With the Q&A’s we do, we send them off, and we’re never quite sure what we’re gonna get back. Sometimes it’s deep, sometimes funny, sometimes rote responses that bore to tears, sometimes illuminating. When I got this one back, scrolling down the several pages worth of email, I knew we had a winner. Nice and long, in depth. Let’s go deep with Reading, UK based trio The Silent Coup…
Who makes up The Silent Coup?
The Silent Coup is a jungle/drum and bass and electronic collective from Reading. The Silent Coup, as a specific ‘artist’ moniker, is usually made up of Donski and Fort Experiment, although we often collaborate with other friends, musicians and producers in varying combinations. Aural Blueprint is the name we use for more musical based work. Leaper is another key member of the collective, assisting on various Coup productions, although mainly working on his own beats and pieces.
What were your influences when you first started writing music? And what are your influences now?
Donski: I got into to a lot of old acid house, techno and proto-jungle in the early 90’s and got into mixing in my early early teenage years. I caught the bug from that and soon progressed to producing my own own tracks through a local youth centre, where I also met Alistair (Leaper). Specifically, I rate the old Ed Rush and Optical, Technical Itch, Teebee, Dom and Roland and Renegade Hardware sounds as big influences. But Also the more rhythm heavy producers like Paradox, Icarus, Arcon 2, Equinox etc. as well.
Fort: I come from a classically trained music background, but first heard the “intelligent” drum and bass sound of Good Looking Records, and was immediately hooked inspired him to begin producing similar sounds. I got into producers like Blame, Blu Mar Ten, Future Engineers, the old 720 Records sound; then a lot of the Reinforced Records stuff from the mid to late 90’s. However, being a trumpeter Ive gained a lot of influence from jazz and funk, as well as classical music, but also ambient/isolationist music, indian classical music etc. Anything deep and that can take the listener on an inward journey.
Leaper: Well, when I first started messing around with my little Casio keyboard at the age of 5, my main influences were Bob Marley and Michael Jackson. When I started experimenting with my sampler at the age of 16, I was heavily influenced by the likes of Bad Company, Ed Rush and Optical, Andy C and Tee Bee. It was a combination of listening to their productions in great depth and experimenting with the FX processors on my SP-808 sampler that I began to learn about processing audio. Although I’m influenced by everything around me (musical and non-musical), at present, I am listening to a lot of Reggae and Dub reggae. Dennis Brown’s Promised Land album, Horace Andy’s The Light Side of Dub, Lee Scratch Perry and King Jammy is always playing in my car. Over the past couple years I have been heavily influenced by the deeper Dubstep sounds such as artists like Mala and V.I.V.E.K and the Antisocial Entertainment boys like Silkie, Quest, Jay5, Henny G and Harry Craze. I also listen to a lot of Scientific Wax’s stuff….artist like Equinox, B-Key, Nebula, Reaktiv and Rumbleton inspire my more Jungle-type productions.
What are you working on at the moment?
Donski: We moved in to a new, large studio facility recently, so have been working hard on getting that up and running – cleaning the place up, doing all the acoustic treatment, building new booths etc. Its gonna be for our own use but also as a small commercial facility too; a way of earning a bit extra on the side but also networking with other musicians in the area.
Fort: On the music side, we have been working and communicating with Seb at Inna Riddim Records about sorting out this release on his label, and that has been a big priority. We are also going through some of our older tracks and doing the mixdowns again, as new knowledge is gained and skills developed over time and, while the creativity was there in these older tracks, the production could have been better. So we are now addressing that in order to release them in the very near future. But new material is still always being written.
Leaper: I have been working on a two Dubstep productions. One is a heavily Dub influenced song, which is to be a live recorded mix. The other will be an experimental fusion of Classical music and Dubstep, which should be finished later in the year. I’ll be working with a talented classical music composer and looking forward to hearing the outcome of it.
Do you have a procedure for writing music?
Fort: Not strictly, but we usually start off with a drum break, cut it up, throw it into Ableton rewired through Cubase, and begin messing around with it. While this is going on, someone else is on the synth playing around with some bass or pads patch. This is the benefit of working as team – working simultaneously, and getting a good vibe going between us. A bit like jamming in some respects. We will then start mixing bits down, chuck them on the sampler, resample, edit, write, repeat… always running everything through the desk (Soundtracs Megas). Once we are happy with things, we might do a rough mixdown through the desk, or record all the parts in as a multitrack and edit the raw audio in the box.
Leaper: In terms of how I generate ideas and develop a song, there is no real procedure. Sometimes I might start a song by developing a beat, sometimes a bass-line and other times a percussion riff. It all depends on what sound inspires me and generates ideas. Technically, I normally compose using a combination of Cubase, Reason and Ableton at my home studio. Ill then do the final mixdown either in Pro Tools on my setup or ill take it down to Conjunction studios and work on it with Donski and Fort using their kit, which is a bit more suited to full-scale, live mixdowns through the desk.
If you could collaborate with any musician in the world, who would you collaborate with?
