From their earliest releases such as the Shaolin Style EP and Distant Roots EP to their latest material including Brave New World EP and single "Nexus-6," UK dubstep legends BAR9 have been iconic to the development and growth of the dubstep sound as we know it. Their discography acts as a timeline for many of our bass-heavy careers, as they have not only performed in countries all over the world but have released music amongst numerous renowned labels such as Never Say Die, Z Audio, and Audio Phreaks. After a momentous year thus far, the duo is ready to begin the next chapter of their career with the creation of their new record label Electric City. To celebrate the inception of their new imprint, EDM.com is releasing 2 new singles from the duo titled "Start Listening" (out today) and "Something From Nothing" (out 8/9), as well as hosting a give-away for a limited edition "Start Listening" T-shirt, signed tour poster, and exclusive sticker bundle! We spoke with Martin of the duo and discussed the history of their formation, the nuances of their production, and what else to expect from their new label.
Enter the ticket giveaway, listen to their latest tunes, check out their upcoming US tour dates, and learn more about the legendary duo in our interview below!
[EDM = EDM.com, B9 = BAR9]
EDM: BAR9 has been iconic to the growth of dubstep culture both in the UK and US since the mid 2000's - what brought you two together in the first place and when did you decide to take the next big step from hobby to profession?
B9: We actually met through a mutual friend, because I didn’t really know anyone else who was into writing tunes like I was at the time. Initially, we started writing drum and bass together, which was a good introduction to the scene since we were signed to a fairly respected label, but things never really took off while we were there. So when dubstep started to pick up momentum, we started dabbling with it, but immediately got slated for it because we were told that drum and bass “packs arenas” and that dubstep never will. By this point, making music was already a full time occupation for us, because we were both easily spending 12 hours a day in front of the computer. The first 4 tracks we made as BAR9 went out on Z Audio (as did a sizeable chunk of our back catalogue), and from this point on we continued doing it full time. We both saw that it could take us somewhere and watched as it happen to people that were around us at that time, so we just had to get creative as to how we could pay the rent. Literally as soon as we started receiving money from our record sales we looked into getting a proper studio (even though we really couldn't afford it), but within a week of being there we already wrote a handful of tracks including “Shaolin Style,” “Strung Out,” and a few others.
EDM: Who have been your biggest influences in both the dubstep scene and in the music world as a whole?
B9: Well initially, there weren’t too many people pushing the same sound that we were, as everything was very really “eyes down.” The person we really aspired to be was probably Rusko - he wasn’t just doing the underground thing, he was aiming for the big time, and his tracks had a commercial side to them as well as an underground feel. His tracks had funk and groove, and it wasn’t just an LFO making a wobble sound. When Nero broke through with their production, it was also inspiring because it was just so much better than anything else available at that time. Outside of the scene, we both enjoy very stylised music. We’re both really into The Chromatics right now - the vibe that they create is really atmospheric, and truly takes you on a emotional journey. As a teenager, we were both really in to the whole tape pack / underground rave culture, and I was also quite into punk bands like NOFX too - they were just f*cking amazing.
EDM: Are there any other artists in dubstep or elsewhere that you'd like to collaborate with?
B9: The only collab we’ve ever released was with Datsik on “Droid,” but I don’t see any reasons why we wouldn’t collab with more people in the future. Group projects are a really good way to cross breed 2 different artists sounds. We currently have a few on the go at the moment, but I’m not going to say who they are with quite yet… you will have to wait and see!
EDM: Although Bar9 has always been a duo, you two take a slightly different approach to your live performances and work in the studio - what led to this "division of power" and what influence has it had on your productions and touring?
B9: It just made sense to us. We are really busy with shows and its really difficult to produce work that you are happy with if you’ve only had 3 hours of sleep in 3 days. We take it in turns to either stay in the studio or do the shows - the more time spent doing tunes the better right? We both love Djing and got involved in it at a fairly young age, so the want to make tunes came right off the back of this. It's really hard to be creative when you want to go to sleep and this entirely impacts the work you are doing in the studio at that time.
EDM: From your earliest productions to your latest releases, what has been the key to developing your sound while still respecting your "distant" roots? (pun intended)
B9: [Laughs aloud] We just try to be fairly original, neither of us want to make tunes that sounds like anything that has been done before - what's the point in doing that? The technicalities behind what makes someone’s "sound" is pretty much the individual’s work flow and approach to programming tunes. When everyone starts out making music you make things stylistically similar to other artists, but over time most gravitate away from that and become more involved in what they can do as an individual. This is where an artist’s sound comes from, and the more you push it, the more refined it gets. But there is definitely a “BAR9” sound - I think that a lot of the vibes in our music come from the state of mind we are in when we first come up with the idea.
EDM: Your latest singles "Something From Nothing" and "Start Listening" celebrate the birth of your new label Electric City - what led to the creation of Electric City and what can we expect from the new label in the coming months?
B9: We have always talked about starting a label and we just never really got around to it. We were always involved in projects that already had label support, but with these tracks it just seemed like the right time. We wanted to give the tracks away for free to help publicise the new label. Regarding what’s coming up, we have just started out and I don't want to give too much away, but there are some awesome new artists that we are going to be presenting later in the year plus a lot more BAR9 material. I'd really like to get into the management side of things, and bring someone right through from the very beginning, and help make their career.
EDM: Later this August, you will be returning to the US for a mini-tour stopping in Denver and San Francisco to name a few - what is different about this tour around and what can those unfamiliar with your sound expect from your upcoming sets?
B9: We basically just try to play as many heavy tunes as we can. I don’t really see the point in trying to educate a crowd, everyone’s there to have a party and thats exactly what we try to create. Touring is always more fun when you have new material floating around - it creates more of a buzz about the name. You can expect loads of BAR9, and just loads of mind-bending music. I don't just play a playlist, I try to read the crowd and ascertain which track will work best next.
EDM: Finally, if you could go back in time and give yourself advice on your production, performances, or other aspect of your career, what would you say?
B9: I definitely wish we had said yes to some things and no to others. I would tell ourselves to start a label sooner than we have, and to get more involved in the actual business of music. When we started, we just wanted to write tunes and ignored what was going on behind the scenes. I guess I would also teach myself to make dubstep before it even existed so that I could be credited for creating the dubstep sound!
US TOUR DATES
14th - The Works - Detroit, MI
15th - The International - Knoxville, TN
16th - The Summit Music Hall - Denver, CO
17th - Temple - San Francisco, CA