Spanish production duo Alerstorm and Ice Stereo, aka Gradual, made their Technique debut last year with the mighty Ragnarok EP and they’re now ready to unleash another huge release in the shape of Beware / Swamp. A-side Beware features vocals from the talented Coppa so we took time out to find out how he came to work with Gradual, what’s happening with his Comanche label and why he’s now living in Berlin.

Who have been your biggest influences as an MC? Was it people in the drum & bass world or have hip-hop rappers been a source of inspiration too?
My main influences as an MC have come from outside dnb really, I grew up listening to ragga (Bounty Killer, Mad Cobra, Sizzla, Capelton – Free Buju!) and hip hop (Ice T, Ice Cube, Nas, Biggie, 2pac, Redman, Outkast). So most of my MC influences come from this sphere of music, I guess that’s why my approach is a little bit different. I was writing mainly for hip hop and ragga before I touched down on drum & bass.

How would you describe your approach to MCing in clubs and recording in the studio?
For me these are two totally completely different skill sets. My approach to the club MCing is pretty simple. Just go with the flow. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been doing it for a long time professionally that it kinda comes natural to me. It would be easy to say things like, let the music breathe and keep it minimal, but it’s a lot more complex than that.

Obviously knowing when not to talk is important but I think it’s equally as important to know how and when to “turn it on” appropriately.  When I’m working with newer guys, or people that don’t know so me well, they often ask me is it okay to play this or that and try tell me what or how they´re gonna play, which always makes me smile to myself a bit. I always say – just play how you are going to and want to play – I´ll do the rest, that’s my job. That’s the reality, whatever you bring as a DJ, I´ll work with you.

Being able to write and record tracks is something else, this is a skill that’s learnt over time and practise makes perfect. Channelling the right amount of energy, vibe and emotion through a studio recording is an art-form. I´ve always been fascinated by writing with content and emotion rather than rhyming for rhyming sake.

I tend to aim to get straight to the point, there’s a very thin line between being so-called super “complex” in your writing and just plain going over people’s head. Either way I think if people miss your meaning and intent then you´ve missed an opportunity to connect with that person (in my opinion). Obviously a lot of the stuff I write has more than one layer to it, but I at least want people to catch the meaning on its most basic level.

Also, another key thing for me is authenticity. Personally, I´ve got to believe what you’re saying to me on the record otherwise I can’t really get into it. When I’m recording in the studio I don’t put on a different voice when I get into the booth and as an artist. I think it’s a lot more effective to give the listeners the real you… people can feel the difference (in my opinion).

How did you hook up with Gradual and what was it like working with them?
Gotta thank Mr Simon Bassline Smith for that one, always a pleasure to receive his emails and this one was no exception. I’d heard Friction drop something from their Ragnarok EP on his BBC Radio 1 show before and that sounded really dope, so when Simon suggested the link up I was already game.

It’s really great to work with people who have a fresh approach to production, I like the fact they have their own distinct sound and they really brought the best out of the vox I recorded for the track. Love the guys and it won´t be our last collab together that’s for sure!

What did you have in mind when you made Beware with them?
I kinda just go into a zone when I hear a track for the first time, this one I kinda blacked out and woke up with those lyrics on a pad next to me! On the real though, I immediately got that sinister, paranoid psychosis vibe and it just flowed out. The guys really know how to create atmosphere in a track, and for me as a writer / vocalist it makes my job a lot easier (and more pleasurable).

What other producers have you been working with recently?
Been on a busy one again this year. Peeps I’ve locked horns with in the studio include Current Value, Dub Elements, Counterstrike, Machine Code, Borderline, and Gomad! & Monster (an electronic rock band from Madrid who work with Red Bull and who´ve just had song on the new Need for Speed game Soundtrack) and quite a few others which I´d like to surprise people with. I like to keep myself on my toes in the studio so there’s always a lot of different types of projects I’m engaged in at any one time.

Tell us more about your Comanche label and your next releases…
Comanche started initially as a vehicle to put out my own curated projects and collabs. To be able to select and put together release projects from the ground up is something I’ve always wanted to do and being in a position to be able to work with pretty much whoever I want to, it was only a matter of time.

The next couple of releases include an Act of Aggression Remix EP, a non-Coppa related release (shock horror!) and a collaboration project with my good friends from Bulgaria, High Roll (Formation Records), and another Coppa EP leaning towards the more grimy side of drum & bass again. Had to be done!

What did you enjoy the most about your recent Act of Aggression album?
The control and the freedom of expression! Was a great opportunity to get a lot off my chest musically. For me drum & bass is, and always will be, one music regardless of the “sub-genre” classifications people choose to inflict on it. That’s the school of dnb that I came from and particularly as an MC over the years I’ve dealt with all styles of our music since the beginning and know a lot of producers and DJs from all 34 corners of the scene.

So this LP was about bringing together all the different types of drum & bass that I like into one project and, in the process, introducing different audiences to sample other forms our music.

Your Facebook page says you’re living in Berlin just now; what did you move there and what do you enjoy about living there?
I’ve lived out of UK for quite a few years. The reason being I was receiving quite a lot of European bookings and recording work, so I decided to base myself for one month out in Vienna to do some work. I ended up having so many bookings around Europe that I never really went home, so it was like an extended work trip gone mad.

I’ve been based in Berlin for a while now, it’s a great city to live in, very international and there is a lot going as far as culture and night life.  Over the last few years it’s got mega popular, for better and for worse (depends if you’re into the hipster thing, I won’t be growing a beard anytime soon haha).  Over the last year or so I’ve been back in UK a lot more, so I´m constantly between Leeds and Berlin during the weeks.

Do you have a favourite DJ to work alongside? Someone whose style suits yours down to a tee? Or is it more a case of getting something different out of playing with different people?
To be honest I have about 300 favourite DJs and the list keeps growing every weekend! For me a great set is a great set, regardless who’s playing it. The main thing is that the DJ is enjoying themselves and feels comfortable.

I’ve been booked to MC for nearly every headline DJ on the planet at some point so I know how to properly work alongside all kinds of drum & bass. The better the DJ the easier my job is, as everything just clicks, but there are definitely guys who I really enjoy working with, still too many to mention!

Where can people see you play in the near future?
Pretty busy at the moment. Some places you can catch me at are Mainframe in Vienna, I´ll be part of the Prototypes Odyssey show alongside Skibadee which should be fun. I also will be making my debut at Pirate Station in St Petersburg this month – really looking forward to that one. Switzerland, Romania, London, Bristol, Manchester (for the UK crew) are all on the schedule over the next months.

What do you get up to outside of music?
My life is pretty much consumed by music and my work in many different ways, I’m definitely what one might call a workaholic. When I’m not surgically attached to a microphone, playing email tennis or neck deep in song and rhyme, I’m just enjoying family time, reading, relaxing and trying to educate my dog Charlie on the finer points of behavior and city life etiquette. I guess I would like to travel more outside of work if I had the time.

Anything else you want to tell us about?
Yep, watch out for a new project we’ve been working on since forever, called Coppa World. Look forward to bringing that out of the studio around summer time, already have the first single in deck and remixes. Watch this space! And I’ll definitely doing more of my Coppa Live show again this year. See you on the dancefloor!

Pre-order Beware featuring MC Coppa in the Technique store

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