Interview – Firestorm

 Interview – Firestorm

Label Affiliations – 83/Elektroshok/Mechanoise/Audiogore/Funktasty Crew

1) After such a long break from both music in general and more specifically breakbeat, what inspired you to come back?

It’s been ten years since I stepped away from music as a career, prior to that I was a full time artist, producer and dj, as well as label and a&r manager, event curator/promoter, for what seems like a couple of lifetimes. I’ll give you some back story for context.

In 1992 just before my career in music started, I was pretty lost to be honest. Spending more time on the wrong side of the tracks than I should have, getting in trouble often with no real outlook other than the next rave, club or party. A series of ‘by chance’ happenings, opened doors to my brother Alex (Yoof) and I, working and touring with bands for a while in the UK and Europe. This ultimately then led to us forming our own band project JPAC which was signed to East West/Warner Bros in 1994. Then in late 1997 we formed Mechanoise. This later evolved into Mechamusic with 6 labels under the umbrella. I stepped back from Mechanoise in 2007/2008, it had become something very different to the label I poured so much of myself into and I needed to walk away at the time.

This coincided with a move to New York City and I started Hellfire Machina with Tom Williams shortly afterwards. A new venture into all things dubstep. BFM became Bass Fueled Mischief, a party engine and brand that helped take dubstep from small underground clubs to large scale venues and events all around the country. It was a whole new playing field for me and I really felt lucky to be living this new chapter of my life. We put on a ton of drum and bass events during that time as well as the 140bpm styles, bringing a lot of UK artists out to the east coast that hadn’t played there for a long time, if ever. I was working on music for legends like Public Enemy, Wu Tang Clan, Brand Nubian amongst others. My mind was being blown pretty much every month, with many bucket list boxes being ticked off. I have to shout out Lenny Dee of Industrial Strength records, Steve Beckford and our manager at the time Jesse Roman, they were such a guiding force and amazing friends to me.

During this period in 2010 I met my soulmate Lindsay, now my wife and mother of my son. When she came into my life it changed everything. Music was always my number one priority and that started to shift pretty quickly. I remember being on the road touring and feeling this conflict between doing what I loved and being away from the woman that I loved. In a way that I didn’t know existed before. One memory that stands out was a gig at the Smart Bar in Chicago, I’d been wanting to play on this sound system for so long (it’s legendary) and I struggled to enjoy the show because all I could think about was being away from my home and how weird it made me feel. I didn’t feel like I was giving music my all anymore and that was a terrible feeling at the time. I know that sounds dramatic but after 20 + years  (at that point) of pretty much non stop music (recreationally and professionally), when literally nothing else grabbed my focus, a huge shift was happening.

A couple of years later we moved to California and I fully stepped back from music as a career by like the end of 2012. Lindsay and I started working together in the legal cannabis industry in California and we lived a very different life for almost a decade.

I really feel like I needed to give you glimpses of the whole picture, for you to grasp just how much music had dominated my life from a very young age. In late 2018 after our son was born, we started to make plans to move back across the world. It was time for me to come back to where it all began and bring my family with me. Then covid happened, fully stopping us in our tracks. The US was starting to lockdown and probably the biggest world event of all our lifetimes began to fully take effect. It becoming obvious we weren’t going anywhere for a while, I started to write music at home again, with strong encouragement from Lindsay. Seeing how my son JJ was connecting to sound and music,  I knew it was time. I feel more inspired right now than ever, there’s this massive energy inside me bursting to get out through creative endeavours in music. It feels amazing, I’m a lot older now with a whole lot of life experience behind me and I am fully ready for this next chapter.

2) Many people know you as Jody Mechanoise of Sunz Of Mecha/Uncouth Youth /Hellfire Machina/Bi0nic etc etc. What made you decide to start a fresh new breaks project?

Don’t worry this answer won’t be so epic (lol) . To put it simply, I’ve always made music with other people, it’s what I know and subsequently what always felt natural. I’d been chatting with Darren online for a bit and passing music back n forth, I’d decided on forming a new project and I invited him on the journey with me. It didn’t last long though and after 3 releases we split. I’d put so much time into building Firestorm on the back end and I have a very clear and solid vision for it, I was and still am determined to make it the success it deserves to be. For the first time, I’m fully embarking on a solo artist project, and I’m loving it. I don’t know why it took me so long to do so to be honest but here we are. Everything happens for a reason.

3) What are the main differences in the industry that stand out to you, between now and back when you were active before?

In short, pretty much everything. From formats, to production, the party landscape, the structures of labels , what it means to be an artist or dj etc etc. The one thing that really remains the same is the required commitment and love for this, to make it more than a hobby. Taking the risk and trusting in yourself and fully going for it. There’s no half measures when it comes to pursuing this as a full or even part time thing. For people pursuing this as a hobby, there’s never really been a better time for them. Everything is so accessible now. It’s amazing.

4) Not Strictly Firestorm related but I have to ask. There are rumours that you are bringing Mechanoise back, can you confirm this and tell us about any forthcoming plans? 

Yes, I can confirm this. The first releases are being planned for later this year and I’ll be producing and djing as Sunz Of Mecha again, as well as Firestorm. There will be a long awaited Volume 2 of Way Of The Robot at some point in the not so distant future. Some of the original roster will be making appearances. Alex will be delving back into the fold from time to time musically but I’ll be fully steering the ship (again). I can’t give away any more than that, consider this an exclusive.

5) How would you describe the Firestorm sound? 

