Pinch in conversation with Mumdance

Experimental producers with a b2b mix release on the way discuss "proto-drum & bass", dubstep, dissolving genre lines, ugly fish and more.

Pinch (real name Rob Ellis) and Mumdance (real name Jack Adams) have joined forces for a collaborative mix, 'Pinch b2b Mumdance', set to be released next week, an uncompromising view of the new music being made in their world at the moment. Their paths are different but interwine: Pinch is one of dubstep's original champions - setting up an early club night in Bristol that hosted some of the scene's pioneers and the label Tectonic Recordings, as well as being a formidable DJ and producer himself - and Mumdance is one of the crop that came in the wake of dubstep's creative explosion: releasing a number of genre-crossing EPs in the late noughties before taking a hiatus and returning last year at the crest of the recent instrumental grime wave. 

They first properly started working together earlier this year on the double single Turbo Mitzi/Whiplash (like 'Pinch b2b Mumdance', released on Tectonic) and are making the most of a new period of creative freedom for UK underground producers working at around the 130bpm tempo, revelling in strange percussive possibilities, vast cinematic interludes and sourcing ideas from the country's raving past and further afield in house and techno. As well as new material by Pinch and Mumdance, their mix also includes significant contributions from Keysound front-man Logos and tracks by dark garage legend El-B - remixed by Ziro - and Manchester techno producer Alex Coulton.

This hybrid blend is explained as a return of the spirit of proto-drum & bass music from the early 90s by Mumdance and more matter-of-factly by Pinch, who in the press release says: "I like my music to have interesting percussion; some bass, space - and arranged with a sense of grace." Both agree on the progression of history and the neccesity of pushing things forward now into the future, which is a good place to start generally, and the key topic in their conversation for Dummy. 

FIRST ENCOUNTERS

Pinch: "We met in an underground car park rave in Bristol a few years back."

Mumdance: "Yeah thats it, I had just been sick in the corner of it actually."

Pinch: "Love at first sight!". 

Mumdance: [laughs]

Pinch: "We got chatting and so on but at the time we were probably on slightly different journeys, musically speaking. It was still more in the dubstep days for me at the time."

Mumdance: "I first became aware of what Pinch was doing years back though, through the Tectonic Plates compilations. It was the one which had BAHL FWD by Skream on it. Which one was that, Rob?"

Pinch: "That was 'Tectonic Plates Volume 1' in 2006."

Mumdance: "It's mad how time flies."

Pinch: "Musically I became more aware of your sound in 2012 when you gave me some new material you were working on - including some bits by you and Logos. It was all weird 128bpm stuff basically."

Mumdance: "Yeah, so it was an honour when you asked Logos and I to be a part of it as we had both been big fans of the series."

Pinch: "And it hit the spot for me, and fitted into where I was seeing the label progressing."

Mumdance: "I gave you Drum Boss and Legion."

Pinch: "That's right, Drum Boss dropped on 'Tectonic Plates Volume 4', and Legion was my favourite track of 2013. 

Mumdance: "Shucks."

Pinch: "No doubt. Then last summer we decided to get together and try making a beat so you came up to my place and we got on and made Turbo Mitzi, which was a pretty damn good start in my book!"

Mumdance: "Yeah, Turbo Mitzi was a pleasure to make. It fell into place really easily and the majority of it was done in about three hours."

THE 93/94 "PROTO" ERA AND TODAY

Mumdance: "When I said that dance music in the UK at the moment is in a transitional period like the one in the early 90s - before specific genres and styles settled - for the mix press release, I meant it in two ways. One, it's the era which Logos and I grew up listening to & we reference a lot in our music.

"Two, I feel that time was a real time of discovery and people were experimenting and making up the rules as they went along. Hardcore was speeding up and eventually splitting into jungle and there was a lot of “Wot U Call It” tracks around. I feel at that moment there is no overruling genre which people are adhering to, so everything is quite fractured & people are taking things off in their own directions."

Pinch: "Which is very much similar to the circumstances around the time that dubstep formed, in my opinion."

Mumdance: "Like you know there are places in the world with big deep lakes and fish got caught in there in prehistoric times and they just evolve into some weird species which you don’t find in any other place in the world? It's like that." 

Pinch: "Are we ugly fish in a big lake?"

Mumdance: "Yeah, pretty much [laughs]."

Pinch: "Well there you go. It's always interesting musically in a time when there's a dissolving of genre boundaries, rather than when one genre cherry-picks a couple sounds from another and kinda ruins the context of its use. We've been having an interesting time like that around the 125-130 bpm sound at the moment, if that makes sense?"

