Drop The Lime interview
Imagine if Elvis grew up on crackly pirate radio recordings of Wiley on Rinse FM and – instead of becoming the King Of Rock n Roll – actually ended up taking to the decks and becoming the baddest ass, slickest bass DJ in town. Ok ok, it’s a leeedle bit far fetched, but it’s about as close as we can get to describing the maverick rockabilly obsessed, bass phenomenon that is Drop The Lime. Putting New York on the rave map, Drop The Lime’s unique rockabilly-heavy style has marked him out as a maverick in the world of bass music – a rulebook ripper afraid of the boundaries before him.
He’s signed up for Bloc, he’s about to drop his second album, he’s chucking out bad ass bass bangers by the week and he’s head of New York’s Trouble & Bass crew – and label. We’re frankly stunned he had a time out to talk to us, but here is our exclusive interview with Mr Luca Venezia.
You have been mashing up variants of bass music for the best part of a decade. How did you first get into it all?
My first exposure to electronic music was jungle and drum & bass. My friend from London had been recording pirate radio onto cassette tapes and bringing them back from UK and playing me them. As a young teenager at the time, I was heavily into Wu-Tang, Notorious BIG, Tribe Called Quest, and hearing these acts sampled and put over tougher and faster hip-hop beats was new and exciting. I got this hungry feeling inside of being inspired by the sound that I had to DJ and produce it.
Your own sound initially took a lot of influence from UK sounds like 8 bar, jungle, grime, even breakcore. Where did it all start for your production sound?
I released my first 12″ on DJ Scud’s label, Ambush, in 2003. He came to visit in NY and was just beginning a project with i-sound called Wasteland. It was very dub/ dancehall and grime influenced. He was listening to grime at the time, and brought me these CDs of recordings he had made off pirate radio station Dejavu FM. It had a huge influence on me, because I had been listening to and DJing some of the darker UK Garage/two-step at the time – stuff like Horsepower, Ghost etc – and this had the same energy and attitude of d&b but at a slower tempo. The use of space and pauses created dynamic and heavy rhythms. I eventually played with Dizzee Rascal for his debut New York performance on a flat bed truck in a warehouse in Brooklyn. That was insane! So you see UK club music has always had a huge influence on me. I feel that it’s constantly ahead of the game.
In a lot of ways, Trouble & Bass put the States back on the map when it comes to bass music. Did you feel like you were the lone soldiers when you started out?
I feel that America was in a very rock heavy state of mind. The Strokes, the French Kicks, The Walkmen, Yeah Yeah Yeahs…. all fantastic bands but club music was pushed aside and forgotten about. Thing is, people still seeked it out. We just happened to throw a party at the right time and right place. Mayor Giuliani had enforced the no dancing rule in Manhattan so kids were flocking to Brooklyn to dance. Brooklyn had a lot of warehouse spaces, so throwing a party focused on heavy bass club music worked really well. It was the extreme compared to whatever deep house and hip hop parties were happening at the time. I wouldn’t say we were the lone soldiers though… I met a lot of new people who shared the same passion, and eventually did their own thing. Dub War, Dutty Artz, Riff Raff Crew to name a few.
What’s the state of the New York clubbing scene at the moment? Is it back on its feet?
New York is way back on its feet!!! There are a lot of great parties going on, and what’s unique and nice about NY is that all the different crews and promoters support one another and sometimes even team up. Crews like Flashing Lights, Fixed, Bass Fueled Mischief, are all really doing their thing and keeping NY strong again in the club scene.
What’s the most valuable piece of vinyl in your record collection?
Fantastic question…. ‘Valley of the Shadows’ by Origin Unknown!
We hear your album takes your well documented love of rockabilly to the next level… can you tell us a bit about it? What’s the concept behind it?
I put together a rockabilly band last year because I missed playing guitar. I had been playing since I was 7 years old but stopped when I got into DJing around 18. Eventually I began to throw in edits of my favourite rockabilly songs in my club sets, and the response was huge…. so soon after that I was picking up the guitar for remixes. Eventually, I was making so many new songs that I had an album’s worth. It came so randomly, but in a way naturally.
The album is a step into my relationship with the night. Darkness, the mystery and lust that comes upon us when the sun goes down. It’s heavily inspired by influential artists like, Ennio Morricone, Link Wray, Hasil Adkins…. mixed with my club sound to give it that underbelly of sub bubblin’ bass.
Have you got any collaborations in the pipeline?
Yes! Some I have to be a bit secret about still… but I’m doing vocals for a Canblaster thing on a Club Cheval thing, a collaboration with WAFA, a collaboration with Sinden and one with Bart B More too. The Bart B More one is crazy…. we think it has a cow mooing in it.
You’ve always looked the part… who would you say is your number one style icon?
Dracula and James Dean hit the moon.
You take to the MIC on your recent single ‘Devil’s Eyes’. When did you first start laying down vocals over your beats? Did you always have ambitions to be a rock n roll singer?
I was always in bands in high school… lead guitarist and singer. I saw footage of Elvis as a kid and it got me hungry to be on stage. The direction of my vocals have gone more into that style. ‘Hot As Hell’ the new single that drops February is definitely more rock and roll, but very gospel and blues inspired. I was in a gospel choir as a teenager and the impact it had on me creatively is still a huge part of my sound.
What is the most trouble you’ve been in over the last 12 months?
I try to stay out of trouble, unless she invites me in.
What’s coming up on the Trouble & Bass label this year? Are there any new acts that we should be keeping an ear out for?
We’ve got a really busy year ahead of us. The Captain has really worked hard on taking the label to the next level. Together we’ve worked on building our artist’s identities, and helping them reach new fan bases. Some upcoming releases are a Samo Soundboy single, a new Supra1 EP, a new Zombies for Money EP, a new Star Eyes EP, a new Tomb Crew single, a new Little Jinder EP, and a seriously heavy new AC Slater single.
What have been your favourite three tracks of the year so far? What’s been doing the most damage in your sets?
Zombies for Money ‘Sururumba’ has been a big big big crowd smasher.
Canblaster‘s remix of my new single, ‘Hot As Hell’… huge cowboy vibes.
AC Slater’s remix of Crookers ‘Cooler Couleur’.
Finally, where the hell does your name actually come from?
My grandfather had a lime green motorcycle in the 60s. Imagine this tall handsome young Sicilian scootering about in the seaside hills on this thing… The imagery was always surreal and cool to me. We’d visit in the summer when I was a child and I’d remember him saying, “I’m going out… I’m droppin the lime”. That meant he was going out on his bike and hitting the town….probably not coming back home till late. In honuor of him I began using that term for dropping a heavy song… eventually it became my alias.
– Drop The Lime was trying on different coloured hats with Allan McGrath