DOA: Hi Ryan! Thanks a lot for agreeing to give our users a more in depth look into Project 51. As people may know, you reside in San Francisco, California. For those unfamiliar with the seminal part SF played in early stateside drum and bass, could you talk a bit about that? Were the old crews a big influence on you and if so, how?WAIT... THERE'S MORE STUFF
Gridlok: Well, the first real UK/US producer connection, I would have to say, started in San Francisco with the Phunkateck Crew. They consisted of people like UFO, Sage, Abstract, Juju and Echo. You also have Thermal Recordings, led by SJ Sifu, who's been putting out records for time. They were an influence because it helped solidify for me that I could be doing my own thing. So, big up to them for leading the way!
DOA:What were you up to before starting Project 51? Can you tell us a bit about the events that lead up to the start of the label and the others who were involved?
Gridlok: When I started this label, I was done running labels. I ran Techorganic for several years but it wasn't my label. When the owners decided to do their own thing with it, I was more than happy to step back as I am an artist first and didn't like the distractions running a label causes. I was offered a manufacture and distrobution deal at a time when I was happy putting out records on other labels so I kinda treated it as an outlet for weird shit that no one else would want to sign. Over the years I became more into the idea of Project 51 and at this point it's pretty much become my center focus.
DOA: Fill us in on the background of this great label. Is there a story behind the conception of Project 51? How did you pick the name?
Gridlok: I pretty much pulled the name out of thin air while looking at the bottom of an empty bottle of vodka. Project 51 wasn't even actually the name for a label at first, it was my attempt at doing a production crew with Element and Redcoat. It wasn't until later that I realized the name was meant for what it is now.
DOA: The first few releases on the label were primarily your collaborations and solo tunes. Was your original intention for the label to be a place just for your own personal output?
Gridlok: Yeah, I wasn't really interested in signing other artists at first, cause I knew the label really didn't have the resources to support them. We did put out some tunes from Thinktank but that was pretty much it until the second chapter of the label begam when S.T. Holdings took over as our distributor.
DOA: The Upbeats, who have just had their second single on the label, were the first artists to have a non-collab or split single. What was the inspiration behind this and what is it about the Upbeats sound that lead to the decision?
Gridlok: With The Upbeats, it's a simple case of that's how much I'm behind their music. I think that they have the talent and vision to put their own solo records and I'm more than happy to help them with that. I wish them the best of luck with everything they are doing and especially with their new album.
DOA: You released a fantastic album not too long ago, which is called 'Break the System'. How did you come up with the name and what does it mean to you exactly? Had you always wanted to do a solo LP? How did this experience differ from working on an album like 'Welcome to Violence'?
Gridlok: That album was inevitably going to be made, I just kept getting sidetracked. The first title was "Under Surveillance" but I didn't get enough feeling of action from it and ended up fumbling with a lot of things before settling on "Break The System". I've always wanted to do a solo LP and really it's what I'd like to be doing all the time. Working on Welcome to Violence was a group effort and therefore the experience was totally different.
DOA: Do you think there will ever be an LP from another artist on P51? Why or why not?
Gridlok: I am definitely working for that to happen. Origin from Los Angeles is working on the next CD for the label with MC Armanni Reign as we speak. In addition to that, Skitty also has plans to do an album on the label as well as MC Dino. I'm also currently working on my second LP.
DOA:I have always found P51 to be one of the more consistent labels. Has it been a natural progression or have you found it difficult to maintain such a signature sound, despite the transformations drum and bass has gone through since the label's start? What is the driving force that has kept you from straying from the original sound that P51 was founded on?
Gridlok: Well, I wouldn't necessarily say we've stuck to the original sound of the label. The first release was totally abstract weirdo shit and we've gone into a more straight forward direction now. With that said, I do agree that I've always tried to avoid the cheeze and to keep P51's releases on a fairly serious note.
DOA: Everyone knows running a successful label is no small feat. Are there any crucial tips you'd pass along to a label owner who's just starting out?
Gridlok: I'd say just to have the best music that you can. I think that and consistency are the two keys to running a good label.
DOA: What have you personally been getting down to business on in the studio? Any collabs, future releases or anything else you'd like to speak on?
Gridlok: Currently I'm finishing up two collaborations. One is with Dieselboy for his new CD entitled "Substance D". The other is with New Zealand's Bulletproof and is for his new album. We are calling that one "Dark Times, Desperate Measures".
DOA: What's on the horizon for Project 51? Can you give us fans of the label any clues on what to expect in the future?
Gridlok: As far as near future, we have a group of 12"'s coming out right now in the following order:
P51UK-12: BULLETPROOF - BUNKERBUSTER/SMASH PALACE (FEAT TEKNIK)
P51UK-13: GRIDLOK/CONCORD DAWN/HIVE - OUT YOUR HEAD/LAST STAND
P51UK-14: SKITTY - VICTIM/N.L.P.
P51UK-15: JADE AND MATT U - CRACKS IN THE CEILING/???
Also, Origin's CD should be ready very soon.
DOA: Survey says...
- Where did you grow up? CLEARWATER, FLORIDA
- Are you single, married, divorced or asexual? MARRIED
- What's your favorite food? MOST
- Do you have an all-time favorite film? MAYBE BLADERUNNER?
- Your favorite film villain of all time? TOO MANY WORTHY
- What was your first dnb 12"? WOW I DON'T KNOW!
- Favorite alcoholic drink? MAI TAI
- Favorite hobby other than making music? PLAYING MUSIC
- What non-dnb artists are you currently enjoying? SKREAM
- In your opinion, who's the greatest band to ever exist? BLACK SABBATH OR THE BEATLES
- If you were banished to a deserted island and could only bring 5 items, what would they be? SEX/DRUGS/ROCK/AND/ROLL
- Create your own alternate words for the acronym 'DOA' (i.e. 'dead on arrival'): DIARY OF ARISTOTLE
DOA: Thanks again for taking us on a journey through the early days and the progression of Project 51 and giving us some info on what's to come in the future. We're looking forward to hearing all that's in store! If there's anything else at all you'd like to mention or any shouts, please feel free.
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