"If I get my brandy on the rider, it'll be a hype set!"
Brit drum'n'bass don Danny Byrd is playing his inaugural Breakfest — and the other DJs are worried, Adam "A Skillz" Mills proclaiming, "I like Danny Byrd — he really smashes it... I think he'd be the DJ I'd least like to follow on the whole lineup!"
As for Byrd, casually described in his bio as "the Bath-based, brandy-drinking producer", he's intrigued by the Boxing Day institution's "unique" cross section of breakbeat and bass acts. Byrd promises to drop unreleased, new, current and classic music, bespoke bootlegs included — his selections are "constantly changing". "If I get my brandy on the rider, it'll be a hype set!" Quips Byrd, sparky at 9am.
The aspiring drummer embraced The Prodigy's hardcore before gravitating to jungle, initially digging the darker strains. Being in Bath, he was close to Bristol, home of Roni Size — an inspiration. Byrd crafted a slinky, soulful and housey take on drum'n'bass, signing exclusively to Tony "London Elektricity" Colman's Hospital Records, today associated with liquid funk. Byrd premiered with 2000's single Do It Again, an album, Supersized, materialising eight years on. His third LP, Golden Ticket, permeated by nu-garage, appeared two years ago. Byrd even remixed the Swedish House Mafia vs Tinie Tempah banger Miami 2 Ibiza.
"Drum'n'bass basically can have any influence in it, as long as it's 170 BPMs with some sub-bass in it."
Byrd's 2015 has been quiet on the release front. "There's always stuff cooking — it's just, well, where's the finish line and who draws the finish line?" Byrd says. "I'm definitely kinda feeling where I'm going musically at the moment." He plans "a good year" in 2016. Lately Byrd has remixed fellow Breakfest headliners the Stanton Warriors' The One, and then collaborated with old mates the Brookes Brothers on Climb High, deeming both spacey numbers "prototype versions" of his sonic evolution. There should be another album, too, Byrd maintaining that the format is still "relevant". "I'm a bit old school," he says. Indeed, Byrd's career has been predicated on an album "cycle", Hospital an LP-oriented label. And the album is crucial to his artistic process. "Doing an album gives you the freedom to experiment a little bit more." Ironically, Byrd's crossover singles — such as the UK Top 40 triumph Ill Behaviour (featuring I-Kay) — have come out of messing around. However, Byrd did abandon a live incarnation after 2011's UK run. "It was way too much stress," he says. Instead Byrd determined to develop his DJ set into "a show", becoming more "creative".
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Drum'n'bass is an ever-mutating genre that absorbs divergent sounds, garage just one. Where will it go next? "It could go from anywhere," Byrd enthuses. "Drum'n'bass basically can have any influence in it, as long as it's 170 BPMs with some sub-bass in it. Those are the only two rules, really. But I find that people don't really put enough influences in it these days, to be honest! I find the music leaves you a little bit cold. I see a lot of new producers copying other drum'n'bass producers. Classic drum'n'bass producers weren't influenced by drum'n'bass — they were influenced by other music and they put that in the pot." Byrd himself is big on wonky trap hop. "One thing I've been experimenting with is a lot of American rap and R&B vocals — like Ty Dolla $ign and Future — over liquid drum'n'bass. It's quite an interesting combination!"