Rabdom L talks Timecode and his new EP, Datasphere
Rabdom L is the production alias for Craig Hudson also known far and wide in the psytrance scene by his DJ name The Skragg. Craig’s new EP, Datasphere is about to be released on Replicant Records.
As a co-founder of Timecode Records and one of the first set of truly international night-time producers to emerge from South Africa, Craig knows a thing or two about psytrance.
What exactly does hustling for gigs mean besides whoring yourself out on social media? Where I come from it’s about what comes out the speakers that matters.”
How long have you been working on Datasphere?
Rabdom L: I began work on the Datasphere EP about a year ago after releasing 4 single tracks on various artist compilations such as Spectral Records, Replicant Records and Global Army Records. Yet another seasons line-ups had been released in Cape Town and despite my 20 years experience and regular international performances I had not been invited to perform Rabdom L or The Skragg at any of the early season events. Only way I know how to combat that is to put my head down and work as hard as I can. And that’s what I did and the result is the Datasphere EP. While I may have taken a better part of a year to finish Datasphere it is a culmination of almost 20 years of work.
As part of the original Timecode collective who all but defined the ‘South African scratchy night time sound’ as it was described by overseas listeners, were you guys aware at the time that you were defining a new sound that would become synonymous with SA night-time psy?
Rabdom L: Absolutely no clue whatsoever. It was only when I began playing abroad that I discovered that the Timecode releases had become referred to as the ‘South African Style’. Timecode innovated a new sub-genre of Psytrance, inspired many of today’s usual suspects and spawned generations of labels and continues to do so. I must make the distinction that when people use the term ‘South African Style’ it has no day or night attached to the term as if the day version would refer to Nano Records. Taking nothing away from their phenomenal achievements, they have built an empire and I love their music and their festivals – true masters.
We still have a healthy bunch of new breed night time producers active in Cape Town. How many of them do you think were influenced by Timecode? Or has the generation changed so much that their influences don’t go back that far? (Considering the short attention span age we now live in)
Rabdom L: Rather cheekily I opened this up to the public through a post on my Facebook page to get a ‘second opinion’ so to speak. The general consensus is that if they are a night/twilight producer or DJ anywhere on the planet then somewhere along the line you were influenced by Timecode Records. That influence extends to the current day and into the future through our work as teachers since both Shift and myself are involved in educating the up and coming and future stars of Psytrance. I have students here in Cape Town and abroad that come to me because of my Timecode involvement. If you’re interested in reading the thread: https://www.facebook.com/theskragg/posts/10152846773255429?notif_t=like
I’ve listened to Datasphere several times. My favourite tracks are probably the ones that are slightly less manic although they all have a restless edge to them. E.g. Datapshere and Souls. There seems to be a lot of pressure on producers to write tracks with massive drops these days to grab the dancefloor’s attention. How much did you think about that when you wrote Datasphere and how much were you determined to create your definition of night time psy (as opposed to being influenced by current trends).
Rabdom L: I put a lot of thought into it. I’ve never been one to follow trends and I’m not about to start now. This EP is a big fuck you to trends, its Rabdom L as it was always intended to sound. If I played a part in the forging of the ‘South African Sound’ then this is Version 2014 and beyond.
Name 3 of your current favourite psy artists, globally.
Rabdom L: Scorb, Anti-Spin, Brainiac
You’ve played overseas several times – in fact the last time you played you commented on Social media about how the scene sucks here and how it is so much more mature abroad. Is this not just a case of you only seeing a small part of what really goes on there during your short stay? Most guys who come here think our scene is amazeballs.
Rabdom L: [Wry Smile] I’ve never been shy to speak my mind. That was after a gig in the middle of the Outback. Yep I’ve been very fortunate in that regard, music has allowed me to travel to many wonderful places – ironically I’ve been booked as Rabdom L a lot more abroad than here in Cape Town. For sure travelling anywhere in the capacity of being a headlining international act you would probably only get to see the best side of any scene and the same can be said for the internationals artists who perform in Cape Town. However I have been to festivals all over the world and the Australian’s have a really good thing going over there. It reminded me of our festivals10-15 years ago; something about it really touched me and reminded me why I do this. Cape Town’s scene doesn’t suck, it is hands down one of the best in the world – that was not the message I intended to convey. What does suck is that I don’t get to participate in it very often yet I’m working harder than I ever did and it shows through my releases. Of course the artists coming down here think its amazeballs, it’s Cape Town – One of the top holiday destinations in the world. We got it all and they get very well treated by the local promoters, and handsomely paid. It’s a dream tour for every artist.
The night-time might have full dancefloors up until a point but what is up with our vacant twilight dancefloors? “
Having been in the scene for over 20 years, does it irritate you that as a veritable veteran who, has certainly paid his dues, and has given a large part of his life to psytrance still has to hustle for gigs?
Rabdom L: It does bother me. It is a sad state of affairs when bookings are dependent on pimping yourself out. What exactly does hustling for gigs mean besides whoring yourself out on social media? Where I come from it’s about what comes out the speakers that matters.
The worldwide trend seems to be that often it is local DJs and producers who play night time slots at events and then the promoter books big prog or daytime internationals. It certainly happens here quite often. Yet night time – certainly in SA – goes off and has full dancefloors. I.e. a lot of the younger generation love the night time vibes. Why do you think this disparity exists?
Rabdom L: The night-time might have full dancefloors up until a point but what is up with our vacant twilight dancefloors? It used to be all about the twilight sunrise sets but these days it’s like a ghost town out there at sunrise and the dancefloor only starts rocking again at 10am. Trance has gone totally ape-shit in Cape Town, there are so many trance parties that people are spoilt for choice and as a result have become super fussy about the music instead of treating the entire festival as an experience and just going with the flow. When there were only 5 parties a year you relished every second of being at a festival.
Rabdom L: My favourite is probably the title track Datasphere. It is the third part in the Sphere’s evolution. The original was called Statusphere and was a vs. with Deliriant. The second was a Rabdom L remix called Ionosphere released on the Augment EP and now this is the third time I have remixed it and it was the obvious choice for the title track as I’d conceived the concept and title of the EP way before the Datasphere track was conceived.
Writing psytrance is time consuming, life consuming and let’s face it – it’s never going to buy you a beemer – what motivates you each day to write more psy?
Rabdom L: So that one day long after we have destroyed ourselves and it’s safe for the Alien’s to land here again they will be able to sift through the rubble and potentially come across some Rabdom L on a blank CD or USB stick and besides I’m a Mercedes guy anyway. [Laughs]
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