g-force and seiji interview
(9th November 1999)

Return to 769: sequential ignition, firing up a thrusting power source. Lean back and take control. The glide is smooth and liquid.
The opening track on their "Just another number" album (Reinforced Records), "Return to 769," is, as the description from the sleeve (above) says, just the precursor, the overture to a flight of fancy with G-Force (Mark) and Seiji (Paul) in the pilots' seats. They number amongst their influences Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder and DJ Premier but the similarities between the duo's widescreen drum'n'bass and those three innovators lie not in the surface sound but in the timeless futurism, the groove and the crafted dynamics of their tracks. "Just another number," binds dark funk and some exceptionally jazzy moments to sleek, streamlined breakbeats and atmospheric electronics. The modest title belies the mesmerising stretch of languid, flowing jazz that ripples and bends in graceful ways, obeying only the whim and the influence of the occasional intruding sample or instrumental snatch. The Wire described "Just another number" as "a 52 minute Gene Krupa drum solo...the drums, threatening to go out of time, ...make this an interesting excursion through the remnants of drum'n'bass" which hits the nail on the head as far as the beats go, but fails to recognise the inherent beauty of the contexts into which they're placed.

There's little sonic likeness, but I've been listening to it a lot in tandem with the Bablicon album which also takes jazz as a base but, instead of stripping it down and reducing everything to a beat, spurts off in tentacular freneticism. "Just another number" is more relaxing, settling into its muse and looking for the low-down vibe. Even when nothing much appears to be happening, there's always the minimal variations to focus on. The similarity between this album and "In a different city" is that intangible quality: the feel, the knowledge transmitted from the players to the listeners through the grooves, knowledge that says these people care, and that none of these 9 tracks are just another number.

When I call, Paul has gone home after spending all night in the studio so only Mark is available to chat about what they were doing before their debut release ("Nothern exposure") in 1996 and the following series of singles which lead up to the album.

Paul was making house music before you got together, what were you doing?
I was doing early hardcore, rave sort of stuff. We were both DJs and we were put together by a mutual friend who knew Paul was producing house and had started doing a few drum'n'bass bits. I thought they were quite good so we just hooked up and ended up doing an ep for Reinforced.

Wasn't it a change in direction for a house DJ to start doing drum'n'bass?
Yeah! I'm not even sure why he decided to do that. I was always making drum'n'bass, that's what I was into...but me and Paul getting together worked quite well cos we're from two different backgrounds.

Something clicked between you straight away...
...yeah, Paul was at university up in Scotland and I went up there for a week. I took my sampler and we sat down in this little 6x8 room, blasting it and keeping all the people in the halls of residence awake. Straight away there was a little spark and we were just bouncing ideas off each other.The first two pieces we did together were the first release.

Bad Dreams: Skimming the surface at the speed of light, the concrete softens to clay. Yet men still refuse the evidence and prefer alleyways to open skies and prevent the descent.
Were you G-Force before that?
Yeah, I've been G-Force for years. I used to breakdance when I was about 8 or 9 and a couple of boys that used to go to the senior school across the road from me were in the London Allstars so in the Summer holidays I used to break with them. 'Cos I was quite little and I was quite fast at doing windmills they used to call me G-Force. I've always been into hip hop and electro, ever since I can remember. When I grew up we'd always have a bit of lino round the back or round the park and a stereo blasting electro or hip hop or funk.

How about jazz?
Not really when I was younger. More when I was getting older, actually even more through Seiji 'cos he's more into the jazz thing and plays me records and bits and pieces, but my main thing is hip hop and electro.

Circles and Lines: Created while you were sleeping, the co-ordinates of metamorphosis chart your lucidity, tempting you with distraction, destruction or development.
When did you start getting into drum'n'bass then?
About '88 or '89 I started listening to some of the pirate stations like Centerforce that were playing the early house stuff then gradually I got into early hardcore.

There's a lot of stuff I'd call jazz on the album, where do you see the link between drum'n'bass, breakbeats and jazz?
Well, that's pretty hard to say. Drum'n'bass doesn't come from jazz, it just comes from breakbeats and they come from all over the place. I've had some mad 70's rock thing with some wicked breaks in it, and there's a break on that Elvis track and, you know what I mean, it just comes from wherever the drum beats come from really. We don't sit down and think we're going to write a jazzy drum'n'bass tune or we're gonna do this or we're gonna do that, it's just whatever comes out when we're writing the tracks.

How do you work? Do you swap tapes or sequencer discs or jam?
We normally write together. Paul's a member of a collective called Bugs in The Attic and they've got a studio complex in North Acton and we're based in there at the moment. It's just a case of whatever: someone might come up with a beat or a musical idea and we just work off that. Most tracks we do are just a jam.

