We spent last weekend at Nozstock the Hidden Valley in Bromyard, Herefordshire. Friday night saw the Hospitality takeover at the Cubicle stage, just days before this stage was a shed home to a Herd of cows, but 19th-20th July 2019 it was filled with crews of skanking ravers.. I wonder who produced the most Methane?
We caught up with Danny Byrd, king of the dance floor and one of the original DJ’s signed to Hospital Records, who delighted us with a flawless set at Nozstock 2019:
Festival season is in full swing, in 10 days you have managed to fit in Hospitality On The Beach, Nosztock Festival and Electric Castle in Romania; Firstly where on earth does all of your energy come from? Secondly when you have gigs so close together, do you find your sets can become very similar, or do you make adjustments based on the crowd and the set from the previous DJ’s?
Hahaha… You’re talking to me whilst i’m still sitting in bed on a Tuesday, so yes this weekend has taken its toll! I think in the moment you are running on adrenaline for the most part but then get the crash come Monday. I think it’s healthy mentally not to try and do anything too creative on those days, as I don’t think your brain is interpreting music the way it would when rested, and you can become a bit self doubtful. In regards to the Sets sometimes they do sound the same if they work. You’ll have new tunes that you try out and if they worked really well at Nostock for example, then I’d definitely try them in the same place in Romania. There is sometimes differences in crowds in different cultures though. For example in Nozstock at the moment people like it rolling and Steppy, as in Eastern Europe maybe a euphoric breakdown might work better, so I gear things around a little bit too depending on crowd.
This isn’t your first time at Nozstock, personally I think it is one of the very few festivals that has managed to preserve the feeling of a small and intimate event, while catering for a large capacity; Do you find you feel more in touch with the crowd here than at some of the larger festivals and stages?
Yes it does have a nice local friendly vibe to it, I known a lot of the Bristol crew attend, so that makes me feel a bit more at home too. It’s also easier to get on the site due to it being smaller, for example some of the bigger festivals it can take a couple of hours to get in at the artist entrance, which never sets one up in the best mood for playing! Hahaha… sounding like a diva but just being truthful. Noztock has a wicked vibe, long may it continue!
Following from that I think the sound at Nozstock is incredible, especially at the Cubicles stage, it projects right outside of the shed and onto the yard behind, which is so rare for an outdoor stage. Do you find the sound restrictions in place at some events can affect the overall sound quality? Have you ever felt the need to ask the technician to ‘turn it up!’?
Good question, we have our own monitors so sometimes can’t hear what the crowd is hearing. So for example it may sound loud on stage but quiet in the crowd but you’d never be able to tell from the booth. I had that at a festival recently. You generally know when your dropping banger’s that are tried and tested and people just nod their heads! hahahaha… but eh what can you do? I have actually sometimes pointed my monitors to the crowd and turned them right up just to get the vibe going more.
I watched a 2013 documentary titled ‘Golden Ticket: Inside the Chocolate Factory’, I was surprised to hear that soon after your signing to Hospitality, when you had the green light to make a DnB album, you had writers block for 5 years. Do you think the new pressure of your work being labelled and analysed led to this? How did you overcome this stage?
It was more for technical reasons actually. At the time I signed to Hospital I was working with a lot of hardware samplers and mixing desks and then in around 2001 it all changed to everyone working just inside a computer only, which is quite a big shift compared to how I’d been working previously. I think then as time moves on your confidence dries up. I think this is why you see legends in D&B and music generally not release after a while as the fear of dropping a dud is bigger than the excitement of new music. Now me personally I try and accept it all, if it works it works, if not I’ll try again with something else. It’s a good time to be releasing music at the moment with all the streaming services its makes it quicker to get out there, and fans are hungry for content every few months.
Drum and Bass has evolved so dramatically over the years, and I find there seems to be a real fascination currently with ‘sub genres’, has your music always followed a similar style, or do you think it has evolved since your early days as a producer?
I think I was inspired a lot by garage sounds and R&B stuff back in early 2000’s but I found a lot more success when I branched out and incorporated some other influences within my D&B. I remember telling my A&R in 2008 that I’d just been to see Justice (Electro group) live in Bristol and it was amazing , and he said: “Why don’t you make a D&B tune like that?” which became ‘Weird Science’ on my first album ‘Supersized’. I always like to take outside influences and then incorporate them into the D&B sounds.
You live, breath and create Drum and Bass, but in your private time what music do you find yourself listening to? Have you been to any recent gigs for example of another genre?
I went to see Anderson Paak and Dr Dre at the O2 in Brixton last year, that was incredible! I’m generally a massive Hip-Hop fan, possibly more than D&B tbf, but I am interested in everything. Each week I download new music Friday and best of the week playlists to listen to on planes, so I try and hear everything. Sometimes I’ts not even just for the songs but for the production and sonic of music that is always subtly changing.
You have been signed with Hospitality since the turn of the Millennium, and you have said previously that a move to a larger label may take away your freedom; do you find there are certain artists who have entered the charts with radio friendly Drum and Bass that feels watered down and diluted, and doesn’t accurately portray their sound, and who they are as artists?
Its not for me to critique anyone that’s moved onto larger labels, sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. The problem arrives on a major label when said artist tries to make make some banger’s for the club and they get shut down for not being commercial enough etc etc.. I think each artist should be judged on their own merits and their own path’s… so everyone is different really. If you sign to a major just make sure you have a short term or get out clause if things don’t go to plan.
Danny before we let you go and finally get some rest; do you have any exciting projects coming up for us to look out for?
I’ve been working on lot’s of new music with some surprising artists, so watch this space in the next few months 🙂
Thank you Danny, we will absolutely be watching this space.
You can check Danny Byrd next at Rampage Open Air Festival followed by Let It Roll and Hospitality in the Park.
Join us at Nozstock 2020!: