DJ Friction - Mixed-Up Assassin
Monday, 23 June 2008
Portugal isn’t a destination typically identified with drum n bass but, in 2008, it may be the music’s last frontier. The UK’s DJ Friction (aka Ed Keeley) is visiting the festive country as he plugs his latest compilation, The Shogun Assassins.
Portugal is far from his native Brighton – and its drum n bass subculture is very... Iberian. “It’s quite a new thing to them but, yeah, it’s good,” Friction hollers down a dodgy phoneline. “They love it!
“They go really late, though! Usually when I go to a gig I’m on at two o’clock, but here they want you on at 4.30 ’til seven. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, I need my bed! 4.30 in the morning to start, it’s too late – c’mon!’”
You could cursorily confuse The Shogun Assassins for a long-lost Wu-Tang Clan spin-off. Indeed, like the Wu, Friction is fascinated by Asian culture. Nevertheless, Friction had a definite agenda for the mix-CD, which, apart from being recorded live, encapsulates his popular remix of Jonny L’s Back to Your Roots, which, peculiarly, the cheesy Judge Jules picked up.
Friction wanted to showcase his Shogun Audio imprint, yes, but he also aimed to reconcile the divergent facets of his career. The music he releases on Shogun is often deeper – and more chilled – than that he DJs. Fans invariably ask him why.
“I do hear it – people do say it to me. I was talking about it with someone last night,” he says. “I go to a lot of places and a lot of people just want it in-their-face, an intense sound. I love that but, at the same time, I love the more mellow aspects as well – deeper basslines and more rolling stuff. That’s why I started the label – to literally push that side. That’s what the mix-CD is about – it’s just showing another side.”
Having befriended Stakka & K-Tee in Brighton, Friction’s studio debut came in 1999 with Critical Mass as Kinnetix (with Stakka) on Under Fire Recordings. Since then, he’s established his influence in a global underground as ‘the new Andy C’. The DJ was even linked to the neurofunk subgenre. Friction launched Shogun Audio in 2004. Today he admits that, in the digital era, owning a vinyl label isn’t always viable, but it’s about his “passion” for music, not profit. Pete Tong himself has proclaimed Friction to be one of the “big dogs” of drum n bass.
And the Brit is reaching beyond the scene. He’s not only worked with nu-skool breaks kids Aquasky but also enthuses about dubstep. As for his role in drum n bass-
“Obviously my primary thing was as a DJ – and that’s what most people know me for,” he says. “I slot in bits of production here and there, but it’s very hard for me to go around the world DJing and get in the studio. It’s very difficult trying to find the time to do it all. My main thing is my DJing. I’d love to be able to be more of a producer – I hear other people’s music and I think, ‘Ooh, I could do that!’ – but it’s just the time. It’s impossible juggling everything. And now, running the label, there’s no time at all.”
WHO: DJ Friction
WHAT: The Shogun Assassins through Shogun/Inertia
WHEN: Out now