What Mala is to dubstep, Whistla is to "Future Garage." More of a call to arms (or decks) and a "movement" than one cohesive sound or genre, the Future Garage scene has done more to progress and advance the classic garage sound than anything else the musical landscape has to offer. It has breathed new life into a genre that has slowly been losing artistic credibility and faltering in its fight against being drowned out in obscurity. At its forefront is label head, promoter, DJ, and producer Whistla. Much could be said about Whistla and his jack of all trades approach to his craft, but we'll just go ahead and let our interview speak for him.
GDE: What exactly is your musical background? What led you to putting out your first proper garage releases?
Whistla: In brief, I started off being interested in music at school and was in loads of bands playing guitars, keyboards and all kinds of electronic equipment. Then as I got older and into dance music more I gravitated towards raving and djing, I had my first release back in 1998, it was a breakbeat hardcore track entitled "Hey". As rave changed and music changed I too changed and started playing different stuff mixing up breaks, garage, downtempo etc... Then I started to put out Dubstep tracks on my Ox Rider imprint for a while, which ultimately made me decide to start a new label focusing on Future Garage, L2S.
GDE: "Future Garage." The type of music you seem to promote the most out of any other producer today. What are the ideas behind making this "style" (you've called it more of a "movement") of music and what separates it from some of the other scenes in the constantly shifting and growing bass music landscape?
Whistla: In a sense it's to give Garage a future. A future outside of cheesy clubs and holiday resorts. Inject the garage sound with fresh ideas and fresh influences, moving it away from a "smart shoes and no hoods" type affair to more underground (and ultimately more long lived and healthy) scene. A way I like to think of Future Garage is that its an over arching term for the current blossoming of garage sounds and styles that are flourishing at the moment, for instance, why do you have Tech House but not Tech Garage? Minimal House but not Minimal Garage? I could go on and on. Well Future Garage is the beginnings of that, at present it's all termed Future Garage as we move from the Garage of old to the Garage of today and tomorrow. What separates it from the general "Bass Music" scene is its inherently "garage-ness" its swing, its groove, its syncopation.
GDE: How do you think the actual future of garage and its survival looks? Nowadays, you have all types of dance music coming from every which way. The same way someone might vibe to El-B or MJ Cole they might also vibe to an American producer such as Gaslamp Killer or Untold or any other Hessle Audio artist. How do you think garage is going to positively stand out from other forms of bass centric music?
Whistla: I think it already does, and I would class a lot (though not all) of the Hessle stuff as Future Garage, and indeed a fair few Untold tracks are too! Garage is a genre just like House, Techno, or DnB etc.. It was just never given to chance to truly flourish before it got nipped in the bud. That's why Future Garage is so popular abroad (another reason why Future Garage is more apt than UKG is that a very large chunk of it isn't made in the UK at all!) garage never reached a lot of places the first time, it was far too London centric. Garage now has the chance (with Future Garage) to achieve what it was supposed to but never did. Become a healthy and vibrant scene welcoming newcomers and new ideas breaking off into sub genres and continuing to grow.
GDE: What do you think of the current scene involving garage's musical relative Dubstep? Things are a lot different now than they were when 'Midnight Request Line' dropped. At this moment in time you have everything from Skrillex's obnoxious perversion of it to megastar Drake pumping up James Blake.
Whistla: I have a lot of mixed feeling regarding Dubstep (as the word is now used) to me the domination of the Half Step really damaged the creativity of the scene as a whole, that coupled with the smoking ban meant that previously where a half step track that was deep got dropped people would drop there eyes down and go with it, now people will all go outside for a smoke, resulting in DJ's being forced to play more "upfront" sets, thus changing the whole dance and now as we can see the entire scene. I don't dislike the new stuff, at all, it's just a lot of it is no longer my personal flavour.
GDE: If everyone were to look through the records you've been having on constant rotation the past year, what would we see and how are these records influencing the tracks you put out and the sets you play?
Whistla: A couple of bits I've really been enjoying lately are the new DYP ep (which should be out soon) & Dark0 - Hyli. Both are diff but are stunning with chopped and clipped vocals. Dark0's track is one I've been playing over and over. In terms of how it influences what I put out, I'm putting them out I love em that much! Haha. For sets each night is different and I make sure I try to tailor my sets for each crowd and give them something new and unique each time.
GDE: What do you think it is about thundering, booming bass that makes it so central to much of EDM, particularly the EDM heard in the UK?
Whistla: I hate that term "EDM" I dunno about there but here you are almost never gonna hear any dance music that isn't electronic. But that's a personal gripe. Bass vibrates the body and depending on its frequencies can have direct and obvious effects on your body & central nervous system, which I'm sure is part of the reason we all love it. Also it just sounds great!
GDE: For those unfamiliar with your sound and the music associated with the future garage sound, could you name 10 tracks for people to check out?
(Click the song to hear on YouTube)GSUB - All I Want (Whistla Remix)
Whistla - Darlings Of The Tripstream
Whistla - Never Again
Clueless - Lady In Red
Sentinels - Love Rhythm
Submerse & ReSketch - Get Away
Littlefoot - Sell My Soul
BunZer0 feat Juakali - Bring Me Home
Dark0 - HYLI
GDE: Do you ever draw a lot of influence for your music from completely different forms of dance and electronic music? Are there any times when you hear a new pop song on the radio or listen to a Flying Lotus track and some sort of light in your head just sparks?
Whistla: Yea all the time, inspiration can come from anywhere!
GDE: Lastly, what's next for Whistla, L25, and Swivel and what's the direction you want your musical career to take?
Whistla: To keep producing and releasing more music. I have a new E.P coming soon called "Fluidic Space E.P" as well as loads of remixes in the works. The label has loads of upcoming releases so keep your eyes peeled. I really wanna do a US tour soon, and just want to keep playing the music I love to people!
Interview conducted by Patrick of Global Dance Electronic (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Whistla - Pillowtak
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Interested in Whistla other work? Check his Discography out - Whistla Complete Discography