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Rockwell

Rockwell2Tom Green’s approach to production is meticulous to say the least, and, as DnB maestro Rockwell, he’s focused on the atomic level of electronic music. For music that is clearly designed to move a club, his breaks could almost be straight-up Pierre Schaeffer. Signed to Shogun, he’s joining Viper Recordings for their Australia tour, including the Metro City gig on July 25. ZOE KILBOURN catches him on the eve of the tour.

Rockwell’s facebook bio lists his musical genres as DnB/170/130. “It’s literally easier to list what I play in beats per minute rather than genres, in a way,” he laughs. “A lot of times, when things do sound quite simple, it’s got like five or six layers and they’re all moving differently. It’s like a textural thing – I’m quite obsessed with the textural side of music. I think there are only a couple of tunes where I’ve used a sample drum break. A lot of it is building the drums from the ground up using drum machine hits and weird little sounds I seem to find.”

. “I go through samples, and I look for things that sound weird. I listen to stuff like sound library collections where they’ll set up a recording in a coffee shop, and some guy will be making coffee. It’ll be, like, a thirty minute sample file, but you’ll hear lots of little movements – when he uses the coffee whirrer, or the steamer. I hear movement in those sounds. I’ll only take the smallest fraction of a second, and I’ll scramble it in – makes things move more naturally, I think.”

Green is the kind of musician who could have taken his music anywhere else – and he almost did. “DnB is kind of like you have the speed and urgency of punk rock with the breaks and the swagger and the attitude of hip hop,” he says. The name Rockwell refers not to the campy Motown singer behind Somebody’s Watching Me, but rather Illmatic,“Nas’ll rock well, it ain’t hard to tell” being an early earworm.

I first heard DnB on tapes and CDs and it wasn’t really the same,” says Green. “When I went out and saw it live in a club, I was like, “Wow. This music is amazing”. It was just so loud, and the bass was so deep, and everything was so – loud,” he laughs. “It was like an assault on the senses. I don’t think people really get DnB until they see it in a club – I think it makes sense in a club a lot more than it does on an iPod or in your car.”

Before I sit down and start writing a track, I have a kind of blueprint – I know how it’s going to be arranged. You know how you want it to sound, but getting that translation without making any sacrifices – I think that’s one of the harder things about musical production,” he says. He’s certainly not afraid of the unknown. “I don’t know how my sets will go. And I guess that’s the point of being a DJ. I like that kind of unpredictability. Are they gonna dance? Are they gonna leave?” With a BBC1 residency and a string of Asia headliners upcoming, it’s fair to say they’re gonna dance.