Three men, eight albums, five hundred tracks, four labels, numerous aliases, myriad genres: One machine.
Bournemouth trio Brent Newitt, Dave Wallace and Kieron Bailey have played by their own rules and stamped with their style since day one. 20 years deep into their game and the indelible Aquasky legacy is sprayed colourfully, thoughtfully and, at points, antagonistically over all shades and styles of electronic music since they started exploring the new wave of early 90s rave: drum & bass.
Their vantage point from the sunny south coast allowed them a refreshed approach: Deep, spacey, intelligently, it instantly struck a chord with scene-shaping drum & bass imprints such as Good Looking, R&S, Reinforced and Moving Shadow, who signed them in 1995.
Future-fused tracks such as ‘Dezires’, ‘Cosmic Glue’ and ‘Kauna’ scored praise from selectors far and wide and belied their basic equipment. Squeezing creativity out of their synths and samplers, within two years they’d signed to major label Polydor in 1997 with their debut album ‘Orange Dust’. The trio then switched back to Moving Shadow for two more albums before the turn of the century (‘Aftershock’ and ‘Bodyshock’) and their own drum & bass labels Sonix and Incident.
Constantly searching for newness, Aquasky were the first drum & bass act to dabble off-piste. As Tenth & Parker they explored Latin and Jazz breaks on Mr Bongo off-shoot Disorient with their perennial album ‘Twenty:Twelve’. Much more influentially, as Aquasky VS Masterblaster they pioneered and developed the breakbeat and bassline breaks sound that was to soundtrack every floor and festival for many years.
From this moment Aquasky found themselves on a constant world tour, working in LA with Limp Biskit’s DJ Lethal and Slipknot’s DJ Starscream and fuelling the breakbeat scene on labels such as Botchit & Scarper, Lot49 and their own imprints. Passenger and 777 were exciting creative melting pots of sounds and artists with many now-household names in bass music getting busy; Noisia, DJ Friction, Nick Thayer, Total Science, Rico Tubbs and many more boast Passenger in their early output.
This era is best surmised with their ‘Teamplayers’ album that united everyone in the bass game from Pendulum’s El Hornet and Orbital’s Phil Hartnoll to the legendary Ragga Twins who have consistently called upon Aquasky’s production duties for over 15 years and featured on ‘Dem No No We’ which was co-signed on Ali G In The USA. Meanwhile premier league DJs such as Fatboy Slim championed their breaks to crowds of hundreds of thousands around the world.
The century developed, and so did Aquasky. Exploring the toxic underbelly of jackin’ house, they became Black Noise with a deal on Fatboy Slim’s Southern Fried label where they remixed the likes of Diplo, Wiley, Crookers and Sidney Sampson, who they co-produced the chart-topping ‘Riverside (Let’s Go)’ hit with.
Tearing a hole into the new decade, Aquasky’s 15th anniversary saw them shake hands with Satan himself on ‘Raise The Devil’. A return to their rolling, uncompromised breakbeat dynamics, it featured a series of major league collaborations and scored top 10 sweetness in the Australian Aria charts.
Meanwhile behind the scenes, the trio have worked equally hard. Proudly owning their publishing rights to almost every track they’ve ever released since day one, the trio’s business acumen is just as sharp as their studio skills. In recent years they’ve developed publishing companies, sync’ing companies and a sample pack series Monster Sounds. Run in conjunction with Loopmasters, their Ragga Twins sample pack attracted the attention of Skrillex who went on to invite the MCs to rap on his last album ‘Recess’.
From Moving Shadow to Skrillex; the Aquasky story keeps on unfolding and influencing the scene. Their latest venture is a revisitation of their Moving Shadow era D&B. A double decade document that acts as a love letter to the future; every success they’ve made takes roots in these evergreen space-aged sounds. The sound of a three man machine who have consistently played by their own rules and stamping with their own style, long may the Aquasky story continue…