5 Minutes with: Friction

“…Drum ’n’ bass is always moving and showcasing many different styles and that’s what makes it so special…”

Friction’s label Shogun Audio has been at the top of the drum ‘n’ bass game for as long as people can remember, hitting its 15th birthday this year. We sent Steven Mackay to catch up with the DJ, label don and producer ahead of the release of his debut album Connections this September, and his high profile headline slot at this year’s TTC Tramlines After Party at the O2 Academy. 

We’re can’t wait for your next set in Sheffield! This time it’s at the O2 on a Tramlines afterparty tip. Can you tease us on what to expect?
Thanks. I’m really excited to be back in Sheffield at the O2 for this! Expect loads of music from my debut album, lots of other big tunes and lots of energy. Sheffield is always such a great place to play and definitely one of my favourite cities in the UK.

Your debut album is due for release in early September with the first single, ‘Dancing ft JP Cooper’ coming out later in June. Can you shed some light on why you wanted to produce an album and how you’ve found it?
I was always primarily a DJ and although I had made tracks like “Back To Your Roots Remix”, “Robocop”, “Overtime” etc. over the years, I really wanted to take my production forward, develop my engineering skills and work with more vocalists. And that’s how Connections came about. It’s been quite a long journey but I’m very pleased with the results!

There’s plenty of collab’s on there, with some new vocalists – how do you decide who you want to work with? And how do you find them?
I’ve got a great team around me and sometimes I may find a vocalist and say ‘Hey, can you link me up with this person?’ Or they may come to me and say ‘Have you heard of this person? Do you want to do a session together?’ I’m very lucky to be in that position to be honest. 

Next year is going to be the 15th birthday of your label Shogun Audio, congrats! With over 130 releases it’s definitely up there as the most celebrated in the scene. Can you give us a bit of an insight into the journey you’ve been on personally and how it’s evolved?
I can’t believe how quickly 15 years has gone. Ive got so much love for the label and the ways it’s evolved over the years has been amazing. And now with Elevate Records sitting alongside we’re covering all angles of the drum ’n’ bass scene!So a new album, legendary record label, plenty of DJ sets, what else have you got going on?
Just lots more music really. I made the decision about 9 months ago to call time on my BBC Radio 1 show which was a very tough call to make but I needed to have more time to focus on my studio time. I’ve got my bass house alias, FineArt rolling nicely now too, alongside a very busy tour schedule, so a holiday is definitely needed. 

I have to say seeing you play a 2 hour, 3-deck vinyl set at Tuesday Club in 2011 was, to this day, one of the best sets I’ve seen.. Can you talk us through how your sets have developed from the vinyl days and how you’ve used new technology to entertain the party goers?
Thanks for that. I’ve had some wonderful times at the Tuesday Club over the years. I loved playing vinyl but it got to the point where I had to adjust things to the digital age. I now play off 4 CDJ’s connected by USB which gives me full range to keep my options open while playing a set. 

And what about drum ’n’ bass as a whole? It’s already diversified so much in that time! How do you see it changing in the next few years?
Drum ’n’ bass is always moving and showcasing many different styles and that’s what makes it so special. You never know what’s around the corner though, so I’m interested to see!

Tickets for the Tuesday Club Friday night Official Tramlines after-party with Friction, Dimension, Hazard, Champion and DJ Q are available for £11.80 here.

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