Xpander, Detone and Residencies : Neil Browne reveals all

Neil Browne is an Irish house & techno DJ & Producer, he first started DJing in 2000 after being inspired by the likes of Sasha & Digweed, Darren Emerson, Dave Clarke & Carl Cox. He first came to attention after he secured a residency with 515 in legendary Dublin nightclub Tripod playing alongside some of the most famous DJ’s in the world. 2010 saw Neil relocate to London whereby he met up with renowned Global Underground artist Stu Hirst, beginning a successful spell of collaborations with releases on labels such as Baroque. More recently Neil has seen his latest EP’s signed to Darren Emerson’s label Detone which have found favour with some of the industries elite, futhermore Neil has just remixed the timeless Xpander to critical acclaim. Decoded caught up with Neil to get an idea of how he works and his future plans and his thoughts on the industry.

Hi Neil, glad you could find the time to chat with us at Decoded Magazine. Can you give us an insight into why you wanted to become a DJ & producer?

Hey guy’s, first let me thank you for having me on, really been loving what you have done with site and let me wish you a Happy Birthday and the best of luck with the new venture – Decoded.

For me it really started on a dance floor back in 2000. I went to a gig called Winter Party with Sasha & Digweed alongside Darren Emerson and I was blown away. I had been to gigs before that but never had I witnessed such an amazing set up. The music and the atmosphere was really something special that night. It wasn’t long after that I bought my first set of 1210’s and for quite some time after that it was house parties and bombarding people with mixes before i got a shot at a set for 515 at Tripod.

Dublin is renowned for it’s nightlife can you describe what it was like to be resident at 515 at Tripod?

That was such a big thing for me at the time, Tripod/Redbox was always the club I loved. They always had the best of the best in DJ’s and artists going right back to the days of me being 16 and using fake ID’s or knowing someone who knew someone who could get me in so it was a bit of an institution for me as a raver, and as a bedroom DJ it was always the goal. I used to hound Donal (sorry mate) who was the promoter of 515 with mixes and messages and eventually he gave me my first slot. It was such a great experience and I got to play at some really great nights and met some really great people and some long standing friends in my time there.

You made the decision to move to London back in 2010, how does the scene down in London differ to Dublin?

The first and most notable difference for me is the obvious closing times, back home the clubs would shut at 2 or 3am if you were lucky, the result was shorter sets and less time on the dance floor. Over here its much better set up that you can create a more involved night. Ireland would love and really benefit from 7 or 8am running times on clubs, but I don’t see it happening myself, our government can be a bit draconian in these matters. I must say as well that It is really vibrant over here, on any given night you may have 4 or 5 top quality parties on and the crowds are really clued up so the choice is great for clubbers.

Aren’t you due to start a new residency later this month?

Yeah for Loco, well I’m good friends with the guys who are doing it and they approached me to see if I would help them out. They are really passionate guys and have been working very hard to get it up and running and its really coming together for them. We just had the opening night at Corsica studio’s with Ceri and it really went off, was a great crowd in and the vibe was excellent so really looking forward to what’s in store over the coming months as its looking really big judging from what Dylan & Mickey are working towards. September 27th we are back at Corsica with Copy Paste Soul & Jon Rundell and the October & November parties are huge but i’m sworn to secrecy on them for the moment.

You have a number of career highlights already, what was it like playing on behalf of Bedrock?

Well what a night that was! You know when your playing to a Bedrock crowd your playing to a crowd that loves its music and knows it too. The London Bedrock events are always special and that night was no different, so to be asked to join a line-up that’s so strong was amazing and a complete privilege.

You’ve recently signed two new EPs to Darren Emerson’s label Detone, what’s it like working with Darren?

Darren’s such a legend and complete hero of mine, from the Global Underground’s to the Underwater albums, his own productions, all the gigs I’ve been to see him and his latest project ‘’The White Lamp’’ he’s been such an inspiration and I haven’t even mentioned the mighty Underworld yet, so to get to release on Detone was a lifelong goal I got to tick off my bucket list. He’s a top bloke as well, really approachable and always there for a chin wag or to proffer some advice but it still can be a bit surreal to me even talking to him.

The latest EP has found favour with headliners such as Sasha. Again this must be another highlight?

Yeah of course, this year has been really fantastic with regards to some of the support I’ve been receiving and Sasha tops that list. It’s a great feeling to see people like him, Cattaneo, Nick Warren and of course Darren playing and supporting my stuff. It breeds a confidence in what I’m trying to do and where I see myself and my music evolving.

Speaking of Sasha, You have just remixed his seminal Xpander track that has been very well received finding favour in the sets of Nick Warren to name a few. Did you feel under any pressure regarding reworking it and how did it come out?

Pressure?! I was terrified of the record!! Its such a big track for so many people that your always going to open yourself up to criticism so to see Nick playing it was a huge relief more than anything else.  Usually when you sit down to do a remix you start with the idea of making it better in your eyes, but with this one how do you make Xpander better? The answer for me is you don’t.
I used to play it quite a lot when I was younger and the original doesn’t really sit in my sets anymore but I missed playing it so that’s were you get the slightly more stripped back vibe off it, the claps and snare combo were so strong so they really come to the fore on it and the whole mix is based around them, but I felt it needed to keep that ‘’Xpander moment’’ so the break kind of wrote itself.

What other productions/remixes can we be expecting over the coming months?

As always Ive been quite busy in the studio and certainly there’s a lot more music to come from me this year. I just finished up on 3 new tracks which have gone over to a label and have been busy with a remix for the guys over at Kyubu this week.

I understand you’ve recently started looking at buying some new CDJs, what do you find are the main differences between digital and analogue DJing and were these the reason for your own change?

