A co-founder of the legendary UK Soundsystem KAOTIK, Vandal has been musical from a young age. Having spent much of his teenage years learning Sound Engineering, Music production and touring up and down the UK, Vandal’s mind was made up which direction he wanted to go.
Q 1: Hey! How’s it going? What have you been up to recently?
Hi all! I’m very good thank you. At present enjoying a nice break from touring on holiday in Morocco! A nice rest was much needed!
Q 2: You signature sound is Raggatek riddims… How did that come about? Describe your style.
My style is a mixture of Reggae/Dancehall riddims mixed with double time kick drums all layered with Jungle/DnB breaks and Melodic Reggae with the energy of Techno music all rolled into one. Also pounding bass of a big kick with the broken beats and Reggae instruments over the top. I also draw influence from many other styles with the elements of Jungle, Hiphop, Hardcore, Dancehall, Neuro Dnb and Breaks, these all work their way into my tracks.. My idea was to have a style that mixed all my favourite bits together into one cohesive sound. It all started for me when I went to my first rave many years ago. I fell in love with the eclectic mixture of music that was played; the huge basslines and kick drums of electronic music played on massive sound systems really hit home for me. From a young age I have also been a big fan of Reggae music and after experiencing my first rave, the combination of the two styles was exactly what I wanted to do!
Q 3: Can you tell us about your background? When did it all begin?
My journey into music started when my parents took me to see Meat Loaf in concert when I was 10 years old.
The feeling of live music and the talent of the musicians really opened my eyes. I got my first guitar for my birthday the following year and taught myself to play it. Through my early teenage years I was in many school bands and was always writing music. The major change happened for me when I went to my first illegal rave party at 16 years old. The energy and mashup of genres played on a huge soundsystem blew my mind. Watching the DJs perform was exactly the same feeling I had at my first concert. My mind was made up. I stopped playing guitar and brought my first set of Technics turntables. I spent many hours in my bedroom practising to beat match and after a short time, I picked it up. Around this point I started a soundsystem with friends and I had the opportunity to play at free parties every weekend.
Q 4: Who were your main inspirations?
The biggest inspiration for me is seeing people smile and putting happiness in their hearts from my music. I couldn’t ask for more than to help people of all walks of life have a little release from the constant struggle. Music breaks barriers and if I can make someone forget there problems and dance like crazy for a couple hours, then I feel its a mission complete. When someone tells me how much my music has helped them get through tough times it really makes me emotional. I know exactly how they feel and the fact that I can cause this reaction is an amazingly pleasant feeling. In music, no one famous inspired me. I have always shied away from the mainstream and was much more inspired by the underground scene and the DJs that were playing the free parties in and around Bristol. Soundsystems like DMT, Dissident, Prank, Tossers were a main source of my inspiration and the real inspiration to do and to throw our own parties. Freetekno artists such as Guigoo, Radium, Floxytek, Zone-33 and Billx were big inspirations to me along with all the amazingly dedicated people I’ve met over the years pushing the underground scene here in the UK and Europe.
Q 5: So talking all things Kaotik, when did that begin?
Our soundsystem and crew (Kaotik) started at the same time I bought my first turntables, around the time of the millennium. It started as a group of friends all sharing the same passion for an alternative to the mainstream club nights that were going on in our area. All of my friends were into the Bristol rave scene and we wanted to become a part of it as well. My closest friend came into some money and invested it into our first speaker stack. At first we made small parties for friends in the local woods. Then with help of our new friends in Bristol, we moved over the bridge to start making parties there most weekends. Derelict warehouses, squats, woods even parks in the centre of Bristol were all raved hard during this time. Through this we made lots of connections around the UK and abroad in France. Then we started taking the soundsystem to further places, the parties were getting bigger and the notoriety of our sound system grew.
Q 6: Talking about your record label… Have things changed in any way ever since it was launched?
Yes many things have changed. When I made my first vinyl EP (Kaotik 01) I was still really new to music production. The success of the label propelled me to quickly learn how to make the sound more professional and much better quality. Honestly I never thought or planned for it to take off so fast! It was a steep learning curve. Things now are quite a bit different. I met some good friends who had a big distribution network and pressing facilities in France and so after the first 2 releases pressed in the UK myself, I moved the label pressing to France directly from the distributor (Undergroundtekno).
Q 7: Where did the names Vandal and Kaotik originate from?
Well the name Vandal was a nickname given to me in my first job as an appretice electrician. I had a habit of accidentally breaking many things and even managed to bend a TP cheery picker in half! So they lads on the firm called me Vandal and the name stuck.
Kaotik has a similar story. Being so young (16) and new to the whole rave scene, admittedly we weren’t the most organised soundsystem. The name Kaotik seemed to fit well with our crew!
Q 8: Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
So this year I am working on my first album, and there are so many great vocalists that I hope to work with. An original track with Alborosie would be a dream for me. And maybe this year will be a reality! As for other producers, being able to collaborate with my inspirations is a real pleasure. We will see what the future holds!
Q 9: This year is looking pretty packed for you already… What are you looking forward to the most?
My favourite part of the year is the summer. Especially the festivals as I love to play outside. Boomtown in the UK is always a highlight for me along with all the festivals in I play in Europe also. This year I have coming up a trip to Israel to play along with various other places that I have never been to before. This is what I look forward to most; meeting new people and spreading my music and positive vibes as far as I can! My crowning moment so far has been taking the stage after Limp Bizkit at a huge festival in France.
Q 10: What’s next for Vandal?
The next step is to continue working on my album, continue touring and refine my sound and production technique. I want to create something that reflects where I am now and pushes the boundaries of what is possible with music. This year I feel the quality in my productions have got to the point where I can make something really special. So this is my goal!. In the long run, I will just continue to make music, travel and take my sound to as many new ears as possible.
I would just like to say a massive thank you to all my fans for all the support. Its these people that make my crazy life possible and I feel so privileged to be in this position.. THANKYOU ALL and see you on the dance floor!