First Listen: Trends – ‘Octopus’ (Oil Gang)

“Hey, what’s the name of that massive grime tune with the Psycho strings?”

So went many a query in the music ID group this year. Trends & Boylan‘s ‘Norman Bates’ has been, without a doubt, the biggest grime instrumental of 2016. Instant restart material (shout out Evening Standard) in any rave, we first heard it in one of Slimzee’s sets before Spooky included it in a special dubplate mix. It’s also been played out by the likes of Logan Sama, MistaJam, Plastician, Terror Danjah and all of the Boxed crew. Now, after feverish anticipation, the 12″ is finally out Friday on Oil Gang.

Trends & Boylan contribute one track each to the flip, and we’re premiering ‘Octopus’. Slimzee’s been rinsing this one too, quite understandably. It’s all gurgling android bass, a flurry of strings and what sounds like a demented choir of monks. Listen below, and then check out a Q&A with the two producers:

What’s your working relationship like, how do your styles and approaches complement each other?

Trends: We’re both ex-DnB producers, so we’ve got a similar style and taste. We like aggressive sounds, and I guess you could say we’re both a bit mad in the head.

Boylan: Yeah, fully agreed on the mad in the head part! We both have very similar goals in the heaviness of the music we wanna make.

Tell us about the evolution of ‘Norman Bates’. How does it feel to have been sitting on the biggest instrumental of the year?

T: Thanks for the praise! It’s still mad to hear people refer to it as the biggest instrumental of the year, it’s been crazy seeing the damage it does in raves with no MC. I had an initial idea for the tune, went to Boylan’s studio for a session and asked for his input to really make it bang, mostly to get the drop spot on. We played around with the layout but still felt it was lacking something which is when Boylan remembered the ODB sample. Amazingly, Norman was born in that one session! Boylan joined me for my show on Radar, Oil Gang dropped by and we got to talking about Norman, he showed us some example artwork he slyly had in his pocket and we were sold!

Boylan, your track ‘Shimmy’ also samples ODB. What are your top five Wu-Tang cuts?

B: Anything off Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). That was the first thing I heard by them and I couldn’t stop playing it. GZA – ‘Shadowboxin’, Method Man – ‘Bring the Pain’, the whole of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… by Raekwon and ‘Wildflower’ by Ghostface Killlah. Most of the early stuff is really good but those are a few favourites.

So you both started off as DnB producers, could you tell us about that?

T: I started producing DnB in 2006 under the name Digital Era with my mate Tricky. We had a few bangers out, did a slot on 1Xtra and played out alongside all the greats – Andy C, Goldie, Dillinja, Mampi Swift to name but a few.

B: The first label I worked with was called Dope Ammo who are a wicked bunch of lads. I used to travel to their studio in Oxford and make tunes with them and ended up doing my first vinyl release with them, under my first guise of Tempa. A few years later Bad Company put out one of my tunes on their label Square One, and that was my first Boylan release.

How did you get into grime, what was your introduction to the music?

T: From DnB I started to listen to garage and then found a tape of Pay As U Go, and one of the DJs (Slimzee) had a style that I liked. I discovered his show on Rinse, Sundays 3-5pm, and was hooked from there. Sent my first grime production to Spooky in 2010 and the rest is history!

B: I’ve been mates with Oil Gang for years and he first put me onto grime. I’ve used ideas and influences from grime in my music for a good while but it’s only been the past two years I’ve been full on producing it.

Trends, you’ve got a new EP on the resurrected Slimzos Recordings, how did you first link up with Slimzee, and what’s the most important thing you’ve learnt from him?

T: I linked with Slim through DJ Argue, he’d been playing my beats which he showed to Slim. I properly met him for the first time at an NTS show – Slimzos & Boxed – and we hit it off, discovering similar interests. I’ve learnt so much from him (I mean, he is the Godfather) but one thing, in particular, is to keep myself exclusive – you want people to approach you for your beats, keep them wanting more.

Boylan, you also work as the sound engineer on releases from Oil Gang and others – could you explain a bit about the process for those who might not be familiar?

B: It’s basically taking the individual audio tracks that make up the tune and trying to balance them in a way that gets the most out of the musical parts. With grime, I’m most interested in making sure the drums really punch and there’s as much bass in there as possible! I’m mostly relying on EQ, compression and reverb to give all the parts the right amount of space within the track.

Trends, you’ve just done an EP with Kwam, which other MCs would you most like to get in the studio with?

T: There’s too many but… D Double E, P Money and AJ Tracey are the main ones.

What’s next for each of you in 2017?

T: Slimzos 009 In the Jungle/Ironfist is out in the New Year. Dropping a double Mean Streets release next year (please please please keep your eyes peeled!) and a joint collab album with Terror Danjah, P Jam & DOK.

B: After Norman Bates, my next release will be my devil mix of Logos’ ‘Glass’. It’s coming out on a new label Mumdance & Logos are starting called Devils, hopefully around February time. I’m also planning on starting my own label and kicking it off with a solo EP from myself, watch this space!

Norman Bates is out 16th December on Oil Gang. Cop the digital right here.

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