Magnetude have experienced an unprecedented rise within the Drum & Bass scene in the past couple of years. They started out releasing a tonne of high quality singles on Lifted and Eatbrain and have recently climbed unparalleled heights, going on to release music on RAM and Viper. With unstoppable energy and a large backing behind them, they succeed to grow within the Drum & Bass scene with every release.
James and Rustam are coming in hot with new weapons as their latest single “Friday,” which is OUT NOW on Viper’s ‘Acts of Mad Men’ series, proves it. They also have another single “Mantis” in the bag, which has been tearing up dance floors ever since it was first dropped on stage. If you haven’t heard previews of this track yet, prepare yourself.
We caught up with them to talk about their latest projects, as well as forthcoming ones. On top of that, we additionally found out more about the duo, their perceived style of production and other exclusive news. Let’s jump in.
Easy boys! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. How’s 2019 been treating you thus far?
James: Yeah it’s been pretty good. We’ve got a lot of bookings and have been working on a ton of new music. We put out our free download of ‘Heathens’ by Twenty One Pilots which really did well and surpassed our expectations, to be honest, which was then followed up by that amazing remix of ‘Before the Dawn’ from GLXY. Everything’s been on the move and on the up.
Rustam: I have recently moved too, and have been working on building my own recording studio. It will be the first time in my life that I have the perfect and comfortable working conditions, and I can not wait to get stuck into music when it is ready.
So do you mind telling us a bit about your origins? How did you become Magnetude?
Rustam: Yeah sure, basically we met around 8 or 9 years ago. Back then I was producing under Rusty K and James was working with a label called ‘Close to Death’. I started releasing music through there and James’ was helping me with paperwork, constructive advice and trying to help me improve my music.
James: We gelled really well and rather a business relationship, a real solid friendship blossomed. When Rustams agreement was up, we branched off to work more closely together.
Rustam: It was almost 3 years ago when James had the confidence to show me his music in which we decided to collaborate on which then led to us deciding to create a new project and work together as Magnetude. The rest is history.
Did you have similar influences?
James: Yes, absolutely. The things is, when you work together all day, every day, you almost know everything about how they approach music, their discipline, etc. If you don’t share similar musical tastes then there would be a lot of disagreements when writing music together.
Rustam: Something we had in common was that a lot of our influences come from outside Drum & Bass, so artists such as Massive Attack, The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Moby as well as Classical Music to Punk Rock, which also really helps with creativity as we tend to take a step back away from Drum & Bass a lot and listen to other types of music when looking for inspiration. For us, this is one of the most crucial things for coming up with original ideas.
James: We even like the same movies too, and with us basing a lot of our tracks around stories, this really helps us a lot.
So 2018 was quite a mental year for you boys. You took a huge leap, starting on Lifted and now you’ve got a back catalogue of releases on RAM. That’s quite an achievement.
James: Yes absolutely, in terms of how quickly we went from A to B to C, so from Lifted, to Eatbrain and then to RAM and now Viper, we sometimes sit back and look back on where we started to where we are now and are like, ‘wow, in two and a half years, we have accomplished what some people work their whole career for’.
Rustam: Every release on has been an accomplishment in itself, to be honest as well as every label that we have released on too. Each are massive in their particular ‘niche’ and they have these amazing histories and rosters that bleed with talent. So yeah last year really was an amazing year for us and we are really excited about how things are moving.
James: We also feel when looking back from when we started to where we are in terms of production quality that we have really upped our game, and we are still learning too.
How has the support been for you boys since you broke through in the Drum & Bass scene?
James: It has been amazing! We have received huge support from Andy C, AMC, Camo & Krooked, Zardonic and Memtrix, all the way to Mackey Gee and Kanine. Also, our great friends Task Horizon who have been there with us since the very start of our project have been extremely supportive of everything we do.
Rustam: We can not forget Koven either, who have been massively supportive of our music, which is huge for us as we are massive fans of their music. There are so many artists really, it’s quite difficult to name all of them right now, we’ll probably need to write them down after (laughs).
Do you feel your sound has progressed since you were releasing on RAM?
James: Absolutely. With every track that you write, you learn something new, and while we’re trying to come up with original ideas, and totally different storylines and we are always trying to push forward with new concepts and visions. With each story comes a different production discipline. For example, ‘Entr’acte’ was a story about a killer circus, so we started researching how circus music is performed and then began writing circus-themed music, whereas with ‘Arcade’ – The sort of a person being sucked into a real life video game, we took to listening to a lot of oldskool video game music.
Rustam: ‘Before the Dawn,’ we wanted to aim for something a bit more out there, that kind of appeals to the mainstream audience, but also appeals to the proper dance-floor heads. We also tried using live instruments like music boxes and even mobile phones in some of our new compositions, as well as creating animalistic roars via synths. With our older releases, they were more neuro, with little to no storylines, and we really like the concept of the storyline as it allows us to be more creative, especially with a lot of our new tracks we are working on.
Let’s talk about your new single “Friday.” Quite an arrangement! Very energetic. What influenced you to write and design the track the way you did?
James: Basically the whole complex of ‘Friday’ is to kind of celebrate the arrival of the weekend, there are so many times when people have just such a difficult week, that all they look forward to is going out with their friends and hitting the dance-floor and dancing the stress away. So we wanted to create this party anthem that people can kind of relate to as well.
