Interview: Delta Heavy Talk New Album 'Only In Dreams,' Difficulty Of Producing Drum & Bass, Touring Hacks

We chat with Delta Heavy about their new album 'Only In Dreams' out today, why drum and bass is so hard to produce and more.
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Delta Heavy

Delta Heavy have been making waves in the world of electronic bass music for well over a decade, forging a unique niche for themselves with a consistent slew of memorable, distinctive records aimed at defying easy classification; one of the key factors behind their success has been a frequent crossover between drum & bass and dubstep. Since meeting in 2003, their shared love for underground music and DJing has led to some of the most iconic tracks of the century, with "White Flag," "Kaleidoscope," and "Get By" all being staples in every DJ and fans' collection.

2016 saw the release of their debut album, Paradise Lost, on home-label RAM Records; since then, they have toured the world over, released collaborations with Dirty Audio, HOLLY, Jem Cooke and much more. 

It's been a while since we last spoke to Delta Heavy, but with their new album Only In Dreams out today, which was preceded by a slew of catchy singles (check out "Lift Me Up" in our January chart), we decided it was time for another catch-up. 

Hey guys, great to have you with us today! What’s new in the world of Delta Heavy?

Hey, thanks for having us! We’re in the middle of touring at the moment, just starting our New Zealand and Australia tour, so really excited about that.

So the exciting news is you have a new album out now – can you tell us a little bit about Only in Dreams?

It’s our second album and we wrote it over the course of 2018. We’ve done a lot of collaborations on this album, something that we really wanted to focus on in the last few years as we develop our knowledge and sound. It’s also very much a continuation of the music that we’ve been writing over the last few years.

The first two singles have been amazing – what was it like working with Zeds Dead on "Lift Me Up" and Jem Cooke on ‘Take Me Home’?

It was amazing working with Zeds Dead, we’ve been big fans of theirs for years and they’re such behemoths in the US and Canada, it was great to be able to work on a drum and bass track with them. We share some of the same ideals of dipping our toes into different genres and not being confined by anything. It’s great to work with people who have exactly the same kind of mindset when it comes to writing with the same kind of freedom. Jem Cooke is an old mate of ours and it’s always great to work with her. She’s such a fun and bubbly character and an amazing singer and songwriter. This is the second track we’ve worked with her on after "Nobody But You" a couple of years ago. So we’re always happy to work with her and this track particularly is quite special to us as it’s one of our favorites off the album

You guys are known as one of the few artists consistently pushing out a variety of genres from dubstep to drum & bass – do you have a favorite genre to produce?

We produce more drum and bass. Drum and bass is our home, for sure, and we grew up with it and it’s ingrained in us. However, in terms of our favorite genre to produce, drum and bass is probably not our favorite because it’s actually the hardest to produce. But, it’s definitely the most satisfying once you get to the end product because it is so hard. That said, part of the beauty of making different genres is that you get to constantly do different things. That’s actually the favorite bit, that you don’t produce the same thing every time. It’s great to be able to swap between different types of music.

And what kind of sounds can fans expect from the new album?

Because we’ve been continually writing and releasing music for the last few years since our first album it’s like a natural evolution from all of that music pre-2018. We’ve focused on evolving our sound and with all the collaborations, we wanted to add an extra flavor and diversify even further. Hopefully, you’ll hear a lot of us in our music but also traces of lots of other influencers as well.

When it comes to DJing, do you tend to cater to different audiences depending on where you play? Like playing more DnB for a UK crowd vs. more dubstep in the US?

Hit the nail on the head. It’s important to get the balance right of what you are and what you want to play but also making sure that the crowd are going to be engaged and enjoy it as well. So yeah, in places like the UK and Europe we’ll focus more on drum and bass but when we’re in Australia or China or America, we’ll really vary the sets up a lot with lots of different genres, not just dubstep but a variety of genres.

Working as a duo, what would you say each other’s greatest strengths and weaknesses are?

We are the kind of duo who very much have their own jobs in the studio. I’m the more musically oriented producer and Ben is the more engineering producer. Because we have those independent talents and focuses it means we very much pick up those roles in the studio. On the same level, it’s also our downfall because while we do kind of blend those roles quite a lot. I would love to be a better engineer and I’m sure Ben would like to be a better writer. We’re constantly trying to evolve and learn each other’s roles and become more fully developed producers within ourselves.

How did you two first come to working together in the first place?

Ben and I met at uni in Nottingham in 2003, we were both DJs and huge music fans, we would always go out to nights together in the city, taking in the scene. After uni we both moved down to London, both of the joint mindset that we didn’t want to follow the regular 9-5 job path, we both wanted to pursue our passion for music and turn what we loved into our career.

Delta Heavy

You guys have announced a world tour to celebrate the new album – what’s been your favorite place to play so far. And is there anywhere you haven’t been yet you’d like to?

We played Bay of Dreams in New Zealand at the very beginning of January and having played there, we’re really excited to go back. It’s just such an incredible energy. The shows are always, if not sold out, incredibly well attended. The buzz around them is really good, there is a lot of interaction with fans online, there’s lots of chat, and there’s lots of excitement and energy at the shows. It’s kind of a nice to go there and look forward to the tour and then come away having really enjoyed it. 

One thing about New Zealand is that it’s just such an incredible place to be; great people and an incredible country. Ever since I went there when I was about 20, it’s always been one of my favorite places in the world to visit. Genuinely, I cannot recommend it enough. I had that moment, it was around the time of Lord of the Rings and I had that “moment.” We were on a ski slope looking out across the opposite mountain range and it was so incredible!

How do you guys survive the constant traveling? Any life-hacks for long flights?

Because there are two of us we can split the traveling between us a bit more, otherwise, we would never be at home or have any time to write music. A life hack: noise cancelling headphones are a game changer, and being a member of a good airline program for the best seats is absolutely essential. Air miles are your friend.

What’s the best way to pass the time in an airport?

Make sure you have downloaded Netflix stuff in advance to avoid any data roaming woes.

And finally, if you guys weren’t doing music full time, what would you do for a living?

I personally really struggle to see an alternate reality where I’m not working in music. It’s something that I’ve been surrounded with from a young age. My mum was a music teacher, not only teaching at school but she had her own business that involved having all kinds of random musical instruments around the house. I was always picking up a random musical instrument and playing it from a very young age. So I honestly cannot imagine. I think if I wasn’t producing music I would be working in the industry in the same way.

Stream/download Only In Dreams, out now on Ram Records

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