As if to appear out of thin air, Brighton’s best kept secret is sitting on the tip of everyone’s tongue at the moment. Little was known about his [frankly] bizarre choice of alias until Vivek gave props to an unknown individual for handing him a dubplate at SYSTEM. Smart move especially when the king of sound system music approves what he hears pressed in the grooves. Whether it was an intentional marketing ploy or not is irrelevant, because we all now know that individual as Foamplate. With heads turned, “Fuzz” the track responsible for all that pandemonium was snatched up and signed by newly revived label Well Rounded Records alongside Corticyte’s ‘Negative Space’ for a split 12” single. Championing the old DMZ aesthetics, Foamplate also caught the ear of beat maker connoisseur Alex Sleeper. Having recently launched his own imprint – Crucial Recordings – Sleeper didn’t hold back on snapping him up for CRUCIAL003. With his 7.5 EP due for release next week, I hunted down dubstep’s newest sensation to have a chat about his musical beginnings, recent signings and future plans.
TRUSIK: Easy Louie, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. You’re causing quite a stir at the moment aren’t you…
FOAMPLATE: Hello! Hmm… well something’s happening. There’s been a fair amount of interest and support recently, so more people have been hearing my music.
TRUSIK: You’re first vinyl release “Fuzz” came out on Well Rounded Records not so long ago. How does it feel to finally have some material out there on physical format? Are you happy with the response it’s had?
FOAMPLATE: Feels great! It’s been a growing dream for as long as I can remember to get some music pressed to vinyl. And it’s awesome to kick off Well Rounded Records child label, Well Rounded Dubs, with Corticyte on the flip of the record. Donga, who runs WR, has become a good friend of mine over the time I’ve been living in Brighton. It’s been a blessing to click with him and I got a lot of love for Brighton so it’s nice to keep things local. “Fuzz” seems to have had some good response and was the main tune that got my name out there to the heads. Barely anyone had heard my productions until Vivek posted a picture of the plate up online, after I’d given it to him at SYSTEM NYE ’14. I had a call from him a day or so later, he was very grateful for the gift and was digging the tracks on the plate. We had a good chat and was definitely some nice motivation to keep on trucking.
TRUSIK: Taking a step back in time then, could you tell us a little bit about your musical journey, from discovering underground music, to learning how to DJ and your interest in building beats?
FOAMPLATE: My father and brothers have always been into music that’s on the more underground and bass oriented side of things. From a young age I can remember Trance, Garage, Reggae, Drum and Bass and other experimental and interesting styles of music being brought to my ears because of them. Some of my earliest memories are sitting in the back seat of my dad’s Toyota Previa (which had a powerful sub placed right behind it) and being overcome by low sub sonic vibrations… and absolutely loving it!
In 2008 one of my brothers gave me some of the Dubstep Allstars compilations, which sparked a flame inside and quickly became my favourite / most listened to style of music. He was into drum and bass at the time and producing & mixing it, so he gave me a few pointers on mixing tunes together with Traktor and it all rolled on from there. My interests furthered and became very focused and mesmerised by the sound and scene around it.
A few years later from that, I met a friend of a friend who was just as ravished by the sound as I was. He had 2 technics, a mixer and loads of vinyl records. Which quickly turned into weekly sessions and gave time to get comfortable with mixing vinyl on turntables. Along with furthering the itch to produce my own music and then onto cutting dub plates.
TRUSIK: Your production style is very much rooted in the DMZ tradition – stripped back dubby atmospheric beats or “straight up raw dubstep” to quote Sleeper – so what attracts you to this “aesthetic” of music over other genres?
FOAMPLATE: You know I’ve often wondered this too, what attracts me to this aesthetic of music over others, and I’ve never given the time to properly answer that. It just draws me in. I think it’s the 2-step structure crossed with the dubbed out nature of the groove, along with an anything-goes openness to the elements building up a track. The dubby nature of the sound gives a real richness of space and time, with the general structure and tempo adding to this multi dimensional freedom. Oh yeah and the bass-lines… I can’t get enough of those.
TRUSIK: You’ve built up a healthy amount of dubs under the Foamplate alias, even to the surprise of the dubplate ambassador himself [Joe Nice] having played alongside each other in July. What’s your secret to maintaining a productive work ethic, and who do you find yourself drawing inspiration from at the moment?
FOAMPLATE: I think having the passion to create, added with putting in the time to create (and listen / get inspired), are the main factors for me to maintain a productive work ethic. There’s no one in particular that I consciously draw inspiration from. I spend a lot of time listening to dub and reggae music, and dubstep from back in the day forward to current productions emerging.
TRUSIK: I heard a nice collaboration with Oxossi in your Kiroku mix called “Camel Dub”. How do you find sharing the workflow on a joint project compared to how you would approach an individual one? Do you feel that it aids your own development as a musician as you share and discover new ideas with other producers?
FOAMPLATE: Working with Oxossi was a very natural process. We send the stems of the track back and forth once or twice and quickly shared a similar vision for the overall sound whilst welcoming anything new put to the table. It feels like joint projects still progress similarly to an individual project but with another source of creation in the mix, and definitely great to hear and see how another mind works sound. There’s a handful of other collaborations coming up too that are pencilled in.
