Subtle Sound System
NOMINE - DIGITAL - OUTRAGE
Andrew Ferguson knows a thing or two about dance music. Since 1995, he has held down a variety of positions in the UK’s dance music community: pirate radio owner and DJ, touring DJ, producer, mail order innovator, label owner, promoter, and teacher. Self-taught in all aspects, Ferguson experienced the highs and lows of the music industry and left it all behind before returning in recent years with a renewed vigour and desire to simply express himself.
It all begins in 1995, when Ferguson, enamoured with jungle and the emerging drum & bass sound, takes on the name Rage and sets up his own pirate station in Bedford, Shock FM. The decision quickly leads him to start touring the UK and at 16 he leaves school behind to focus on a budding career. He supplements his touring by founding a mail order promo company, Jungle Lix, which then becomes Connections. The idea finds a receptive audience and soon enough Ferguson is handling classic drum & bass releases, including all the early Bad Company, Renegade Hardware, Metro and V Recordings cat- alogues, feeding the growing international demand for exclusive 12”s. By 1999, Ferguson is embedded in the London scene, touring internationally, DJing on Rinse FM, and a regular at the legendary Music House, where producers and DJs cut their dubplates. It’s there that DJ Fresh, of Bad Company, advises the young Ferguson to carefully choose what aspect of his career to pursue. As a result, Ferguson moves to concentrate on DJing and production, landing his first release on L-Double’s Flex imprint in 1999 before beginning a life long friendship with AMIT, another upcoming artist at the time, under the name Tronic & Rage. In 2001, Ferguson decides to rename himself Outrage following a conversation at a rave with MC Rage where the pair agreed there were no benefits in confusing audiences.
For the next ten years, Ferguson continues to embed himself deep in the drum & bass scene, which at this time is expanding globally. Thanks to support from Digital and Spirit, he lands releases on Goldie’s Metalheadz label, including the acclaimend ‘Patients’ which Goldie secured on a 4am call after hearing the track in the dance. The success of his work sends him on multiple world tours. By 2007, Ferguson decides to relocate to Thailand feeling the strain from a life on the road. In the following years, he sets
up the J-Tek label with Digital, Modular, Ratty & Tango, and Randall dedicated to a slower “jungle tech- no sound” that harks back to the early days of the music with a blend of 4/4 rhythms and syncopated breakbeats. Timing is everything in music, and unfortunately the J-Tek sound arrives just as the drum & bass establishment entrenches itself in light of the rise of dubstep, which operates at the same 140bpm as J-Tek. Unwilling to fight, the crew decide to fold J-Tek and Ferguson expands beyond drum & bass with an appearance on Bill Laswell’s experimental album Inamorata alongside the likes of Herbie Han- cock, AMIT, Toshinori Kondo, and John Zorn. Between 2008 and 2011, when he retires the Outrage alias, Ferguson releases the Red Letter album with Digital on Function Records and spends time in the USA before returning to the UK to host Temah, a regular sunday night session at Brixton’s (now defunct) Plan B alongside old and new names from the drum & bass world.
After 15 years in the game, Ferguson chooses to step away from the hustle, egos, and direction of the music he had made his life. He begins to write tracks at 140bpm for his own enjoyment, with no com- mercial purpose. But life had different ideas for Ferguson and a year after his quiet retirement, in 2012, a trio of events unfold over a week: he is accepted for a Master’s degree at Bedford University, despite his lack of qualifications; the university offers him a job teaching its Live/DJ course and, after finishing his Master’s, he becomes its Advanced Music Production lecturer; finally, the music scene comes knocking back after Youngsta hears one of his new productions through AMIT. Ferguson chooses Nomine as his new alias (adapted from the Latin expression Sine Nomine, without a name) and signs to the legendary Tempa label.
Having learnt his fair share of lessons, and with a renewed interest in production, Ferguson decides to revel in the anonymity of his newfound position. He releases five sell out EPs as Nomine on Tempa and one for AMIT’s Amar imprint, culminating in a debut album on Tempa, 2015’s Inside Nomine. Pulling from his extensive experience, Ferguson fashions a sharp sound as Nomine that straddles the techno, dubstep, and drum & bass worlds.
