Question in the Form of An Answer: Big Deann

Son Raw talks with Bristol's Blacklink founder about his turn from blogger to label boss.
By    July 10, 2015


@SonRaw: Before we talk about Blacklink, what’s going on with the other label you’re involved with, Mixclique?

@BigDeann: I’m moving away from Mixclique, because quite a lot of things have happened to delay stuff. We had a release with Hi5Ghost, Trends, and Mr. Mitch all on the same record–it was Trends’ record with remixes, and it’s sick. We were pressing the music up with [London pressing plant] Music House but honestly, things went so wrong the record never came out. There were too many delays and it sort of killed the project. For one reason or another it’s never gonna come out.

How did your involvement in Mixclique come about?

BD: The guy who runs it with me is called Neon Beatz, he approached me when I was like 14–we were friends on Facebook and we spoke about music a lot. I actually started out by blogging for about a year and from there I just got more and more involved with the label until it became a 50-50 split. But then he started working too much, so it was more work and weight on me. It got to the point where it was a lot, but I still had to run things through him, and he just didn’t have time. Ultimately, I said “don’t let me trample your thing” it might be better if I do my own thing. So now I’ve started Blacklink and I just want to move forward with that, and make it my priority.

So that whole first link up was through the Internet?

BD: Yeah, cause I’m not from anywhere near where he is. I’ve only ever met him thrice. We linked up when I was 14 online and I’m 20 now, but he’s from Ipswich and I’m from a town near Birmingham so it was definitely done through the net.

Makes sense, to be honest that’s how I actually linked up with this site’s editor. From the Midlands, how did you end up moving to Bristol?

BD: Through the first vinyl release we did on Mixclique–Lemzly Dale’s “State of War”I built a really good connection with Lemzly and got kind of wrapped up in the Kahn and Neek stuff and Boofy, Hi5… so that was really appealing for me to come down here and see it first hand. I came down to Boxed Bristol and just fell in love with it. How beautiful of a place is it? It’s rough around the edges but it’s a nice warm place. Someone could come up and just be nice to me and you don’t really get that where I grew up. And there’s just great music here too.

I have noticed that it’s easy to approach people here. I’ve had genuine conversations with people in this city–just buying lunch, people are fairly happy to have a chat and are quite proud of the place. So did moving here sort of lead to your producing?

BD: About 2007, I really got focused on music. Before then I just hadn’t heard much that appealed to me. It was bassline that I got into first, my older sister had a car and she used to blare this bassline CD and I thought it was just sick. My sister was really into music so I figured “why can’t I be?” You know how you want to be into something cool as a kid? It was that kind of thing with an older sibling.

Music just resonated with me more than anything else I did in my teenage years, and from there I just got into the grimy stuff–there was a slump on the emcee side of things around 2011 so I was listening to a lot of instrumentals. Stuff by Spooky, Royal-T… and I just kept on getting into the underground scene from there. I went to college, studied music production for 2 years and now I’m on my first year of university in that as well.

The first big release I saw from you was “Escape from Agrabah” with Lemzly, how did that come about? I remember following you on Twitter during the mixdown process and it seemed pretty epic.

BD: There were so many sounds in that tune. I’d never worked that hard on a tune, ever. It was a work in progress for months, we’d started it within the space of a week and got halfway through. It sounded sick but we got sort of stuck–I wanted to do something with it. Me and Lemzly are both slow producers so we sat on Skype for two weeks to finish it.

That one was quite cinematic–it stood out, it didn’t sound like much like anything out.

BD: I never know how to mix that tune! It’s just its own sort of thing–but I’m really proud of it. I’ve not actually spoke to anyone else about it so I don’t even know if people like it. But we pressed 700 and they’re gone so I’m guessing someone likes it! Zha, who runs White Peach, the label that put that out, he’s sitting on a lot of good stuff too.

From there you started Blacklink–you put out the compilation first. That was good timing cause your’s dropped before the compilation wave.

BD: I started making that 8 months ago–Coyote Records made a sick one, The Boxed one was great. Everything else was…. Yeah. I wanted to do something bigger or better than them, that was the aim: to do my own thing and make something where I’d want all 16 tracks rather than having 2 standouts. Cause right now there’s an oversaturation. There’s not enough respect for people’s own craft, people are quick to throw things out and I’m aiming to not be that. I want to take my time with releases.

That launched Blacklink, which had a different vibe than Mixclique.

BD: To sum up Blacklink as a whole–that’s all I listen to all the time. Basically if there’s one person I could pinpoint as what we’re trying to do: Strict Face. Everything Strict Face makes is my favorite shit in the world.

That’s interesting, he’s far from everyone in Adelade.

BD: He’s far from everyone in more than one sense. He’s just doing his own thing and he’s so sick.

He did a remix on that first Blacklink single.

BD: I needed one more tune to finish the record, I’d been building it for 8 months, it didn’t come together quickly. That Rabit track is one of my favorite tracks of all time and I was wondering why no one was putting it out. I DMed Rabit and he was down. It took a while to get to mastering but I’m glad we managed to put it out. For everyone else I asked for tracks and they saw the vision.

It was an interesting 12″ as well, ’cause it was fairly experimental they weren’t club focused.

BD: That is purposely done. I didn’t want to do a typical club bootleg. It’s got that sample, that bootleg vibe but you’re not jacking up the tune. You might be working on a uni essay and playing it in the background. I wanted to take that R&B influence but leave it synthy and stripped back. I don’t want to release Weightless grime though–I wanted to make sure there was that R&B influence.

Now, I want to get away from bootleg stuff, we’ve got some tunes coming out that have got some more hype sound. If it feels right and it makes sense I’m gonna release it. I’m not in any rush, it has to happen naturally.

That’s quite a Bristol vibe–putting it out when its ready.

BD: Being around people like Boofy and Lemzly and Hi5 and hearing them talk about their labels, that’s inspiring. Hearing them say that they’re taking their time with it. It gave me more encouragement to take my own time–music’s delicate, you gotta take care of it.

@SonRaw: Anything else you want to say?

@BigDeann: I’ve got an EP forthcoming under the name Modell – watch out for it.

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