In such strange times where any joker with a laptop can consider themselves a record label it becomes increasingly refreshing to know that there are still labels out there sticking to the core values of drum and bass. By that, I mean labels that aren’t afraid to take risks, that aren’t afraid to push boundaries and innovate the sound and aren’t afraid to give previously un heard of artists a platform to shine and with that in mind, I can’t think of any more prolific than Diffrent Music.
[dropcap]F[/dropcap]or me, the Diffrent sound is very much a marmite situation, you either get it or you don’t and if like me, it’s perhaps a little outside of your comfort zone you still can’t help but admire the tenacity of the artists and head honcho Dexta for constantly pushing the scene forward and exploring new possibilities. This is, after all, what’s kept our scene so exciting over the years!
However, if you are one of the many giraffe disciples then you’ll know that over the last five years Diffrent have built up a staggering world wide following and have become renowned for their off the wall parties with giant pink giraffes, onesies and without a doubt the worlds most colossal fruit punch!
With this in mind we feel it’s only right to pay homage to one of our favourite, home grown labels here at In Reach and luckily for us Dexta was on hand to give us a cheeky little mixtape to give you a taster of what’s in store at Diffrent’s 5th birthday party. We caught up with Dexta to find out a little bit more . . .
Hey Dexta, thanks for joining us! Diffrent’s 5th birthday, this must be an exciting time for you!? Tell us a bit about the last 5 years, what have been your personal highlights?
Oh, I do love a good old Diffrent music birthday!! Every year they seem to get a tiny bit bigger and better and they’re always full of fun, joy, laughter and presents!! Sadly regarding highlights; I’ve bitten the bullet over the past two-three years and joined the bald mens club, so sadly I have no hair to colour! If I did, I’d probably got for a Keith Flint style hair do when he done the Fire-starter video! On a serious note, with every release we seem to touch different group of people, and pluck up a bunch of really cool friends who’re digging the vibe, this is an on going highlight for me. The music is great, I love it all to bits and It’s all a big collage. “The Big Picture” which is on going and hopefully will never be complete. The fans, followers, customers etc whatever we have to title them, it’s them, they, you are the highlight! If they’re taken out of the equation then we’re in the dark and have nobody to entertain and spoil. So, thanks!!
I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever known a label to have such an emphatic fan base! Have you ever had an experience with a fan that’s stuck in your mind?
Well that’s it, it’s almost like an infection! I try to remember all communications between the fans, and love meeting face to face at events, gigs and out and about! At the parties I’ve recognised people coming back for more time and time again, and they even come out to other events that we’re playing at, it’s really good fun and these people become good mates to the label and myself. One of which (I wont name for privacy issues) I remember meeting him on the dance floor at the Evolution of the Giraffe album launch party discussing T-Shirt sizes and when I was going to be getting a new batch made up etc and then just months later he ended up driving us all down to Brighton for our fourth birthday party in one of his coaches, he’s now a very good mate and that all came from the love of this whole pink GiraffeStep movement! Thank you universe!
When the label was first founded did you ever anticipate having a worldwide following and constant support from industry gurus such as Tony Coleman?
No, not at all! When we published the first ever GiraffeCast and DIFF001 we had no fans, no follows or likes and so forth, and to be honest thought we’d just get laughed at (not with). But every day we seem to gain a new interest from a new person and the support keeps coming, which is very heartfelt, someone can give their time and care into something that has nothing to do with them! I have to say Tony @ Hospital is a big fan of the label which is really great, as I used to be a massive fan of Hospital when I was getting into the jungle/dnb music, so I am truly honoured!
Ever since I can remember, Diffrent has always been closely associated with Leonard, the pink giraffe. Can you tell us a bit about how you two struck up such an unlikely friendship and how he became your mascot?
He just appeared one day, with a look on his face. It all made no sense and still doesn’t, but we’re still here kicking back acting all cool and that! He can’t even speak, so I have no idea how he feels! The logo was designed by Jamie (Hunchbak) back before we started the label and once he showed me it, it just seemed perfect, without any explanation, it just worked and fitted, the rest of it is all just brain nonsense to be honest, but there’s no smoke without fire eh!!
Indeed! As I mentioned earlier, Diffrent has developed an astonishing world wide following with one of your most renowned artists, Arkaik about to embark on a tour of China! What do you think it is about Diffrent’s sound that manages to appeal to such a wide audience?
Well, as you can imagine, the Asian promoters would be mad not to snap up a little bit of Arkaik while he’s residing on China, I’m glad that all worked out and I’ll be there in spirit I hope! Regarding the wide audience and sound; I just think people like what we’re doing, they feel the positive, fun energy that we’re emitting and I suppose take a liking. The sounds all over the place, it’s more of a way of life than a sound! I still find it mad that we’re getting so much attention from out of Europe, I’d love to go to the states and share our vibe, also Australasia, Asia, and all over Europe. They all deserve to be served a whole different cup of tea in my opinion!
Take note guys! Especially as you’ve now shaved your beard off, I heard it was so epic it needed it’s own plane ticket!?
I’ll have to stop you there, you can’t really utter the word “beard” and “epic” in the same breathe without mentioning Jekyll. His beard had him growing off of it. That was epic! People were pretty impressed with my efforts, but it was only for a bet with a close friend of mine, the bet is now complete, and the beard in all its glory has been removed and disposed of, to be honest it got quite itchy and people kept trying to touch it up while being out in public which was highly irritating!