Following the release of the debut Nomine album, Ferguson set off on yet another world tour and de- cided to reveal his identity. In 2016, he continues his journey launching his new label, Nomine Sound, twenty years after he first set up a transmitter in his home and broadcast his love and passion of music to anyone who would hear it.
Stephen Carr aka Digital is one of the UK’s most well-respected and inspirational drum and bass producers with a career spanning 23yrs culminating in a seminal catalogue of original & innovative releases to date.
His signature bass-lines and radicalized dubbed out sounds reach back to his childhood where he watched from a young child his father run his own sound-system for nearly thirty years in Ipswich, UK. The moniker ‘Digital’ was given to him by the Ashanti Sound System who immediately recognised the then 14yr olds technical ability at operating a sound system, while also relating the moniker ‘Digital’ to the future, his youth and the emergence of the digital age. It wasn’t long before Digital used his dad’s sound-system on his own, so in 1991, with the ‘rave scene’ growing in and around Ipswich he started to hire-out the system to various promoters, noticeably Danny C who he befriended through their love of music and raving. This is the time when he really became interested in the rave scene and its music triggering his curiosity that drew his attention to production.
A collaboration with Danny C saw Digital's first ever record 'Split Personality' / 'Navigator's Path' which was released on the legendary Ipswich based label Certificate 18. His solo debut release ‘Touch Me’ on Timeless in 1995 was followed by a track that really set the marker for Digital, ‘Spacefunk’ a limited edition 12” on Timeless Recordings also in 1995. Such a unique track in its time and so well received that it has been re-released with remixes from Goldie M.B.E, Photek, Future Bound and Doc Scott. Spacefunk was a signature track at Goldie’s amazing Metalheadz Blue Note club night for several years this brought Digital to the attention of Goldie which resulted in Metalheadz 021 – Digital – ‘Niagra’ / ‘Down Under’. The relationship with Metalheadz remained strong over the years resulting in Digital featuring on every Platinum Breakz album, 'The Wolf EP' with long time partner Spirit and a solo EP ‘In The Lurch’ due around April 2017.
1998 saw the birth of the infamous Phantom Audio imprint
co-owned with Ipswich based producer and friend Spirit, it arose from their
mutual desire to have their own base where there was no set musical agenda.
Soon after the duo debuted with the release of ‘Phantom Force’ this track
became a drum and bass anthem worldwide. Still to this day, 17yrs after its
release you can still hear ‘Phantom Force’ rocking in sets from the likes of;
Andy C, Friction, Goldie & DJ Marky. Phantom Force also lives on through featuring on numerous
dance music CD compilations. The imprint Phantom Audio went on to home some
formative releases from the duo alongside a selection of solo cuts. March 2013 saw
the duo teaming up once again for the first time in 10yrs to re-launch the
Whilst he continued to release music in mid April 2002 Digital teamed up with his long-time friend and business partner Brillo in setting up the Timeless Music Group handling all forms of label management for 12 independent drum and bass labels. Digital also worked closely with two of New Zealand’s treasured electronic acts Salmonella Dub & Concord Dawn, working with both acts to develop their European market further with tour management, tour support, European distribution and marketing. In addition to DJ’ing throughout the UK, Europe, Asia, New Zealand & USA.
Looking back through Digital’s discography he has had so
many cuts that still stand the test of time from the mighty ‘Deadline’ on 31
records to the monster ‘Waterhouse Dub’ on Function Records and ‘Gateman’ on
Phantom Audio. The 2002 release of his debut LP ‘Dubzilla’, 10 tracks of pure
drum & bass; 9 tracks in his own true imitable dub-fashion and one track
with Phantom Audio label partner Spirit.
