DJ Vapour Talks To Us About His New Album ‘Beatopia’

Posted by Adam on 8th May 2017

Hi Mike, how are you mate?
All blessed and all good sir, Thanks for asking

Before we talk about your new album let’s start at the beginning. How did your journey into Drum & Bass start and what makes it so special for you?
To cut a long story short I got hold of a Devious D tape recorded at a night called Eclipse which was held at the Cambridge Corn exchange. From there I started getting more tapes and then moved on to buying vinyl from “Boom Tunes” Record store in Cambridge. I saved up my paper round money to buy a set of Belt Drive turntables and from then on in I was Djing. I set up my Studio in 2001 and started making beats with my first release being a remix of Top buzzes “Living in Darkness” on Basement records in 2005 before moving onto a release on Baileys Intasound label in 2007. I followed on from there with releases on many labels from Dread recordings to 31 Records and many many more you can find my full discography on my website

You’ve been DJing since 1992. What are you’re feelings on how much it’s changed over the years, especially with the mass move from vinyl to CDJs/MP3s?
I loved playing and buying vinyl but when I started making tunes CD Decks started popping up so it was good from a producers point of view that I didn’t have to trek to Music house and pay 35 quid on a Dubplate to be able to check out what my latest track sounded like in the mix. Eventually I was playing so much on CD’s that I ended up just naturally moving over to CD decks and not using vinyl any more. For me CD decks were not really any fun to DJ on and when I was doing gigs in Europe promoters would tell me how expensive it was to hire out 3 CD decks as Europe was a lot slower moving over to CD’s So I started looking at other options, I changed over to using a controller about 6 years ago and for me I am really happy I embraced this technology when I did as it really put the fun back into Djing for me and I have never looked back. You get other DJ’s scorning at you some times when you turn up and set up a controller but when they see what you can do with it in terms of looping and editing tracks on the fly I always get asked loads of questions about it – I use a Novation twitch with Serato DJ and a Akai midi controller which I have all my cue points set up on so I can jump around tracks during the mix. Now days controllers are becoming something I see more and more and are slowly becoming a thing of the norm, I did actually do a set on CD decks recently and just hated it due to lack of being able to do anything other than press play.

From a label owner point of view I feel that moving over from Vinyl to digital has been an interesting period BUT we are now in the process of doing some limited vinyl runs again as people are demanding that again so its crazy its gone full circle. Either way its all good – Im not too sure about streaming yet BUT Dan over at Cygnus keeps telling me its the best thing since sliced bread so we are embracing it and seeing how we get on with it in the future – Im not 100% convinced yet BUT I feel its a rapidly growing market so we shall see where it goes in the future

Over those years you’ve also appeared on some notable labels, what made you want to start your own up?
It was always the plan for me to get my own label going and that was how you went about it back in the day – Release music on other labels then once people knew your name from that you started your own. These days you just go and get 20,000 fake followers on social media and go sign your life and rights away signing to one label who will then force promoters to book you when they want to book other artists on their label lolololol. But either way I just like to keep myself to myself and keep control of my musical output, I do still release on other labels but its just mates labels or labels I want a release on because I like their output

So…the big news is that you’re just about to release your second album ‘Beatopia’, 6 years after ‘Legacy’ – what made you wait so long between albums?
After Legacy I made the bad idea to sell my analogue studio and go completely “In The Box” which I hated – That lasted about 8 months then I started planning and purchasing equipment for my dream studio set up. It took a long time to find some of the gear as its not easy to find reel to reel machines from 1972 or mixing desks from the early 1980’s but once it was all there I had to build it and then start the long process of learning it all and getting the sound I wanted.

What’s the meaning behind the name ‘Beatopia’?
Well naming the album was a pain in the arse as I couldn’t think of a good name – Working title was “2 Jars of jam and a rubber fist” (Ongoing joke from our 36 Hertz radio show we do fortnightly on Kool London). Then it was changed to “Number 2” (another ongoing Joke) once the LP was finished I was hunting around for ideas and “Utopia” popped up which means “a perfect place” so the play on words “Beatopia” was born kind of meaning “Perfect beats” (Bit egotistic lol)

You are a big fan of analogue gear, has that shaped the album significantly and do you use it more than software or is there a balance needed?
I have always Cubase with a hardware set up, Im not a fan of synths though so I do use a couple of softsynths If there is a specific sound im after but I prefer to use samples that have been created using my studio. All mixing and mastering on my tracks is done using the hardware and I use hardware to process sounds that I make. I think it is a huge part of my “Sound” and has certainly played an important role in the creation of this LP. So much DNB these days is just cut and paste sample pack sounds with no processing and just lazy production I always want to push forward with what I am doing and tend to avoid using any form of commercial sample pack and prefer to create my own sounds and samples.

There’s a wide variety of styles on the album with each track very different from the last – have you tried to do this specifically or do you find yourself producing a wide range of styles?
I always try to make tunes in different styles and tend to have an idea of what I am going to do before I set off and do it these days. When I was working on the LP I had some ideas of styles of tracks I wanted and planned that out a bit then worked on those specific styles. I am very busy these days with my audio mastering company – so studio time is limited so I tend to keep notes of ideas and styles for tracks then refer to those when I sit down to make some music.

Do you prefer working on bigger projects like this or singles and EPs? Has this one been enjoyable enough to make you want to do it again?
I love making music and working on a LP adds more angles in than normally so I guess that I prefer to just make tracks without worrying about where they are going to be released but doing this project has been fun but at times very annoying lol. I like the creative process but not what comes after as the processing and promo schedule for it all is a lot of hard work and also takes up a lot of time so I am looking forward to getting it released and being able to get a bit more time just rolling out tunes.

This is always a hard question but if you had to pick what would be your favourite track from the album and why?
Earthquake is the track I have been playing the most and even though it was one of the first tracks finished it is still getting played and the one I enjoy the most. I am not a fan of my own tracks most of the time as I get bored making them so end up not playing them too much, there is only a handful of tracks from the hundreds I have made over the years that I still like / and play in my sets

Thanks so much for your time mate, is there anything else you want to tell us about?
You can catch myself & Indigo virus every fortnight with the 36 Hertz radio show on Kool London at 3pm on Weds afternoon with the 36 Hertz radio show

DJ VapourInterview

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