It’s still developing but a general vibe is taking shape. Evolving soundscapes and atmospherics akin to mid 90’s Jungle artists like Bukem, Photek, Alex Reese etc. Heavy drums, chopping and processing breakbeats from 40 + years ago but with a modern edge. A sci fi dystopian theme with general influences from Jungle is also fairly constant. I’m sure it will continue to evolve over time but this is what springs to mind right now. I will say though that I’m not confining myself to anything, if I’m feeling it I’m doing it. I’ve kinda always been like that.

6) What’s forthcoming from Firestorm over the next few months?

The next single La Luna drops on the 83 label on June 17th, big summer vibe on the vocals and relentless rolling breakbeats from start to finish. Probably the most stand alone track I’ve written for the project so far. Raul (Guau) at 83 really allows me the freedom to explore the possibilities with Firestorm, I love the label and I’m proud to be on the roster. I also have releases planned with them for both September and December.

I’m working on a follow up to Apex Predator for Elektroshok, another label I’m really happy to work with. Miguel (Destroyerz) is a great guy and has built an amazing imprint.

My dj sets are full of tracks from both labels. If you look at their joint output over the last year or so alone, they are very much in their own lane. So many talented artists coming through with a legion of top quality releases covering many styles of this music. They set the standard in my opinion, a very high one at that. It’s great that a lot of the older labels from the early 2000’s are coming back but I hope they won’t just be heavily relying on artists that had weight to their names ten + years ago, writing similar tracks to back then. There are a couple of generations of breaks producers that have been fine tuning their production skills over the last 15 years. I don’t feel that anybody should get a free ride because of their past, time to put that work in again. It’s one of the things that will help push this movement to the next level, a hunger for breaking boundaries and pushing the creative envelope as opposed to resting on laurels from years gone by. I have more years in the game than most and I won’t be resting on mine.

I’m hoping to finish a follow up from Crypt for the Funktasty Crew as well this year, another Andalusian stable with many talented producers and dj’s amongst them. Really nice guys as well.

I have remixes for Diesel Recordings and Creative Sounds dropping in July and August. I’m also doing a remix for a Ragga Twins dnb track right now that should be out by the end of the summer.

I’ve got a whole bunch of collabs and other remixes in the works as well. Audiogore will be hearing from me again soon as well. Plus some top secret bits for Mechanoise. I’m making sure  to work with some of the newer/up and coming producers and labels  as well as the more established names. It’s important to me to do so.

I’m moving to Seville in September, armed to the teeth with a ton of new tracks.

7) Shine a light on some current artists you’re feeling right now.

Aside from a lot of the longstanding 83 and Elektroshok artists, I can’t say enough about Jiro, I love his sound. He’s really been breaking through as of late and I have a feeling this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m playing at least 4 of his tracks in every dj set right now.

Hankook hits a home run for my tastes with a lot of his music, incredible output this last year or so. Tons of his tracks in my sets. He sails a fine line between party time and serious heads down vibes and his output just keeps getting better and better.

Propa Dropa is one to watch as well, super consistent with surgical precision. He’s such a nice guy too. We bounce tracks back n forth to each other. I often ask him for his opinion on what I’m working on.

On a much heavier tip, Afghan Headspin is sitting on some serious heaters, I signed Jason to Mechanoise a long time ago, he’s always had a serious gift when it comes to music that blows the doors off a dance floor.

I’ve played every release and a ton of dubs from Breakbeat Connection, in almost every set this year. Nicky from Multiply/CtrlZ’s new label. He’s another guy I chat too regularly, sharing ideas and plans for the future.

I have a couple of recent tracks from Perfect Kombo in my crate that will be there for a long time. Claudio has quite a specific sound that he executes extremely well. Another ambassador for the nice guys of breaks club. He’s easily top 10 in the worldwide scene and as humble as they come. I don’t know why he isn’t headlining every party he plays in Spain to be honest.

Lee Coombs and Meat Katie need no introduction but I’d like to mention them as well, for both their productions and dj sets, it’s great to see them back on the breaks tip. It’s interesting because our productions and sets are quite far apart but I recognise quality when I see/hear it and they are both masters of the craft.

I could go and on but I’ll leave it there for now.

8) Favourite breaks track from back in the day?

That’s an easy one to answer.

Aside from classic tracks on my own labels from the past.

U by Kasha and Earthman by B.L.I.M on Botchit n Scarper , Twister by Tipper, High Volume by Buckfunk 3000 and Reality by Lawgiverz. There’s others as well of course but when anyone asks me this question, those tracks always spring to mind.

9) Where do you see the Breaks movement going in the next 5 years?

I think firstly unity is key, it’s not a competition in a sense that we need to step on each other,  we are all on this ride together and everybody has their place and an opportunity to elevate. A variety of sounds and styles is also very important, this can’t just have one side of it being championed or it won’t fulfil it’s destiny. It’s always been more than a genre to me, in the same way that Jungle/Drum n Bass covers so many angles. Breaks as a scene/movement, has never really achieved it’s full potential, in my opinion. I think we’ll see that start to take shape more. I’m not taking anything away from what came before, I was a part of that myself but it’s the future that is important now.

10) Any words of advice for newer artists?

Tons but I’ll keep it short. JUST KEEP GOING, YOU’VE GOT THIS!

If you find doors are closed, kick them down and show the world who you are through your music. This is an amazing time to be on this train, ride it to the fullest.

Thank you for taking the time to do this, we look forward to seeing and hearing the Firestorm project develop. 

No problem at all, my pleasure.

La Sombra

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