In recent years electronic music has surged to the forefront of mainstream media. With that being the case, 2014 sees the launch of a new feature on our site called Sound Gallery. We aren’t really interested in what happens in the mainstream, as we prefer to discover the happenings below the surface. In Joburg’s underground movements there is none bigger in the electronic sphere than that of Drum and Bass.
For our first instalment of Sound Gallery we spoke to 20 year old Drum and Bass producer/turntablist, Menticide (Oliver Karstel) from Pretoria about his music tastes, production methods, appreciation of genre and his forthcoming release on Rogue Beatz. He also curated a mix for us featuring exclusives from his forthcoming EP, ‘Intricate Noise’. Listen here while you read the interview.
The Fuss – A quick hit through Google reveals that Menticide is “the process of systematically altering beliefs and attitude, especially through the use of drugs, torture or psychological stress techniques”. Are you trying to alter peoples attitudes with your music? How did the name come about and what significance does it hold?
Menticide – The name is a light take on the definition. I mean to change the general listeners’ perception and possibly taste by introducing them to music they might not generally find themselves – I would like my sets and music to open up the mind of a person who might have an indifference towards electronic music.
The Fuss – Which came first for you – Djing or Production? How did it all begin and what was the initial push that got you into Production and Djing?
Menticide – Growing up I always wanted to do something musical. I tried out guitar for a few months and then bass but nothing really caught my attention long enough for me to enjoy it. Growing up as a metalhead I wasn’t particularly fond of any electronic music I don’t blame myself though; I wasn’t really exposed to any good electronic music. At the age of 16 I started listening to trash-electro. Haezer was pretty awesome for me; it was angry and I didn’t know that existed in electronic music. Soon thereafter I started exploring EDM and discovered drum and bass.
It was the high energy that drew me in, but the technicality and intricacy of the music is what keeps me coming back. Drum and Bass is the Jazz of EDM and I had to try to create it for myself.
So I started to dabble in Reason mid-way through my matric year  and I guess djing just came secondary to that. For the record, Zain Ebrahim (Phizicist) once said in a drunken murmur at OppiKoppi ‘You and Julian should start DJing and you could call yourselves The Karstels‘ – This might have been the defining moment when I decided that I wanted to give DJing a shot.
The Fuss – Your first release, Intricate Noise, was signed 4 months ago onto the British Independent, Rogue Beatz for release on the 30th of January. Briefly describe the journey from when you started producing in 2011 to eventually signing to release the Intricate Noise EP through Rogue Beatz?
Menticide – I think many producers struggle to find their own unique sound. It’s a very personal journey that every producer must go through. Intricate Noise was a moment of realisation for me – realisation that this was the type of music that I enjoyed. Fortunately I still have a long journey ahead and I’m sure the more time I put into my music the more my sound will evolve.
The Fuss – You’ve noted Jazz, Death Metal, Punk and Grunge as some of your early musical influences? Can you recall the first album you bought or the first that really stuck with you?
Menticide – I can’t remember the first album I bought to be honest, but I have a few which definitely left an everlasting impression. They include Conspiracy of One by The Offspring, Never Mind The Bollocks by Sex Pistols, Sacrament by Lamb of God, Nevermind and Bleach by Nirvana, Pinball Map by In Flames, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, Machine by Static-X and every single Led Zepplin album to name a few.
The Fuss – The title of your EP, Intricate Noise, suggests an eclectic blend of your musical influences. How do these influences affect the production of your brand of deep & dark minimal drum n bass?
Menticide – Intricate Noise represents my own take on the styles of drum and bass that I dig. Salt Shaker is a techy neuro-influenced roller, while Shogun & Monster have a more low-end orientated minimal feel, and then Damage is a bit more experimental and sort of trance-like. The EP was originally going to feature another track called Razorhead which is a Neuro-Steppah, but at the last minute I decided against it, as I wanted a deep and minimal feel for this EP.
The Fuss – The Drum and Bass underground is healthy and thriving with a devoted cluster of followers. It has a real niche in the Joburg Massive and no week goes by without a Drum and Bass party happening somewhere. What are some of your thoughts on the state of Drum and Bass scene and the explosion of EDM in general on a global scale?
Menticide – Drum and Bass has come a long way in this country and its only going to get bigger and better. The world is getting faster and it might not be apparent to most people, but as a result the general persons attention span is getting shorter – hence music, especially electronic music is becoming quite disposable.
