On Thursday the Czech Let It Roll Festival will kick off next to Prague, which is the world's biggest drum and bass festival. From this occasion we talked to Jade, founder of Eatbrain, whose going to have their own stage on the festival. He told us what it is like to play in Columbia, how they are different from other labels, why Beatport is essential, who took over making their artwork, how the logo took shape and what his favourite release is. Also we have two passes for the festival to give away - we have passes winners!
You just got back from Columbia. How did the gig go?
- It was amazing, a very special experience. I and the label are really popular in Columbia. They are in the top 5 on our popularity list in the world, which is a big thing. They rarely have big parties there, so far there have been only 5 international headliner: Dub Elements, Ed Rush, Teddy Killerz, Counter Strike and me. There weren’t more than 600 people on the party, but 590 of those were truly my fan. They know all my songs and remixes. This never happened before, so it was a really special experience for me.
Maybe they feel that the Eatbrain type of neurofunk is different from others. What do you think?
- Our style is dark neurofunk,which is not so unique, because there’s Blackout, and Black Sun Empire, which release similar materials, but good stuff come out on Critical and on the market leader, RAM, as well. Our style has a little punk and humour and unlike the big labels, we don’t have exclusive contracts with the artists. Everybody can decide if they want to stay or move on. Eatbrain is rather like a community, a family, rather than a planned business venture. This atmosphere is visible for the fans as well.
On the last 4-deck Eatbrain podcast, Hypoxia played General Levy’s Incredible, which was really renegade, when it came out.
- That’s right, even today it is completely out of place. I often play fundamentally different materials in my sets, which really influenced me back in the days. One of my personal favourites is Kemal, and Konflict. It has been very difficult for a lot of people to get what they were doing, but for a long time I played one of the song from The Prodigy’s Fuel My Fire, from the ‘Fat Of The Land’ album, which had a close to d’n’b tempo, but not d’n’b.
Talking of Hypoxia, their latest release made it to the number one spot on Beatport’s drum and bass chart. Is it worth to publish on Beatport or are they unavoidable?
- Well this year 3 out 5 of our releases were number 1, and the other two made it to at least the third position. And it is a very interesting aspect from the label’s side that the releases reach number 1, but the songs individually rarely make it to the top 10. I think the reason behind this is that the label has a lot of fans who buy the full releases instantly, they don’t want to pick songs from them. The Beatport has all the advantages and disadvantages of a monopole, market leader company, since if somebody is looking for new releases, they go to Beatport. That’s why many labels publish there exclusively, as does Eatbrain. We are on all the other sores as well and stream also, we are on Spotify and Deezer as well, but we publish everything two weeks later than on Beatport. Since everybody publishes on Beatport first it justifies its market leader position, however their terms are far worse than other digital music stores, but it is still worth publishing there, because doing well on the site is worth more in prestige than the income we earn with it.
You still stick to vinyls as well. Is it more difficult to manage it with all the revival and re-prints around?
- It’s a disaster, since it’s not drum and bass or neurofunk are more popular, but all the other genres we have nothing to do with. So we don’t benefit from it at all, however it takes 3 times more time to get our presses, so we can deliver them also later. We have our records manufactured in The Netherlands at Triple Vision. We believe in vinyl and will hold on to them in the future, but we also believe in digital formats as well. We go to gigs with USB drives, for which we receive a lot of criticism from some of our fans, but we have be up-to-date, and also going to an international gig with vinyls is like shooting yourself in the leg.
Your artwork is fantastic. Is visual part of building your brand?
- In the beginning I made the artwork, and then an old friend of mine, Trinyó took over. We used to hang out together a lot in our teenage years. We did a lot of graffiti together but over the years we drifted apart, but when I completed the artwork for our seventh release, he contacted me on Facebook and said he would like to do it. First I didn’t want to hand it over, but then we gave it a go, he drew and I coloured. From this collaboration a concept was created, which has become an organic part of the label. There hasn’t been a cover which wasn’t labelled ‘the best ever’ by our fans. If somebody did the artwork, that would be a completely different world.
The logo also took a lot of time, didn’t it?
- Yes, for a month. First I wanted a logo similar to the Apple’s, an apple filled with brain, and a part is bitten out, but I didn’t like it in the end. I wanted something iconic, something wich is geometrically simple, but expresses what Eatbrain stands for. In comic books the dead is often displayed with X-s on their eyes, and zombies do one thing: they eat brain. And for this this you need sharp teeth. This gave me the idea So for one month I was pushing X-s and triangles to get the right distance and shape till it reached its final shape.
You will have your own stage on Let It Roll Festival. Can we say it’s one of your biggest achievements?
- This IS our biggest achievement to date. By far the biggest, since this is world’s biggest drum and bass festival after all, and if we look at which other labels got their own stage, the list speaks for itself: Metalheadz, Shogun Audio, Critical, Blackout and Playaz. On virtual list of drum and bass labels, there are a lot of labels that would qualify above Eatbrain, but we still managed to clinch this deal due to our popularity in the Czech Republic. We play there a lot, sometimes I can’t even make it to the gigs. Last year we had an Eatbrain Night in the highly rated Cross Club, and the owners said there hadn’t been so many people there on other parties that year.
How is the atmosphere different on this festival?
- The festival will be held on a different venue this year, so I can’t say anything about the new setup. So far I was only in Benesov in an amazing, industrial warehouse area. This created a ‘rave’ feeling to it, but at the same time there was a metallic, robot-like atmosphere and a kind of old-school, dark, punk feeling to it as well. As far as I know this year there will be an opening show again, so you can expect something extraordinary robot show, or something. The visual part will be really spectacular, I’m sure. Only we will work with our own visual crew, Tom Hradszky is responsible for that. He is a fantastic professional; he is going to drive down from Amsterdam for the festival to do this. The visual part is becoming more and more important for the festivals, we cannot ignore that either, but it cannot damage the music’s impact.
- We have been on many festivals this year already and often found big drum and bass artists’ sets disappointing. Do you think that the festival is going to an EDM direction?
On festivals these artists play a different set than in clubs, since most of the festival goers have no idea who is playing. On most festivals drum and bass is kind of stepchild, and the artists know they have to play something different there. I noticed on Balaton Sound that quite a few people went for the Noisia Invites because it was raining, not because they know what was going on there, so wandering people can be a factor on a festival. There won’t be such a thing on Let It Roll, since this is 100% drum and bass festival, everybody know what is going on.
Which is your favourite Eatbrain release?
- Huh, difficult question, like asking a mother who is her favourite child. But I would say the 4. one, since this was the first release which did not feature me in any way. Mefjus and Neonlight have built a fantastic career since then, also this release launched the label on a path we are on now.
Which group co-hosted the break stage with Eatbrain on last year's Normafa? (Little help from our previos article here, the good answer: Ninjabreakz.)
Send your answers to email@example.com until 29 June 12 am. The winners: Bodorkós Máté and Kőrizs Ádám.
Hungarian version here.