By Max Foley
Friday, September 11, 2015
CALGARY — Ivy Lab, in its current iteration, was birthed in an explosion of hype after members Sabre, Stray and Halogenix collaborated with soulful lyricist Frank H. Carter III on “Oblique.” Arguably their breakout hit, “Oblique” teased what was yet to come, the first of many lowkey jams the trio is now notorious for.
Things started falling into place in 2009. Three junglists, each of them with a passion for the more ‘out there’ side of drum and bass, started to collaborate or, in their words, “make beats and hang out.” With support from friends at Critical Music as their launchpad, they took off into unexplored territory.
Ivy Lab’s sound is making waves; even after a few years, their IvyCast mix series remains forward-thinking. It’s an excellent introduction to the trio’s sound, to more underground flavors of DnB. And the IvyCast is slated for a return.
“[…] Hopefully next year we’re gonna up the rate at which we release them to being much more regular. They may end up being a bit shorter but we’re pushing to make time to do them more frequently.”
Their sound is as varied and versatile as their influences, some of which include beatmaking masterminds Ta-ku, J Dilla and Clams Casino; Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA; DnB legends Calibre, Ed Rush, and Optical; and future-facing producers such as Burial and dBridge.
And the evidence keeps piling up in Ivy Lab’s favour. Their proprietary club night, 20/20, has become a force to be reckoned with in London’s extremely competitive nightlife scene. So large has 20/20’s following grown that a record label of the same name is in the works, slated for launch in a few months, with their first release being a new Ivy Lab LP.
Sabre, Stray and Halogenix deem 20/20’s trademark halftime sounds as risky but worth pursuing.
“With the halftime stuff what we’re doing is something truly cutting edge and risky…. and it will either bury us or elevate us.”
They’ve foregone the metaphorical goose chase of trying to keep up with different genres that keep popping up, instead opting to establish and reinforce a foundation for the sound that has afforded them their success.
Having noticed a niche, interplay between hip-hop and drum and bass, they’re slated to develop something truly special, an intricate tapestry of music.
And what better way to see how Ivy Lab backs up all the talk than to see them in action? On September 11th, at TEN X Nightclub, Sabre came correct as the sole representative of Ivy Lab, backed by local talents Obscene, Dan Dakota, and Dirty Tones Competition winner Carbon Copy.
The night may as well have been a sampler of what 20/20 has to offer. A comprehensive selection of genres ranging from the frantic snares of footwork, the bullet-time beats of halftime, a delightful throwback to classic darker sounds, all sprinkled with inklings of trap and grime, made for a night unlike anything Calgary has ever seen before.
Sabre outdid himself as an ambassador for Ivy Lab and for the sounds of Critical Music. A smattering of anthems from the label, including Alix Perez’s “Gully Halves” (as well as the VIP), Mefjus’ remix of Ivy Lab’s floor-shaking “Sunday Crunk,” original Ivy lab offerings and remixes such as “Greatest Distance”washed over a crowd of dedicated fans and followers.
One can only imagine the atmosphere of a proper London show. All you can do is hope that the trio returns sometime soon, and brings the whole 20/20 package with them.
Equally competent in the studio as they are on the decks, Sabre, Stray and Halogenix have seen drum and bass undertake quite a journey. The triplicate knows where they stand on the spectrum, and have no shortage of potential fuelling their journey into bold new iterations of their vision.
“There’s a healthy pop-DnB scene that brings in new blood, and when those new recruits hit their early 20s and develop more mature tastes, there is a vibrant underground scene ready to maintain their interest for another decade.”Ivy Lab, TEN X Nightclub