With the release of his incredible LP on Metalheadz, Renewal, which was massively acclaimed by most actors in the industry, Grey Code has surely set new standards in terms of creativity and originality.

Fusing raw, lively-sounding rolling drum breaks, with massive reeses, analog-ish, hypnotizing melodies, and mighty, mesmerizing granulated riffs, the Brighton-born artist has carved out a unique niche in bass music.

As Grey Code will be playing at our next event in Paris, on the 16th of April, it was the perfect opportunity for us to talk with him as part of our ‘Groundbreaking‘ articles, an interview series aimed at exploring the topic of innovation in drum & bass (1st one with gyrofield here).

Enjoy the chat!

Let’s start with the basics. What is Grey Code’s definition of innovation, and what would you qualify as an “innovative track”?

G.C. – I think innovation is simply doing new things. This can be making new ideas, applying existing ideas to different contexts, or combining things that haven’t been combined before. I think an innovative track is one that uses things in a way they weren’t meant to be used. My favorite example is “four ethers” by serpentwithfeet. They sample a classical track and sing over it, and it’s beautiful. It takes a piece that sounds very impersonal to one that becomes very personal.

One may say you’re reinventing the classic “headz sound”, adding a futuristic touch to its retro sonic identity. Taking into account all the tracks you’ve signed on the imprint, which one do you think could be the most representative of this trend?

G.C. –  I wouldn’t say I’m reinventing their sound, Headz has always had futuristic music! My most Headz track I’d say is Actress. It is eiree, quite simple, and has a lot of emotional progressions which I think happens a lot across my favorite Headz tracks like Riders Ghost, Up all Night, Kemistry, etc.

After the foghorn era, d&b seems to now be submerged with very digital-sounding drums and ultra-modern sound design. Where do you think the scene is now heading for the next few years?

G.C. – I couldn’t tell you where it’s headed, I’m trying to work that out for myself, haha. I like that people have returned to smaller drums and ‘closer’ sounding music. I think people will take more inspiration from lo-fi aesthetics and early jungle too. I think the scene is at a sonically great place at the moment.

Speaking of inspiration, you seem to listen to a very diverse source of music to get inspired. Are there currently other genres that you feel are bringing some kind of innovation into d&b?

G.C. – I haven’t really noticed anything other than the classic inspirational genres (like dub, hip hop, acid). Outside of drum & bass, I don’t listen to much other dance music, so don’t really know.

Your music is bringing a lot of novelties to the table, yet we haven’t seen any tutorials of you in the past. Can we expect that or any sort of Patreon-type content in the future for Grey Code?

G.C. – Music has always been my hobby and I want to keep it that way. Because of that, I only have a limited amount of time to make music, so I’d rather focus on the stuff that I enjoy (making music and DJing (maybe running events too)) rather than anything else. I’m happy to share my knowledge, though!

Speaking of making music, could you recall what was the most innovative choice you’ve taken in regard to music production? Do you remember having any “awe” moment?

G.C. – I think my best moments when writing a song come when I’m halfway through the arrangement. I’ve usually got a good basis down and then pick my keyboard back up and start adding another melody or motif. These are always the most exciting parts for me as I’m building the picture of the song in my head but already have a good platform to build off of it.

Being innovative and technical while staying musical is a difficult exercise. What advice would you give to up-and-coming producers to maintain a good balance?

G.C. – Practice all the parts separately! Sometimes try just writing a melody and harmony with no drums, and sometimes try writing drums with no melody. Try and make each part sing on its own. It makes you dive deeper into each part and when you’re comfortable with them, then bringing them together is easier! In terms of feeling inspired, if you’re not feeling it, just try making a bootleg or recreating a chord progression, you may find inspiration through this, and if not you might learn something new.

In a Twitch stream, a few months back, IMANU said you were the one that showed him Quanta, a VST that helped him create his idiosyncratic sound and had a pretty big on d&b’s sound design overall. Could you tell us how you discovered that plugin yourself?

G.C. – I probably found it through my brother, Othermen. He had good links with Glitchmachines (the creators) and they introduced him to it after we used to buy their sample packs (which are amazing). Their stuff is awesome and I really recommend it.

Do you have other plugins to recommend, or that you’re using a lot these days? 

G.C. – I love Omnisphere and the basic Fabfilter bundle (Pro-Q and Pro-R mainly). I don’t tend to explore new plugins often but a recent one I bought is Thermal which is a great creative distortion plugin. I think I found it through Waeys using it.

Speaking of innovation, we’re told that there are quite a few things that have the potential to revolutionize the industry in the future (and that are maybe already doing it as we speak). To wrap up our conversation, we’d like to have your take on NFTs. Have you been already looking into this subject? What are your thoughts on this matter?

G.C. – I’m not overly enthused by them. They’re all about personal ‘ownership’ which doesn’t feel very ‘musicy’ at all. Personally, I feel like the majority of companies selling NFTs are trying to scam investors by riding the hype of a very nascent technology. I also feel that the majority of individuals buying NFTs are just trying to get a return on investment, hoping that they’ll take off like trading cryptocurrencies. Although the sales royalties sound like a nice idea, I don’t think the technology works and I don’t think it’ll be ready any time soon.

As a complement to this chat, Grey Code has created a special playlist with the subject of innovation in mind.

Big thank you to Spencer for answering our questions. He will be playing at our next event in Paris, on the 16th of November with Prolix, & MVRK. Link to the event here

Banner for Studio Drum & Bass next event


Grey Code