Drums Of Death is not a DJ. He is a performer. Nor is he an actual real person, rather an alter-ego of the one previously known as jazzy, electronica producer Kid Twist.
However, with Drums Of Death, his techno-meets-bass-heavy-metal-dance music has been hotly-tipped by music bigwigs, with the release of a full-length album imminent and a hardcore following hanging off every 4-4 beat he concocts, including a deal at Hot Chip’s Greco-Roman label.
Angry but emotional, energetic and twisted, the face-painted mask and Papa Lazarou-esque stage costume are a frightful and often high-octane experience in themselves. But far beneath the mask is Colin, a meek and friendly character. One of the most softly spoken people you’ll ever meet, he is exuberant, charming and down-to-earth, his enthusiastic dialect coated with a thick but decipherable Scottish accent.
“This character is a super villain for Greco-Roman, but at the same time he’s a manic depressive guy. He’ll go from wild, crazy, rave bass abandon to piano and melancholic pieces. People will understand this person through the live shows,” he cryptically tells.
Attracting characters from all ends of the spectrum, Drums has a string of remixes under his belt, incorporating many mixed styles from dubstep to grime, and electronica to hardcore metal. How did the young and no doubt polite Colin discover music?
“I listened to Tears For Fears, Michael Jackson and loads of ‘80s stuff,” he muses. “I was more into animation and that - I wasn’t into music until I got into Nirvana and more grungey stuff.” Colin even used to be in a hardcore punk band. “Oh aye,” he confirms, “I was in a bunch of them. I love the attitude in the music and the energy, but I’m more focused on the 15-year-old feeling like that. I started producing music quite late, after being in bands. It took me a long time to write a song because I was scared of the process.”
So, after discovering a love for electronica and a thirst for computer production, and after a healthy career in punk bands, what possessed Colin to transform to Kid Twist and then onto the current demonic guise?
“It was stuff like Drop The Lime, and lots of laptop stuff; more techno stuff,” he answers. “I was in a group in Glasgow called Measle. I was making all this electronica stuff in the vein of Venetian Snares. But when I moved to London I wanted to make more upbeat club music and put my hat in that ring, and I want a show that goes with it. The reason I do what I do is because it takes me and other people out of their comfort zone. I wanted to make it more like a hardcore show, but with tones and textures more akin to Kraftwerk, or acid house and Jamaican bass culture, with a mix of grime. I wanted to do something visually, something that I personally wanted to see.
“People are getting bored of clubbing; I’m not saying I’m the saviour of clubbing and live dance music, but I personally wanted to make it more exciting.”
So Drums, in his humble manner, has stated that he’s not the saviour, but does he hope to change the perception of laptop DJs, to blend the visual aspects of performance with clubbing sonics?
“I think I’ll change people’s perceptions of Scottish guys who wear make-up,” he laughs. “I don’t know, it’s a bit of an unknown path. It’s down to all DJs to change the perception of what they do. The nature of what I do is becoming less DJ orientated. I play my own stuff and when I play it’s an all-live show. There’s versions of tracks, samples and patches and bit and bobs that are special; it becomes less programmed and more spontaneous. There’s a lot of club music that I play that will never be released because I want it for the live show,” he says.
Drums definitely earned his name by churning out high-profile, well-received remixes blending recognisable tracks with a mixture of dark, light and meaningful sounds, attracting a deal with Greco-Roman. Does he owe part of his success to those remixes, and have they been instrumental in his development?
“I guess they have been, but I’m lucky to have been able to do what I want with them,” he says. “It’s been good to do something different and I’ve tried to make each mix have its own feel. They have been very important to get me out there though, and I’m grateful!”
“All the tracks on my EP are part of a mix-tape that friends were handing round. Joe from Hot Chip got his hands on it. They put out some songs and asked me to do an album. That first 12” is more about dance-floor stuff, more of a hip-hop electro thing, which nods to ‘Egyptian Lover’: he was - and is - a big influence. The forthcoming album is going to be more fun to play, with more of a song structure though. Some of it’s pop music, but some of it is really full-on, but not all of it, because that would be boring.”
“But,” he promises gleefully, “there will be plenty of bangers on there!”
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Drums Of Death on BBC Introducting
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See Drums Of Death (MySpace) live as follows…
9 London Cargo
10 Barcelona Nitsa Club
16 London matter
23 Lyon Danger Party
5 London Hyp! Hyp! Hyp!
14 Preston Beats of Rage
27 London Scala
28 Leicester Scrabble
Download 'Cursed By Magick' by Drums Of Death as part of our exclusive Nudie Naked Talent compilation, also featuring Chairlift, High Places and more, HERE.