Published: Real Groove, September, 2010
The Enemy Within marks a new era in the Concord Dawn story, but Matt Harvey, now the sole remaining member of one of New Zealand’s most successful drum and bass names, wants everyone to know it’s business as usual.
As far as musical breakups go, Matt Harvey and Evan Short left on fairly amicable terms.
According to Harvey, now resident in his adoptive home in Vienna, Austria, their “divorce settlement” consisted of a hastily scribbled note, the main proviso of which left Short with all the studio gear, and Harvey with one of New Zealand’s most bankable drum and bass brands.
Since Concord Dawn’s first formative releases through Kog Transmissions’ Low Profile imprint at the start of the ‘00s, they’ve arguably become the country’s most successful drum and bass export. But in 2008 the pair split, and although both of them are still seen to by the same management, Matt admits that all they’re really involved with now, in terms of music, is “comparing studio penises and telling each other about the new gear we bought”.
It’s a characteristically cheeky response from the one remaining member of Concord Dawn. He has a habit of speaking in long, passionate bursts, often peppered with hilarious analogies and punctuated with a mischievous high-pitched laugh. He seemed in good humour on the eve of Concord Dawn’s latest release, the first full album since he parted ways with Short, and the result of his first productive year in the studio since 2008.
“The first year was pretty slow progress, but the last year I’ve just been working on the album – still doing gigs here and there, but trying to sort of go away and do a couple of weekends in the ‘States or whatever, and then just come back and have a month where I don’t do any gigs. Or just do one or two a month, but not six, seven, eight shows – constantly doing gigs.”
Taking full responsibility of Concord Dawn’s exhaustive touring schedule, which up until 2008 was split roughly between the two, and accumulating his own studio in Vienna meant invaluable studio time was at a minimum during the year immediately after Short’s departure. But 2009 saw a change in circumstance and Harvey has turned out The Enemy Within, an album that shuns current minimal trends and which he hopes will let everyone know “it’s business as usual”.
“I’m too old to be trying to be fashionable,” laughs Harvey. “When you get past a certain age if you try and be trendy it’s just a bit sad really. So I’m just kind of sticking to my roots and doing what I like and what I think works.”
That includes a couple of trance tinged, non-vocal tracks which hark back to the days of Concord Dawn and Disturbance, amongst a scattering of collaborations with vocalists like Jdubs, Nina McSweeney and Paul McLaney. “I really wanted to make an album that was purely drum and bass. I had a few things written like a techno thing I started, and a coupe of interlude-y sort of ambient things, but I sort of wanted to come out and go here’s a drum and bass album of drum and bass tunes, you know, straight up.”
Despite The Enemy Within marking a new era in the Concord Dawn story Harvey has enjoyed the increased freedom and added responsibility he’s had over the last couple of years. “It’s been great, I mean sometimes it’s nice to have someone sitting next to you to go, ‘yeah bro, that’s fucking bad, what a fucking sick bass line’ or whatever, it’s good to get a second opinion, but then sometimes you just have to back yourself and be confident.”
And with positive feedback from the likes of DJ Marky, Andy C and Ed Rush, it seems he’s well on track to take the Concord Dawn sound into the new decade.
Since Short Fuse released Solid State via Germany’s Incoming! Records in 1998, New Zealand drum and bass has increasingly found favour amongst an international audience. Starting with the success of Bulletproof and Concord Dawn in the early 00’s there’s been a small group of artists that have consistently flown the flag for NZ drum and bass on the world stage. Here are a selection of NZ success stories…
Bulletproof originally found favour as two-piece, but when Josh Lees left in 2005 Jay Cyanide continued to push Bulletproof’s ‘neurofunk’ style of drum and bass to the rest of world. With releases on many of the genre’s most respected labels over the last ten years, and a well deserved respect for his own Cyanide Recordings, Bulletproof can rightly be regarded as one of the country’s d’n’b pioneers.
State of Mind
Even before Patrick Hawkins and Stu Maxwell released their debut full length in 2006 their future was writ large. With a slew of tunes released through labels like Total Science’s C.I.A and DJ Friction’s Shogun Audio they gave us glimpse of what was to come just a short time later on Take Control and Faster Than Light.
With three well received albums under their belt, releases through BC Presents and Bad Taste, and their Non Vogue label now in it’s third year, Wellington producer’s Jeremy Glenn and Dylan Jones have certainly made the most of their relatively short six years in the game. And with a couple of new singles marked for release through Virus Recordings and Lifted Music this year, it seems there’s plenty more to come.
Perhaps one of the country’s most exciting new electronic producers, Cameron Mclaren’s debut Live For Never was released through dBridge’s Exit Records late last year. Favouring deep, minimal production over any full-throttle break beat monsters, his music is keeping good company amongst the always innovative Autonomic family.