Friction retains the soul in drum and bass

By Donatella Connolly

friction1VANCOUVER — No one can deny that drum and bass is seeing a resurgence. Formerly the main genre that dominated clubs around Canada in the ‘90s and early 2000s, it began to lose visibility when dubstep began battering North American borders. Ed Keely, a.k.a. DJ Friction is the first to admit that he had all but stopped coming to North America.

“I was coming out and I was noticing a lot of drum and bass nights were playing dubstep and that put me off,” he explains over an early morning Skype conversation. “Now that I have been out a couple of times [recently],” he continues,” it has been amazing.”

Unlike many DJs who have chosen to gripe at North America’s renewed interest in D’n’B on line-ups and in DJ sets, Keely refuses to view this as negative. As far as he is concerned, the more space that D’n’B occupies on the musical stage, the better.


Over a career that has spanned from the late ‘90s to present day, Keely has devoted most of his time to promoting his love for the genre. He has accomplished this through DJing and producing by carefully crafting playlists showcasing D’n’B’s best on BBC Radio One, and through releases on his label, Shogun Audio. It is this entrepreneurial spirit that has propelled a career where he is recognized as one of the world’s top drum and bass DJs, running one of the genre’s most innovative labels with artists like Rockwell, Fourward, Joe Ford and Technimatic, and releasing music on his own label as well as True Playaz, Renegade Hardware and Hospital Records.

“There is a lot of things going on,” he laughingly admits. “I am a complete workaholic now [and] it’s difficult because there is nothing that I can just stop doing.”

Therefore it is truly no surprise that Keely is endeavouring on another musical project, a four part collaborative series embodying the fun side of drum and bass in both production and process, what Keely calls “straight up on-the-dancefloor D’n’B”.

The Friction Vs. Vol. 1, released on special collector picture disk, features Fourward, a new artist signed to Shogun Audio recently, and on the flipside Total Science, long-time D’n’B veterans. “[The Friction Vs. series] was a way to have a bit of fun in the studio with my mates with no strings attached,” Keely says. “Sometimes I will go to the studio with a big record label with a deadline and although I enjoy making the music it is more of a serious process, where as this is more fun.”

When asked if a full LP is on the horizon, Keely admits that with such a full plate he has no idea how he would adjust his schedule. “It’s difficult there is nothing that I can stop doing. I love DJing, I love the radio show and I love A&R at Shogun because I love interacting with the artists – I genuinely love that. If I could clone myself I would get a lot of work done,” he adds jokingly.

Keely is passionate about his work, the music that ties it together and the pleasure he brings fans worldwide by revealing to his audiences the many different forms of this versatile genre whether you are new to drum and bass, have returned or have always been there.

“I think there is a lot of great musical stuff at the moment. There have been periods in drum and bass when the soul has really gone missing and I hate that – it is important for music to be soulful. With drum and bass is that you will have techy stuff you will have dance stuff you will have liquid stuff and that is what keeps it vibrant because it has so many influences happening within it,” states Keely enthusiastically.

“[Because of this] who knows where it could end.”

Friction will be making his appearance at Red Room Ultra Bar In Vancouver on July 5th.

, , , ,