Hailing from Australia, Dylan Martin A.K.A. Royalston had a chance encounter with music production. As a result, he’s been producing drum and bass for the past 12 years, signing exclusively to Hospital Records‘ sister label, Med School in 2012. Releasing his debut album ‘OCD’ on February 17th, we caught up with Royalston at a super hectic time for him to see how things were going.

How busy have things been since the release of your album, ‘OCD’?
Pretty hectic! I just got off the plane from a little tour in the UK where I played some really great Hospitality parties. I’ve got a week home then on the road again for a few weeks, ending in a show in Perth. I haven’t slept in 2 days now.

You’re based in Sydney. Have you lived there all of your life?
Yes, most of it.

How did you discover drum and bass? And when did you eventually decide that you were going to begin mixing/producing?
I have been listening to DnB since I was 15 or so, but I didn’t know the name for what it was. It was just music my mate would record off the radio and that we heard at raves. When I was 18 and I heard “Shadowboxing” for the first time, That got me completely hooked. I decided to get into production after making a 3D animation for uni. The animation needed sound effects so I was fooling around with that and realised making music is way more fun than 3D animation. That was about 15 years ago.

What did the first tunes you made sound like?
The first ones were kind of cool; I did what ever I wanted. I didn’t have any technical knowledge. I used Acid Version 1 and it was great.  I read more about production and thought I should be doing all sorts of unnecessary stuff that seemed to make things sound worse – mix wise & musically. I thought I needed to compress everything. I needed a “proper sequencer”. For a long period my tracks got worse and worse. I bought gear thinking it would make me sound better… it didn’t. Compared to stuff guys do these days in their first 3 months of producing, my stuff was pretty bad. In my defence, I didn’t have YouTube tutorials or sample packs. It took me 3 years to discover what a ‘break’ was. There was no easy way to find production info and most people guarded what they knew carefully. Info was spread through forums and most of it was wrong – although this did have the benefit of people learning by experimentation and trial and error. 

“Compared to stuff guys do these days in their first 3 months of producing, my stuff was pretty bad. In my defence, I didn’t have YouTube tutorials or sample packs. It took me 3 years to discover what a ‘break’ was.”

Have things changed a lot from then, to now?
I think the idea amongst electronic musicians of the 90’s was to try & make something new and different – like ‘modern’ art where movements were always trying to move the art forward into unexplored areas. The idea of creating sounds you’ve never heard before and being different to the next guy. This idea is still there of course…but the internet spreads everything so fast, stuff doesn’t have as much time to develop in its own little creative bubble…so perhaps it is harder to achieve. 

You signed exclusively to Med School in 2012. How did that come about?
I sent tracks to the Med School demo address, waited for a year, gave up… but then to my great surprise Med School got back to me. They signed ‘The Test’ and then a few more over a few years. Some time after that, Med School offered to sign me exclusively.

So of course, 2014 saw the release of OCD. How long had you been working on that?
Some tracks – like ‘Keys’  – have been around since 2009 in one form or another but the final touches were only finished just before the deadline this year. Most tracks were written in the last 3 years or so.

What inspires you when you’re writing tracks? It’s always great to hear the differing approaches to production that artists take.
It could be anything… a melody, a break, a sample. I think starting around something rhythmically or melodically interesting, rather than chords or a programmed drum beat can provide the seed for a more unique track, even if that initial element is gone by the time the finished song is done.

Are there any standout tracks on OCD that you feel are particularly special to you? And if so, why?
“Get up and Growl” is a favourite of mine, as is “Black Cloud”. The vibe in both of those tracks is just what I intended when I started.  Sometimes this doesn’t matter and you can just let a track develop as it wants, but its great to end up with a finished track that fits the initial vision that first inspired you.  These tracks were relatively quick to produce so I never had time to get to hate them.

What’s the plan for the rest of 2014? Where can people catch Royalston this year?
I play regularly in Sydney – there is my belated Album launch at Afterlife in Sydney on the 29th of March and also a show in Perth on the 21st. I’m planning some more European shows at the end of your summer too. And I want to write more music. That’s the most important thing.