Producer, multi-instrumentalist and all-round Bristol boy, Clive Meaker fronts his electric 8-piece cohort, Dr Meaker. With fingers deep in the UK drum and bass scene, as well as taking major influences from soul music, Dr Meaker excite their listeners with heavy basslines and angelic-but-energetic vocal tracks. Bursting through the emerging lists on many of the top UK radio shows, Dr Meaker’s caramel blend of smooth soul and drum and bass gives us a taste of the raw originality and creative sound direction found only on the Bristol underground.

Celebrating the release of their new album Dirt & Soul, Dr Meaker made their way back to Bristol for a one-off night at Lakota alongside some of the city’s finest. Supported by Reprazent’s DJ Suv, who sent out out a high-energy ‘influences’ set, DJ Bunjy, Roy Bar B2B with Bundat, Future Dub Orchestra and the mighty Tribe Steppaz, the night was set alight with Bristol love. A true demonstration of the immense concentration of talent in the city.

Bursting onto the stage to a (suddenly) packed-out Lakota, Dr Meaker wet the hungry crowd’s appetite with big bouncing basslines, sexy saxophones and heartbreakingly soulful vocals. Playing tracks from their latest release Dirt & Soul, plus a couple of throwbacks from their 2008 debut album A Lesson from the Speaker, the band inspired thoughts of sunset- soaked evenings, festival fields and frantic two-stepping. An original high-energy live band, Dr Meaker tirelessly worked the eager crowd with their soulful anthems, leaving a flurryof shoe scuffs on the floor and a roomful of aching muscles. Nitelife caught up with Clive Meaker and the band just before they took to the stage…

I like to think we’re doing something original and that our sound is unique

With a fusion of two prominent genres that are almost as far apart as you can get, Dr Meaker’s mixture of uplifting drum and bass beats and sweet, soulful vocals are organic and original to the Bristol band.

It’s a sound I have been developing over the course of my whole career. I have always loved classic and soulful female vocals, but was also always inspired by Prodigy and other late 90s drum and bass producers. Coming from Bristol and with a musical background inspired by artists like Massive Attack and Roni Size, I wanted to do something similar but pioneering in the fusion of genres. The sound is always developing and moving forward, but can really be described as a fusion of dirt and soul, hence the title of the new album.

‘We are a unique, live act that combine melodic drum and bass with world-class vocalists and exciting collaborations. I like to think we’re doing something original and that our sound is unique to us and to Bristol. Dr Meaker is a collaborative effort that is made possible through the medium of many talented vocalists, musicians and artists. We are very Bristol-based and like to collaborate with vocalists within the city, helping them develop their sound and find their voice whilst they help us do the same.’

True to form, Dirt & Soul is rife with collaborations And sees the welcome return of guest vocalists Sian Evans, Lorna King and Yolanda.

‘Yolanda is a longterm collaborator. We know each other from way back in the day and we’ve kept a working relationship going all these years.

‘In terms of fresh emerging talent in Bristol, there’s just so much at the moment. The Bristol scene is so strong, attracting more and more musicians, fusions and cocktails of genres– it’s really exciting to be around. There are several artists making big sounds in the city at the moment. Keep your eyes out for Paragon, Yes Man Jellyfish, Type Sun, Octopi and Break.’

With the daylight hours now inching ever longer, we’re already thinking ahead to the warmer months and so areDr Meaker, who are hoping to book up a full on festival season as they tour and promote the new album. ‘We hopeto be back at Glastonbury this year, of course, back in the Dance Village – our favourite slot. We’re also hoping to be at Boomtown and Bestival this summer, amongst a bunch of live shows and gigs. It’s all in the pipeline!’

Dr Meaker is a collaborative effort that is made possible through the medium of many talented vocalists, musicians and artists

Not only has Clive got big plans for the band this summer, but he’s also recently launched a cooler-than-cool, limited edition art collection in collaboration with the talented artist Gethin Ceidiog Hughes. Aptly named ‘Broken Soul’ and inspired by the band’s recent release, Gethin’s intention was to create a visual representation of his exploration of the album to find common ground between the music and his own art. The collection consists of 90 limited edition ‘Broken Soul’ screen prints and t-shirts that are available online.

After being adjusted into place for a couple of photographs, Clive left us with a smile and some killer advice for any newbies cutting their teeth on the Bristol underground scene: ‘Be nice to everyone! You never know who you’re talking to, plus people are much more likely to want to help you out if you’re friendly. It can get you further than you think.’

A Bristol boy through and through, we’re expecting big things in 2017 from Clive and his amazing band, the wonderful Dr Meaker. Watch this space. // words by Molly Chinner // photography by Dominika Sheibinger

This article was originally published in Nitelife March ’17.

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