Joe Nebula is an artist of some calibre, having been around with Richard McCormack under the Nebula 2 moniker since the very early ’90s. The duo had a number of early acid techno/breakbeat hardcore hits on the likes of 4Hero’s seminal Reinforced Records.
Throughout the decade Nebula 2 were heavily involved all the way across the electronic/dance music spectrum, from production and DJ Sets to promoting large scale rave events all across the UK; having been involved in the opening of one of the very early hardcore clubs in the north, The Warehouse in Doncaster. One half of Nebula 2 has recently re-emerged as Joe Nebula.
A world exclusive of Shuffle As One, featuring Patricia Edwards on vocals (to be released on Brazilian Liquid label LuvDisaster) on Bailey’s 1Xtra show towards the end of February provided a little a glimpse of the new material that we are to be treated with over the coming months. The host of forthcoming tunes from Joe Nebula all have an upbeat, melodic vibe to them. Expect classic liquid funk; soulful, rolling basslines and vocals topped with euphoric synths.
We spoke to Joe Nebula to find a bit more about the music and his prestigious history within the drum & bass and techno scenes for over two decades now.
How’s life? A busy week?
Life is what you make it (laughs). Yeah man, it has been a very good week thanks; heard some amazing music, played some amazing music and sorted out some new projects which I’m very excited to get underway.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your involvement with the drum & bass scene. What have been your movements over the last few years?
I have been around music for over 20 years starting at what you might call the beginning of what we now know as drum & bass. It was a great time to be involved with the music as it was so fresh. The new technologies available, the increase of sampler’s memory and more affordable computers, opened the music world to loads of new artists who didn’t really play instruments but could make some serious sounds.
I also ran several record labels, making music under about 10 different aliases. That was the time jungle techno had become jungle and I didn’t find the right vibe in the music to make much of it. The beats I loved were there but I felt the music didn’t progress fast enough and there was too much replication going on. So, Richard Nebula and I started to work with techno artists like A Guy Called Gerald and Thomas Heckman. This, too, was a great time. Again we were exploring a new and fresh direction.
In the last few years I started to run a remix website called Back2You with Gus (Reinforced) and Rhyan Paul, which unintentionally became the start of my journey back in to the production game. The site was set up to revitalise old classics and get new producers some exposure and experience. We ran remix projects for Blame, Metalheadz, Dizzee Rascal, Krust and a special Nation-wide Rizla music tour with MJ Cole, and found some serious talents like Savage Rehab (V Recordings) & Echo Inada (Propa Talent).
Looking at your back catalogue, the evidence certainly suggests a long-lasting and distinguished background in breakbeat/rave culture covering many different styles. Correct me if I’m wrong, but after what looks like a few years absence, what prompted to you to return with a liquid focused drum & bass sound?
Well some of the above and also starting a radio show on 97.5 Kemet FM (Nottingham). This got me right back into listening to music every week again and the music that just stood out was the liquid style of drum & bass. I’ve loved elements of soul in music since I was about 14 years old.
I did have a release on Propa Talent with a local singer Sugar “Breeze” but for me there was still something missing. So I went back in the studio to get it right. One year later and the first tracks were completed and signed to Phuzion Digital. Happy days, I still get over excited when the music is signed!
I never actually stopped making music, I just didn’t put any releases out for a while. I have hundreds of track ideas from the last 6 years and I’m getting a lot of them complete in the Liquid dnb style. Before, the time just wasn’t right for me to start putting them out. It might also be an age thing with the liquid as I like to chill more these days!
The forthcoming stuff is sounding sweet, a definite focus on melody there. I detect a strong influence from classic funk, soul/disco, jazz etc as well as bit of a nod to classic labels such Good Looking Records etc, am I right?
Yeah definitely right there, the soul from my youth and breaks from the rave scene. I am going through a re-introduction into drum & bass, having tried and lost interest in other styles, so I’d like the music to be as accessible to as many different listeners as possible. The soul vibe seems to work well here and especially with vocals.
I’m also bringing in elements of Detroit techno in as much as I can. The early techno coming out of there had a real soul vibe going on. Artists like Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson and Sterling Void were massive influences at the start of my dance music life. The sounds they used were deep but the melodies were soulful and very peaceful. A very strong combination in my book!
You’ve got a couple of tunes showcasing collaboration with Patricia Edwards in the pipeline, have you worked with her before?
The new tracks you have heard Shuffle As One / About Me and You(Luv Disaster) and Dreaming For Others (DNBB Recordings) are the first with Patricia Edwards. I had the music down but I was running out of classic house music acappellas so, with no success locally, I went on an online search for a singer. I got in touch with Patricia and asked to work on some tracks with her and thankfully for me she said yes. She is based in Buffalo, New York so we have not met face to face yet! The partnership is going great, she has an amazing voice with the real R&B USA style going on. She is also an accomplished singer in her own right, having performed world-wide. We have new tracks in the pipeline so keep your ears open!
Current sounds/labels you’re digging within the drum & bass scene or other forms of music?
Good question. Right now I’m feeling the Brazilian love, artists such as Duo Science and the Luv Disaster label. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to get on this quality label! Soul Intent also has been making some serious beats of late: MsDos, Stunna, Row Pieces and my own local boys dRamatic & DB Audio. As always, there’s so much good music out there, I’ve got my eye on a few up and coming talents like DJ Loko and Crisis. No doubt you will hear them soon.
Apart from these forthcoming releases, what does the near future hold for Joe Nebula?
Well, I am working on an education project with Rhyan Paul called Back2You Education. We are taking music students out to Pacha in Ibiza for some real life DJ experience to show them what it is really like to be an international DJ.
I have now also found some local singers here in Nottingham to work with and a have a few new projects coming up with them. I love community and the city of Nottingham; it really has some serious talents. BIG shouts to Spyda, Shookz (Honorary Nottz Crew), Soul Intent, dRamactic & DB Audio, Chromatic, Edit, Sasha Kahn, Hustle Audio, Impact & XTC, P.Fine, Breeze & Rebecca Timson as well as Bailey for the Radio 1 preview!
Words: Patrick Muncaster