The UK project of Nanoplex was formed by two pioneers in the UK progressive techno scene, Ben Coda & DJ Ipcress. Together, their sound edges towards a psychedelic techno vibe, with a sophomore album Digitechture released last year on Iboga Records. Chris (DJ Ipcress) is also involved with Noisily Festival, a rising UK festival.
Tell me about last year’s album, Digitecture? How does it differ from your debut, The Billion Dollar Brain?
DJ Ipcress : Good day, everyone. Well, me and my partner in Nanoplex, Ben Coda, worked on the album Digitechture for over 18 months. It’s been a really enjoyable process and production has stepped up to another level from our last album. We both feel we have found the Nanoplex sound now, having spent a few years feeling it out whilst making our debut album, The Billion Dollar Brain.
We really tried to make the album a journey through our sound, rather than just laying down 10 dance floor bangers. Because Ben and I have diverse musical tastes, spanning many different genres, we feel we have managed to pay homage to many of these influences on the album. Overall, I think it’s a much more complete body of work, and we look forward to getting it out there so you can listen to it.
Why do you feel at home with Iboga Records?
DJ Ipcress : In reality, Nanoplex sits in between a number of different scenes and sounds. Although we decided to write the music at a slower pace (125 to 128bpm), we never had an exact plan for what we were doing. Both Ben and I chucked all our influences into the musical saucepan, and cooked up the broth without really knowing exactly what flavour we wanted.
Our move to Iboga happened while I was playing a DJ set in Panama at a festival. Iboga Records labelhead, DJ Emok, was having a listen, and came over and asked what music I was playing. I told him it was a new project [with Ben Coda] called Nanoplex. He asked me there and then, during the set, to put together an EP for the label. We duly delivered the EP, and then a compilation album called Evolve Vol. 1, based around our sound. The rest is history !
The Nanoplex sound is an interesting take on the psychedelic spectrum. Any unique influences, travels or experiences that contributed?
DJ Ipcress : Personally, I have never been comfortable playing the faster trance styles of electronic music. I do, sometimes, delve into it but it just reminds me that my brain does not operate at that speed when it comes to mixing 2 tracks together. I just don’t feel it ! For me when the music is slowed down, it just feels right, giving you the opportunity to do much longer and more interesting mixes. I use Ableton Live for my sets and love the way you can layer up the techno sounds in a way which was never possible using CD decks.
My influences are wide ranging. I went to University in the City of Canterbury in Kent, England. I was hunting through the local record shop and discovered a section called ‘The Canterbury Scene’. I had a flick through and bought a few cd’s from bands such as Caravan, Gong & Soft Machine. This opened my mind up to a whole world of music that I’d not previously heard of. The connection between this and the psychedelic scene I’m part of today was the lead guitarist in Gong, Steve Hillage. He went on to set up System 7 which are part of this modern movement of music and this inadvertently got me into the wonderful global psychedelic movement.
The other major influence for me was the Gnawa music from Morocco, which in my opinion is the original psychedelic music. Back in the early 2000’s I bought the album by the Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones, ‘Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka’ from 1969. This led me on several journeys to Morocco in search of these musicians and I eventually tracked them down in Essaouira, and achieved my goal. More than anything this trip made me fall in love with the beautiful country of Morocco and I’ve been going back ever since.
What other projects are making good tunes that fuse techno and psychedelic?
DJ Ipcress : Well this is really not an exact science. It tends to be a feeling in the music which the artists often don’t realise they even instilled in the particular tracks. My DJ sets have always been about collecting these one off tracks and putting them together in the melting pot.
One of my favourite artists from the last few years is Irish Techno act Matador. His music works on the psychedelic dance floors and I’ve really enjoyed playing it all over the world. I also love the music of Minilogue, whose members used to be in Prog Trance act Son Kite. The way their create loops and rhythms without any significant break downs in the music creates an incredibly psychedelic sound, probably more so than their actual psychedelic project.
