Photo courtesy of John-B.com
Like most children of the 80s, John B. Williams grew up on the Breakfast Club and Blondie.
But the whole time he was watching and listening, the junglist, who began producing tracks when he hit puberty, was also taking notes.
“I thought there was a lot of potential in taking the elements of synthpop and 80s’ electro and adding it to drum n’ bass,” he said. “Everyone likes a little bit of nostalgia.”
After working in the trenches with early drum n’ bass innovators Grooverider and DJ SS, Williams — who performs as John B — has dug his own path. While the genre focuses on aggressive breakbeats, growling bass and general alienation, John B rinses his tracks with a sense of humour.
In his newest album, Electrostep, tongue-in-cheek monologues join Star Wars chirps, synthesizers and goofy themes, as represented in the song Stalking You On Myspace. The producer said he works to reproduce the vibe of the 1980s, as heard in songs put out by groups like Human League.
“I still play (harder) drum n’ bass, but also wanted to (make it) more lighthearted,” he said. “It’s a cliché, but I wanted to do something different.”
Reflecting on the genre, Williams said in the end he thinks of himself as a drum n’ bass ambassador open to all sounds — dark or light. However, as a self-described “middle-class posh white boy” with a degree in cell biology, Williams felt he didn’t have much in common with gritty, hip-hop based drum n’ bass.
“A lot of people new to (drum n’ bass) would get scared off by the super-hard style,” he said. “I still play intense, dark tracks —but not for two hours solid so that it gives you a headache.”