Having cemented themselves into the Australian party circuit, it’s no surprise Stanton Warriors are hitting our shores this summer for a string of tour dates – not that anyone is complaining.
While many of their breaks contemporaries have faded into relative beat obscurity, the Stanton Warriors have consistently delivered huge, crowd scoring sound and also merited a heap of airplay – no mean feat for DJs from an arguably fading genre. The ‘Kings of Bristol’, with new album The Warrior under their belt and a Stanton Session Vol 4 out shortly, are again set for a hectic year of tour dates, live sets and mixing. We chatted with one half of the Stanton duo, the delightful Dom Butler, about the fast paced life as a warrior.
You and your fellow warrior Mark Yardley have been working together for over ten years now. How did this phenomenal partnership come about?
I was working as an A&R man at a UK garage record label back in 1997 and Mark worked as a sound engineer there. I had ideas, and he had skills so we snuck in the studio one night and made a track that got signed the next day: Stanton Warriors was born.
We’ve had three Stanton Sessions, a host of remixes, and now The Warriors. Why do you think your brand of breaks has been so successful?
We like to look at what we do in terms of music and not pigeon hole ourselves into genres. We are totally open minded to what we sample or who we work with, as long as the beat that underpins the track is good. We also spend a lot of time producing exclusive tunes, remixes, edits etc which give our sets a unique sound.
You hear a lot about the early days in Bristol: the underground music scene, a lot of drum n bass, trip-hop and dub seemed to explode out of there in the 90s; Roni Size and Tricky, even Portishead. Tell us what it was like growing up there, and the things that influenced you.
Well the music community was small so we all knew each other. My biggest influence was Massive Attack, I loved their “we do things our way” approach. They just wanted music that sounded good on their own sound systems. All the Bristol artists had the same kind of ethos and were always trying new and original ideas. Growing up in Bristol, there was basically lots of illegal parties, lots of bass related music, weed everywhere and great street art. It’s a great city.
Arguably, there’s been a fair lull in new talent/breaking artists in the world of breaks. Do you agree?
Yes, but now you have artists like Skream, Claude Von Stroke, Warrior One, Diplo, Oliver Twitz who don’t necessarily make breaks but get categorised within their respective scenes. If you dig beats, breaks, no matter what, you can find some really interesting tracks. One thing is for sure: people will always love a good beat no matter what you call it.
Your latest album The Warriors has got a lot of coverage here, meaning a shit load of air-play. And it’s been described as “the most full-on frenetic blast of energy you’re likely to hear all year” and more simply “break-beat pop”. What do you say to that?
Not sure about the break-beat pop bit. As soon as you get airplay some people will call you pop. We have stuck to our own sound for over ten years without switching to electro house/ dubstep or whatever and it still seems to work. We certainly haven’t changed our music to pop. The reaction we get in Australia and the radio support is always great, but we wont be doing a David Guetta pop thing anytime soon.
Talking about being on tour for a minute – you guys seem to cram a lot in one go! How’s the tour experience for both of you?
We seem to tour non-stop, it’s exhausting but great fun. I guess there’s a lot to be said for sticking to your guns and not jumping on any various bandwagons. I absolutely love being a DJ, and working crowds over a period of 2-3 hours is what I do. At a Stanton show you always hear live mixing, none of this cynical pre-record set business. DJing has been in my blood since I was 11.
A track off your new album is called New York; are there particular venues/cities that you go nuts about playing in?
L.A., San Fran, Vancouver, Dubai, Moscow, Berlin, London, Saigon, Bangkok, Bali – they’ve all been nuts gigs recently. Travelling and seeing different cultures really opens your eyes up to the world, and it’s even better if you can remember half of it! In the last two weeks alone we’ve visited Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, Lithuania, and Italy.
Now just to touch base on your upcoming summer tour of Australia. You’re no stranger to our shores, how do you like the atmosphere here? And what can we expect?
Just when we think everyone in Australia is into a different sound we come and tour and it goes off. Aussies know and love their music, so we always need to come prepared. We’ve been flat out working on new club bangers, edits, remixes to help destroy dance-floors as best we can. We love Australia, and my Dad has even moved out there, which I guess kind of makes me half Aussie. Yeah?
I remember seeing a set of yours where Pop Ya Virus made a few people’s head explode in a good way. What’s it like seeing hundreds of people sweat it up over your beats?
Dropping a tune and getting a big reaction is great, but dropping your own tune and seeing shit go off is the best feeling in the world. The first time we dropped Pop Ya Cork was like that. No matter how tired you are on tour, the music and crowd will always energise us.
Will you be bringing a whole troupe with you on this tour? Ruby Goe and Hollywood Halt as guests perhaps?
Hollywood Holt is coming; he’s mental but in a good, talented way. Very excited about this tour.
You’re arguably the most successful breaks/electronic producers at present. Is there anyone else on the scene you guys listen to that you find impressive? Anyone we should watch out for?
Lots of random one-off tracks have been doing it for us. Our new compilation album, Stanton Sessions Vol 4, highlights the best tunes we have heard this year and is out soon on Central Station records over there.