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FIVE STEPS: Phil Tangent

FIVE STEPS: Phil Tangent
Jack Smith

After the success of his second single on Marcus Intalex’s Soul:R at the close of 2012 – ‘Restitution’ / ‘Squaring The Circle’ – we caught up with Phil Tangent, giving us his Five Steps from recording to cassette from PS1 to his forthcoming release on Rubik.

Step 1: Origins

My first venture into the world of Drum & Bass was back in ’96 when a friend of mine gave me a copy of LTJ Bukem’s compilation ‘Logical Progression’. I listened to it at every available opportunity and was the soundtrack to my walks to and from secondary school. The track that started it all for me was ‘Links’ by Chameleon with its atmospheric pads, lush keys and intricate arrangement (something I try to incorporate into my compositions). I’d never experienced music like it before. Everytime I heard it I’d fall into a trance-like state. It still gives me tingles to this day.

Step 2: Introducing

I have been inspired by artists such as LTJ Bukem, GoldieRob PlayfordAlex Reece and Calibre to name a few. However, as well as Drum & Bass and Jungle, my ‘sound’ has been heavily influenced by house and soul music. My friend ran a record shop in my home town. He introduced me to these guys Onionz and Joeski who made soulful yet techy house music with saxophones.

I guess the first track I made as a ‘producer’ was an instrumental piece for a song competition at school. I’d asked for Music 2000 on the Playstation and learned that I could record from the console to cassette. Another record that has proved influential in my early career is ‘New Forms’ LP by Roni Size/Reprazent. The song I entered for the competition centered heavily around the album track ‘Destination’. However, I was disqualified from the competition as the track I’d made wasn’t considered a song as such due to lack of vocals.

This didn’t deter me from making music. I used to enter competitions on Drum & Bass Arena’s production forum. I still have the tracks on my hard drive which I might revisit at some point. I would recommend this to any budding producers as constructive criticism from other like-minded producers has helped me in terms of learning to structure tunes, mix-downs etc.

Step 3: Foundation

‘Billie’s Smile’ was receiving a lot of airplay on Bailey’s show on 1xtra. However, I think the track that has given me the most recognition is ‘Lunar’ on Soul:R which is funny considering it’s the B-Side to ‘Billie’s Smile’. I get asked to play it at every night I’m playing at. I recently played Soul:ution at Fabric. People were coming up to me thanking me for ‘Lunar’ which was a very special moment for me.

‘Lunar’ evolved over time and started life quite differently to the tune you hear today. I wanted to make something atmospheric and spacey. The main pad set the precedent for the rest of the track and the other elements just seemed to flow. The stars and moon were out in full force the night I was writing the track which inspired me and aided me in achieving the atmosphere I was looking for.

Step 4: Present

When I start a track, I never know what or where it will take me. I like to go with the flow. ‘Squaring The Circle’ just happened really. It was one of those weeks where I had a complete lack of inspiration and nothing was happening. Half an hour before I was due to go to the pub to meet friends I came up with a loop. It was like something clicked. I sent the loop to Marcus to see what he thought of it. He said to finish it.

The process for ‘Restitution’ was similar as far as I can recall. It was again one of those weeks. I was messing around with some pad sounds and found one I particularly liked and built upon it by layering other melodies. I’m a big fan of Al Green and I’d been hoping to use an acapella that had been in my acapella’s folder for months. The vocal just seemed to fit in accordance to what I was feeling at that moment in time.

Marcus and Bailey have been integral in terms of my career within music. If it wasn’t for Bailey sending ‘Billie’s Smile’ to Marcus on my behalf the future might have been very different. It’s strange in terms of the fact I’ve followed Soul:R and his career – now I’m part of it.

Step 5: Future

I recently signed ‘Pleasure Trip’ - a track I made about two years ago – to Rubik Records. I often get asked if it will see a release and finally I can say a resounding yes. I really like the way Rubik operate so I’m pleased it has found a good home.


Phil Tangent – ‘Restitution’ / ‘Squaring The Circle’ is out now - get yours from Chemical Records.

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