There's a wizardry in the music of Edward Upton, a man who's music has been prevalent for over two decades and has magically manipulated machines in a way few others can rival. DMX Krew is just one of many names by which he has released under, however it remains arguably the most prominent and widely known of the collection.
His love of hardware and machinery is widely documented; not a man to define himself by the expectations or assumptions of others he has released a sporadic spectrum of sound experiments across a breadth and wealth of genres. You never quite know what you're going to get from a DMX Krew record and that's part of the appeal. From early IDM excursions on the likes of Rephlex, hip house on his own Breakin' Records, through to tinged out dub and hip hop in the present. It's all a blur.
Next week will see DMX Krew bring his renowned live set to Patterns in Brighton for what will be a masterclass in machine funk. We caught up with him to talk hardware and country life.
Hey Ed! How's 2019 been? Any highlights?
Good, very busy.
Highlights - It was great to finish building my new studio in the countryside, now I just need to get all my ancient machines working properly.
You've been producing and performing for nigh on 25 years now, what first turned you on to production back then?
It wasn't called production then, it was called making music. I got into it because when I was really small we had a beaten up old piano and after that we had a Bontempi organ in the dining room, and I would make up tunes on it and sometimes write them down. I liked listening to pop records and Kraftwerk and stuff like that so that’s where it all began.
Aside from the advancement of technology, in what ways has the musical landscape changed since you first started?
I guess the big thing in dance music is that it's gone from being futuristic & forward-thinking to being very retro and kind of circular, a lot of people trying to recreate sounds of the past that they like instead of trying to push forward into something new & original. I miss the unpredictability.
After so long in the game, producing and performing live must feel almost like muscle memory. Are you always seeking to challenge yourself further in terms of process and approach?
Yes, I try to find ways to make it new for me all the time. I try to make stuff that is different to what i did before, that's why my records sound so varied. I hook up stuff in different ways or just try to find different combinations of notes and chords that aren't so obvious.
Your discography is wildly different. Does your approach differ dependent on the vibe you're going for, or is it always the same starting point?
I just make music and I let other people categorise it if that makes them happy. Like I mentioned before, I try to change the approach and methods a lot but the main thing is I like different kinds of music and i want to be original and keep it fresh for myself.
What bit of kit could you not live without?
If I could only have one thing I suppose it would be a nice synth or piano. On the other hand, for making a living doing shows & dance tracks I just need an MPC.
Your live show has been a permanent fixture for many years now, how has it changed and evolved since you first took it to the stage?
I quickly realised that it's a nightmare taking loads of gear on tour so now I just take an MPC & a 303. The music changes all the time as I change. I don't play songs that I made 20 years ago, I play new stuff.
Any words of advice for producers looking to take their production from studio to stage?
Not really. I don't think they should care what I think, just do the best you can do.
With the renewed interest in electro over the last few years, we've seen a younger generation of producers come to the fore. Any new artists you're keeping tabs on?
No I don't listen to much music by other people. When I do it's jazz or reggae or pop.
Looking ahead to next year, anything you're excited about? What new releases have you got penned?
Next thing is a kind of 80-100bpm dancehall kind of LP on Hypercolour, lots of EP's as usual, new release on my label Breakin' from Galaxian, millions of gigs everywhere as usual.
Buy tickets HERE.