High Contrast is an artist who rightfully has been treated within the drum and bass scene as nothing less than musical royalty, the reasoning sewn within his capability to compose tunes with hooks deeper than the Atlantic. Part mystery, an abstainer from the evils of the rave scene not to mention a part time filmmaker, Lincoln is a figure it was high time we caught up with...
What can you tell us about the new album?
It’s my first album in three years. It’s somewhat different to the previous ones in that this time around I’m not using samples so much. I’ve been getting more musicians to come in and play instruments. Also, there are a lot of vocal tracks and I wrote a lot of the lyrics myself.
Did you write the vocal hook on the title track?
Yeah, I took the lyrics from an old soul tune and then rewrote them in my own kind of way. The original song I believe is called “I Wanna Thank You.”
You directed the video for the new single yourself. How did you get the idea?
The idea stemmed directly from the concept of the track and the track title. It made sense to make a split screen with one side showing agony and the other side showing ecstasy, and just juxtaposing images along those lines but also blurring it a little bit and allowing the audience to interpret what philosophical points I’m trying to put across.
To put you on the spot, is there one particular idea or influence that you have?
Well, I’ve already written a feature film. If someone gave me the money, I’d go out and shoot that, but that’s kind of a crazy story. I guess the closest thing I can think of in terms of tone would be something like ‘Kill Bill.’
Can you tell us anything about the plot or the characters?
It’s basically set in the world of 50s rock n’ roll, but today. It’s about a Nigerian rockabilly who crosses paths with a psychotic old American rock n’ roll singer
Is that something you’d like to score yourself?
Not really. I think all the film ideas I have, I write with pre-existing music in mind. I guess kind of the way Tarantino does. He doesn’t get a composer in, he always conceives themes to his tracks that inspire him.
Do you feel a loyalty for drum n’ bass or are you looking to transcend it?
A degree of loyalty, but more of a love for the scene itself and the fans who go out and buy the records, but I think it’s the job of every artist to negotiate the boundaries of the genre and transcend it if and when it’s possible and applicable.
To further distance yourself, you’re teetotal and vegetarian as well. Are these completely personal choices for you or are they important in your art and the kind of message you’d like to put out?
I guess they could be both. I think of myself as a holistic artist, so that everything feeds into everything else. I think that for artists, their main job is as an artist of taste. They are deciding what is good and what is bad, whether that is what they include in a track or in a DJ set, and so if any intoxicant is affecting your taste of that moment, then you might be thinking you’re playing an amazing set because you’re off your head, when everyone else is standing around going: ‘What the hell is he doing?’ I prefer to be in control and know what is going on exactly, to allow me to make that kind of judgement call.
Rightly or wrongly, drum n’ bass and dance music as a whole has always been linked with drug culture and hedonism…
But every musical scene has been twinged with a particular drug, whether that is the hippies and marijuana or rock and speed. It’s not exclusively a dance music thing to be associated with some kind of drug. I’ve always tried to make music that makes me rush and feel high without any kind of narcotic. I try and make stuff that’s so uplifting you don’t need drugs.
Is it important that people know you’re teetotal?
I wouldn’t want to preach to people, but people have said that seeing that I can go out and have a good time and be successful in music without any drink or drugs has shown them that they don’t necessarily need to do it either.
How about vegetarianism?
That is something I would like to advocate but it’s kind of hard to get that across in music. The thing is, I think art has proved itself consistently ineffective at making any kind of political change. Just look at what happened to hip hop; it became the soundtrack the capitalism. George Bush must love hip hop, because it’s promoting the pursuit of money above all else, which is such a far cry from where hip hop came from, as the voice of the unheard in America. I think art is better at reflecting political issues, but it can’t be used so much as a political tool.
Is that not because hip hop morphed into something else? Are there not other types of music where it’s kept honest, like the Vietnam War and folk music? It still had an impact…
It did, but did that actually have an effect on ending the war? If we look at the lesson of the ‘60s and the hippies and everything they stood for, that project failed and a lot of the hippies grew up and became the capitalists responsible for the state of society today… so, don’t trust hippies.
Are you saying there’s no point in trying to make a difference through music?
I think it’s worth trying, but if you’re actually wanting to make a direct political impact in the world, then I would suggest doing that through some revolutionary direct action and not through art. There are a lot of people making music now, we could probably do with more revolutionaries on the street. I’m basically putting a call to arms out there for people to join the Contrastian revolutionary army.
Is that something that you involve yourself in?
No, I spend too much time trying to mix drum n’ bass records to really focus on it, but who knows, now this album’s out, maybe…
You might start rioting?
I might start an uprising...