April 2016 saw the release of Digital - ‘Synthesis’ a collaboration on Function Records featuring top artists like Drumsound & Bassline Smith, Spirit, Om Unit, Nomine, Kiat, Resound, Need for Mirrors, Total Science, Klute and to keep things totally fresh new producers with their own unique styles like Villem, Response, Flava & Dissect, Theory and Mad Vibes.In the process of making Synthesis, he personally traveled around to collaborate with each producer as opposed to sending files through the internet. Digital explains, ‘I’d prefer to get a vibe going in the studio because the vibe and end results are more pleasing, and more real when you’re in the studio together. As a result of working on this album, I feel that we’ve formed a collective of sorts that is larger than this project. I also feel that togetherness can be a ‘thing’ within music.’
Digital’s 23 plus year of production consist of 3 more LP’s & countless 12’s & EP’s on his own label imprint; Function Records and co-owned imprint Phantom Audio, as well as some of the finest Drum & Bass labels to date; Metalheadz, Exit, Timeless, 31 Records, C.I.A, Photek Productions, Innerground, Commercial Suicide, Reinforced Records, Violence, Horizons, Rupture, Ingredients, Dispatch, V Recordings, Lion Dub International, Chronic & Hardleaders, the list goes on…
In the Drum & Bass scene, there are those who follow trends and those who pave their own way. Those who flock to the flavor of the month, while others stay true to the sounds within their souls and produce what they feel, and do so smashingly. Outrage is one of those producers, and over the last decade, he’s seen himself rise from a pirate radio DJ to a prominent producer, teaming up with the likes of Amit and Digital, and releasing tunes on a number of the scene’s finest imprints.
Outrage got his start as DJ Rage, who at the age of 15 in 1994 got a spot on Shock FM, a pirate radio station out of Bedford. This of course led to more gigs within the town of Bedford, bringing his brand of Drum & Bass to the clubs, where he started to network and linked up with Stomp & Weaver, with whom he first started producing tunes with, leading to his first major release, “Snakes” (with Stomp), on L Double’s Flex Records. With his production career on the rise, his DJ career also started to flourish, with gigs in the United States lining up, helping this now 18 year old DJ truly start to gain some speed within the international scene.
This lead to what was a likely link-up with Amit, then known as Tronic. This duo worked together, honing their talents and releasing tunes on labels like Nu Urban and Chemical Warfare, all the while still concentrating on their own individual sounds. 2002 was the year that they both got massive exposure on their own, and Outrage started dropping HEAVY tunes on labels like L-Plates, Spirit’s Inneractive imprint, Goldie’s Metalheadz imprint, Klute’s Commercial Suicide label and many other dynamic Drum & Bass institutions.
By this time, 2007 rolled around, and Outrage decided to embark on his own label venture, thus Backlash Records was born. Backlash helped Outrage nurture his flair for the abstract, helping him bridge dancefloors with tunes that bring experimentation into the mix, which in turn infused a rebirth of sorts within the scene. While there are many flavors of Drum & Bass out there, Outrage’s work with Backlash opened up new doors for newcomers, as well as gave those who appreciate the dubbier, more classic Drum & Bass sound (the DnB that was unafraid to try new things, freak new sounds) into play.
Finding kinship with the likes of Digital and Randall, as well as his reuniting with Stomp, Outrage helped reimagine the Jungle Techno sound of the early Nineties with their new collective imprint, J-Tek, which gained a lot of positive response from fans looking for that epic bloodclart jungle tekno! Outrage also started to work with Aperture and the legendary vocalist Kirsty Hawkshaw; these experiments went over quite well with fans worldwide, heads who appreciated their use of vocals, orchestration and future beats, leading them to set up a new imprint, Whisper Audio.
2009 saw what could arguably be considered one of Outrage’s biggest achievements in releasing an LP with the legend known as Digital. Their collaborative efforts became Red Letter, a blinding excursion deep into the belly of pulsating riddims. Sought after for a while, the tracks that fleshed out this album were second-to-none, and loved by many. With so much work as a producer, labelhead and DJ, it’s amazing that Outrage has the time to do things like create curriculums for music schools in Bangkok, Thailand, where he’s a lead instructor. That really speaks to the work he’s put in – he got his feet wet as a teen, and now he can teach teens the art of creating music, helping them find their voices and push the limits and boundaries of sound… much like he has done in his career from day one.
With his dedication and natural need to be different, there’s no telling where Outrage’s sound will take him in the years to come…