"You know there are places in the world with big deep lakes and fish got caught in there in prehistoric times and they just evolve into some weird species which you don’t find in any other place in the world? It's like that." - Mumdance

Mumdance: "Yeah that makes perfect sense. At the moment things are just up in the air and the people making interesting music are just being themselves rather than looking at what's around them and like you say, cherry-picking."

Pinch: "It's a great tempo range to allow the possibility of a huge range of sounds too."

Mumdance: "There isn’t a big overruling sound which people are especially trying to fit into. It's more a case of a number of different camps taking things off in their own directions and evolving them in different ways, which made me think of the fish."

Pinch: "It's all going swimmingly. Sorry."

Mumdance: [laughs]

Pinch: "I suppose though, thinking about the terminology, dissolving is something of a negative concept. It's maybe more about not being distracted or contained by genre boundaries and the templates that relate to them."

Mumdance: "That's it exactly, people are making music for themselves rather than worrying what's happening around them. That's when the best music gets made in my opinion."

Pinch: "Yes! Not fearing for the sake of where it might fit."

'PINCH B2B MUMDANCE'

Pinch: "The mix is meant to highlight those new sounds but also to show our own music and how we see it working in a given context."

Mumdance: "As I mentioned before I see it as a “state of affairs”. It's just our way of showing people whats happening, what we have been doing ourselves and just putting these ideas out there with the hope of inspiring some other people and pushing things further forward."

Pinch: "It's a document of the moment. I believe that in dance music you can only really present a proper document of the moment in a mix format. Maybe it's not the only way, actually, but it's definitely the most coherent."

Mumdance: "It's good too as we've have been moving along a number of parallels and moving towards a similar sonic, but there is also another side of what we do which is wildly different. This mix is where the two spheres meet and I guess overlap."

Pinch: "Yeah, I think we bring different things to the table that compliment well."

Mumdance: "100%."

"It's a document of the moment. I believe that in dance music you can only really present a proper document of the moment in a mix format." - Pinch  

Pinch: "Our attention spans are slightly tuned to different things and that means we're picking up things from different angles. That's probably more in the context of our collaborative tracks though.

Mumdance: "And the mix is an expansion of our collaborations in a way."

Pinch: "Right, the mix features our own collabs and our own tracks quite heavily so there's an element of the mix being like a mixtape: as much unreleased upfront content as possible, VIP versions, remixes and a few of those dots being connected together with upfront cuts from other producers we feel fit into this sonic."

COLLABORATION

Pinch: "I think you have a great ear for sounds, Jack.  Your minimal production style only works due to the level of attention you put into each sound. It's reminiscent for me of how Loefah used to approach making his beats back in the day."

Mumdance: "You're a low end master and king of bringing a real sense of that Metalheadz era dread which is really tough."

Pinch: "I'd also say that you're a great selector because you have a big span for new music and interesting sounds. You're always showing me new music i wouldn't have heard otherwise."

Mumdance: "Ah, cheers man! Another good thing with working with you is that you know what you like and don’t like."

Pinch: "I'm quite stubborn like that..."

Mumdance: "You have good taste and you know which direction you want something to take."

Pinch: "...but you're a bit like that too [laughs]."

Mumdance: "Really? I always think I'm umm-ing and ahh-ing over stuff, and you come in like "yes, yes, no - not that bit".

Pinch: "I meant more in terms of you knowing what palette of sounds you like to work with." 

"I literally sat down to the computer one day thinking: I want to make a house record as if Metalheadz were releasing house and techno their way in 1994." - Pinch

Mumdance: "Oh yeah, I've got you. Well I remember Croydon House was something that I really remember making me sit up and go 'this is really cool!' That probably wasn't the first one that's done that but, in recent times, that really caught my attention. I loved the kinda tribal but really industrial feel of it - really alien sounding, the vocals in it remind me of the weird vocals in Eskimo. I think it's almost a precursor to what's happening at the moment. What did you have in mind when you sat down to make it? Was there a plan?"

Pinch: "I made that in early 2010, originally as a B-side for my first release on Swamp 81. I literally sat down to the computer one day thinking: I want to make a house record as if Metalheadz were releasing house and techno their way in 1994. And that came out."

Mumdance: "I reckon you ticked that box."

Pinch: "I kind of felt that when the big exodus from dubstep to UK house started happening that it would sound a bit more like Croydon House with that dark element, but it didn't work out like that then. I guess it's been on my mind for a while that is a place to be explored further. And like we said before, in way I feel this is all starting to happen now."

Mumdance: "Yeah, totally, that whole Metalheadz sound is a big influence on us both."

Pinch: "It definitely is a shared, agreed space that we're working with."

Tectonic Recordings will release 'Pinch B2B Mumdance' on June 30th 2014 (pre-order)

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