For me its quite simple, use whatever you feel most comfortable on. I started out on vinyl, moved to cd and more recently I had been using Traktor, although only in my home set up. Ive always used CD’s whilst out gigging. Personally I just find more enjoyment with some decks in front of me so that was the motivation, I’m glad I have all the Traktor set up and it will still get a regular use in the studio. The CDJ’s are just for my own fun and maybe an amalgamation of the 2 is the way for me to go but we’ll wait and see.

EDM vs Underground scene. What are your thoughts on this issue?

I don’t really have any thoughts on it, I mean this EDM thing for me is bad pop music really, isn’t it? I don’t really consider it to be part of what we do and its not something that crosses my path very often. In fact it would be even less in my eye line if people stopped moaning about it all the time! I don’t feel like I have any authority to say to people what they should listen to or play or produce and I don’t think anyone else has that authority either. I listen to what makes me smile and if its EDM that does that for someone then leave them at it, although I wont be buying a ticket to see Steve Aoki anytime soon!

What is your current studio set up?

I have tried not to over complicate things in the studio, I use Logic as my main DAW but with a re-wired Ableton as a slave with a Novation SL and a Maschine. I am always on the look out to see what I can add and the possibilities are endless.

Do you have a particular piece of equipment that is your favourite and why?

My Maschine. I’m still getting to grips with it as there’s so much you can do, but it has changed the way I get to put my drums together, it makes it so much faster and it’s a lot easier to be creative with them or any other sounds I can find.

What advice would you give to any up and coming DJ’s and producers who are looking to break into the scene?

Stick with it, haha. It can be quite a brutal scene at times. A couple of years ago I went through a rough patch, I lost a couple of people from my life that were very important to me and had some issues with a particular promoter, I was on the verge of giving it all up. I think I had lost sight of why I was doing it so I removed myself completely from the industry side of it for nearly a year and what I found was just an unrivalled passion and love for the music and nothing else. So I made the decision to work harder on my production capabilities and that’s when Jim (Rivers) took me under his wing and has been doing a wonderful job being not only my mentor, but also a good friend whose advice has been invaluable.

These days I don’t fret over things as much, I just do what I love and hopefully everything else will fall into place. Other than that I would say target the labels you want to be on whilst writing. I try not to just write a record and send it to 101 labels with a copy and paste message but more pick a label I really want to be on and then just keep aiming in that direction.

Can you tell us about your own show on Earth Dance radio?

Yeah, I started it a few of months back and its been a fantastic. The station is in its relative infancy but its coming along great, theres a great team there and the whole ethos of the station is cool so everyone is pulling in the right direction and for a good cause as well. The show is a pretty standard format, I get so much great music sent to me now so it mainly showcases the new stuff I’m digging and then there’s the guest mix slot which is a platform for artists or DJ’s I respect or admire to come on and show what they can do.

We hear a whisper that you may be starting a record label of your own, what are the plans regarding this?

Yeah starting my own label has always been on the agenda and I feel now is the right time. Its not going to be anything major and we certainly wont be seeing 50 releases a year, it’ll be quality rather than quantity but its another outlet for me and gives me a little more control over my own release schedule. Im currently writing some stuff for it and slowly sifting through the business end of it all with the idea of it launching around the end of this year, maybe the start of next year. Its definitely something I’m getting a lot of excitement from and it’s a venture in which I’m somewhat inexperienced, but I’ve got some great people behind me who are there to lean on.

Gig wise what is next for you in the coming months?

Well obviously we have a lot planned with the Loco guys which we’ve touched on so keep an eye out for them for sure, on the 26th of July i play a Boat Party for another new project called Nerve. Then August i’ll be headlining the second room for the guys at Room2move after SW4 at ARCH 635 alongside King Unique, John O’Connor, Anthony Yarranton and more as well as the 27th September gig at Corsica. I also hope to announce another 2 or 3 London gigs in the next few weeks.

What tracks are really working the floor for you currently?

Chris Fortier – Music Makes the Body (Wehbba Remix) [Selador]
Maceo Plex – Conjure Bots [Minus]
Neil Browne – Bright [Unreleased]
Agents of Time – Magdalene [Correspondant]
Lake Peple – Night Drive [Rumours]
Audiojack – Machine Code [Gruuv]
Satoshi Tomiie & Matthias Vogt – Love Unlimited [Lazy Days Music]
Copy Paste Soul – Like This [2 swords]
Cari Lekebusch & Zoe Xenia – Crazy (Cari Lekebusch Remix) [Monique Music]
Lana Del Ray – West Coast (Solomun Remix) [Polydor Ltd]

Neil it has been an absolute pleasure speaking with you, we look forward to hearing more from yourself over the coming weeks. Thank you from all of us here at Decoded Magazine.

Tracks
01// Kidnap Kid – Stronger [Black Butter Records]

02// Manuel Tur – Ara Anam [Freerange Records]

03// Stas Drive – Arjuna [Hope Recordings]

04// Dominik Eulberg & Extrawelt – A Little Further (Not on a Map) [Cocoon]

05// Lake People – Night Drive [Rumours]

06// Gabriel Ananda – Smash (Rob Hes, Noraj Cue & Mark Mywords remix)

07// Pawas – Search [Moodmusic]

08// Dave Seaman & Funkagenda – Naughty Forest (Nicolas Massayeff Remix) [Selador Records]

09// Maceo Plex – Conjure Bots [Minus]

10// Audiojack – Machine Code [Gruuv]

11// Dubfire & MIss Kitten – Exit [SCI + TEC]

12// Christian Smith – Matrix [Tronic]

13// Hollen – Lisdema [Bitten]

14// Cari Lekebush & Zoe Xenia – Crazy (Cari Lekebusch MIx) [Monique Music]

15// Dosem – The Path [Intec]

16// Sasha – Xpander (Neil Browne Remix) [Artist]