing in and out of the system when it goes out.
Is that how you met Jeremy (Innamind), Gene?
H: Yeah, we have mutual friends but we never really met until he came over from America and I went to a gig he was playing at on SUBTLE. I don’t think I was even making music back then. But since we’ve been chatting quite often and managed to get this release happening.
How did you come up with ideas for the EP. Did you make your tracks with Innamind in mind, or your did tracks get picked up by Jeremy?
H: I try not to make tunes for labels. I’ve been sending Jeremy tunes for a while now but when I sent him “Levy”, he knew we had something. So we locked that down, and the other ones just sort of happened along the way.
I think they all have different vibe to them, but I would say all have that raw, characteristic sound. Which I think is interesting in the context of “label sound”. If you listen to their whole catalogue they all have that characteristic colour, and it makes me wonder, whether people make music for Innamind? Or is Jeremy just very aware of what he’s choosing?
H: (Laughs) Yes, very aware.
You both make quite dark music, but you also had some other influences in there, Alex, you seem to draw for dub techno style a lot.
A: It’s something that’s really pulled me in, I love the sparse sounds and the roots influence. Gives me something to work on when I run out of ideas for 140 tunes!
What about your work with Unity Through Sound, did you know Daz before? It seemed like there was a lot of mutual support between the three of you. I think that’s how I first came across your music as well.
H: Yeah we knew each other for quite a while before then. We realised that we were all into similar sort of music, and he told us about what he wanted to do… and he was like: “Do you wanna be on the first one?” and I was like “Yeah, of course!” (laughs). It all came together quite quickly after that.
Ever since then, there seems to be a lot happening for you in the music scene. This EP really took over!
H: Thank you, there’s more to come!
That’s good to know! How about you two though, have you done any collaborations with one another?
H: We tried… (laughs)
A: Hasn’t worked out yet.
Fair enough. Let’s talk about your productions individually then. I noticed that you guys are doing bits on the road when you’re here, you’ve obviously got your headphones and interfaces with you. Alex, you showed us a track you made literally the other day. Do you think making music should have so much pressure on equipment and setting – having perfect studio treatment, best monitors, and all that, or do you think what you’ve made being away from your studio the other day is perfectly fine. What are your thoughts?
A: I don’t know, all my tunes from the past year have been made on headphones. Not by choice mind you, lack of space for a proper studio set up at the moment but you gotta make the most of what you have!
H: While I’m away I make tunes on headphones, but it’s maybe more like bits and ideas. But unless I have proper screen and monitors and everything, I just don’t feel like it’s real, proper.
A: See I don’t think it’s that important, I prefer the comfort of headphones that I can be wherever I want in the house making it. And then obviously have the flexibility to finish it in the studio.
Headland & Akcept playing at Shitty Dubstep Event 002 📸: Ila Brugal
I kind of agree with that. I think sometimes going to a fancy new studio can make an artist feel a little bit uncomfortable and official. I personally think that the best gear can’t replace the flow and comfort of making music in your bed if that’s where it works best. On that note, is there any advice you could share with our readers on making music?
H: For me it’s just do the work. There were times when I was in the DAW every day. Might be half an hour, but it might be 5 hours, but when you do that, things just start happening.
A: For me it’s also setting goals for yourself. Maybe a big and a small goal and try working towards them. Obviously be realistic and aim for something thats within reach, but have an overarching goal you can towards in the long term. I would add to this as well, that you have to be persistent and not give up, and not worry too much what people think.
As in criticism?
A: More like if you make a tune, someone is interested in it, but sometimes it might not come out for a while, or not at all, and it can be discouraging a bit. But don’t bet everything on that, you know. Be consistent and keep trying.
H: I think it’s important to choose carefully what labels you want to be a part of.
Especially now that everybody’s got a label, it must be kind of hard to pick where to go?
A: Yeah you have to try and make the right choice, to select something that is going to stick around for more than couple of releases.
I guess that’s pretty important. For example, Innamind / Blacklist has always had a strong meaning and message behind what they’re doing. They put so much effort into making it right with their artwork, format, consistent sound and most importantly, with the group of people behind it. It’s all been so rule-breaking and so forward, I believe it shook up the dubstep scene quite a bit when it appeared. So it might be important actually, to hold on to people with such a mindset.
H: Very much so!
So apart from mentioned releases, anything in the pipeline that you can share with us?
H: I have a remix EP on Well Rounded Records coming out early this year with Tetrad and then a EP coming out on Subtle Recordings which is a label being created by SUBTLE SOUNDSYSTEM.
A: I’ve got a few things coming out actually. I’ve just had a remix come out on JahYu’s label, Tripedal Crow and a dub techno tune coming out on a digital/cassette compilation on a German based label called ROHS! I’ve also got an EP coming out on Artikal Music some time this year. I think J:Kenzo has already spilled the beans on one of his recent shows, so can probably share that now (laughs).
Cat’s out the bag! That’s great. What it’s gonna sound like, dubstep, dub techno…?
A: Bit of both really, he’s locked down a tune called “Might of The Trinity” for one side, still deciding what to do for the flip so it could go either way.
Nice! So besides your releases, are there any producers local to you that we should check out?
A: He makes a lot of 130 stuff, a bit of grime & techno influenced productions.
H: He’s a G. Been making loads of music, probably for about same time as me, nearly 3 years or so. He’s making some sick tunes.
A: He’s a well kept secret (laughs).
Will definitely check him out. How about producers from outside New Zealand. Is there anyone who deserves particular attention in your opinion?
H: Truant, Oxossi and Jackson
A: Another Channel, Pugilist and DubDiggerz.
Anything else you would like to mention, any shoutouts to a crew that you’ve had a good time with?
H: Out to the Bristol crew!
A: Everyone in Bristol has been really welcoming to us.
Thank you so much for the chat. I hope to see you here again next year.
A track… you would start your essential mix with: H: Anything by FIS & Rob Thorne A: Scientist – Dance of the Vampires that got you into dubstep: H: Breakage – Rain A: Rusko – Cockney Thug your ultimate 6 AM tune (to end the night): H: Rhythm & Sound – Jah Rule A: Versa – Rainfall In Dub