It's hard to pin down Germany's Daniel Schwerdel as he is the musical equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife. One moment he's making heavy breakbeat as Ahmad, the next he's crafting spacey drum & bass that is reminiscent of classic golden era rollers as Acid_Lab, and he still finds time to unleash experiment drumfunk as Kodama.
The titular track from his incredible Odyssey LP on Omni Music is one of my all time favorites and ranks among my top DnB tracks of the decade. In fact, the entire album almost borders on anachronistic as it takes the best elements of a seemingly forgone generation and modernizes them with unparalleled success.
Having worked with some of the underground's greatest talent, Daniel has certainly earned his respect and proven himself as an adept talent within the scene.
Unbothered by doubters, haters, or naysayers, he continues to create music that inspires others the way his favorites have inspired him.
With so many styles and ingredients, I found myself curious about his general creative essence and how he juggles these elements and identities.
Prox: You produce under quite a few monikers but which would you say best represents what you’re trying to accomplish with your discography? What is the significance of the name “Acid_Lab”?
Daniel: Acid_Lab stands for a big range of different styles of D&B music (Techstep, Drumfunk etc.). The project reflects my musical tastes of the 90's sound. This golden time impressed me a lot and the tunes from that era are still inspiring me today. Originally the moniker came from that Alex Reece track with the same name (from his 1996 album So Far).
I also liked the fact that there is a drum synth with this name and it has def. nothing to do, with the drug called Acid / LSD. I always respected open minded artists like Total Science. At the end of the day, a wicked track is still a wicked track and it has nothing to do with one particular style.
I wanted to show everybody, that I can do it all. A smooth and mellow track, something hard or a experimental number. By the way, a name with the letter A at the beginning, gives you the advantage that your always listed at the top (in alphabetical order).
Ahmad stands more for a raw and pulsating Halfstep sound, combined with heavy Jungle breakbeats. My device is here, keep it as much simple as possible. I worked together with artists like: Loxy, Mental Forces, Ink, Gremlinz, Kobra, Slider, Akinsa, Dave Hoax, DBR UK, Konfront Audio, Dreadmaul, Parallel... and had releases on Paradox Music, Rupture London, Dispatch etc.
In the beginning I kept this project really secret and only a few people had some information about it, only to see, if I would get more attention. I also given the chance to put out my third LP Intaference on Architecture under the name Ahmad.
Kodama is a Japanese ghost from the trees and this project is reserved for remixes and collaborations too. It sounds like experimental Drumfunk and I only had a few releases on Eastern Promise Audio, Abyss and Alphacut. A big thank you goes out to LXC from Alphacut for three vinyl releases over the years!
Prox: Which album(s) or track(s) were responsible for you making D&B music? Did you experiment with any other genres before you found a love for Breakbeat / Jungle?
Daniel: I was seventeen years old and listened only to commercial music from the radio stations, but at that time electronic music in general had a big breakthrough, especially in the UK and in Germany. There were loads of artists, huge raves, endless releases on labels like: Certifcate 18, Reinforced, Metalheadz, Moving Shadow etc. I was a fan of Aphex Twin, Autechre, Mouse On Mars, Squarepusher, The Orb, Der Dritte Raum, Sensorama... I nearly liked it all!
I was first infected with the Jungle / D&B virus, after watching several videos on MTV UK. I first saw the clips from Goldie (Inner City Life), Ganja Kru (Super Sharp Shooter), Roni Size (Brown Paper Bag), Adam F (Circles and Music In My Mind) and Photek (Ni Ten Ichi Ryu). I was shocked, impressed and motivated to start making music at the same time. It was like, I found the keys to another dimension. The fast and energetic breakbeats, the deep basslines, the crazy samples, I was totally hooked. I didn't know anything about it and this was during a time without the Internet, without sample-packs or tutorials, living in a small town, and without anybody with knowledge about it. I still can't play any instruments today (except my laptop), but for me, electronic music allows me to translate all my ideas, visions and feelings, with the help of a computer into tracks, into music.