Fortunately I think more and more artists are starting to realise this and are adapting their production styles from creating ‘this weeks banger’ to a more timeless approach. When this happens I think EDM will be able to make a more permanent stamp in musical history.
The Fuss – A factor in the rise of EDM is the technological advancements in production software and the age of connectivity. It is possible for anyone with a laptop and passion to create music. Tell us a bit about your production software and methods?
Menticide – I sequence my tracks in Ableton and use primarily VSTs – I enjoy Fabfilters, Supercharger, Vocodex and Epicverb to name a few. When it comes to synthesis I use Massive, Thor, Malström and a bit of FM8, primarily, but I also have two hardware synths – an Alesis Micron and a Korg 01/Workstation. I really enjoy sound design and always try to make something interesting out of something ordinary. I carry a IK Multimedia iRig mic with me everywhere for field recordings.
The Fuss – What about your DJing tools/software?
Menticide – I have a pair of Technic SL1200s and a Behringer DJX750 mixer as well as Serato SL3.
The Fuss – Being a turntablist what are your thoughts on controllerism?
Menticide – I actually use to mix on a controller back in the day, it was convenient for me. Then at the beginning of 2013 I decided for my own benefit that I would only mix on turntables. I used to lug my Technics with me to shows just so that I could practice in front of an audience and it was pretty cool as I learnt quite a lot about djing through the experience. When it comes to equipment, I think every DJ should take it on themselves to be able to play on any format. I feel that the important factor isn’t really the equipment being used but whether you can actually beat match, line up phrases and read the crowd
The Fuss – How do you prepare for a set? How much of it is pre-planned and how much of it is about reading your audience? Is the relationship with your audience a collaborative one or more of a battle? How do you balance giving a crowd what they want and treating them to something new and fresh?
Menticide – Quite a lot of thought goes into planning a set.
Some of the factors that I try to take into account include the venue, my time slot, the DJs playing before and after me, the audience and what they’re on.
Once I’ve got my tracks together I’ll practise a few mixes at home and then off to the venue. I also think it’s important to watch the other DJ sets throughout the night and adjust yours accordingly. There comes a time during your set were you’ve given the crowd what they want and they’re satisfied and then you can begin to throw in some interesting curveballs.
The Fuss – What was the first gig you ever played?
Menticide – Forget about Friday at the old Arcade Empire
The Fuss – What’s the funniest or not so funny moment you have had during one of your sets?
Menticide – Once I was booked to play on the outside stage at a party, so I packed quite a heavy selection since it was a late slot but when I got to the venue the stage was actually in the chill area and there I was with 30 hard Neuro tracks playing to a bunch of people sitting down – thankfully this taught me to always pack a variety of tunes.
The Fuss – Who’s throwing the best parties in Gauteng at the moment?
Menticide – Tomorrow Never Happened, Addictshun, Griet & of course Science Frikshun
The Fuss – What are some of your favourite releases of 2013?
Menticide – That’s a very difficult question. I’m gonna have to give a shortlist.
- Veto by Heaven Shall Burn
- At Heart by Miss May I – It was released in 2012, but I only found it last year.
- Greed of Gain by Misanthrop
- Kintaro by Homemade Weapons
- Storm by Indigo
- Variations on Black by Black Sun Empire
- Scope LP by Samurai Music
- Machines by Enei
- Jungle Revolution by Congo Natty
The Fuss – How many gigs of music do you have?
Menticide – Roughly two-hundred gigs
The Fuss – Do you have what we call a gamechanger? That one track you want to include in every set?
Menticide – I don’t have a single track that I always play out but Dub Phizix almost always goes down.
The Fuss – Will you ever DJ at a wedding?
Menticide – Yes. My own wedding.
The Fuss – If you could delete a genre from existence which would it be?
Menticide – I think if you search hard enough in every genre you will find music that you enjoy. I wouldn’t remove any genre of music. Each to their own.
The Fuss – Give us a brief commentary on the Sound Gallery mix you’ve curated for us?
Menticide – This mix is a tribute to the dark and more minimal side of drum and bass, as well as a showcase of my own production – it features two of my own tracks and a track that Petteri (Demgone) and I produced for my forthcoming EP Intricate Noise.
The Fuss – What can we expect in 2014 from Menticide?
Menticide – 2014 is big year for me; hopefully I’ll be playing a lot more parties and making a lot more music. I have a few releases coming out early in the year. Intricate Noise is scheduled for 30th of January and I also have a remix forthcoming on On a Break Recordings. Demgone and I are planning to finish our Collaborative EP by February, and then I have another collaboration with Semantics in the pipeline.