Modern-day jungle from an old soul.
Jungle is as alive and well as it's ever been. Just ask Tim Reaper—in the last ten years he's created a flourishing career for himself making old-school(ish) jungle for a network of labels that represent this scene: 7th Storey, Foxy Jangle, Parallax Recordings, Lickshot and plenty more. More recently, after releasing the standout track on a Lobster Theremin compilation, he inked a deal with the label to release a crossover EP of sorts, earning him the biggest audience he's had yet. On top of that, he runs a few labels like Globex Corp—reserved for his work with frequent collaborator Dwarde—and Future Retro, where he releases the Meeting Of The Minds series.
Tim Reaper feels like a natural ringleader for this scene not just because he's a talented producer and DJ. He has a deep and healthy understanding of this music and of what came before him, too. (Watch him handily win a trainspotting competition on Electronic Beats here.) He calls his new label Future Retro, which just about explains it: the music he makes and releases is in thrall to the past, but not simply out to recreate it. What Reaper and his compatriots like Coco Bryce, Dwarde, Kloke and FFF do is find new wrinkles in the old jungle sound, imagining alternate futures or new directions the scene could have taken if it never evolved into what we now know as drum & bass. Yes, you could argue people have always made jungle, but Reaper and friends have made it into a bigger, stronger community with a whole new following.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that Reaper's mix, made up almost entirely of new material from the labels he runs and helps with, was a classic jungle history lesson. But then you wouldn't recognize any of the tracks, either. This 90-minute mix is a tour of today's jungle scene through some of its brightest producers, with plenty of precision break choppage, infectious samples and the occasional dip into pre-jungle UK hardcore territory. Like time travelling from 1994 direct to 2020, there's something about this mix that is both deeply nostalgic and bravely futuristic. This is one for old junglists as much as it is for people looking for a way into one of the most exciting scenes and sounds that dance music has ever seen.
What have you been up to recently?
Recently, I've been doing a lot of remix work, inside and outside of the jungle scene, recording guest mixes for various radio stations & media outlets, sorting out collabs for the next releases on the Meeting Of The Minds series on my label Future Retro and trying to finish up some EPs I'm working on for other labels.
How and where was the mix recorded?
This mix was recorded in my living room on my Traktor controller.
Can you tell us the idea behind the mix?
What I wanted to do with this mix was premiere some forthcoming material that I've got coming on my label and various other labels, as well as showcase some really exciting music, released and forthcoming from other jungle producer and labels I know and enjoy.
You're one of the standard-bearers for jungle right now—is there a healthy "scene" for this kind of jungle?
From my point of view, I would say that the new jungle scene is arguably in its healthiest state that it's ever been, based on how much quality output is coming out from all outlets, how much support it all seems to be getting inside and outside of the scene and how much things seem to have grown and improved from the previous year and the year before that and so on. Hopefully, jungle can maintain the momentum that's been built up and carry it into the next year.
Your new label is called Future Retro, which is kind of what this mix sounds like. Is being "retro" something you think about, or how do you balance the forces of looking backwards and forwards at the same time?
For me, it's a fine balancing act between the music sounding too clichéd/pastiche in 2020 and the music straying too far away from the roots of the golden era sound, because the reason I (and many others) continue to make this music using the formula of the past is because at the time it was being made, the '90s jungle sound did not last very long before it morphed into something completely different.
Things moved fast and styles came and went quite rapidly, so it still feels like there are unexplored ideas to be tried out. There is also still a demand from people for more music made in that '90s style, which the current scene fulfills, whilst also being able to bring in modern-day influences and production techniques to make '90s jungle style tunes that could not have been made at any other time besides now, which is the forward element of the retro.
What are you up to next?
I'm getting Vol. 5 & 6 of Meeting Of The Minds on Future Retro ready for release, as well as a special collaboration release with another jungle label. I've got another EP coming out on Lobster Theremin soon plus another Globex Corp & Lobster Theremin joint release. I've also got a remix EP of Special Request tunes coming out on Hooversound, and there's plenty more to be announced in 2021.