Now, getting down to the nitty gritty, the 5th birthday party! Tell us a bit about it and what we can expect on the night . . .
Right, yeah! Well I’ve always said “expect the unexpected”, but all I can say is that there will be giraffes, balloons, drinks and music. We’re hiring the services of flipside sound-system to come down and make sure the bass is spot on and to ensure the music sounds just as it should! We’re taking over The Bunker in Deptford, London, which is very local to HQ so it only makes sense we keep things close to home! Fearful is going to come and lay the smackdown, I’ve got some pretty mental bits to unleash, Sense and XL are going to come and speak some words that rhyme and make people feel good inside, I’ve invited Silent Dust down to do their first DJ set in a long time; they’re one artist that I really enjoy and always like to bring in special guests to the birthday parties as a present to the audience! Also, I’ve left a set open at the end basically which will be filled by any of the Diffrent artists in attendance, bit of a traditional “all for all / royal rumble” style set, has happened every time to date.
Oh yeah! Speaking of Sense, I recently heard a whisper that Diffrent is gearing up to drop the debut album of one of the most talented and prolific MC’s in drum and bass. Can you shed any light on this for us?
I don’t know what to say really, I had a phone call about a year and a half ago from Matt (Sense) asking if he could do an album so I naturally said ‘of course you can’. He went on to say he wanted to do it for Diffrent and that he had a list of producers he wanted to bring in, a bit of a mixture from around the D&B scene, including a bunch of the label artists and also a few outsiders. After that summer was over we discussed some basic plans and ideas, and now it’s kind of nearly there, most songs are in post production, and we’re starting to think about the artwork and package etc. It’s going to be pretty exciting, and we hope to take a little mini album tour on the roads, so promoters near and far, holler us @ firstname.lastname@example.org!!
I must admit, I caught a cheeky glimpse of one of the tracks a week or two ago, covert operation style, and I can confirm that if that’s how the rest of the albums going to go down, it’s going to be pure fire!! It sounds like you’ve been blessed with such a wealth of amazing artists wanting to work with Diffrent over the years but if you could go back in time and sign any track to your label instead, what would it be and why?
I wouldn’t. It’d probably ruin the tracks vibe and cause some whole kind of butterfly effect on the whole music scene and end the world! But if push came to a shove I’ve got a massive soft spot for Instra:mental “Hunter” which has kind of been and still is a massive influence; not that it shows, but it’s never left my record box in six years.
So give us an insight into an average day in the life of Leonard. What time does get up in the morning? What does he like to have breakfast?
To be fair, Leonard tends not to sleep much, well at least it seems that way. I think by the looks of his ocado food bill he’s got a bit of a thing for granola at the moment. I can’t stand the stuff! He usually listens to a lot of strange music, eats a load of leaves from the trees in the garden, season permitting, if not, he just settles for field mice and bugs. Giraffe’s are vocally silent, so half the time you forget he’s there, until he walks past the office window creating a massive shadow in there! I wish I could take a trip into his mind, maybe he’s lost? Is he happy? Who knows!
I’d hazard a guess and say that any giant mammal with the ability shop at Ocado must be pretty damn happy! So after five successful years in the game, where do you see Diffrent in another five?
Yeah, I think it’s a great success; being able to still be here making noise and capturing the hearts of music lovers from all over the globe. I hope that in five years time things are still going strong and hopefully opportunities arise to take the sound to all the corners of the world that we’ve not yet been able to! Maybe a solid platinum Rolex and a pimped out Rolls Royce may be on the cards, or maybe I’d be pushing my luck! I’d love to dive into some uncategorised musical territories, SoundCloud and the inbox is proving quite a challenge at the moment, but when the time is right!
And lastly, who’s smashing it for you at the moment? What producers should we be looking out for?
Personally I feel that there is an abundance of super talented artists who’re churning out music like there is no tomorrow, if I were to list everyone that I’m really into we’d be here all day, however . . . I’ve got to stay true to my word and say that the guys who’re releasing on Diffrent at the moment are all pretty pro active in the studio and I’m getting loads of really great music that I can’t even fathom how on earth I could package it up and get it out there for people to enjoy!! Fearful has just completed his first ever EP and it’s sounding brilliant, he also has a load of down tempo stuff that’s exciting me as well, and I hope they get to see the light of day soon! Mtwn have been silently building up a whole lot of material which we’re trying to wrap up at the moment and just bombard the universe with it! Like I said before, Arkaik is a very talented guy, we’ve got a few bits on the go that I think we’re both looking forward to getting out there! I’ve just signed some work from USA by a guy called Graphs, he is definitely one to watch/listen/support right now! I could go on, and on, and on, and on, but I need to go use the loo, so I’ll sign off with this and hopefully be able to further this list over the next five years!! Thanks for having me!
Not at all, thanks for joining us!
As I’m sure you can tell, Diffrent’s birthday parties are never ones to miss with great vibes, bonkers outfits and plenty of laughs! Make sure you get a ticket as it’ll be a sell out event for sure and don’t forget to check the mixtape for a sneaky preview of forthcoming Diffrent releases and an insight into what to expect on the night!
Oh and he left us with a firing guest mix 😉 Listen good!