Representing a collaborative collective of immense DnB power, Fokuz Records’ founding father Dreazz aka Marco Grijsen is bringing his Rotterdam-based underground label to Bristol this June to launch a new night from Bristol DJ and longtime promoter Sam Hiscox. He’s already been involved with the brilliant Liquifyah collective for the past five years, and is hoping to continue to push ‘intelligent, forward-thinking drum and bass music’ with his new Threshold nights.
If you’re not sure what that sounds like, have a listen to our exclusive 45-minute guest mix from Dreazz for a small taste of what to expect from the night.
Founded in 1999, the label has altered their approach to exposure recently and is rapidly gathering momentum amongst the bassheads of the world. Demonstrating that good beats have no set nationality, race or region Fokuz represent a platform for some of the best upcoming talent on the scene to air their exclusive tracks. Nitelife caught up with the energetic Dreazz to chat about Bristol DnB, collaborations and expectations for the night…
You started Fokuz Recordings 15 years ago, can you tell us a little about the beginnings of the label and how you started out?
One of my friends, Drum Origins, was getting a lot of good feedback from people like Future Engineers, Bukem, J Laze, Deejay Recordings… He was getting signing offers from both Deejay and Good Looking Records. However, both parties were stalling; holding us back and not doing what they promised us, so finally we just got fed up and decided to do it on our own.
That’s really the one and only reason why we started it. Of course, we soon realised that what had started as a frustration quickly turned into a blessing, and the rest is history.
Coming from Holland and hosting a range of international artists, how does the UK DnB scene compare to the scene internationally?
It’s all the same thing to us. The world is huge these days and the DnB virus has been spreading all across the globe. It doesn’t really matter anymore where you are from; if the music is right and you work hard to promote yourself, linking up with the right people, then we are all doing the same thing.
One of the biggest things that struck me was how closed the UK scene was, and at the same time how undeveloped the rest of the world was in terms of beat making and the DnB sound
Back in the day, it was very different. It was almost impossible for us to link up with UK artists. Nobody would accept us to be up to standard, nobody would believe in us and nobody would support us. This is the reason why we’ve created a vastly different artist roster to anybody else in the DnB industry. We had to do it with artists who where not close-minded, artists who were either from outside of the UK, or daring enough to take a step outwards and open themselves up to something new.
One of the biggest things that struck me was how closed the UK scene was, and at the same time how undeveloped the rest of the world was in terms of beat making and the DnB sound. Of course, this is now changed and today it’s a global movement.
You are collaborating with Threshold on the launch of their new concept night at Blue Mountain. Have you hosted any nights in Bristol before, and what excites you most about the event?
Well, the most exciting thing about this event for us is that we are finally going to Bristol! We have been present around the globe for many, many years, however Fokuz only started to host nights about two years ago.
In that time, we have hosted nights in London, Amsterdam, Moscow, Leeds, Prague and a few other famous European cities. But from what I’ve been told, Bristol appears to be that place where we can find the biggest concentration of our fans and followers – but also that potential new crowd who hasn’t heard from us yet.
Bristol seems to be the most interesting place to be at the moment, so we’re pretty excited!
The city is influential on the scene we operate within and is full of people willing to discover new music and be open minded to new ideas. Bristol seems to be the most interesting place to be at the moment, so we’re pretty excited!
You’re bringing Zero T, Macca & Loz Contreras, Satl with you for the label takeover at Threshold Bristol – who should we keep our ears peeled for?
All of us! I personally believe that we are still very much an underrated collective when it comes to the world of DnB. The UK DnB crowd is known for their habitual behaviour – always booking the same DJs and raving to the same drops. Fokuz is different, on a Fokuz night you won’t hear much of the same music and you tend to see artists who normally wouldn’t be playing together.
The UK DnB crowd is known for their habitual behaviour – always booking the same DJs and raving to the same drops. Fokuz is different
Each artist really has their own sound and approach, and will be playing music that you may not have heard before. My advice would be to get there early and take time to listen to each of the artists.
What does it mean to be a Fokuz Recordings artist?
It means family. We will try to teach you the ways of the DnB scene, whilst adding our own experience in such a way that each artist can grow individually.
We are not so much focused on an exclusive roster, but much more tempted to keep an open and free structure, so we can allow artists to develop and slowly find their way towards the big labels in the industry. We see ourselves as a platform to host artist exposure, rather than just being a label that signs a small group of artists and working exclusively with those.
Have a closer look at our release schedule and you will see we have always been there at the forefront of discovery
Fokuz Recordings has always been about bringing new artists to the scene and discovering new talent all the time. We were there in the very beginning when Icicle, Lenzman and Noisia were discovered, we were there in the early days of Alix Perez, Technimatic and Spectrasoul, but we also where there when guys like Fourward, Lomax or Bcee were starting to grow their name and fame. Have a closer look at our release schedule and you will see we have always been there at the forefront of discovery.
We are loving the exclusive mix you dropped for Nitelife in the buildup to the Threshold takeover. Can you tell us a little about the concept and inspiration behind the sound?
The approach I try to incorporate into all my online mixes is to stay away from the norm, where you find all the usual suspect labels and tracks getting airtime. I usually try to squeeze in a few of those tracks just to follow the demand of the crowd, so to speak, however the main focus is on Fokuz and Celsius artists.
I try to trigger the interest of people who haven’t heard of us by including popular remixes of Fokuz tracks and artists. My main goal is to show that all this music is equally strong and that it’s very much possible to deliver quality music whilst remaining a little less commercial. There is always a kind of journey taking place – from deep, to energetic, then back to the deep.
Where do you think Bristol stands within the international DnB scene and what does the city mean to you and the other artists on Fokuz Recordings?
I can really only answer this question once I have visited the city, but my gut feeling tells me that this could a very important night for Fokuz. It all starts when you know how to trigger the insiders, shakers and movers within a scene. Once you can trigger the main people involved, the word will then snowball across the rest of the world!
My gut feeling tells me that this could a very important night for Fokuz
Fokuz has a very dedicated following already and we are so grateful for that. However, we have noticed that it’s always been a small, niche group who have been supporting our label. So far, we have not yet been able to cross over into the majority of the DnB scene, so I am hoping that the insiders of Bristol will dig what we do and help us grow our movement in 2017/18.
Other than that, I think Bristol has always been a very important part of the underground scene. Lots and lots of the best artists come from Bristol and it is considered as one of the most important places to be represented in now.
What are you hoping for the future of Fokuz Recordings?
I’ve made it a mission to be part of the top five operating within the DnB scene, together with all the other respected labels. Me and my labels have been active in the DnB scene from as early as 1992. We have always been around, yet we have never really been visible on the forefront.
I’ve made it a mission to be part of the top five operating within the DnB scene
We have decided to try and make ourselves more prominent within the scene, and as far as I can see, we are on our way to doing so. We still have a big journey ahead of us and we are trying to get there step by step. We are not in a hurry, but one day we will get there!
Listen to our exclusive guest mix from Dreazz below –