Rustam: Yeah absolutely! We also wanted to express that feeling of when you are going to a party, let’s say the first time of your life, or the huge party you’ve never been to before, we really wanted to tackle that really euphoric feeling you get when you arrive and feel the energy of the crowd. We had a good idea with using this synth wave atmosphere to make the track sound much brighter.
James: Because a lot of our tracks are, what some would say “doom and gloom” and have a lot of really deep feelings, with this track we really wanted to change things and come up with more of an upbeat and vibrant mood.
I’ve noticed your tracks, such as “Friday” have a rather cinematic and futuristic / science fiction vibe, is this something you mostly intend when you’re in the studio?
James: We kind of create storylines, so basically when we’re approaching tunes, and have got the idea of the concept we want to pursue then we research similar movies and read between the lines and study the music to then go into our concept knowing exactly what it needs. It really depends on the story we have in mind at the time.
Rustam: Every style and every mood has some kind of element that you can underline to make it more happy or sad, anything you want really. So basically as soon as we have this concept, we try and make this element pretty visible. For example, the vocals we used, the reference was a mix of modern and intergalactic/retro sounds. A lot of synthwave elements to give it that retro feel and also live guitar.
This is part of Viper’s ‘Acts of Mad Men’ series. How did this come about?
James: We never knew that Brenden at Viper has been a massive follower of our music for some time, and we were sat on a bunch of tracks that we wanted to send out and get feelers from labels and we started with Viper. Brenden immediately got back to us, expressing how he had been keeping very close tabs on us and watching our progression and then expressed how much he’d like to work with us. After listening to several ideas we had, he then mentioned this particular track which we had handed out to several DJs to test out for us.
Rustam: We were actually quite surprised how he found out about this tune, and at the time were not 100% happy with how it was sounding, but we sent it over and he immediately jumped straight on it and proposed to us about making it the lead single of the new ‘Acts of Mad Man’ project, which is a really amazing compliment.
James: It really is, as I remember having vinyls of previous ‘Acts of Mad Man’ releases years ago, and it is one of the LPs that even looking back, was such a massive release full of the creme de la creme of Drum & Bass.
We’ve heard your track ‘Mantis.’ Sounds like it’s going to be a big tune! Can you tell us a bit more about this? Will we expect a release soon? What are the plans for the release?
James: ‘Mantis,’ is a track that we started over a year and a half ago, around the same time we started ‘Snatch’ actually and have so many versions of this track.
Rustam: We tend to create road test versions of tracks for gigs and we’ve been playing it out pretty much every gig we’ve had over the last year, and it’s a tune that has really resonated and we’re constantly getting contacted by people on social media asking us for the ID.
James: It has been a track we have envisioned for a long time, done a hell of a lot of tweaking and changing to get to the level we are really happy to commit to completing the track now.
Rustam: I think we’re going to try and wrap up the tune in the next couple of weeks… I think one or two weeks maximum.
James: In terms of where we’re gonna release it, we’re going to decide a little bit later. I think the most important thing right now is getting the track finished.
Rustam: Since uploading that little video on our socials, there’s been such a massive demand for it, it appears to be the most sought after track we’ve done. So it’s important to we focus on getting it done before continuing onto the next step.
Are there any other labels out there you plan to work with or would like to work with? Return to Eatbrain maybe?
James: Oh this is such a difficult question to answer as there are so many great labels out there! Off the top of my head would definitely be Mau5trap and Monstercat. Ninja Tune would be a dream, but at the moment, it’s important not to get too distracted with labels and just focus on the music and writing music for you.
Rustam: I completely agree. It’s really easy to get caught up in deciding where to place your music, over actually getting the music finished, so the main focus for us is writing the music we want to write without limitations and getting as much of the music we are working on finished as quickly as possible.
Do you have any collabs in the works? Any particular artists who would like to see yourself head down in the studio with?
James: We’ve actually got several, We don’t want to really say anything just yet as we will be giving away too many secrets. But one we would like to mention is with a really good friend of ours from Russia, the mighty Receptor.
Rustam: For us, it’s the perfect pairing of 2 producers focused on both the musicality and heaviness of the music. People tend to compare us and Receptor, so we spoke to him and we were like “why don’t we bang out some tunes?” The tunes are sounding really cool at the moment, but still have quite a long way to go.
James: For a collaboration like this, it needs to be something very special, unique and the perfect mix of styles, but so far all the tracks sound very promising and working with Mitya is such an amazing learning experience.
Finally, what is the festival season looking like for you boys this year? Anywhere you’re most excited about performing?
James: Festival season is looking pretty epic. We recently announced that we have joined a brand new agency – Outset and our Agent Jordan has been working like a machine to lock in dates. First up, we’ve got Let It Roll which is gonna be something, as we’ve never played there before so we’re going to play together.
Rustam: Then on the 23rd August we’ve got our debut at Creamfields and we’ll be playing on the ‘Andy C and Friends’ stage which is gonna be another huge accomplishment. The lineup for that stage is unreal and we were handpicked by Andy himself for this one too! Literally, the day after that, we’ll be in Toulouse performing at a sort of electro/alternative festival, with Camo & Krooked and Flava D, that’s gonna be really cool.
James: We’ll also be playing in Moscow a week after, which is ‘achievement unlocked because I’ve always wanted to play a gig in Russia. Then after that, we will have a short holiday together and then it is back to business for what we hope will be an onslaught of releases to wrap up 2019.
Perfect! Sounds like everything’s looking up for you boys! Thanks for chatting with us!