We had a chat with one of the most influential names in drum & bass about his journey, his record label, plans for 2023, and lots more.
You could have been born at any time of this planet’s existence, but you are in an era when Steve Jefroy, aka BCee, is making magic happen with his music; consider yourself incredibly lucky. A master of the groovy, rolling, and funky end of drum & bass, BCee is one of the most important names of the genre – one that has influenced a generation of artists with his relentless commitment to his craft.
Emerging during what is dubbed the golden era of drum & bass, BCee made his debut in 2002 on Rubik Records, where he made a handful of releases until starting his own imprint – Spearhead Records in 2005. Releasing music with Marky, Logistics, S.P.Y., Lenzman, and Netsky, among many others, Spearhead has been an institution of the scene, releasing forward-thinking material for over fifteen years.
Having kickstarted 2023 with an EP on Fokuz Recordings, followed by a single on Drum&BassArena, we caught up with the pioneering producer to know more about his journey, the evolution of his sound, plans for 2023, and lots more.
BCee is also set to embark on his debut USA tour, which will begin next week, March 16 onwards. Hosted by BassRoutes, the mammoth 8-city tour will take BCee’s soulful drum & bass to Cambridge, Massachusetts followed by Pittsburgh, Atlanta, St. Louis, Dallas, Portland (Oregon), and San Diego, before finally closing the tour in Austin, Texas.
We began the conversation with BCee revisiting the days when he made his debut and how he looks back at his groundbreaking excursion for over two decades.
“Straight in with a big one, yeah?” smiles BCee as he takes a moment to recollect all the glorious memories from his childhood when his penchant for music began. ”For me, playing around with music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. When other kids would play with lego and make numerous things out of them, I would make record players using stickle bricks when I was two.
A few years later, my great grandmother died, and while we were clearing her house, I found records of artists like Elvis Presley. I would then play around with these records and play around with these records. So, music has always been a part of my life right from the very beginning.”
Fast forward to his debut in 2002 and then the inception of Spearhead Records, BCee says, “When I started the label, it was just made to put out the music that I was making until it started gaining attention from the scene. It may seem to be an institution for you, but for me, it doesn’t feel momentous. I am just glad that I making the music I love, and long may it continue. In fact, after all these years, I feel I am more confident than ever about the music I am making.”
BCee has been a part of and also overseen several eras of drum & bass. The genre is famously known for its unending creativity, and artists can often find themselves stranded as the sound evolves with every passing year. For BCee, however, this process has been rather natural.
“It’s funny since I didn’t really notice it until I heard some of my older tracks and asked myself, how do they sound so clean when they were just written without any particular thought in mind? But I do feel like I have evolved my arrangements that fit right into the modern sound alley.
I have written these tracks because I enjoyed writing them and not because I wanted to fit the algorithms that today’s streaming apps demand. That’s the key, I guess – evolve with the modern techniques, stick to your ethos, and you will be alright.”
BCee’s record label, as we stated, is an absolute institution of the genre – a label that artists dream of getting a release on. Some of the biggest names in drum & bass that you know today released some of their earliest tunes on Spearhead Records, and to this day, the label continues to push and promote artists that it believes in.
We asked BCee about his inspiration behind starting a label and what he feels about its stature in modern-day DnB.
BCee says, “I always wanted to start to label that you would look back in ten years and tell yourself, yeah, this is phenomenal. I wanted to bring something different to drum & bass back then; I wanted to push something more uplifting and build a label that would go a long way and release tunes that people will remember for years and years. I think I have achieved my goal, and I am proud of it.
I have also ensured that I invest in people along with their music. People who are serious about making music and the ones I thought will continue creating their craft twenty years down the line. That’s why you see tunes on Spearhead that have been released over so many years, and they are still in the mix; it is the result of working with artists who compliment my thoughts around longevity.”
Like BCee’s music, Spearhead Records’ sound has gone through invigorations as well. From being one the finest purveyors of soul-stirring drum & bass music (which they continue to be), Spearhead has also taken expansive paths.
Be it the swashbuckling sonics of the Vanguard Project, the jungle-tinged sounds of Lens, or the intricacies of Tim Reaper’s mind-bending material, Spearhead is championing it all. We were keen to know how BCee brings about the perfect balance to his label’s releases year in and out while exploring such a wide palette of music.
“It comes down to, do I like it? If I like it, and even if it doesn’t do well, I won’t feel too bad because I liked it in the first place. I also weigh up whether the artist’s expectations of the track are in line with what I envision from it. This way, it eliminates any frustrations that would follow after the release and makes the process of releasing a track far easier.”
As drum & bass heads from India, our love affair with it has been an odd one. DnB hit the Indian shores in early 1998 but has struggled to match the hype house and techno have enjoyed in the subcontinent.
Being a stalwart of the scene, BCee, along with the collective scene in the UK, has weathered many storms and brought the music they love to a scale where it’s capturing the main stages of major festivals around the world. We asked BCee what the drum & bass community could possibly get everyone together and bring the attention it deserves. Here’s what he had to say:
“The first thing that can be done is – book local talent. When you do that, it doesn’t cost you much, and it keeps the ball rolling while you bring people into the music slowly and steadily. It goes both ways, by the way; being in the UK, it is also our responsibility to make sure it goes as global as possible. Promoters need to have a risk-taking appetite as well.
There may not be heavy returns instantly, but if you keep the scene ticking by balancing local and international acts, the money will follow as well, and you will grow the scene in the process. It simply needs to be a collaborative effort.”
We then ended an inspiring chat with BCee by asking him to give us a sneak peek into new music from him and Spearhead Records; and there is some fantastic music coming our way, and possibly, possibly, a BCee album as well.
“I recently released a tune with L-Side and Charlotte Haining called ‘Crossroad. Then, I have a tune with Lens that is coming up. I also have a bunch of tunes that I am not sure how I am going to release. It could be in an album form; I’m not sure yet. I have also relaunched the Spearhead Podcast, and it goes up every Wednesday from 7-8 PM.
I will be releasing less this year, but Spearhead has an exciting year coming up. There are tunes from Villem, Emba, Kove, L-Side, DSP; there’s a tune I have coming up with DJ Marky, Makoto, and Solah as well. It’s some of the best music we will release, and I cannot wait to get the first one out.”
To make things sweeter, BCee is following up on his debut USA tour with two more rounds in June and October this year. So, if you are a fan of deep and emotional drum & bass, keep an eye out on BassRoutes’ website. For any further information, you can reach out to the BassRoutes crew – HERE.
Explore BCee’s full catalog here: