Interview by Parisa Eshrati
Drum and bass producers Phenetic and Onket discuss their upcoming documentary on the US drum and bass scene, The American Jungle. In this interview, they compare the UK and US jungle culture, the evolution of these genres, recommend some up-and-coming DJs, and more.
Tell us a little bit about The American Jungle and how it got started. I know you two have been producing drum and bass for a long time, but when did the idea of a documentary come about?
Josh (Phenetic): Yeah, Jeremy (Onket) and I have been organizing shows and performing at countless drum and bass events since the early 2000’s. Onket was in film school and our crew started doing interviews for class projects, with artists like Infiltrata aka 12th Planet, DJ Craze, and Evol Intent. He was doing a pilot TV show called Denver After 9ine. The idea grew into a bigger vision as we realized the scene was evolving and separating into different genres with artists that came from Drum and Bass / Jungle going into different genres, such as Dubstep and Electro (somewhere around 2010).
We wanted to see what kind of interest and audience we could draw with the concept of a cultural music documentary involving the North American Drum and Bass scene. So, we set up interviews at our hometown in Denver at EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival) in 2010. The response we got off of our trailer and IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign showed us that the interest was there. We began planning the first filming tour from that point with as many cities as we could possibly get to.
I think it’s really interesting how this documentary will focus on the American jungle scene which is definitely not as well documented as the English scene. Could you briefly describe the relationship between American and UK jungle? What are some of the biggest commonalities and differences you’ve noticed between the two cultures?
Josh: The most common things seem to be hands down the love for the vibe and tempo of Drum and Bass! The give and take relationship that happened from our understanding, is that the UK incorporated North American hip hop into their hardcore rave sound. This sound developed early Jungle and it was something that North America embraced into its underground culture.
Jeremy: The differences we see are that the scene is spread out between the states in North America, whereas in the UK and Europe you can see major artists play the same night in multiple cities. Drum and Bass was able to develop its scene quicker and it was more commonplace in the music culture there.
While traveling for this film, where did you find to be the most popular cities for jungle? Are there any specific venues you would recommend drum and bass fans to check out?
Josh: Every city we connected to had promoters already pushing the sound. Every show we went to had a great love for the music, and they were passionate about their level of production at their events. Serious vibes all over the map! My favorite moments were the unexpected...including, Milwaukee having a show with Gein at Bad Genie which was a blast! The scene was out in full force. There was a lot of love there for what we were doing and the city wanted to represent!
Jeremy: My most memorable experience was with 916 Junglist crew in Sacramento. The event had the most underground vibe with top notch production. The crowd was ol’ school to the T. As for the most popular cities, we both agree classics Konkrete Jungle (NYC) and Respect (LA) were incredible and still going strong. Our hometown (Denver) is definitely one of our favorites. Denver definitely has a strong diverse Drum and Bass scene. Beta has been bringing it with Gravity on Fridays, this is hosted by Reload which has been around since the beginning at numerous venues. The venues seem to vary to much to say just one in a city, it's more about following the production crews.
Tell us about some of the interviews for this film. Who are some folks you’ve talked to, and what aspects of American jungle culture do you delve into during these conversations?
Josh and Jeremy: We talked to over 120 individuals from all aspects of the scene. Some of the heaviest hitters were DB, Dieselboy, Hype, Andy C, Reid Speed, Odi, Empress, and Mac from Konkrete Jungle. We tried to interview as many people as possible to get a full range of opinions on the scene.
We cover everything from the Amen Break to sub genres of Drum and Bass, we talk about the development of the sound, and how technology influenced it along the way. We also cover the culture and how other music genres influenced Drum and Bass in its roots. We talk about the struggle of the promoters to provide the music to their individual scenes, the differences in the UK and North America, and how our scene spread throughout the continent. Overall, lots of topics covered that give a understanding of the North American Drum and Bass culture and where it came from.
Many of the popular aspects of current electronic music is rooted in jungle, yet it still seems to be an extremely overlooked genre. Why do you think jungle hasn’t seen much mainstream success despite it’s strong influence throughout electronica?
Josh and Jeremy: We think the question could be a regional issue. Outside of the U.S. there has been mainstream success with Jungle and Drum and Bass. In the United States it seems mainstream promoters did not give attention to the sound, Drum and Bass wasn’t placed on the main stages or given radio play for one reason or the other.
After filming this documentary and being producers yourselves, how would you describe the evolution of this culture in your own words? Where do you see this scene going in America in the future?
Jeremy: North America has been gaining a strong network of promoters who are working together to grow the culture and provide a solid Drum and Bass experience. We have evolved from being on side room stages at raves, to crews that are throwing their own shows to highlight Drum and Bass entirely. The new generation is starting to push the sound which is causing the scene to evolve and grow as well.
Josh: Drum and Bass in our opinion is timeless, the sound will always be futuristic and underground.
For someone who has never heard of drum and bass, what album would you start them off with?
Jeremy: Goldie - Timeless
Josh: Dieselboy - Dungeon Master's Guide
And for those who are well versed in the genre, what’s an up-and-coming artist you’d recommend to them?
Jeremy: Knoxz, Will miles
Josh: Legion, Sinistarr
What do you hope to be some of the biggest takeaway points for viewers of the film?
Josh and Jeremy: We hope that it becomes an educational piece about the culture and history of North American Drum and Bass
When can we expect the film to be released, and where can people see it once it’s out?
This summer 2016, we are planning a North American Tour with screenings. Follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/theamericanjunglefanpage. Send us an email to inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keyframe-Entertainment is the Associate Producer of The American Jungle film. Click here to learn more about their films, books, electronic music releases, and other projects.
All interviews posted before October 2015 were originally recorded for KAMP Student Radio.