- A nearly three-hour tour de force of drum and bass and dubstep.
- Like many of drum & bass's best artists before him, Elliot Garvey, AKA Quartz, got his big break on Metalheadz. The 2018 EP Hall Of Mirrors captured everything that's kept that label a the forefront of the genre for over two decades now: razor-sharp production and mixdowns, a wide survey of drum & bass styles and the kind of quiet, careful innovation inside the template that keeps the genre going. (Check out those bleepy melodies in "Hall Of Mirrors.") Since then he's appeared on another prestigious label, Samurai, and has new work coming out on RuptureLDN, Utopia and System, along with a long-awaited debut album on Metalheadz.
If you're not familiar with Garvey, then his RA Podcast is actually a great place to start. There's no tracklist, but trust us when we tell you the majority of the tracks are from Quartz himself, new and old—this thing is packed full of dubplates. You hear the whole gamut of styles, from intricate and fussy minimalist drum & bass to big main stage stuff to damn near tearout status, with a dip into dubstep—one of Garvey's new interests—towards the end. You'll also hear tracks from artists like Dub Phizix, Mako, dBridge, Overlook and even P Money and Ghettz, as Garvey careens from one extreme in UK dance music to the next. It's vital and inspiring music, and a two hours and 45 minutes, there's a lot of it, too.
What have you been up to recently?
Not a great deal because of Covid. Writing lots of music, counting my folder right now reads at over 80 finished tracks, so that doesn’' include anything not bounced or not added because of incompletion.
Otherwise I'm just generally vibing, seeing good friends when I can, spending time with my partner, walking the dog. Overall I'm happy, healthy and have good people around me. Not much more I could ask for.
How and where was the mix recorded?
The mix was recorded at Mako Utopia's studio in Bristol using some Technics into Logic, I pre-hand-borrowed Serato from a close friend to play the majority of the stuff you'll hear, with exception of a couple of drum & bass bits and the 140 BPM selection at the end using a mixture of vinyl and digital.
Can you tell us the idea behind the mix?
The idea behind the mix was to showcase EPs I have coming, some unreleased stuff bounced especially for this mix and to push some of the sounds and producers I rate in the genre, that I've either been sent or have caught my ear and fit my taste. The ending is a nod to the 140 BPM stuff I'm venturing into then finishing on a couple of grime tracks that I always come back to.
Tell us more about the sampling process in your music.
So, finding samples of a bit of an addiction.I don't think there's any set way of finding samples, it really just comes down to going out and looking in record stores, spending hours digging through the internet or watching flicks and rating the soundtrack. All this can lead you down more unknown avenues, discovering new artists and finding hidden gems. There's a lot of incredible unknown music to be heard and I want to hear as much of it as possible.
My main objective with sampling is, how well can I hide what I sample and how many samples can I use in one tune to complement each other, while keeping them unrecognisable. Ideally, I don't want people to ever find what I sample. If they can, then great, but I do make a conscious effort to hide them as best I can. I'm typically reaching for jazz, funk, soul, R&B and old horror soundtracks.
I'm really meticulous with tuning and over the years trained my ear over to become pretty good at identifying harmonics and chords by ear. I find these days regardless of what the sound is, I can literally tune it to be in key with any chord or root note. Pitching a sound is one thing, but tuning obscure and random stuff takes practice.
You mentioned that you're starting to venture into dubstep—what inspired this move, and who are some of your favourite dubstep producers and labels still operating today?
So, I've been into 140 BPM stuff since its inception. I feel lucky to have caught it during its early days. I would rock around college listening to the likes of Kode9, Mala, Coki, Loefah, etc. I've always been inspired making 140 BPM stuff when I could, but drum & bass was my focus for a very long time. I made some tracks with grime MC Footsie which won't see the light of day, but it helped re-spark my drive to explore that tempo more.
I got a message from V.I.V.E.K. in March this year about re-sending him tracks I had in the past. We chatted about my new material and he asked me to release my 140 BPM stuff through System, which of course I'm glad to do and be involved in what he's built. I was a fan of what he's done for a long time anyway. You could say he's now the larger catalyst to me exploring this tempo further because of that opportunity.
As far as the scene goes, I'm not going to claim to know everything about it, but I like that I'm distant and not hugely influenced by its trends or producers within. I have the same mindset with drum & bass as I tend not to listen to it a lot either.
Producers I rate are people like Commodo, Boofy, Gantz and Headland, to name a few. Label-wise, things like System, Deep Medi, Sector7, Bandulu. Quick shout to the following: Goldie, Ant-TC1, Tom Diverge, Mako, Boston, Don Leisure, V.I.V.E.K., Loxy, Jubei, Teebee, Mantra, Double O, Flight, Hydro and love to anyone I've missed. Hopefully catch up with anyone reading this soon
What are you up to next?
I have three EPs due, coming on Metalheadz, RuptureLDN and Utopia Music, plus a finished album for Metalheadz which we haven't planned a release for just yet. I also have a remix for Teebee, contributing to his Subtitles imprint, and my first single due for dubstep label System, run by V.I.V.E.K. There's also some collaborations with people I rate highly in the works. I have some other release bits happening but they're still cooking, so early days to go into all that too.