Interview: Dropsquad/Drumslinga Founder
Written by Jordan Lewandowski
Thanks for having me be a part of the drop squad launch.
Can you give us a little
History of yourself? Your background, your story?
Ok - I'll just try to be brief cuz it's not a short story by any stretch. So I was born in Detroit MI to a Canadian father and American mother who had been living in Ontario, Canada at the time. We moved to Long Beach Ca. when I was 5 which I still more or less consider my home base to this point, as I went to elementary and part of Jr. High out there and spent the majority of my young adult raver life out there. When I turned 18 lets just say ish got complicated and I wound up in the US Marine Corps. After just over 3 hairy years there, I finally returned to civilian life and was able to get back to my real true love - Drum & bass. Soon after returning home, I hosted my first party in 2006 with Nightstalker and MC XYZ in a tiny bar in the I.E. where I met a good buddy/mentor Sal who was also a junglist and happened to be one of the head promoters at Insomniac at the time. Wasn't long before he took me under his wing and I would help promote with him for both Insomniac as well as his own dnb events, which is where I really started learning the ropes of promoting. From there, I went on to meet my friend and MC Kenneth (MC DNA), DJ RKS-5, DJ Hotsignal and a bunch more talented artists/friends which soon would become the genesis of Hidden Jungle. In 2008 we had our first Hidden Jungle Afterhours in a small basement underneath a Glendale scooter shop one of our friends had been running. The realest of the real underground vibes and by the time we had the 3rd Hidden Jungle, the 100 standing room only capacity 'venue' was filled to the brim, and we had to start looking for other locations. It really was the genesis of some great friendships and relationships that continue to fuel the future, things like Drumslinga and the music/collaborations of High Order Drum & Bass/Recordings.. All of that was really born in that hot, dingy scooter store basement..Good times!!
Since we’ve met you’ve always been warm, welcoming and with open arms.
You even invited me to perform on this lineup, but currently I live on a horse farm in Eastern PA and my internet isn’t fast enough for a proper stream. But thank you for always keeping me linked in.
This year has been more wild and different than anyone could have imagined.
What have you been doing to keep sane during Quarantine?
To tell you the truth, it's definitely had its rough patches. Theres been alot of fear and erratic behaviour from people around me from neighbors to coworkers, even friends & family - so for the most part, I've found it refreshing to turn off social media for long periods of time and just unplug from the negativity & take time to seek out positive vibes wherever they tend to reside. Also, as rough as the quarantine has been as far as isolation and missing the fun events, music, friends and basically the whole scene - musically [as far as working on new tracks and sound design at home] I don't think I've ever been as productive. Definitely trying to collaborate more with this free time, both online and in person (if possible these days). Recently, I had a really productive session here at my place with LA producer Ed808, and spent some good hours making noise in the studio with Composure as well. It's strange- at the beginning of 2018 when I sort of had a resurgence of the innate urge inside me to hunker down and make music again, I remember just thinking how dope it would be if I could stay home from work a few weeks and just concentrate on music - I never meant to bring about the Apocalypse. I am sorry .
Since we’ve all had plenty of time to be alone, have you been experimenting outside of DnB?
Definitely. Growing up, I played saxophone and wrote punk & ska music with my friends in a garage. I also MC'd and wrote lyrics with my friend Heinz that played guitar in our group back in the day. If you know of my musical sensibilities, I love to explore new sounds and ways of creating them. With so much time left to my own devices and home studio, I've had the opportunity to experiment with creating new vibes in all different types of bpms, and truly stretch out without any pressure or deadlines, and I really felt I was able to better hone my true voice as far as sound design and rhythm. I've even gotten a few rave reviews on some halftime/trap tunes I had been working on from some friends who are respected producers, which personally I find as a big feather in my cap. Ultimately, although dire at times I've grown quite grateful for the time of self-exploration and growth I've experienced since the quarantine, and it's really gotten me charged up for the future.
You’ve got some great talent on this upcoming lineup—LA is a fertile breeding ground for underground electronic music and we appreciate you taking the time to put these types of events together.
