William Brown the Manchester based producer & DJ who goes by the name of ‘Compa’ has been gripping the attention of a lot of people lately with his ever developing sound. Following his debut appearance on GetDarker TV back in 2011 set to be the beginning of compa’s journey through dubstep. His debut release ‘Sentence/Beginning’ which was released on Boka Records in 2012 marked his first release on vinyl followed by his huge rework of ‘Dem A Talk’ which appeared on his own label WXWL in the same year which sold out worldwide in just one week. Its fair to say compa was beginning to gain a lot of major attention across the scene here in the UK and oversea’s from the likes of ‘Dub War’ founder Joe Nice, including major radio stations such as ‘BBC Radio 1’ with plays from Giles Peterson, Toddler T, B-Traits & 1xtra’s MistaJam. After many release’s on various different label’s, the attention he was receiving, radio play’s & DJ sets led to one signing, ‘DEEP MEDi’. Which is the reason we wanted to catch up with him and try break him away from his busy scheduled to ask a few question following his second release on the London based label ran by Mark Lawrence aka Mala one half of ‘Digital Mystikz’.
SubSource: Easy Will, I’d like to start this off by congratulating you on your second release with the deep medi label. So tell us where did it all begin for you in terms of production, what made you begin to make music?
Compa: Thank you man. Simple story really; I was studying film production at college a few years ago and in my final year they happened to put music production software on the computers. I found out one of my teachers made music on the side in his spare time so I asked him to teach me how to use Reason software at break times. I got obsessed straight away and every dinner time and break time I’d write music. I got the software on my home computer and just lost interest in film production altogether. By the end of that first year I ended up going to university to study music production and the first couple of tunes I made at university where Sentence and Beginning that ended up coming out on Boka Records marking my first release.
SubSource: When you started out, producing & DJ’ing who was it that inspired you the most and made you feel like you’d aspire to be like that one day?
Compa: I was a DJ before a producer and at the time I was playing Drum & Bass and was inspired by the likes of Roni Size, DJ Krust, Nu:Tone, Goldie, DJ Die, that kind of sound. But just before I started writing music I found Dubstep music through a friend of mine. I bought Midnight Request Line thinking it was some kind of slow Drum & Bass, my friend explained it was this new music from London being called Dubstep and so just as I started writing music I’d been buying records by the likes of Mala, Kode 9, Burial, Kromestar, Skream, Benga etc so those guys where my earliest influence within Dubstep music, that was back in 2009.
SubSource: As I mentioned this is your second release with deep medi now, what was it like having your medi portrait done amongst others in the deep medi family first time round? Must have been an exhilarating feeling?
Compa: It’s a real honor. I’ve followed Deep Medi since roughly 009 or 010, I think Mala’s ‘New Life Baby Paris’ record was the first one I bought, that or Goth-Trad’s ‘The Clown’ release.Deep Medi has been my biggest influence and the biggest guiding force musically for me for years, so to now represent the label and release my music on the label is a real blessing. I’m really thankful for sure.
SubSource: I’ve seen you play on a multiple occasions now and I’ve never seen you draw for the CD, what is it that attracts you to vinyl and playing strictly vinyl sets?
Compa: Thanks for that man. Well, I started DJ’ing at 13 years old so roughly 10 years ago now. The simple answer as to why I play vinyl is because back when I started you had no choice. There where no CDJ’s in sight. The question here really is why do I still play vinyl and the answer to that one is because I’m a firm believer in respecting your roots and staying true to something you believe in. I’m obsessed with collecting records and when new records or dub plates come through the door it’s a special feeling. It’s real, it’s tangible. It means something. You’ve invested in something you believe in. Digital music is invisible, there’s no ownership or connection or feeling in it (In my opinion). Vinyl means something to people. It means a lot, because you have to really care about a record to buy it and then you don’t want to let it go easily because they aren’t cheap. I could talk about this subject all day.
SubSource: For those who know you knows all too well you’re very much into the Dubplate culture too, with a mass collection of cuts from over the years. What was it that made you choose Dubstudio as your cutting house?
Compa: At first I was asking myself, how can I get my music on a vinyl record? I thought you must have to be signed and have to actually release a record to have your music on vinyl. Then I found out you could cut a dub plate and so I did, so I could play my music in my DJ sets. At first I just referenced artists I look up to like Mala etc. and cut at Transition but then I found out about the vinyl dub plates at Dub Studio which didn’t skip, where lighter and where cheaper and I made the switch. I was in Bristol last week for the Deep Medi show at Motion and I went to cut in person for once, it was a great experience. Big up Henry at Dub Studio. I’ve been cutting there for about 4 years now.
Subsource: Staying on the vinyl topic lets talk about WX/WL (Wax White Label) a label in which you run limited white label presses, and seen WXWL001 to be one of the biggest refix’s of ‘Dem A Talk’ still to this day. Where is the label at now? If i’m not mistaken WX/WL was also a vinyl only night too right?