TRUSIK: You had a go at remixing Sleeper’s “Operator Dub”, which was your first remix I believe? How did you approach the break down of the remix, and was this an angle of production you enjoyed challenging yourself with?
FOAMPLATE: Yeah that was the first remix. I enjoyed doing it a lot and started by playing about with the existing drum stems and adding a few other new elements until there were some grooves that I liked, and then went onto re-interpreting and synthesising the mid and low bass lines… and so on. There is also a few other remixes that I’m currently working on.
TRUSIK: Given your love for roots and reggae, you’re also one half of a dubwise act known as the Dub Drifters – the Gorgon Sound of Brighton so to speak (laughs). Could you tell us a little bit about this project and how it came about?
FOAMPLATE: (laughs)… we are on a similar mission. Dub Drifters consists of myself and Lungman. We’re good friends and share that universal love for dubwise, sound system music. Going to One Love festival in 2011 really sealed the deal in terms of our love of dub/reggae and sound systems, and we have been every year since. Also while living in London, System:Sound started up and that became a massive inspiration to us and the project. Beyond everything else, it was the way that System Roots would warm up the place with stonking roots music, then later on Vivek (or Mala back then) would come on the mic “I think we’re just about warmed up now…” and run a dubstep track. Worked and works beautifully! When we play sets together, we’ll spin a certain balance between dub, roots, steppas, dub steppy stuff… depending on how we’re feeling at the time about what we want to bring to the show. Lungman and I haven’t yet shared any Dub Drifters productions and they are staying locked in the studio until we are happy with our sound.
TRUSIK: With a group of friends you have also taken the initiative to found the “Drift” collective, a crew of likeminded individuals who have already hosted numerous tastemakers of the sound both in London and Brighton. Again, could you tell us about the events you have put on so far and your future ambitions for “Drift” as a club night?
FOAMPLATE: The first Drift event was in 2012 with Gang Colours + some friends I’d met in London (Yanaku & J-Impact) and one of my brothers (Twinsmith). Then in 2013 we put on one in Farnham, Surrey with friends and most of the Drift crew doing sets (Hyroglifics, Trojan F, Dub Drifters & Jack In Space). Due to moving towns and studying + work, we had a break for a while and wanted to wait until we felt we were ready to start doing events with big sound systems and run them fairly regularly. Our recent sessions have been wicked. July just gone with Joe Nice, Sleeper, Karma, Sepia, Chuckman, Trojan F, Lungman, Sun Of Selah & Myself, in London (with Kiroku) + Brighton. And August just gone with RSD, J.Robinson, Donga, King Of Eye w/ Bluez (on the melodica), Sun of Selah & Dub Drifters. Our next event is in October and after that we aim to do bi-monthly events next year starting Feb ’16.
TRUSIK: So perhaps you’re most crucial signing to date, let’s talk about Crucial Recordings and how that all came together…
FOAMPLATE: It’s very special to me as it’s my first EP, and with printed artwork. Sleeper is a great guy to work and jam with so it’s been a pleasure. He had heard my music because of Vivek’s post of the dubplate I gave, and he got in touch to swap some tracks. From there we kept good communication and bounce production techniques back and fourth. We definitely share a similar love for that dark, dubby sound and I’m looking forward to how it will grow.
TRUSIK: The 7.5 EP completely resonates with ’06 / ’07 in the sense that it really captures the sound of dubstep from those crucial peak years. Even your flutes echo those nostalgic intros on “Rutten” and “Cockney Flute”. Was this a conscience move on your behalf or just a coincidental result of experimenting in the studio?
FOAMPLATE: It feels like a coincidental result of experimenting. A lot of tracks from those earlier years have special qualities to them that stand up and have always inspired me from early on. I just try to make music that I enjoy and feel good listening too.
TRUSIK: What else can we expect from you in 2015, is there any other forthcoming material, interesting projects, or up and coming music gigs you can inform the readers on?
FOAMPLATE: Next up is a track of mine called “Smokey Joe” which is getting released on a vinyl sampler with some tracks from 3 other wicked producers (Etch, Corticyte & Teefreqs), on Well Rounded’s sister label – Gully Records. There are also some other releases lined up, but they’re a secret for now. Gig wise, there’s a few shows here and there and some planned in for the end of the year and start of next… check out my Soundcloud or Facebook where i’ll update shows happening.
TRUSIK: Thank you for your time brother, all the best with the forthcoming record. Are there any final comments / shout outs you wanna share to wrap things up?
FOAMPLATE: No worries, thank you. I don’t stop to think about this stuff much so it’s been an interesting exercise of the mind. Big shout outs to Donga & Sleeper. And much love to Josh, Leo & Ross. And out to everyone else supporting good sound system music and spreading love and unity.
TRUSIK: A track… by your favourite new artist: “VHS Weather VIP” by Headland you’re currently opening your sets with: Depends… but if it’s not one of mine then “Cutter” by Eva808 is always sure-fire for the amplifya. you give the rewind treatment every time: A track of mine called “Tabula” never gets very far without the rewind being called for, or snuck in my someone else. you would like to remix: “Lean Forward” by Mala
CRUCIAL003 will be released September 11th on 12″ vinyl and digital format.