He’s never been about that: Etherwood breathes life into drum and bass

Tuesday 03rd, March 2015 / 14:35
By Paul Rodgers
Photo: Yusaku

Photo: Yusaku

CALGARY — It all began for London-based producer and DJ Etherwood just a few years ago but the mark he has made on the genre in that short time is a potent one.

Ed “Woody” Allen grew up playing a variety of instruments and listening to a lot of classic rock. He brings organic instrumentation into the studio, which results in his signature brand of soulful and melodic take on D’n’B.

“All the piano and the guitar [are] played live. That’s quite a big thing for me, because that’s sort of crossed over, because drum and bass is quite traditionally sort of synth-y and very heavy bass lines and stuff. I try to play as much [live music] and keep as much of it as real as possible,” explains Allen.

As well as garnering inspiration from the drum and bass artists he is surrounded by and grew up listening to, Allen is also influenced by bands like The Album Leaf, Panda Bear and Mogwai.

“I don’t tend to listen to a lot of drum and bass when I’m actually writing, just so that I don’t fall into that habit of sticking to exactly same formula all the time,” he explains. “I tend to listen to all sorts of stuff.”

As well as a diverse range of musical inspiration, Allen also draws his physical surroundings into the music that he makes, stating, “There’s all sorts of stuff that I suppose is always there in the background and somehow makes its way into the tunes, in terms of music. And then obviously nature’s a big aspect of it, I mean I live in London which is a really busy city, but I’m actually from the country and that’s always inspired me quite a lot.”

In 2012, Allen was signed for the first time to Hospital records for his track “Give it Up.” Then, in November of 2013, he released his highly anticipated self-titled debut album on Med School, a sister label of Hospital. Whereas Hospital is renowned for their uplifting, feel good D’n’B anthems, Med School specializes in the deeper, more eclectic realms of bass music.

“Med School is perfect because it gives you a little bit more freedom, in my opinion, to go a bit deeper. You can experiment more with different tempos and stuff. I didn’t really do a lot of that on the last album, but I’m working on a new one now and it’s great to be able to take yourself out of that, you know ‘I’ve got to write a drum and bass song and it’s got to be able to be played in a club,’ that’s never been what I’ve been about,” says Allen.

“There was a couple of guys from different labels who were interested, but Hospital has always been my biggest inspiration, particularly for drum and bass obviously. So that was always been a sort of dream. Hospital or Med School, that sort of camp, that was a family I wanted to be involved in.”

As scene bandwagoners pile up, an artist like Etherwood is no doubt a welcome breath of fresh air. Focusing on craft and process rather than meshing with the current crop of acts who define EDM’s latest fixation, it will be interesting to see how Allen channels outside influence into a landscape that constantly chases banger status.

See Etherwood for yourself here in Calgary on the 13th at Commonwealth, or in Edmonton the following day at Union Hall.

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