Compa: Thanks for the kind words. The label is an outlet for my remixes and of recent I’ve been focusing more on original music which is why over the last year I haven’t released a record on the label. I do have one new release planned for the label, WXWL005, on it’s way. Also, yes you’re correct, I started a club night called ‘Wax’ back in 2009, the same year I started producing music, which was very much a small club night that I started so that I could bring my friends together every month or other month and me and my friends could have somewhere to play the records we where buying and producing. From there, and as I moved to Manchester in 2010, the night grew slowly and we moved the night over from Blackburn to Manchester, but as my friends all took different directions moving to other parts of the UK, we did our last club night in 2012 just before I turned the club night into a record label, renaming it WX/WL and releasing the first record, ‘Dem A Talk’, WXWL001.
Subsource: From all of the gigs you’ve played in various countries and the different venues across the UK, what has been the best sound system you’ve had the chance to play on? Also, what’s your favourite tune to draw for each time knowing for well it’ll get the best reaction?
Compa: Best sound system I’ve played on, I’d say RC1 when we did the first Deep Medi at Trinity Centre in Bristol last February. God in heaven, seriously heavy. Unreal. Testing dub plates on it before the show opened was a real eye-opener as to how powerful this music is on a system like that. Inspiring from a producer standpoint. To answer your second question; I’d say my track ‘Dem A Talk’ is the record that I know will get a huge reaction and a rewind when I play it. I always try to save it for mid-set when the energy is highest in the club. For some reason it seems to be getting big again recently, 5 years on. I think that may be down to Mala hammering it in his sets over the last year or so, I could be wrong. But it still goes off big time which is always an unreal experience and strangely people have started asking about it again of recent, new people who weren’t there 5 years ago when it came out. Newcomers to the scene. To them it’s a new tune you see. People have been tweeting me and Facebook’ing me with phone clips of it like, what’s this tune? It’s interesting to tell them it came out five years ago.
Subsource: What has been the best line-up you have been involved in so far in your career and also your favourite artist you’ve had the chance to play alongside?
Compa: It’s no secret Mala is my biggest inspiration so to share a stage with him is always an honour. The best line-up I’ve ever been a part of, and also, the best show I’ve ever played in my career so far is without a doubt the Deep Medi stage at Outlook Festival last year. The set was almost like playing in a dream for me, it couldn’t have gone any better and the reaction from people whilst I was playing and after the show was just unreal. It was an experience that really glued together the hard work of my last 6 years of making music and it’s an experience I’ll never forget.
Subsource: What would you say as been the overall highlight so far as a producer and DJ?
Compa: As above, playing the Deep Medi stage at Outlook Festival is without a doubt the highlight of my career as a DJ so far. Producer-wise, the highlight has to be the new Truth In Sound four-track on Deep Medi as it’s the most solid body of work I’ve released so far. I’m incredibly thankful and happy to release the record.
SubSource: We’re all eagerly waiting your release on ZamZam & with your release on deep medi out today, is there anymore releases coming your way for 2016?
Compa: Thank you man. On top of those two I have two more releases planned and on their way, a few remixes I’ve had commissioned that will appear over the year on various labels, and a repress of a remix I first released in 2012, but this time it’s coming out with artwork instead of on white label.
Subsource: So where does Compa go from here? Having played at major festivals such as Outlook in Croatia, been on tour’s in various countries and having released on big labels such as Boka Records, Kokeshi, Tuba records, Lion Charge Records, Deep Medi, and soon ZamZam Sounds and with features in various other magazines such as FACT, Mixmag?
Compa: I’d just like to keep working hard and keep sharing the music I love with people around the world, that’s the path I’d like to walk and it’s the path I’m blessed to be walking. I’m thankful and I hope to carry on walking this path for the rest of my life.
I’d just like to thank Will for taking the time out to talk to us and give you all just a small insight as to where things all began, i’d also like to say thank you to Steph at DEEP MEDi for making this happen.
MEDi-91 ‘Compa – Truth In Sound EP’ is out today consisting of 4 tracks:
A1. Truth In Sound
A3. Tibetan Chant
A4. Four Four Claps
Each track offers different elements from the old school visuals of dubstep to dark atmospheric roots & dub. With ‘Truth In Sound’ being the primary track gives off a real dubwise feel then ‘Noctule’ switches where each element is stripped back including the types of wobbles a sub bass you would have found in 2006, ‘Tibetan’ the big room tribal sound with flutes which flow beautifully through this track. Well Well, ‘Four Four Claps’ you primarily would class this as an anthem in the dance until it unexpectedly drops to what could only be described as ‘A PHAT BASSLINE’ the sub in this track is just mental.
The release is now available to purchase online via the DEEP MEDi website and other online suppliers.