State Of Mind: Taking control

Spearheading the NZ drum & bass invasion, alongside Concord Dawn, State Of Mind keep going from strength to strength as both producers and DJs. ITM caught up with the boys as they prepare to once again show Australia what the fuss is all about.

When and how were you guys first introduced? Were you both already into drum & bass?

We both had a few friends in common and met at a drum & bass party one night. The morning after that gig we ended up mixing some records – poorly – at someone’s place and State of Mind was somewhat born.

How long did it take you to realise that you wanted to start working together to produce music? Had you already decided to do audio engineering degrees or was your meeting the catalyst?

We were both toying around with broken beat type stuff separately and decided pretty early on that we should produce some drum & bass together. We wanted to increase our skills quickly and studying engineering was the obvious way.

Who were your major influences back then and who inspires you today? Local NZ lad Trei is doing some pretty cool stuff at the moment, isn’t he?

Back then the major influences from inside drum & bass were all the big names at the time like Ed Rush & Optical, Bad Company, Digital, Total Science. Nowadays we find ourselves more influenced from stuff outside the music, or we actively try to make it that way. Trei is a good friend of ours and a guy we always love working with. Definitely a producer to watch out for… he has some big releases coming.

Total Science’s CIA was the first label to champion your sound on a global scale after they discovered you whilst touring New Zealand in 2004, how big a deal for you was getting a major signing like that?

Yeah that was huge for us. Back here in NZ at the time it was hard to get anybody to book an unknown producer or DJ. But with the signings came the chance to play more gigs and show our sound. It also gave us the confidence that our tunes were good enough for guys we admired so were therefore good enough to compete on the world scene.

Like many people, my first exposure to the State of Mind sound was 2005’s ‘Sun King’, when it was being rinsed by all the big name DJs. Why do you think that tune was so big?

That tune just managed to capture a summer vibe. We wrote it while laying about drinking beers in the sun and I guess it captures that fun.

How did you become mates with the Concord Dawn boys? Was there any reason why you released your debut LP from last year, ‘Take Control’, on their Uprising label instead of CIA?

We met the guys through the club scene basically; gave them a CD and they were really into the tunes. We decided to do an album for them as we had extremely incriminating photos of Evan Kiljoy with a chicken, wooden spoon and a jar of vaseline.

The drum & bass scene is massive in New Zealand, what is it about the Land of the Long White Cloud that makes people so receptive to 174bpm?

We have no idea, it just seems to grab a lot of people over here and obviously we are stoked that that is the case. I guess it is just the energy that the people seem to feed off.

Were you blown away to win Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the 2006 b-Net awards in New Zealand? Did you have a rock-off to decide who keeps the trophy on their mantle?

We were really happy just to be nominated at those awards and to win the Breakthrough Artist and to share Electronic Single of the Year with Concord Dawn, it was awesome. The awards sit on the monitors in the studio, so there was no argument where they should go.

I’m a big fan of your Next Level radio show on 95BFM because you obviously enjoy spreading the drum & bass gospel and your track choices are always blinding, how did you land the gig?

DJ Presha was the longtime host of the show and he was another person in the NZ scene who supported our music early on. He became a good friend and asked us if we would like to co-host the show. We were doing a drum & bass show on another radio station at the time and were always aiming to eventually be part of the Next Level show on BFM.

You’ve worked twice now with Hungary’s Chris.SU, on ‘Surreality’ and ‘Deeper’. How does the collaboration process work for you when the other person is overseas, does it make it harder?

We have just completed another tune with Chris while we were in Hungary. He is one of our favourite producers to work with as he is really on a similar tip to us and the studio sessions seem to really gel. Most of the time with collabs we work with producers who are in town or if we happen to be in their city. We find the sessions work better if the project has all parties in the studio rather than across the internet. It just seems to be more creative that way.

Now it’s time to own up, who’s the Battlestar Galactica geek whose idea it was to sample the theme for ‘Deeper’?

Chris pulled out that sample… [we got] in before Calyx and Teebee!

You’ve also collaborated with Concord Dawn and Black Sun Empire. Is there anybody else you really want to get in the studio with?

We have done some work with The Upbeats which was wicked and we definitely plan to do more with them. Apart from that, more work with the Concords, BSE and Chris.SU and the usual suspects.

Finally, what does the future hold for State of Mind?

We are working on album number two and playing lots of golf. Expect to see one of us on the pro tour at some stage!

State of Mind play shows around Australia over the coming months:

19 Oct – Brisbane

2 Nov – Perth

3 Nov – Adeleide

5 Nov – Melbourne