TFword in Conversation With Shanks

Following the LA-based anonymous duo’s second release of the year, we had a chat with them about their latest release, their anonymity, drum & bass in America, and lots more.

We’ve waxed lyrical numerous times about how much we love the idea of artist anonymity and letting music speak for itself. In drum & bass, we are yet to solve the web of mystery laid down by Integral Records and CLIQUES, and we’ve been handed another puzzle by the American duo, Shanks. However, we are not complaining; because the music is outstanding!

Based in Los Angeles, the anonymous duo has been brewing some incredible drum & bass since their debut. Shanks made their debut in 2021 on RAM Records’ sister label ProgRAM Records, with a mind-bending four-tracker pushing their penchant for the dark and the dancefloor.

A year since their debut, the amalgamation of obscure and club-focused drum & bass music has been a feature of the duo’s releases. Shanks is now back on the label where it all started for their second release of the year, and we caught up with the duo to know more about their latest EP, the idea of artist anonymity, drum & bass in the United States, and lots more.

Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Second release of the year and it’s a belter. What are your thoughts on how the tunes have shaped up?

Shanks: Thanks for having us and thanks for the kind words! We’ve been really happy with the work. The team at RAM has really given us a unique opportunity here to be able to really just write what we want without having to worry about much else, so each song that comes out is something that we’re extremely proud of.

How long were the tunes in the works?

Shanks: I really don’t even know, through COVID we had built up about 30 something. A lot of them have been picked up by the label so we have a bit of a fluid release schedule going with them. When we finish new tunes we’ll send them over for approval and things kind of get slotted from there. These two are two of the newer ones though.

The track names of your latest release have a deeper meaning. Could you guys take us through the reason behind naming the tunes ‘The Moment’ and ‘The Universe’?

Shanks: This whole project for us from the outset was something we wanted to use as a vehicle for emotion and musical conveyance. Each song was written based on an idea or a feeling we wanted to express, whether it be the feeling we experienced in a place or from a person, or even just a sample we heard or another song, movie, piece of art etc. The Universe was meant to express a night we spent in Joshua Tree. We had had a bit to drink and there wasn’t really a moon that night so you’re kind of in this dark alien landscape and you can literally see the universe.

The moment was from a night we went out to Respect in LA ( our local DnB night,) Fabio was playing and we were having a blast, and had a conversation about how these days you kind of just have to enjoy all the moments, because you don’t know about the next one. That week we found this perfect sample and it kind of just came together.

We absolutely love the idea of the artist’s anonymity and letting the music speak. Do you guys think it opens up a completely different creative space without the pressures of social media?

Shanks: I don’t know, for us it’s more a thing we think detracts from the purpose of all of this. Music is meant to be just that, with the advent of social media you’re expected to be a personality, comedian, public figure, or whatever people expect of you and it becomes less and less about the music itself. I think for us not dealing with that helps creatively in a way where our headspace is freed up to just write music and not be worrying about writing comedy sketches for socials. It certainly hurts us as well because of what a big part of music it plays and the exposure it brings, but we can live with that.

We thoroughly enjoy your gushing style of dancefloor drum & bass. How did your influences converge when you guys started making music?

Shanks: We both have very similar loves within the genre, and we both started listening around the same time, so it all kind of just melds together. We have some stylistic differences every once in a while but we respect each other enough to just say, “OK, if you really believe in this song it may not be my cup of tea but I’ll ride with you on it.” So far it’s worked out!

Drum & bass in The States is flying right now. How do you think the scene has evolved over the years?

Shanks: This is an interesting question as we’ve seen all the iterations of it since the early 2000’s. It’s always come in waves so it’ll jump for a bit then die down again, and this is where I do believe technology has had a large impact.

Now you can go on Spotify and search one song you heard, and then dive down a rabbit hole to find other artists instead of digging through crates at a specialty record shop, if you even have one anywhere near you. Festivals are booking full stages or at least several artists. It’s just become so much more accessible for people, and I believe that’s why this wave won’t dwindle like they have previously.

How does Shanks plan to utilize their music arsenal in the near future?

Shanks: We’re just going to keep writing music we like and hopefully people enjoy it! We still have yet to play a live show for the project so I think this coming year will be when we start exploring the live show; if anyone’s interested in what we sound like, we have a few mixes out and are working on two more right now that should be out shortly.

5 tunes you guys are feeling at the moment?

Shanks: Messy in Heaven – Venbee, Goddard
Running Blind – VOE
Camo & Krooked feat. Mira Lu Kovacs – No Way Out
The Caracal Project – The Lights On Your Face
Sub Focus – Off The Ground

Listen to Shanks’ latest release here:

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