Marcus Intalex: Is drum’n’bass dead & buried?

Marcus Intalex is a little peeved when I call him in his hotel room in Toronto, “The thing is, the Cinematic Orchestra are playing for free literally ten minutes away, but I’ve just ordered my dinner and I’ve got sit here and wait for it!” On another and not so comparative level as his dinner, are his feelings about the current state of the music that has made his career (drum and bass) but more about that later.

Known for his diverse and always cutting edge selections as a DJ, Marcus also has built a reputation as one of the scene’s most respected producers and left an indelible mark on the scene through his label Soul:r. There is no doubt that being around in the time of the Manchester music explosion (even attending the legendary Hacienda nightclub) heavily impacted on his career to date, “There was always some new sound coming out, some new DJ, it was a really exciting time to be around in.”

Most heads would be familiar with the sounds released on the Soul:r label (as well as sub-label, Revolve:r) which he runs with longtime collaborator ST Files. The story goes that the pair (who use release under the name MIST) first met via a connection with L Double. Since its first release in 2001 (Play on Me/Warp 1) Soul:r has been the source of some of the best quality musical drum and bass that’s out there. Further back (1999) MIST’s first single on Doc Scott’s 31 Records How You Make Me Feel/Neptune introduced a fresh take on drum and bass and introduced a more expressive element to the genre.

Marcus’ sound cannot be restricted to a mere term such as ‘liquid’. Just have a listen to his hypnotic tune Nebulous released on Metalheadz last year compared to something like the title track of his Refreshed EP also from 2006. His contention when it comes to his music is simple as expressed on his Myspace, “I believe in pushin a sound that is forward thinking and energetic but always with a great sense of groove and a touch of soul. That is my joy, my main love…”

As well as his long time work mate ST Files, Marcus has also worked closely with Calibre (when producing together, the trio is known as Mist:ical). This year saw the long awaited release of the trio’s debut album, The Eleventh Hour. This is a project that as is standard, he speaks very honestly about, “You know I felt that if we could have maybe had it out 18 months earlier or so it may have gone a bit better.” And why the delay in the release? “It’s probably due to the fact that ST Files and I are more so perfectionists than Calibre. You know he makes so much music; he does something and moves on. Whereas ST and I are more perfectionists, and we really tested each other trying to get this out.”

In the end it was a case of “Getting the thing done and out there.” Not that you can tell from listening to the album. It features guest appearances from Dianne Charlemagne, DRS and Robert Owens. The title (and opening track) of the album features the vocal talent of DRS who issues a challenge to the drum and bass scene, questioning the direction of the music, specifically its lack of originality, and diminished amount of producers who take creative risks.

Further to this, on the press release for the upcoming Fabric mix he’s done Marcus says, “”I’m well aware that a lot of drum’n’bass is not particularly listenable for people who like a bit of everything. I’m trying to put a good light on drum’n’bass and put some tunes on there that are interesting.”

So what is it about the drum and bass of today that has brought about these statements? One of the main reasons seems to be generational as Marcus explains, “Drum and bass is a young person’s music, and a lot of it is aimed at a younger crowd. I just think some of the more established producers don’t seem to be taking the risks they used to.”

In a way of remedying this Marcus produces his somewhat sporadic Soul:ution radio program on which he is keen to push the new sounds, “All these guys out there are making all this great music and I feel that it’s my responsibility to play it, otherwise they might stop making it.” Some of the producers he has been particularly impressed with of late include Commix, Alix Perex, Survival and Lynx (whose tune Global Enemies is a recent Soul:r release). Needless to say, this program is a must for all drum and bass heads (if they are not already listening)!

As for mixing live, well you can rest assured that when this innovative and influential DJ/producer/label boss touches down for this tour(alongside longtime associate Doc Scott) you are only going to hear the best selection of original and creative dance floor music.

Check local whatson for more details on each of these shows:

20th July, Fri – Miss Libertine’s – Melbourne

21st July, Sat – Rise Nightclub – Perth