My top 5 D&B albums of all time:
Prox: “Odyssey” is one of my favorite D&B pieces of all time. Could you breakdown the track for us? Do you remember the early creative stages of the song?
Daniel: Hmmm… let me think about it. I produced it on a Sunday, I mostly make music on this day and the concept of the album was pretty simple. Atmospheric pads, mixed with 808 basslines and two or three different breakbeats like the Amen or the Funky Mule and some others.
Every track and title has something to do with the universe. I always start with the beats. Then I add a bassline to it and some other elements. I sampled a lot of the pads / textures from old Ambient tunes, which I found on Youtube and that's it. It took six hours or so and then I had another spaced out roller. The whole LP reminds me on the creative days of Good Looking Rec. and LTJ Bukem played the tunes, too. That was and is a big honour to me!
Prox: As yourself and the genre grows, what are some things you’d like to begin adding into your music? What are some trends that you find yourself enjoying within the D&B community?
Daniel: I would like to work with some vocalists, too. That could add my tunes much more impact and I'm really happy, that the old school sound is coming back again. Big ups are going to Double O, Mantra and Djinn from Rupture London, Soul Intent (Dope Plates & Lossless Music), Slider (Dust Audio & Turbine Music), Eschaton (Omni Music), Ruffhouse & Gremlinz (UVB-76), Ink (Architecture), shouts to my mates Scale (Dysfunk Music) and Turrican (Urban Poetry) and many more, who supported that sound and me since day one. I don't follow any trends! I make music that I like, independent from any styles, trends, likes, followers, plays, money or people who want to tell me to do this or to do that. I'm not on Facebook or Instagram, check out my Soundcloud site for updates and stuff like that.
Prox: Is there anything in particular that has been the most beneficial influence on your work?
Daniel: When I was starting out in my little bedroom studio, I couldn't imagine that anybody else could like my tracks. After nearly ten years in the game, I can say: “Yes, yes, oh yes...”. I'm not very popular or rich, but I got respect from people all around the globe. I worked together with some of my musical icons, had numerous releases, even on vinyl, on cd's or usb - sticks. I got national and international airplay, given the chance to remix some classics from Loxy, Digital & Outrage, Gremlinz etc., I've been remixed from others like Double O or Dreadmaul, I mixed some podcasts, released three albums (watch out for more LP's in the near future) and had the possibility to do interviews. I'm proud and satisfied, but sky is the limit. Keep that in mind! Ah and I have not to pay for my mates new tunes or some label shirts, hehe...
Prox: Please tell us something that influences your work that we may not know.
Daniel: I get inspired from my surroundings, from my daily experiences, my girlfriend, my family and friends, from watching movies, listening to some Hip Hop, Rock or Jazz music, doing some Graffiti. That keeps me alive! I got so many ideas in my mind and they never stop!
Prox: Who are some of your favorite artists, creatives, or intellectuals?
Daniel: I big up Om Unit, Gremlinz, Ruffhouse, Paradox, old Source Direct and Special Forces / Photek tunes, Friske, Detboi, SB81 aka Nolige, Double O, Kid Drama, Scar, Break, Total Science & Rufige Kru.
Prox: Anymore information on other upcoming projects and releases?
Daniel: I got two albums in the pipeline, but I can't drop names so far! Keep your eyes and ears open for that. There will be also some releases on vinyl, but this will take some time, too. Maybe that will happen this year or maybe next year, we will see.
Prox: Final Thoughts?
Daniel: Work on your skills and on your attitude and everything can happen. Don't listen to haters, don't care about people who want to keep you down. Do your thing and be positive. Don't start making D&B to get rich, just do it for the love. Music is important for being creative and for getting in contact with others. I have to say, thank you, thanks to everybody, who is supporting me and D&B and a big thank you goes also out, to my girlfriend and my family / friends.
You know who you are! “Let the bass kick!"
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