Different Drummer also released some seminal compilations such as ‘Bastard Tracks’ and ‘Music Is Immortal’, featuring acts like Templeroy, Painted Van and Euphonic. Remixing became an increasingly worthwhile past-time for Rockers Hi-Fi, as acts such as Sly and Robbie, Tosca, Ennio Morricone and Ella Fitzgerald all received the ‘Rocker’s’ touch. The continuing success of Rockers Hi-Fi in Germany, resulted in a Different Drummer Compilation entitled ‘Spliffen Sie Englisch’, which featured the cream of the German Nu-Jazz scene with tracks from Jazzanova, Beanfield and A Forest Mighty Black.
Now in 2003 and ten years on, Different Drummer are sticking to their dub pistols with recent albums from G Corp, Pre Fade Listening, Phase 5, and Noiseshaper keeping heads knodding. And to commemortate their longevity in the shifty music business they’ve released “A Different Drummer Selection” a hand-picked mix by G-Stone’s Richard Dorfmeister from the label’s extensive back-catalogue. The CD captures some of the highlights of a 10 year love affair with all things deep and dubby.
In addition to the label, Different Drummer Club Nights are held at The Medicine Bar in Birmingham, an increasingly popular venue for quality music of all genres. ‘Leftfoot’ is a night without musical boundaries which has seen the likes of Jazzanova, Fila Brazillia and Grand Central Records, whilst the Rootsical ‘Overproof’ has featured 100% Dynamite and The Blood and Fire Soundsystem. The Different Drummer Soundsystem is a collective of DJ’s Musicians and Vocalists which can range from 2 to 6 members. The musical agenda is based around the ‘Leftfoot’ Club Night, basically a selection of quality music from around the globe. The Soundsystem have performed all over the world as well as clubs and festivals around the UK.
MundoVibes fired off a selection of questions to label founder Richard Whittingham on what keeps the Different Drummer crew going:
What is the concept behind “A Different Drummer Selection”?
To celebrate the fact that we’ve been releasing music for 10 years.
What is Richard Dorfmesiter’s role in the project?
To mix a selection of our back catalogue into a beautiful inimitable Dorfmeister mix.
Did he select the tracks or just mix them?
Richard chose some and so did we.
Where did your love of dub music begin and how did it develop?
In a punk club, in 1977/8, in my home town of Birmingham England called Barbarellas.It’s still developing – I’m still find stuff that I didn’t know existed!
It’s interesting how prevelant bass has become in music today. How important is bass to Different Drummer’s releases?
Very Important. In instrumental music it’s usually the centre of a track, the melody, the part you hum…well it is for us anyway!
Since the label’s name is Different Drummer, is it all about representing underground beats?
I suppose so, but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at crossing over, going over-ground.
What was the founding mission of Different Drummer and how has it evolved?
We started DD to release our own music as Original Rockers, but now we
release other peoples music. We also like to release albums now, as before it was all about 12″ vinyl.
Different Drummer is both a label and a sound system. What is your version of the “soundsystem” and how similar is it to the original Jamaican version?
Well, we use two decks instead of one, we don’t just play Reggae….although
most of the music we play is heavily influenced by Dub/Reggae. The rest is
very similar – a selector dropping the tunes and an MC/Toaster chatting and
singing over the Rhythms. We also use a Roland Space Echo which was a big
part of the Reggae and Dub sound of the 70’s and a few effects.
What do you feel are the essential elements of a Different Drummer
recording? Is there a “signature” sound?
Not really….although we are predominantly known for releasing ‘Nu-dub’, but we have released Hip Hop,
Electronica, Drum & Bass. If we are into something we’ll release it!
Are you at all influenced by what is current in Jamaica or is it more London?
We are influenced by what lands on the doormat.
What makes a track wicked for both ears and the dancefloor?
I don’t know!
You represent both dub and hip hop. How does this work?
We represent other forms of music too, and it seems to just work – there’s no secret formula.
What would be your dream project if you could bring anyone together?
John Barry & Johnny Osbourne
Who are the producers that have most inspired you?
Lee Scratch Perry, Scientist, George Martin…
You work with talent from Jamaica amongst other places. How do you find these artists?
We find each other.
What is the Birmingham scene like?
The scene that we are involved in is pretty cool. B’ham is a big place and there’s a lot of things going on!
Dub is an international phenomenon. What do you attribute that to?
The bass line and the echo echo echo…
You represent Birmingham with the label and with artists like Mighty Math.
Do you actively develop local artists?
There’s not enough local talent coming our way, but I’m very proud when we release something from Brum!
What has been your most well-received project to date?
The Dorfmeister compilation, with the G-Corp releases a close 2nd.
You seem to have a connection with New Zealand.
Yes, NZ has a great music scene! It all started with a guy called John Pell, now a good friend,
booking Original Rockers to play his dub club in London. He eventually went
back to NZ and took us out there to tour. Also, a DJ out there called Stinky
Jim was playing our releases back in the early 90’s – we hooked up with his
label, Round Trip Mars, to release the NZ compilation Sideways.
What do you think of the international dub scene right now?
How does Different Drummer fit into the dub scene?
How do you promote your music?
How does Different Drummer use modern technology, while still keeping aroots vibe?
We mix the two.
What are your current and future projects?
New release from Noiseshaper (their 2nd album for DD) Debut album from Al Haca Soundsystem Inevitable (due end of October) Next year we have releases from Overproof Soundsystem,
Moma Gravy, Dollboy, and a few others that haven’t signed contracts yet.
Are your production techniques more on the digital side or analogue?
A bit of both, but we are moving more towards a digital set-up.
What are the primary obstacles you face as an independent label?
Will you ever get into the reissue business such as label’s like Blood & Fire?
We tried to license a load of Reggae tracks a few years ago, but gave
up as it was a complete nightmare – but never say never.
What are some venues and shops in Birmingham you’d recommend?
Medicine Bar, Swordfish Records, Massive Records, Plastic Factory, Jyoti
Hindu Vegetarian Restaurant, No Name, The Diskery, A2, The Soya Café.