With their debut album as a duo out now, DLR and Mako honour the six minds that have influenced them the most
Two men, one mission, one vision, OneMind... the pact between Bristol-based D&B producers DLR and Mako is the stuff of collaboration legend, an alchemy where the two protagonists’ sights are set on identical coordinates but both have different ways of getting there. Their work carries neither individual’s signature but packs a sound that’s greater than the sum of its already well-respected solo parts.
The latest in a long line of illustrious Metalheadz duos - Source Direct, Hidden Agenda, Scar, Commix, Ulterior Motive, Blocks & Escher - there was plenty of evidence that DLR and Mako shared a singular studio synergy long before they even presented the OneMind concept to the world in late 2015 with an outstanding DNB60 sesh for Radio 1. Early collaborations penned around 2013/14, such as Your Mind, The Formula and Hungry For Atmosphere, bulged with spacious, foreboding soul that hinted a strong sense of what drum & bass has always been, what it can be, what it could be.
By the time the first OneMind tracks proper such as Skin Dem and 2 On Each Side landed in November 2016, there was little doubt that a classic Metalheadz album would soon follow. Think Scar’s Orkyd Project, Dom & Roland’s Last Refuge Of A Scoundrel, Commix’s Call To Mind, Blocks & Escher’s recent Something Blue… this was always going to be a quintessential 'Headz document, a new schematic on the OG blueprint set by label founder Goldie.
Two men, one mission, one vision, one incredible album - OneMind’s self-titled debut LP lives up to all hype and expectation. A deeply detailed trip that, they explain, isn’t tailored strictly for the dance or created for DJs to mix at all, OneMind is emotionally fickle, hurling you into contrasting moods with so much as a moment's notice. It asks more questions than it answers, but it gives something new on every listen. The Mentasm tsunami and scattergun drum funk of Move Thru, the deep, dubby desert mysticism of Woman In The Dunes, the venomous rubber ball bass on Pullup... the list goes on.
Checking this album out isn't merely recommended - it’s essential. But first, get acquainted. We explored the minds of OneMind by asking them for their own personal favourite minds. Read on, if you wouldn’t mind...
"On one level, I know it's massively cheesy, but up at No 1 has to be my wife, Shush. She is the person who really helped show me another side to life and other ways of thinking. Also she’s easily the hardest worker I know, and she always makes the best things happen. Since knowing her when I was 18 we’ve grown up together, and her passion, energy, work ethic and social ability are the ultimate inspiration for me to want to work hard, create and achieve. No one knows what life could or would have been like without someone or something, but I know life wouldn’t be like this for me without her inspiration."
"Musically I’m not necessarily the ultimate D&B fanboy, but Dillinja has always represented the punk attitude that I always loved in the scene. He worked so hard to create something totally original, and from watching and reading his interviews I can identify with a lot of similar characteristics about how he carried himself - being nervous about pushing such a different original sound and generally making his tunes sounding like he wanted because he has that ‘fuck you’, ‘turn it up to 11’ attitude going on. Salute to anyone fighting for their space and sound in this industry. It’s not easy."
Rhythm & Sound
"Rhythm and Sound have become my ultimate inspiration of late. I don’t know if I really achieve something that people could say is directly descended from their sound and style, but as soon as I heard their music I felt a connection with it. The sound is so true and similar to Dillinja: they totally carved out their own part of the music world and put their stamp on it. One of the ultimate cult techno sounds in my opinion. Their mystery and how their music sounded so different left us all digging, researching and trying desperately to figure out this moment in time that they existed in. That’s something pretty fucking incredible.
"Another way they’re similar to Dillinja is that unless you give up your life to achieve such independence and originality, it's very hard to ever get close to existing in that moment."
Fields & Villem
"These guys were my original badmen teachers when I was first making tunes. They practically took me under their wing for years and were willing to share any knowledge/samples/tune sessions with me. It’s a bond that can never be broken or forgotten about.
"Fields taught me the beauty of finding the right hits, which almost eliminated the need for compression and mad EQ'ing, at least at the beginning. When he was making a loop (he lived next door to me for a while), it sounded like it would come together so easily. His bass was always super tight and fat and I loved the way he would squeeze his beats together on a Mackie desk, something that him and his brother Villem were big fans of.
"Villem was, and still is, one of my favourite engineers of beats and sub-bass. Never harsh, always bright enough and with much more sub-bass pressure than many of our contemporaries. He taught me so much about the importance of the mixdown, and how a bit of method and organisation among the hedonistic creativity was great for getting things finished and sounding professional. He also carried me along for a few collaboration tunes at the beginning and was very selfless in his vibes. I owe him... and will continue to owe him for the rest of my life."
"I talk a lot about Photek in interviews, Top 5's and so on! His music was a big inspiration to me when I was DJing at home. I wouldn't play loads of his tunes in the club, but I must have listened to Modus Operandi over 1,000 times. I would just lie there, analysing the beats and then drifting away from the analysis to just being absorbed by them. I love the use of different snare pitches to create a subtle groove alongside the shakers and hi-hats. He did this the best I think. I'm always trying to emulate this in our beats.
"His use of big vocal hits on drops isn't lost on me either, I love using that method to create an impact without having to use too many white noise FX. His looped atmospheric beds were an inspiration too, the way they would fill the mix up and gel everything together in a warm blanket."
"Since he came into my life, it’s never been the same! I used to sample a lot in my tunes - I would rarely make sounds from scratch or use drum machines. That changed almost overnight when I saw him working in the studio. On the surface it looked like he was just messing around, recording a bunch of sounds, then picking the best ones. No doubt this is what we all do, but the methods he would use to get to where he wanted were very interesting. He was the first person to show me that distorting reverb could be really useful to create epic effects. Together we coined the phrase 'death horns' after these sessions where he would show me how to make these darkside pitch-bending distorted pads that are so useful in atmospheric music.
"I could literally talk for hours about the wonderful things I've learned off him over the years. He has been the single most biggest inspiration on my music over the last five years or so. He got my music heard by Goldie, he taught me about RMS, showed me that I could make bass if I tried and now he's persuading me to learn Ableton and how to make live sets. It never stops with him, but I wouldn't have it any other way!"
Words: Dave Jenkins
OneMind's debut album OneMind is out now on Metalheadz - buy it here
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