What is the Drumslinga Drop squad?So the Dropsquad concept has basically been a brainchild of mine for quite some time, although it wasn't until this time of isolation and reflection that I feel it really started to take shape. Since back in the late 90's when I first started getting into drum & bass - I met and listened to so many talented artists that were from out here. Shows like I Love LA and Upgrade would have producer nights and we would hear some original music unlike anywhere else. But whenever it comes to the drum & bass sphere as a whole, I feel like LA and Stateside artists are still overall thought of as slightly lesser than or not on the same level as their UK counterparts. We have lots of friends from the UK that would come over here though and tell us how the vibes here are nothing like they experienced back home and some even moved out here. But yeah - I just believe in us and I think it's a time for us to shine, to at least be able to have our music distributed and noticed despite the current situation with live events. The producers, like myself - have been making so much new original music that leaving it quarantined in silence right now would be yet another true travesty. Instead of allowing the lock down to put me and our whole scene in the spirit of defeat, I wanted to put together this community collective of producers & creatives, built out of love for the music and desire to create - to allow us to make some real moves right now. To encourage those out there in the shadows that may think there is nothing left to create for that life will go on one day, and to dust off those hard drives and send in their music, because I guarantee there ARE people that want to hear it. Rather than to sit by and wait for the day, I wanted us to stay proactive so when the world does open, rather than play catch up again we will be even more ready to rock than before all the madness. We want people to see that the LA sound is a wave worth riding, and that so much of the future of the music we love will be created here. When did Drumslinga come alive?Well Drumslinga was completely a chance encounter with fate for me. At the end of 2018 after I'd basically spent 8 years out of the scene, I ended up landing my dream gig in the industry out of nowhere. At the time, I was in a relationship that I was starting to realize had no future and at the time, producing or making music for me became sparse to non-existent. When I got a call out of nowhere to interview for the job (they found me randomly on LinkedIn), I was sure I wouldn't get it but the hiring manager told me she saw 'drive' within me for music and producing that was 'rare and desired'. It was at that time I decided to leave the comfort of the life I'd created and an otherwise [music-free but] comfortable relationship, move into a tiny studio apartment in Koreatown alone, and focus back in on making music. As daunting as it was, it was also SO liberating. As Drum & Bass music has been a force in my life, and with Hidden Jungle - we had some fairly epic warehouse parties in the past - I made some great friends and contacts in the scene over the years I'd been aching to do more shows with for quite some time. In the year spent before this pandemic, in the same a-synchronous nature as with my recent job, I wanted to see if I could find a venue willing & crazy enough to host a drum & bass event somewhere in Hollywood or close by. The first place I hit up was called "Thirteen Social Clu-bar" and was literally 1 block from my apartment. It so happens, the owners at the time were two young Korean stoners - one of which used to be into Jungle. Needless to say, we hit it off and thus - 'Drumslinga Fridays' was born. We had our first show May 3rd 2019 - at the tiny bar in the corner of the strip mall in K-town and soon moved to Tuesdays where we stayed for the majority of the rest of 2019. Over the 6 months that followed, the event grew with grassroots support from some old friends in addition to so many new dope and talented producers, DJs and creators I met through hosting the night. [I] just wanted to make a point of doing my best to bring positive vibes, great music, and overall push the music we love forward but not forgetting to enjoy every moment and every party in the process. I'm super proud of the group of amazing talented people we've been able to cultivate in such a small period of time, most of which I consider close friends or even family at this point, and I'm so excited to be able to support them and any other LA producers looking for an outlet for original music as we move forward into this new, post-epidemic world. What’s the future for the Dropsquad and how much is the membership? For the launch, I wanted to keep the membership costs as low as possible and sort of put my money where my mouth is. As exciting as this business is, it is still a lot of upfront expenses I'm putting into it because I really believe in the vision. Hopefully with time and growth, and more involvement from the LA dnb community as a whole, we will start to see some profit within a year or so. In the meantime, everything we bring in will go to those that really make Dropsquad amazing - the producers & content creators, and of course our awesome subscribers! As we're all experiencing tough times these days, I felt it was important to keep the cost low so people can support without breaking the bank. The starting cost to sign up is just $5 for the basic 'Standard Soldier' membership which would receive the e-Drop newsletter monthly and physical merch boxes 4 times a year, and the $15 platinum drop club, which offers Merchandise from High Order and many other dnb/bass music collectives every month, along with many other exclusives (including free admission to ALL High Order/Hidden Jungle events). Also for the first drop in August ALL members, standard and platinum - will get a free exclusive members only t-shirt as well! Its all a labor of love, and ultimately - we don't want to create hardship for our listeners but we want to offer as much value as possible, while also supporting the talented producers that create these fire tunes for the drop and help keep LA drum & bass alive & thriving. What’s included in the membership?
