Words by Alexander, Photography by Jaber Tobaishi
What’s in a year? The 2nd February had come and passed fairly innocuously without fanfare, an inconsequential date in itself until I realized it marked a full year since our last proper One.Seventy event. Last year, the same date marked the final instalment of our 6 month series at South London’s Rye Wax.
It was the final straight and finish line of a series of 6 events that had been quite exhausting if truth be told. Previously a quarterly event, we had committed to a monthly residency that allowed us to book talent in a much more curated fashion where we could draw a through line between each event joining the dots between each extreme of the sound. From Mani Festo to Antagonist, Escher to Oliver Yorke and DB1 & Logos to Jaskin & Uneven. Little did we know it would be our last chance to ‘do our thing’ on a solid sound system.
Reflecting a year on, we find ourselves yearning for those most simple of pleasures once taken for granted. Catching up with our peers, a knowing eye caught across the dancefloor, a sense of a community moving together. Following the onset of Covid-19 we had to cancel an event planned in the coming months which would have seen us invite a host of international talent from across Europe and the UK for a collaboration with Switzerland’s seminal and genre leading (at least in our little corner) re:st imprint. The line up went something along the lines of DB1, Dyl, Books, Barefoot, Lcp & Neo MDS, Alexander & Rob Vanden. In any case, beyond the event itself we had a good weekend of extracurricular debauchery planned, so a real loss on a personal level!
In many ways the limitation which followed has been a catalyst to constraints which have led to some narrow alleys of creativity, even if not fully realized. At one point we were planning a fully socially distanced modular synth event with bean bags, the ultimate chill affair, before changes in restrictions fully extinguished that little dream.
There was a lot of talk through 2020 about the potential of drum & bass to diversify away from the dancefloor and for artists to broaden the range of their music. The truth is that there was already a whole tier of artists and labels who were already there and had been holding it down for years. The likes of ASC, Dyl, Owl, DB1, Eusebeia, Books, Ghost Warrior, The Vison Reels amongst others had been leading the anti-dance floor for over half a decade. What had come as an epiphany to much of drum & bass was old news for those who were already there, and despite a lot of talk have not been joined by the scene more broadly.
So what happens next? As a scene we need to be ambitious, both in the music itself but also how we present it. There are without doubt areas of drum & bass which have become almost irrelevant in the current terrain, some of which seemed untouchable just 12 months ago. The grassroots of the music have kept on chipping away at their craft while many of the established high flyers have just fallen away out of sight. At the beginning of lockdown I heard the adage ‘the industry is dead only the scene survives’, I think this still stands. The economics of dance music is undoubtably shifted at this point and the return to any semblance of how things were before is going to be slow if it even gets there at all. What comes next will be a fertile ground for innovation both in the music artists create and the manner in which we deliver that vision as event promoters.