Do you think it’s a common misconception other electronic genres besides psytrance can’t be psychedelic?
DJ Ipcress : Again, I think the beauty is in the eye of the beholder so to speak. One mans psychedelic is another mans non-psychedelic. Personally I find music which has space in it much more psychedelic than stuff is totally filled up with sound. I think this is where my love for Techno came from. By nature Techno has much more space in the music which means the sounds that are in it are far more pertinent and in my opinion, psychedelic sounding.
Do you think a lot of psytrance has kind of lost its [psychedelic] way? Any psytrance artists you really enjoy?
DJ Ipcress : Well, again it all boils down to interpretation. Everything evolves and develops in different ways. My interpretation is that the Goa trance from the late 90’s had a real psychedelic feeling but was a less technical style of music. Nowadays the music production software allows producers to build incredibly complicated sound designs which can sound incredibly psychedelic but in a totally different way.
At the moment I’m really enjoying the Zenon Records style stuff from artists like Grouch and Merkaba. On the more Full On side of things, I really enjoyed the first album by my English compadre and legend Dick Trevor and am certainly digging the music by Goa legend Nigel who’s new project Aardvark is sounding really promising. Another UK act who’s DJ sets I have always really enjoyed is DJ Lucas from TIP World. There was always a lovely 303 sound in his music which I really loved. On that basis Ben and I asked Lucas to do a collaboration on our new album which has come out incredibly well. Watch this space for that one!
Tell me about your involvement with the UK based Noisily Festival? What does the festival aim to achieve?
DJ Ipcress : Back in 2012 after Glade Festival had finished (which I had previously worked for in a marketing capacity), I went down to see James from Liquid Records in Brighton to see whether it might be possible to set up our own festival to replace it. Push came to shove and we decided to go ahead with the project and set up various meetings to work out the finance and to nail down a location. James rang Charles Audley from Noisily, then going into its third year, about the possibility of renting the land. After a quick conversation it was decided that instead of starting a new project, we would join the Noisily team and bring the Liquid Stage, formerly at Glade, to Noisily. The rest is history.
My job is to oversee the marketing for the festival and all that that involves as well as working closely with the team on programming, and many other day to day aspects of running the festival. I really love the challenge and I really like the team we have put together. They are first and foremost friends, which makes working on an the festival with them an even more enjoyable experience, even if we don’t all agree on everything all of the time!
In terms of what the festival aims to achieve! Well… I think we’d like to be the ultimate underground electronic music festival in the UK, and, beyond that, a destination festival on a global scale. Diverse exciting line ups, amazing cutting edge production and the best crowd of people you will find at any festival on this planet!
How do you go about selecting artists to perform at Noisily?
DJ Ipcress : It’s a combination of a number of different factors to be honest. Its definitely a team effort at Noisily and we all make suggestions for the 3 main stages before we start the booking process in autumn every year. One of my main criteria when picking a new artist or live act is whether they are breaking new ground with their sound. I have never been one for the same old same old so on that basis, I’m always listening out for the next big thing, or even the next small thing which nobody has heard of yet!
How has the festival grown since its first installment? How do you see the festival growing and evolving in the future?
DJ Ipcress : Well, Noisily is the perfect example of an event which has grown purely and organically since its conception. It was literally a large outdoor party of 300/400 people when it started in 2012, attended by organisers and their friends. It’s grown year on year, and we now find ourselves looking around 3k an event. In its current form the site could hold up to 5,000 people, so the aim over the next few years is to bring it up to capacity while making sure that it loses none of its charm, then leave it at that, focusing on making the event better and better each year.
When can we see you in South Africa again?
DJ Ipcress : I had an amazing time last time I visited South Africa and the festival, and I swore to myself that I would be back as soon as I could make it happen. I really thought the South African crowd warmed to our cross-over sound at the last event. It was great to open their ears to our sound.
Anything to add before we finish off?
DJ Ipcress : See you on the dance floor. Rave on!