My main vision when it comes to Dropsquad is to truly make it a community platform for LA/Stateside drum & bass/bass music artists to release things to be included in the Drop such as: Exclusive music/dubplates, promotional merchandise & gear, Exclusive Dropsquad mixes, Sample packs & presets, Articles & interviews from some of the top writers in LA dnb - all things to help bring the world into the sphere of the Los Angeles underground drum & bass / bass music culture. Thus far, we've met with some really amazing producers and record labels from Los Angeles to the UK - even partnering with Rebel Music (UK) who has agreed to send us exclusive unreleased mixes from some huge UK artists as well. Dropsquad stands to be a big platform for us all and ultimately, I want to use it to help give back to those out here in LA working hard to create the future of the music we love both financially and with exposure on global scale. How long it could take to reach that goal? Who knows, but I do think it is a goal worth putting my efforts into and I really hope to see even more LA & Stateside producers get involved and submit music. The more we submit, the bigger the service grows and at the end of the day - we can all lift each other up in a really impactful way.
Not only have you been preparing for the dropsquad, but you’ve also been in the studio lately cooking up some
Fire. Can you tell us about the new music you’ve been making?
YEss! Its been so fun doing inner exploration and just finding new looks and angles for new music lately. I've felt really refreshed and I think some of my new tunes are some of my personal favorites to date. Without a doubt, some people will hate it but its not for them.. Over the past 5 months, I've probably made about 20 completed tracks, which is utterly insane as I don't think I've done that in a year for as long as I've been alive. I've been doing serious experimentation in remixing things that no one in dnb would even think to touch, such as a new Black Flag instrumental flip called "The Process of Weeding In" . Its included in the first Tempus Fugit EP which is part of the first Drop. Overall, I've just tried to be fearless but also stay true to dark oldschool neuro vibes that myself and my few avid listeners seem to enjoy. I really just can't wait to hear what people think of the results, good or bad.
What new music are you getting into at the moment?
Lately I've just been grooving to whatever feels good and taking life day by day. As much as I love drum & bass, I'm pretty eclectic with my music tastes so lately I've been grooving out to alot of old school hip hop like Eric B. & Rakim and Gangstarr and a bit of Dancehall for self-dance parties at the crib - but also, I'm lucky enough to have so many super-talented friends that make music, I've been able to spend whole days sometimes just listening to mixes and original tunes from friends that produce & DJ. Its been a really dope experience and one of my favorite things about drumslinga or producing as a whole, is getting to interface with like minded producers and hear their tunes. For me, listening to someones original music is like a gateway into their mind and vision, I'm addicted to the feeling.
When you're not making music or performing, what keeps you Busy?
Lately, I've been listening to quite a few different podcasts (Aba & Preach on YouTube) and watching some old Anime I hadn't seen in some time. For Instance, I'm currently rewatching all the episodes of Cowboy Bebop and Trigun - forgot how good both those shows were. Also, still working a full time job from home right now, which still eats up a great deal of my 'free' time, but I remain beyond grateful for employment right now, so I log 0 complaints in that department. There's also been a lot of facetiming, video games (Jet Grind Radio Future is life) and mixing (masked & distanced of course) with the fam on occasion has been a much needed treat on occasion as well. Needless to say, trying to start a business as well as all this happens, so there really hasn't been much free time - well, free time not used to make music that is..
What are your passions outside of music?
This question saddens me as I'm not sure how long before I may be able to do some of these things again, but being a Canadian/American dual citizen - I actually played alot of ice hockey before the whole lock down, I got pretty decent at Roller Hockey in high school (practiced with the US Jr. team a few times) and *fun fact* Actually played with Justin Bieber in Panorama City a few times in 2017. Also I'm a fairly avid snowboarder and love to get up to the mountains (Big Bear is a local fav) whenever possible. In addition to the fun stuff though, I'm pretty passionate about helping others in need as well. I was more or less raised helping the Los Angeles homeless population as my family business growing up was my mother running one of the largest homeless shelters/supportive services programs in the State. One of my second gigs over the last 2 years I was an Audio Production Instructor at the Covenant House in Hollywood teaching audio production techniques to at-risk youth living there in the program. I found that entire experience super fulfilling and it's inspired me to start looking even further into opportunities for High Order to give the gift of music to those in need. Hopefully one day once Dropsquad gains steam and things are more back to normal (as normal as possible, that is) we can start a non-profit to help bring music education, even as it relates to electronic music - to those within the community that can really benefit from a fruitful, fun creative outlet.