The Evolution Of SpectraSoul

Posted by Adam on 12th February 2017

I can’t imagine that there’s a single one of you reading this article that hasn’t heard of SpectraSoul. Ahead of the third release on their own label, Ish Chat, I thought I’d go back to the beginning and talk to them about their journey into Drum & Bass.

The duo, real names David Kennett & Jack Stevens, had previous experience running labels and club nights and made their debut as SpectraSoul on Shogun’s offshoot label SGN:LTD which has served as the launch pad for many artists including Alix Perex and Icicle.

“Around 2005 we were both living in Brighton and making music separately. I was running an event up in London that Jack and a few of the Brighton crew mini-bussed it up for and we got introduced to each other by a mutual friend. We swapped some music for a while and then eventually got into the studio together to write some tunes. I think the first batch we wrote included 2 that ended up being signed by Friction to SGN:LTD (Tempest Dub & In My Arms) in 2006. We’d signed them, and we needed a name quick…so had a bit of a brainstorming session in Cafe Nero with a dictionary and a notebook and came up with SpectraSoul.”

Between 2006 and 2010 the lads made further appearances on SGN:LTD as well as Celsius Recordings, Critical Music, Exit and Metalheadz which was home to this beauty.

After moving between labels for a while they signed on the dotted line with Shogun Audio in 2010 and thus began a partnership which would be the start of SpectraSoul as we know them today.

“We related music with some of our favourite labels between 2006 and 2010, and eventually put pen to paper with Shogun exclusively for a 2 album deal in 2010. We’d always had an affiliation with the label and the guys, so for us it was always the natural and most attractive move.”

“I think Ed [Friction] was always developing us from day one, and he understood that it was important for us to tick some boxes, get our name out there and to fulfil some of our goals and aspirations as producers. Working with Goldie and Metalheadz, dBridge and Exit, and Kasra’s Critical, among others, was something that helped us to build a foundation. We were also still trying to find our sound in that period.”

Something that always made these 2 stand out from the crowd was their diversity. Never ones to be confined to any particular style or even genre they were always able to leave us guessing as to what’s coming next. In the lead up to their debut album, Delay No More, they took this even further with a non Drum & Bass lead single featuring Tamara Blessa.

Delay No More was released in July of 2012 and was instantly a fan favourite and gained universal praise from their peers within and out with the Drum & Bass scene.

“Delay No More was the product of many a sleepless night. I think we wrote that album entirely in between the hours of midnight and 6am. We just got on a roll and things just developed. It took a little longer than expected. Maybe a year longer(!) but we’re glad we spent the time to get it right. The Mistress was a bit more calculated. We spent time hunting out musicians and vocalists to create more ‘song-based’ music, both at 170bpm and below.”

After the album things went relatively quiet from the duo however, as we all know, it’s all about quality over quantity and their track Ben, which featured on the 10 Years Of Shogun Audio compilation, was a belter. After this they went back to laying low in full album writing mode.

In 2015 the quiet spell was ended with the announcement of their second album, The Mistress, which was quickly followed by the lead track, another non Drum & Bass tune called Shelter, being released. The boys were back and they weren’t mucking about. I fell in love with this as soon as I heard it.

One thing i’m really proud of is that we didn’t just rehash the same ideas from DNM on The Mistress. We really wanted to push ourselves and develop. Writing an album and making it coherent is so difficult. It’s made more difficult when you’re trying to challenge yourself and your fans by taking a different path or trying to reinvent or evolve your pallet. It’s really exhausting. You’ve got me thinking about whether we have enough music in the bank now to think about putting an album together for later this year or early next. Hmmmm.

Unsurprisingly the album was amazing. It spanned genres, styles and emotions. The praise was universal and unrelenting yet, unknown to us at the time, this would be their last appearance on Shogun before they parted ways to begin a new chapter of SpectraSoul.

…a new challenge was needed and even though we both said we’d never start a label, after researching and looking into it, it just seemed like the natural thing to do. Things have changed a lot since I was label managing at Shogun, but the one thing that seems to have remained, is the desire for good music, packaged in an attractive way. It’s great to see the resurgence in vinyl, and we look forward to continue releasing music in the best format in the world.

In 2016 they launched their own label, Ish Chat, which gave them full control of their own music. The first release on the label was the Only You EP and you could almost sense the new freedom they had. It was both familiar and unfamilair at the same time but was unmistakably SpectraSoul.

The label, which is now on it’s third release, has gone from strength to strength and with a lot more music promised for 2017 it looks like it’s going to be an exciting year for them.

We’re so happy with what we’ve done so far. 2017 is shaping up really nicely. We’re sat on 3 more EP’s so we’re just working out what we’re going to do with them. Whats been great is seeing many of our friends and peers also going out on their own and forming their own brands and imprints. Its a new wave of artist-driven labels, and hopefully we’ll be the guys who help to carve out the next 10-15 years of this music. Doing this interview, i’ve started thinking about a third album. Well, Dave and I are on opposing sides of the planet at the moment so that’s a discussion for when he gets back!

I want to give a big shout out to Jack and Dave for their time (and embarrassing pictures!) and, on behalf of us all, would like you to hurry up with album number 3!

Ish ChatShogun AudioSpectraSoul

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