Jesse Warren is the man behind Mettasonic, a drum and bass label born three years ago out of his love of the electronic genre. The label focuses on the soulful strain of jungle and the sounds of producers from China. A Shenzhen resident for 12 years, Warren is now based in Taipei. We caught up with the musical maestro to chat about two upcoming Mettasonic releases, Made in Shenzhen EP and Mettā Muzik, Vol 3.
How has Shenzhen’s music scene evolved since you arrived in 2008 and how is this evolution showcased on Made in Shenzhen EP?
On the up side, you are getting a lot of international bookings nowadays. I think first Pepper, then Sector and finally Oil have made the biggest impact in that respect. Previously, [the music scene] was confined to smaller scale locations, like True Color 25th Floor, a truly legendary spot in Shenzhen’s history. On the down side, it seems the independent party and rave scene has really died out – everything is in clubs now, which is both good and bad.
As far as the EP goes, it doesn’t really showcase an evolution, but rather what a few people living there are making. People in Shenzhen have always been making music, it’s just getting more attention.
Tell us a bit about the artists featured on Mettā Muzik, Vol 3 and where they hail from.
We are connected to quite a few artists in Japan, and this time we got a few tracks from Singapore as well. I’m really stoked to have KIAT onboard. He’s been involved with Metalheadz for quite some time and has been really cool to work with.
KITrust is from Taiwan and has contributed for the third album in a row. He was actually the first person I met and first friend that I made in Taiwan. I saw his band OVDS perform at Spring Scream in 2014 and it blew my mind – just imagine a full band playing heavy, crowd-rocking drum and bass.
And finally, it’s always good to have the Hong Kong artists, such as Saiyan and Sushi Robot, contributing – they’ve been very supportive.
Mettā Muzik, Vol 3 album cover. Image via Mettasonic
A compilation means numerous artists, each with their own sound and direction. How do you ensure that a compilation album has a musical flow that works for listeners?
Yeah, naturally there’s a variety of sounds. I don’t feel confident or comfortable pushing all these artists in a particular direction – it’s best to see what unique flavor each brings to the table. Any musical flow will come from the fact that they’ve all passed my filter. It really sucks to reject songs, but sometimes you have to do it to maintain consistency.
What are the main challenges when assembling and producing an album that involves numerous musicians in different regions?
Time. You have to be patient and accept that some tracks will take a while to come in. Some artists work at their own pace and you just need to respect that. Other than that, the main challenge is just to reach a decent number of ears. But I enjoy the whole process, so it’s all good regardless of the results.
If you had to pick one highlight from Mettā Muzik, Vol 3 and another from Made in Shenzhen EP, what would they be?
From the album, I’ll take ‘White Rabbit’ by Kray – a heavy dancefloor track with high production value that really gets me out of my chair bouncing around. On Made in Shenzhen EP, it would have to be ‘The Block’ by Sophistakid. He really knows what he’s doing on the boards. It’s very exciting to have Eligo Kontent’s first release as well – the kid has extremely good taste and a bright future if he keeps it up.
This interview has been edited for clarify and brevity. To check out both of these new releases from Mettasonic, visit mettasonic.com
[Cover image via Jesse Warren]