- Thu, 2008-06-12 15:56
The Plump DJs are Lee Rous and Andy Gardner. Having played together for ten years, this break-tastic duo have taken the dance world by storm. They have played a huge part in pushing breakbeat towards the forefront of the dance scene with their blend of storming broken beats forcing dance floors into submission across the globe. With a host of awards on their mantlepiece, this year the duo have already won the Best Producer and Best Single award at The Intrernational Breakbeat Award Ceremony, Breakspoll.
With the recent release of their latest album Headthrash on Finger Lickin Records, I Like music caught up with Lee to chat about making breaks records, being part of a sucessfull DJ duo and the summer festivals.
"I Like Music because… it makes you feel good.” Lee, Plump DJs
ILM: Your latest album Headthrash is due for release on Finger Lickin records. What is special about this one?
Lee: This album is more eclectic than the last offering. The last artist album that we consider was eargasm. This album has given us a real chance to try different ideas and as a result it is much more eclectic than anything we have done before. It gave us a real chance to experiment.
ILM: The track System Addict won Best Single at this years Breakspoll. You also won Best Producer this year, you always do incredibly well at Breakspoll! Do you have a favourite track on the album? Which did you have the most fun with in the studio?
Lee: At the moment I'm still enjoying System Addict. It's such a ballsy record. It's a real stand out track on the album. The great thing about doing an album is that it allows you to put a number of records together in your chosen order. That way you can highlight or bring out different aspects of each individual track. We have spent a lot of time making sure the order is correct and we have tried to bring out the best parts of each individual tune within the body of the album.
Now that the album is together and I'm listening to it as a body of music, I'm finding I'm getting excited about tracks that I maybe previously wasn't as excited about. It's quite funny, you get used to hearing the record over and over again when you're making it and sometimes you can become a little bit bored of a tune, especially after hearing it like 600 times. Then you give the record a break, a bit of a breather and a week later you hear it and it re-freshes and sounds intriguing again.
There is a record called Shifting Gears by this girl called Niara and a rapper called Raphael Lamotta from the states. That's another stand out track for us. We also worked with Sharlene Hector from Basement Jaxx and that was a stand out moment for us too, but really there's too many to mention!
ILM: You are currently playing a lot of UK dates due to the album release. What can we expect if we come to see you live? Will it be the usual Plumps madness or will there be any extra treats?
Lee: We are trying to slip in as many of the album tracks as possible. We have had to do re-edits and also re-make some of the album tracks so that they fit into our set. There are still full blown-out club tracks on the album but some of them are down tempo and some of them are actually full vocal, so we've had to re-work them for the set. There's also some tunes we've made more recently that will be featuring in our sets.
ILM: You've been involved in the breaks scene for a long time...! What do you think makes a top breaks night and a top breaks tune?
Lee: I've always liked the attitude of the breaks scene and crowd. That's what makes a top breaks night, just the general nature of the crowd.
I think that a good breaks track has got to have balls and something new about it. It's got to have a fresh idea going on. We've always taken influences from many other genres and we've always been very happy to play other genres in our sets. I've always liked that about breakbeat. It's a great genre of music to just explore creatively. The sort of template, the grooves you can have in a breaks record are so varied. But yeah, ultimately a great breaks record just needs a load of balls in it's production! Hah!
ILM: What is the Plump DJ's process of making tunes? Do you start with a sample, or a beat, or lyrics, or is it just random?
Lee: Yeah, the way we make music varies from track to track. Sometimes we will find a sample that inspires us and will enthuse us to make a record based around that sample. Other times we will write some lyrics and that will be the start of the process. Sometimes we will find a really nice groove in the studio or a really nice bass sound and that will be the theme of the record. The general theme comes from all over the place. We get lots of inspiration whilst we are travelling around DJing all over the world. Basically we just take all of those ideas into the studio, throw them around and get stuck in.
ILM: The Plump DJ's are yourself and Andy Gardner. How do you work together - both live and in the studio?
Lee: Soon we are going to be doing four deck mixing when we are DJing. Traditionally we have only played on two decks but we've found that four decks gives us more chance to be creative. Plus it's more fun for us. It means we are both able to do things at the same time. Also it stops us both getting really drunk! Usually if one of us is playing the other is having a drink! It's much more involved with four and we are looking forward to that.
In the studio Andy does more of the hands on work with me sitting behind basically. Um...we both spend the same amount of time in the studio on all the tracks and come up with the ideas for the tracks creatively, together and individually. It's a relationship that is still working after ten years.....so that's a good sign!
ILM: You have been involved in the music industry for a long time and have witnessed it grow and change. How has the internet and downloading music for free affected you as an artist?
Lee: There has been a massive change of events since the internet has come around. It has had a big effect on the music industry, as most people know, with a lot of companies going under and musicians finding it tough, near impossible, to sell music. We've still got a DJ fanbase and there are a number of people that like our music and records so there is still a need for us!
Generally our record sales have gone down and been replaced by downloads. However, many more people are downloading our music now compared to the numbers that ever bought our records. It has made it more accessible. We can go away and DJ in Taiwan and there will be 10,000 people there. The first 1,000 will be singing all the words to a track and they are most likely to have downloaded it from home. Nowdays we might only sell about 2,000 - 3,000 actual records but get a million downloads. Not all of those downloads are paid for though. But we are selling a bit from them, so we can make a bit of money back from that process.
ILM: You're playing some festivals this summer as per usual! Notably the dance tent at Glastonbury and The Glade festival. What do you think makes a good festival?
Lee: Glade should be funny! Hah! Let's hope it's not muddy again this year! A good festival...um...I was going to say good weather helps, but then again some of the best Glasto's I've had have been quite muddy! But yeah.....er.....It's tough but I'll stick with that one! Good weather at a festival, camping with all your mates, getting drunk, being silly, listening to your favourite music and having a boogie, you can't beat it!
ILM: It becomes such a mission when mud is involved doesn't it? Taking your wellies on and off each time you want to get into your tent!
Lee: Yeah right. Although it is a good leveller. When you're at a muddy festival you're all in the same boat.
ILM: You're all resigned to the fact that no-one is going to wash for a few days?!
Lee: Yeah, haha! It does level people out! Especially if you have some materialistic friends who don't like getting their clothes dirty. After a few day's everyone is in the same situation and you can just get on with the partying!