Me and Paul are most happy when we're working together.It's easier to work with someone than working by yourself. You can be writing a track by yourself, you sit there all day and all night doing it and it comes to the morning and you just think: that's rubbish. But if there's someone there sitting with you, then if it's not working out then someone'll say so and you'll go onto the next thing. Normally, that's how you work off each other, you've always got someone to give you a critical point of view straight away.

Klipa: Hand in hand through the vortex and onto the sparkling path, going low with the topography, winding a familiar and well loved route.
Do you make your records to be played out?
We don't think about it while we're recording. Randall plays some of the dancefloor things, Dego (of 4 Hero and label boss at Reinforced), Gilles Peterson,Patrick Forge...

Do you play them out yourself?
I haven't DJ-ed for a while. The last proper thing we done was when we went to Japan with Reinforced. That's something we've got to get back on really. That was the whole reason we started making music. When you're DJ-ing you listen to so much music and you think "I could do that" so it's come full circle. It's about time we started DJ-ing again and playing what we think is good music to people.

What records are you listening to at the moment?
Some of my friends have just done an album as Neon Phusion that's coming out on Laws of Motion and that's wicked. I got Dego's Tek 9 thing recently, been checking that out...there's a new vocal thing that Karen Wheeler's done...

...You don't use vocals much yourselves...
...no, we've just been getting into vocal production ourselves. It's a lot more work trying to write a decent vocal production. We have been doing some vocal stuff for a while. Seiji does a lot more with his house stuff but there's going to be more from us as well. It's a natural progression really, you can take an instrumental so far...but yeah, it's getting the vocals right. There's a vocal track on the album called "Clear vision" and that came out really well.

Clear Vision: Lowriders trawling horizons in search of the pure texture and the notes of a New Dawn.
It's not verse-chorus-verse and the vocal's used more like an instrument. It's a weird arrangement and that's the way we'll go when we write more.

I wanted to ask you about writing, the drums on the album sound very live...
...yeah, there's some old breaks in there and we had a couple of session players in to play some drums but there are some tracks, I mean "Circles and lines" has got live drums but they're all re-edited anyway. Normally with the breaks, if we've got a groove that we like we just get the guys to play along to it and then we just re-sample it and chop it up and that's what we did with the drums.

Is "Just another number" a concept album? I'm thinking of the little descriptions of each track on the sleeve. Did you make them up and then write the music?
No. What it was, the guy who did the cover, M.A.D., that's just what he wrote down to describe the tracks. We're quite into it, thought it kind of summed it up quite well.

Just Another Number: Flora surviving In digital extremities. Fauna unfolding a thousand petals with the ease of a Sunrise.
So has the title got anything to do with the descriptions?
"Just another number" is to do with a lot of things. It's to do with the year 2000, it's to do with the way people are perceived now and the way they'll be perceived in the future. It's open, y'know, to whatever you want to take that title as.

The way I saw it, it was saying that none of the tracks on the record are filler. Like, none of these is just another number, not like some records that have 20 tracks of which 5 are worth anything and the rest are filler.
I've never really thought about it, but that's a good one. Yeah. I can use that one next time, I like that.

I read a quote from Paul ("The key to keep the music moving forward is to forget thinking about it intellectually and for artists to get back to making music that they feel") which really summed up the album for me. You can really tell that the people who made this record care
We weren't trying to be flash, it's just music that we felt, music that we're into. Basically we're just trying to please ourselves, say "yeah, we're proud of that," you know what I mean? Some of the tracks were written 2 years ago, 3 years ago and with a lot of dance music you listen to something written 3 years ago and...

...you think it sounds like it was written 3 years ago...
...yeah, but listen to something on the album and it still sounds fresh now. That's the objective really, just to make good music.

Vigorous Training: The War is waged by the Peacemaker, targets locked on and guided by Sensitivities. Explosions are heartbeats, the aftermath an unrealised memory of Unity.
How was the album received?
We had a few mixed reviews. Some of the main drum'n'bass reviewers thought it wasn't strictly a dance or drum'n'bass album, so they weren't too into it. I don't really pay attention much to what they think though, I've got my own ideas on music. The people around me and my friends and the other artists that I respect have all given me positive views on the album and that's the main thing, really. Yeah, the only bad reviews were from the hardcore drum'n'bass fanatics...but you can't please everyone can you?

How true... Next for G-Force and Seiji is another album which should be out in Summer next year and a co-op compilation album which returns money to the artists rather than a record label. They also record together (again for Reinforced) as Procedjure 769 and have provided music for a series of Japanese Manga cartoons. Paul records under a variety of aliases producing house and garage, but Mark can't remember what they are. Reinforced Records: www.reinforcedrecords.co.uk.

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