Dubstep—if you can or even want to call it that—is experiencing something of a quiet renaissance at the moment. Now, to refer to Commodo's debut LP, How What Time, as a straight dubstep album would be to ignore the multi-verse of other things taking place on it, but it wouldn't be unreasonable to say that the UK producer is one of the leading forces in reshaping bass for the current landscape.
In many ways it's this multi-verse of influences that have enabled the work of Commodo, both on his own and recently with Gantz and Kahn, to sound so alarmingly fresh. How What Time is constructed from parts found in the ashy remnants of dubstep, through grime and hip hop instrumentals, all the way into deft touches of Middle Eastern instrumentation. Together, it's the sound of something hulking and dark, but also intricate and pointedly detailed.
In order to get a better taste of exactly what had shaped the record, we got in touch with Commodo and asked for two things: a mix, and a quick chat. He kindly obliged and you can find them both below.
THUMP: You've been producing for a while. What drove you to release an album?
Commodo: It's something I'd thought about doing for a while but preconceptions about how I should do it got in the way. A lot of people treat it like it's a big deal, doing a full length, but as soon as I was able to ignore that I could get on with it. I figured, there's so many people like me, it's a super-saturated market. As soon as you realise you're not that important and get on with it, it becomes a lot easier. It felt like the right time.
Was this record produced before or after your work with Gantz and Kahn?
I was juggling both things at the same time actually. I spend a lot of time in Istanbul, so when I was there I'd be working on this or working on the other project with Gantz. I never really booked a stretch of studio time, it was just as and when.
You're from Sheffield, you spend time here and in Istanbul, but the record's getting a release on Bristol label—Black Acre.
Well I've known Ian, the guy who founded the label—he runs it along with Eva—for years. I've always kept in touch with him vaguely and sent him stuff. I told him I wanted to reach some new people. It's fine being known by people who follow a very niche scene, like dubstep or grime, but I've felt like a lot of my stuff has a cross over potential somewhere. Not a commercial crossover obviously but at least something more in the realms of hip hop in the vein of the beat scene in Los Angeles. I thought could maybe find some ears in those places.
Is hip-hop where your interest in making beats started?
It started with grime for me. That's what made me start making music on a computer. Whether London knew about it or not, there was stuff going on outside of London in 2004. People making music on a DIY scale. Most of it never got heard. Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham, they all had their own little crews. I started with a pirated copy of Fruity Loops just like everybody else.
I feel like dubstep is experiencing a similar renaissance to grime at the moment—albeit on a smaller scale—but people are a bit wary of using the word "dubstep." Is it rising again or is this something different?
You look in any magazine or on any website and the word grime is all over it. Because grime and dubstep are cousins, it's invariably raised the profile of some dubstep people—but you're right it's not been labelled as that. Maybe right now those producers are enjoying the increased attention but without it being named, which is normally where the problems start. Look at the grime thing, because everybody's talking about it so much that means it's a hype thing, which means it's going to come to an end. It's cool now, which means it will become uncool, just like what happened with dubstep when it was cool.
So is dubstep enjoying its anonymity right now?
Yeah I guess, I guess it's enjoying an increased listener base without it being shoved down people's throats. At the end of the day that listener base make up a huge chunk of the people who buy my records, so I'm always going to be hugely thankful to the dubstep community.
Tak Shindo - Bali Ha'i
Dr. Dooom - No Chorus
The Sorcerers - Arid Plain (edit)
Commodo - Set It Straight ft. Rocks FOE
EGOLESS - Psychonautilus
Commodo - Solid Gold Telephone
Gantz x Da Poet ---
Rocks FOE - Felon (instrumental)
Kahn • Commodo • Gantz - Unmistakable
Commodo - Untitled
Mala - Hunter (Bobby)
EVA808 - Wake Up
Commodo - Lightz
The Bug - Fat Mac ft. Flowdan
Kahn - Fierce (Commodo remix)
Gantz - Tut Tut Situation
O$VMV$M - Sino-1 (Ishan Sound version)
Murlo - Cold Stroke (Kahn edit)
Boofy & Amos - May
Mikael Tariverdiev - Don't Be Sad