Fresh off playing the Hospitality stage at Shockout, near his hometown of Bath. GIGsoup caught up with Danny Byrd to hear a bit about the Bristol music scene, the changing nature of Hospitality and what you need to do to get a good cup tea.
What was the drum and bass scene like when you first started Djing around in the area?
Well, there was never much of a scene in Bath but there was a big scene in Bristol. Thekla was the main venue we used to go to back then. A lot of Full Cycle nights, Roni Size, stuff like that. One of my good friends used to run a night called Drive By and so I used to get in free to all the events. The whole thing was just before Hospital. I was going to be the artist on Drive By and he was going to be the DJ. He used to put on some big nights. The was a club called Creation in Bristol as well, which was Bristol’s first super club. It’s closed down now, unfortunately, but that is where some of the biggest nights were back then.
Is that how you got into DNB then, by going to these nights and hearing the sound?
No, it was just through following the path from Hardcore to Drum n Bass. I was into it before I could ever go out raving. My parents were pretty strict. I had mates who would go raving at 15 and you think: ‘Why can’t I do that?’ Looking back, the difference was only a year, but you felt like you were missing out.
How did you come to get involved in Hospitality, you got involved pretty early on?
Yeah, they started in 96 and at the time it was just a record label for London Electricity’s own releases. I sent him a demo, I sent about 20 CD’s in the post. And Hospital was a really niche label so I didn’t think I would hear anything back. Anyway, Tony called me up thought it was a really good fit, we were on the same page. This was around 1999, 2000, when DnB got really dark (Bad Company, Ed Rush & Optical and all the clones of that music), and we wanted to bring some soul and funk back. That was sort of the beginning of Liquid Funk, or Liquid, whatever you want to call it.
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How has Hospitality changed since the early days?
It’s the size, basically. In some ways not a lot has changed, you’ve still got the same ethos. The label’s sound is a lot broader now, like SPY, for example, isn’t classic liquid/ When Logistics and Nu:tone joined that widened the sound again.
It is kinda nuts how big Hospitality has gotten. Every event something gets bigger: Hospitality on the Beach is the new thing, our own festival in Croatia we get a free holiday.
For you what would you say is the ethos of Hospitality?
On a basic level, it’s the good vibes, it’s the unity. There are never any bad vibes at a Hospital event. Never say never there’s always some idiots. It’s a euphoric, positive sound. The appeal is so wide and we don’t narrow it down. It’s really inclusive and everyone is welcome.
I was at the office last week and they brought out a ‘solo raver’ T-shirt for people that wanna go raving by themselves.
Turns to his manager ‘Chris, put some bloody milk in my tea! You can put that on the record.’
Chris: Milk costs extra
I’ve been with Hospitality 20 years and still don’t get milk with my tea
So, Rave Digger, great album name. Where did that name come from?
A guy called Matt Wright, who used to work for Hospitality came up with the name. We were thinking of all the names, I came up with a load of crap and then he said Rave Digger as a name for a track. I said: No, that is the name of the album.’ You hear these names and store them in your mental hard disk to record for later. I’ve just finished another album and we are trying to find a title. I was concentrating on the music and now I need to think of a title.
Are there some tracks where the name will already be in your head?
Sometimes, sometimes. Generally, I got names floating around that I can attach. It is easier to come up with track names than albums. For an album, you’ve got think about what is it you’re trying to say about the whole collection.
You’ve been playing DnB for quite a while. What do you see as the trends in DnB?
It is definitely getting bassline heavy. All the EDM elements are getting kicked to the curb. People don’t want to hear that. Alright, that’s a big statement but things are getting more bassy, more heavy, more steppy, more organic as well. Leaning towards the bangers.
Is that the direction your new album is going in?
Yeah, that’s where a lot of the direction on the new album is going. I do have some other stuff but it is more bassline rollers. More dancefloor friendly. Yeah, it’s a lot more underground, but still huge.
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You recently released the track, Devil’s Drop. What were the main influences for the track?
Again, it’s more like a rolling bassline sound. I wanted to incorporate a live bass as well, which gives it a little stamp and a sample and we can build from there. It’s got vocals, it’s a lot more stripped down
Quite a few Hospitality artists are doing live sets now like London Elektricity and Fred V and Grafix. Do you reckon you’d do one?
I did one years ago. I did three shows, and they were fun, but it was so much effort. There is so much stress. If I start going down that route that could take a year out of music. I’d rather write another album. I’ve got an MPC at home. I like incorporating things like that. It wouldn’t be “Live” but I would want to make it more interesting that way. I’d like to keep my DJing as the live side of things.
What are your best and worst festival experiences?
Best – definitely Glastonbury, the first time I played. I do love festivals, but I am more of a club guy. You can leave your house at 10 and be on at 1. While at a festival you got to get there three hours before to go through accreditation. But at Glastonbury we got on the stage and it was amazing.
The worst festivals are like, when you collide with Snoop Dogg on the mainstage and some’s got to draw the short straw. You’re then playing to 10 / 15 people, the hardcore ones but that can be fun too. It’s good to have an intimate crowd too. It is not about the clashing.
When can we expect the new album?
Coming in September, still a little way off. But there should be a few singles before it drops, build up the hype.
And, to round out the interview. If you had to pick one: Drum or Bass?
Drum, definitely drum. you can dance to a drum, with only bass you can only sort of move around. Obviously the two go hand in hand, but drums. You can still dance round a campfire with some drums.