Commix Interview: How To Become a Drum & Bass DJ?

Commix Interview: How To Become a Drum & Bass DJ?

How To Become a Drum & Bass DJ? It can be very beneficial to a DJ in the Drum & Bass scene to leverage music production to support promoting a name as a DJ (and getting signed to a record label). In short, a Producer DJ is more likely to become a DJ in the Drum & Bass scene, unless there’s a special uniqueness about the DJ or network of people a DJ can drawn new music from.

Recently, George Levings from Commix kindly gave up some of busy music production schedule to chat to me about how he became a Producer DJ in the Drum & Bass scene.

Commix has had releases on Tangent, 31 Records, Shogun Audio, Good Looking, Metalheadz and Hospital Records to name a few. Check out more Commix releases on Discogs.

Hits by Commix include ‘Be True‘, which is described by UKF as an “anthem” to which I completely agree. Some original productions and classics, that I personally still have on record vinyl, include; I’ll Take You There, Trojan, Hung Up, Undisco.

Find Commix on SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram and amazing unreleased tracks here.

For his music production tutoring 121 sessions, click here for BearMusic Online Music School.

Check out some great advice from my chat with Commix regarding becoming a DJ (or rather a Producer DJ) in the Drum & Bass scene.

How did you get started in the music industry?

Commix started from a live Jazz background before Commix and joined forces with DJ Die to form Commix.

George started out in the early days, 8 or 9 years of age, in a choir as a soprano, and then played in bands playing the flute and Saxophone in orchestra in Cambridge. Really classically focussed

Went to music college, studying music production, and met the other guys to form Commix.

Did you start out originally DJing and then producing? How did it all come about?

A long time, when internet wasn’t a thing, the three guys come together to mix on record vinyl turntables and bond over smoking weed.

The three merged together all their musical tastes and contributed towards what is known as Liquid Funk Drum & Bass.

Everyday after college the guys bought record vinyls everyday to mix it up together as Commix. It dawned on the guys that there wasn’t a sound out there in the Drum & Bass scene with a mixture of Liquid Funk and the deeper bass style of Drum & Bass.

Inspired by soulful Deep House, 90 Hip Hop vibes but was heavy enough for the dancefloor vibes to get the crowd going. George describes it as a “juxtaposition” of two styles.

This is what drove Commix to form and start creating music and after a good three years of pissing around in the music studio making tunes, the guys started pushing their music out as demos to record labels, via CDs in envelopes.

George highlighted to me in our interview gratitude and a massive thanks to Fabio for supporting Commix and promoting their Drum & Bass tracks on the radio. A ripple effect that caused George and the guys from Commix get their sound out there in the scene.

It was fascinating to hear George describe how surprised he was to get drawn into the DJing aspect of the music scene. At one point he “didn’t even know that DJing was going to be such as big factor of being part of Commix. In fact, at one point DJing wiped the floor within music production.” George mentioned that there’s one thing he would of changed and that’s not putting his music production speakers in the cupboard for nearly four years.

“DJing took over at one point.”

What’s your favourite DJ equipment to mix on and why?

Mixing wise George prefers to mix on record vinyl turntables, “the world moves too quickly for me, just look at AI ChatGPT” for instance.

George mentioned he learnt early on that when you’ve got eight DJs on a line up all with 1 hour time slots to DJ, he never felt that good about it and that his House musical background you’d usually get more time to mix House music tracks.

As there’s such a quick style of DJing Drum & Bass these days, and coming from a Techno and House music background, George expressed that this isn’t fundamentally how he likes to structure music or DJ music. Which is why DJing for 1 hour probably feels a squeeze of music and time in the mix.

George comes from a world of music that’s drawn out and loves blending music together.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt about DJing live in a club?

A great piece of advice is that nowadays it’s about having a pool of records to work with, he grew up with a record bag with a limited amount of records around 40 records in it.

It taught George limitations. For example playing different styles to meet the needs of the crowd, for example playing Jump Up Drum & Bass, but he’d only play Jump Up that suited his tastes as well though.

George mentioned that it [was] important to factor in having great tracks on both A and B side of record vinyls to make use of all the records he had available in his record collection.

“It’s all about boundaries, and with 40 records in the bag, you’ve got to cover a lot of boundaries with these records.”

Now days he’s got a USB stick 256GB, but that’s way too many MP3s to have available and choose from. “It’s about not overthinking and over planning, knowing your records and with an open mind.”

“Dancing is a wonderful thing, and playing Commix music to people around the world is a wonderful thing for example, America, Japan. Always watch people dance and how they react to your music selection, dancing is a beautiful thing. A pure form of expression.”

A great tip from George is “the harder you know a track, the better you can deliver it as a DJ in the mix, with conviction”.

How do you get gigs? Like, what’s a good tip for someone starting out looking to get a gig as a Drum & Bass DJ?

Through Commix music production and approached by DJ agencies is how Commix gained DJ sets. George proudly described himself to me as a “Producer DJ“.

He’s not competing with Andy C and never will, people attend his DJ gigs to listen to his sound and music.

George did explain to me though “it is possible to make a career out of being a DJ but fuck knows how to do that without a unique selling point, and you’d have to be a special DJ or in with a crew of people supplying you with new music.

George mentioned he was a (bedroom) DJ from a technical point of view before producing or playing out at gigs. It was Commix music that drew attention in from DJ agencies to book Commix to DJ, which formed a natural progression in to the D&B scene.

What’s the most memorable gig that you DJ’d and why?

A specific track called BE TRUE, George said he played it out to the crowd at Warehouse Project, the very same day that it was produced.

The track got a “double rewind, a massive highlight of my career, will never forget that.” Knew that it was special to see it go off in the club like that.

This didn’t happen first time after making tracks, but George explained to me that “music producing and DJ definitely have a great snowball effect on each other.

George has currently paused DJing for the moment while he’s putting the finishing touches to his new Metalheadz album.

Do you have any advice around making a living as a Drum & Bass DJ / Music producer?

A great tip and wise words of wisdom from George: “It’s important to take the weight of yourself creatively, when theres an obligation to earn money creatively, you should never be in a situation where you’re forcing creativity in the studio to make money. It’s something that I wish I would think harder about if I started again.”

What’s your most favourite Drum & Bass track of all time?

“Tough one that!”

“you can’t ask someone that”

“There are Photek records, hard hitting records Dillinja – I Wanna Know, and the beats on the Bambatta Remix by Dillinja and finally DJ Krust tracks for the arrangement and development.’

There are a tonne of tracks that George loves from Wax Doctor Records for example.

Dan Dracott

I'm Dan Dracott from Beatmatch Guru. I love DJing and have done since I was 15 years old. I want to share my knowledge and love of DJing to help you guys get better at DJing.

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