Fort: I would love to work with Steve Roach. He is an American ambient music producer/composer who’s been writing since the early 80’s, and has written the best part of 100 albums! The man knows his synthesis! He writes seriously profound, achingly beautiful pieces that drift along, most completely rhythmless, for up to 70-odd minutes. I would like to combine that with some 160bpm business. Or at least remix some of his music.
Donski: Its a hard question, there are so many, but i think I’d like to work with Equinox quite a lot, Always feeling the jungle, of course! And I’d really like to work with Icarus – Absolutly bad! And mad! Their latest album concept is bonkers, but absolute genius at the same time.
Leaper: Probably Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace, the famous Jamaican drummer at Studio One. He played himself in the legendary late 1970’s Jamaican film ‘Rockers’. He’s worked with many well known Reggae artists and has been credited with inventing the ‘Rockers’ rhythm. I would love to combine his drum rhythms with some heavy modern synthesised bass-lines and ‘dub-it-out’!
What do you think about Reading’s music scene? And if you could play anywhere, where would you love to perform?
Fort/Donski: Reading has a very small underground drum and bass scene. During the nineties you had the likes of Basement Records (both the label and shop), Street Beats, and the Bassheads raves at the Matrix which brought a lot of top producers and labels to the town once a month during the early noughties. Nowadays, there is a small, regualr night at the Purple Turtle called Sub Factory, as well as a monthly night called Bassment, which attracts some well know artists/djs and the Reading dnb heads. We occasionally get bigger events but they’re few and far between. We feel Reading needs a revival, not just for Drum and Bass but for music in general! However, EngineEarz (who are from Reading) seem to be leading a bit of a renaissance in the town for all things electronic, so hopefully things will change for the better. But keep your ear to the ground, who knows what the future brings!
Leaper: I live in Cardiff where there is a healthy music scene with lot of local talent. Live bands, Hip hop, DnB, Dubstep and experimental electronic music is easy to find. There is a lot to inspiration coming out of Cardiff.
Seen any good bands/acts lately?
Donski: Havent really been to any good raves recently, but I’m really feeling this track at the moment; somebody on Facebook posted it up. Its really some good techstep! And I’m really feeling ‘Cactus’ by Icarus.
Leaper: I haven’t been out to see any acts for ages either, but the last thing that stood out was an event in Cardiff called ‘Electric Sheep’. It featured a lot of the talented local electronic music producers, who DJ’d some of their own productions. Darkhouse Fam stood out the most and I remember a few of their tracks having an 80’s electronic-funk vibe which I was really feeling.
Fort: I went to see Amon Tobin‘s Isam Live show a few months ago. That was seriously amazing! Unbelievable! The man and his AV crew have set the bar high! I seriously recommend people go to see it if they can, or check out some footage online.
Any interesting stories?
Fort: Yeah! We played a gig in Brussels at ‘Le Structure Beton’ for our French mate, Bunkore/Pire2Pire Family. The place is some semi-legitimate old car-park/squat, a bit of a crazy place really. After we played our set, one of the Bunkore affiliates, l’Enclume, began their militant hardcore/techno live set, and the crowd were really digging it, but for some reason (sabotage?), the power cut out to their live rig. The dj (some supposed Belgian hotshot!) who was on next decided he may as well just drop his tunes in order to keep the party running, but it was breakbeat and the crowd looked a bit bored by it. Sensing this, Donski went up to the main mixing desk and just dropped the faders to the decks, and punched l’Enlcume back in. A proper coup by the Coup! The crowd loved it and the party livened up again. However, the Dj was seriously pissed off by this and so one of his mates went over to the power supply to their live rig and pulled the power (again!?). A big punch up ensued between the two crews. We thought it was hilarious!
Donski: I do remember that, well funny!
Leaper: I also remember we went out there a year later to play a gig for another promoter, Gaelle/Jay Shah B, and were driving through a dodgy neighbourhood. I was just doing a little bit filming, mucking around with the camera, and some kids spotted us and thought we were the Feds! They started running after the car, booting it and swearing but we drove off and parked up round the corner while Gaelle went off to pick up some supplies. But the kids didnt give up and spied us and came up to the car, accusing us of being police, demanding what we were doing filming them. Fort, who speaks French, told them we were just tourists from England and they seemed alright with it, but the little bastards threw in a few firecrackers into the car before scarpering! Gaelle saw this and grabbed one of them, and then started bollocking the little lad in the middle of the street, like some mum telling her kid off for being naughty! The expression on his face was classic, I though he was about to cry! Brussels is one crazy place.
Where are you playing next?
Donski: To be honest, we’ve been hard at it in the studio, but we’re on the case with a few promoters, so we will keep you posted.
Check out their recent release on Inna Riddim here, and check out this recent mixup, below.
1. The Silent Coup – Critical Mass
2. Black Rose – Source Direct
3. The Silent Coup – Reminisce
4. Kemel And Rob Data – Linear
5. The Silent Coup – Dub Biniz
6. Digital & Spirit – Phantom Force
7. Aquarius – Dejavu
8. Audio – Badseed
9. The Silent Coup – Thermal Influx
10. Breakage – Losing Track
12. Paradox – Funky Mule
14. Morpheus – Dred Bass
15. Bad Company – China Cup
16. Paradox – Reinstate
17. The Silent Coup – 13000