When it comes to Drum and Bass, not many scenes come quite as iconic as that of Bristol’s back during its golden age of the 1990s. From the legendary likes of Roni Size and Jakes to D*Minds and TC, Bristol was an imaginative hub home to some of the genre’s finest. Fast forward proceedings to 2018 and the city has a new sensation to shout about, Eli Brown.
However, despite being brought up on an enthralling diet of Drum and Bass, the relative newcomer’s real penchant falls under the umbrella of house music. Quickly asserting himself as a name with real distinction, Eli’s brand of house beats comes fuelled with character.
Having manoeuvred with enviable ease between these two specific sounds, the versatile Bristolian now fuses together hefty bass lines from his local D&B roots alongside vintage vocal hooks and the burning synth melodies from house music proving a popular formula on any dance floor he graces.
Now firmly in the midst of enjoying a stellar 2018, Eli has enjoyed prolific releases on the likes of Repopulate Mars, Relief and Sola as well as making exceptional debuts at the likes of fabric and Hï Ibiza.
We the summer fast approaching an end, we caught up with Eli Brown to discuss his Drum and Bass roots and love for house, his initial kickstart with a release on Skream’s label in 2016 and performances at both fabric and Hï Ibiza.
Firstly Eli, when did your passion with electronic music first begin? What were your first experiences?
I’ve been into electronic music for as long as I can remember. I guess I must have been about ten when the rave scene exploded in the UK, my friend’s older siblings were going out to all these crazy illegal raves up and down the country and would hand us cassettes featuring the live recordings of DJs such as Carl Cox and Grooverider, from that point on, I was basically hooked!
You were originally a part of Bristol’s fabled D&B scene. What did you love the most about this genre and why did you start on this path?
Growing up in Bristol, the Drum and Bass scene was hard to ignore… Roni Size won the prestigious Mercury Music Prize which really highlighted how popular Drum and Bass was at the time, and with him being from Bristol, there was a real buzz around the city. I started going to raves when I was about 16, and whilst the vibe was quite rough, it was part of the appeal, the music was dark, but had a real element of funk back then. Going to these club nights is where my obsession for the music came from which ultimately led me to buying turntables and learning to DJ.
What inspired you to switch up your output to house music?
I’ve always loved house music, but just didn’t have much time to make it when I was fully involved in the Drum and Bass scene. After I finished my last album, I decided I wanted to take a break from writing Drum and Bass, and after a summer spent at various festivals listening to house and techno, I felt really inspired to get in the studio and see what came out.
How would you describe your current sound?
I like to think of my sound as having a lot of energy, and whilst its definitely not bass house, the bass is definitely the driving factor in most of my tracks.
Your debut on the scene came in late 2016 on Skream’s label with ‘Can You Feel It / Acid Test’. Describe your relationship with Skream and how this opportunity initially came about?
I’ve known Skream for years through our Drum and Bass and Dubstep heritage. When I first wrote these tracks, I wanted an honest opinion as I wasn’t sure where my tracks fitted, so I created a new email address and sent them to Skream anonymously. He hit me straight back saying he was into them and was keen to sign them, I was blown away by the response and that’s what really kick-started my career as Eli Brown.
2018 has been a huge year for your production efforts with releases on Lee Foss’ Repopulate Mars, Green Velvet’s Relief and Solardo’s Sola. How would you say your sound has evolved this year?
I would say my sound is permanently evolving, I always hear new stuff that inspires me and helps me draw influences in the studio. I think all the best producers out there don’t stand still and release the same stuff over an over, and I hope people hear this in my productions. For example, my releases on Repopulate Mars are quite different from my releases with Toolroom and that’s what I love about house and techno, you don’t have to stick to one style or sound.
Your ‘Jungle Cry’ collaboration with Mason Maynard was Beatport #1 for three weeks at one point! Congrats! Many feel the Beatport charts aren’t always truly reflective of creative input from the artists. What contributing factors do you feel influence Beatport the most aside from the obvious downloads?
I think Beatport is a great site and generally the go to store for electronic music, so definitely the charts do have certain weight to them and its always nice to chart. That said, it’s definitely not the be all and end all as there is so many places for people to listen to your music, for example Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud etc, and for me, as long as I’m putting out what I feel is high quality music on a regular basis, I am happy that people will discover my sound and hopefully engage with it.
You also debuted at fabric back in February. What was your biggest highlight from this performance?
Fabric was always one of my bucket list clubs and to play there is a great feeling. I guess the highlight for me was closing it out and seeing people stay to the end, its always a little nerve racking playing the closing set because you don’t know whether people will be tired at that point and leave so to keep that room packed and pumping was a real good feeling.
Hï Ibiza is another impressive notch on your belt too, what was your favourite aspect about playing there and why?
Similar reasons to the previous question to be honest, when I started to DJ, ibiza was definitely a goal for me. To play a club such as Hï Ibiza, which arguably one of the best in the world, let alone on the island, was something that I could have only dreamed of a year or so ago. To fulfil this goal so early on in my career is amazing, and something I feel very proud of. The Club Room is such a great vibe, banging sound system and playing after MK and the Solardo boys was something else, the room was going off until my last record at 6am!
What else do you have lined up this summer?
As I type this I’m just finishing my first tour of North America which has been amazing, the scene out here is popping off and all the shows have been great. This month, I’m heading to Brazil for the first time to play XXX experience festival which looks amazing. Release wise look out for my collaboration with Lee Foss entitled ‘Freak You Right’ and my new EP on Toolroom called ‘In The Dance’, both of which will be out in the next month or so.
Finally, what can we expect from your Next Evolution mix?
Loads of upfront music that I’m playing in my DJ sets, expect high energy house and techno music and a lot of my new music, hope you enjoy it!